CSO: Jennifer Hudson

Gala Evening Benefiting Reach Teach Play

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
George Hanson, conductor
Jennifer Hudson, vocalist

Sunday, July 14, 2019
3:00 PM
Donor Gates Open
3:30 PM
Public Gates Open
6:00 PM
Concert Starts

Tickets: $125 / $115
Lawn: $43*

* Lawn ticket price increases $5 on the day of the concert

About The Artist

Hers is the kind of story that dreams (and movies) are made of: a Chicago girl with a voice as big as her heart catches the world’s attention on a televised talent show, then goes on to win the Grammy and countless other awards—including the Oscar for her very first film. Jennifer Hudson, who made her only Ravinia appearance in 2011, is a star by any measure. And we’re thrilled to announce that she’s the star of our 2019 Gala Benefit Evening. Handpicked by Aretha Franklin to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic, Hudson also starred in Sex and the City, Winnie Mandela, the animated Sing, and the upcoming adaptation of Cats, as well as in the Broadway production of The Color Purple. In Dreamgirls, she famously sang, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” but that answer won’t stand as your RSVP. You simply must go to this once-in-a-lifetime gala.

Isaiah Sharkey

Program Notes

  • Jennifer Hudson is the prime example that American Idol didn’t always home in on its biggest stars. Though she was voted off the competition show (too) early, she nonetheless earned more than enough votes two years later to win both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress with her big-screen debut as Effie White in Dreamgirls.
  • Variety magazine opined that Jennifer Hudson’s performance in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls “called to mind debuts like Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl or Bette Midler in The Rose, with a voice like the young Aretha [Franklin].” The late Queen of Soul seemingly agreed, as Hudson was “anointed by Aretha herself” (according to Rolling Stone) to portray the singer in the upcoming biopic Respect.


  • After Jennifer Hudson had entered Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart with her show-stopping rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” on the Dreamgirls soundtrack, her official debut single, “Spotlight,” also became her first top-40 hit, presaging that her 2008 self-titled debut album would soar to number two on the top 200 albums chart upon its release, as well as earn her the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.
  • Jennifer Hudson put her best foot forward yet again in 2015, making her Broadway debut as Shug Avery in The Color Purple. The New York Times effused that Hudson “radiated a lush, supple stage presence echoed by her velvet voice,” and the star joined her castmates in accepting both the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. She is also set to star in the upcoming film adaptation of Cats as Grizabella, who sings the classic song “memory.”
  • Last summer Jennifer Hudson made a breathtaking debut at the Hollywood Bowl backed by its house orchestra, singing personal favorites from “Love You, I Do” (another of her Dreamgirls songs) to a powerful version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (which she duetted with Tori Kelly in the animated film Sing). A Chicago native, Hudson is bringing a whole new setlist to Ravinia to make her Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut.

Concert Information

Performance shown on lawn video screen

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