Jennifer Holliday Discusses Her Recent Comeback
On January 21, Jennifer Holliday released her first solo album in over 20 years. In a recent interview with Travis Smiley, Holliday talked about her recent comeback and past struggles.
Holliday credits her return to her appearance on American Idol. She stated, "It made me relevant again. And even though they were talking about the attendance in terms of watching was lower, 14 million is 14 more- 13 million- 99 more than I had! So I was grateful! And so many young people and people all over the world saw that performance with little Jessica Sanchez and have brought me back to this place where I could sing. Now, where I can perform live and have some courage to kind of step out there even though I'm late."
Click here for the full interview.
Smiley then asked Holliday why it took her so long for a new solo project. She told him that in years past she suffered from depression and Multiple Sclerosis. She recalled, "When I first got diagnosed with MS, I asked them, 'Well, why aren't I able to walk?' And they said, 'Well, your brain is not sending the signal to your legs.' And I was like, 'Well, I already have a brain disease. I have depression. So one of them's got to go!" From there Holliday worked on her depression and fought to turn the negatives into positives. It wasn't until American Idol, however, that she had the courage to come back into the music industry.
The Song Is You is Jennifer's first pop album in 23 years and it defies expectations. Produced by Daniel Moore and Jennifer, much of it is her take on standards but there are also previously unrecorded songs and lesser-known compositions. The dynamic vocalist draws from jazz, R&B and Broadway but even when the song is well-known, her interpretation transports the songs into fresh territory. When Holliday tackles "At Last," for instance, a song that has been done countless times, one would think that there is not much new that could be done with this standard but Jennifer builds it into a hurricane of emotion that is ultimately transcendent. Her version of the Kern/Hammerstein chestnut "The Song Is You," a song associated with Frank Sinatra, follows the template of Sinatra's classic Nelson Riddle-arranged recordings but Jennifer brings R&B testifying to the big-band swing. Jennifer actually dedicates the title track to Michael Bublé - who she affectionately calls "Mr. Wonderful." For more about the album, click here.
Holliday also has a list of stage credits to her name. Many know her for originating the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls (1981), a role which garnered her a Tony-Award for Best Actress in a Musical and her first Grammy-Award for Best R&B Female Vocalist. Her other Broadway credits include Sing, Mahalia, Sing (1985), Grease (1994), Chicago (1996), and Angela Lansbury - A Celebration (1996).