by Tolu Orekoya
‘And I am Telling You’ has to be one of the greatest torch songs ever written for the stage, as the act-closing number for the musical ‘Dream Girls’. It became Jennifer Holliday’s signature song back in 1981 (the year Hudson was born) and few have been able to challenge her supremacy until Jennifer Hudson appeared on the scene 25 years later.
Jennifer Hudson’s 2006 rendition was the performance of a lifetime. Her performance of the song in the ‘Dream Girls’ film clinched her the Oscar, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (because, let’s be honest, the rest of her acting was sub-par). It became her career defining moment, and earned the singer/actress 29 awards and catapulted her out of the shadows. Her performance had just the right touch of vulnerability and pleading; a woman trying to hold on to her man she knows is leaving her.
Jennifer Holliday had just turned 20 when she first performed the song, but the power and raw emotion, the manic edge of desperation in her gut-wrenching vocals are amazingly mature. The performance below was from the 1982 Tony Awards, and the beauty of her voices shines, even through the gritty recording. She won a Tony and a Grammy for the stage performance of the song and the soundtrack recording respectively.
So which one do you prefer?
Here’s a bonus: both divas tearing the stage to shreds in a duet.