Jennifer Hudson doesn’t do many concerts these days. She has only three shows listed online for all of 2018. And one of them is Saturday in Minneapolis.
The Oscar-winning actress/Grammy-winning singer will perform at the annual benefit for Twin Cities-based PACER Center. Hudson sang at PACER’s gala 11 years ago, a few months after starring in the career-changing movie “Dreamgirls.”
“When I performed at the PACER benefit in 2007, the room was filled with such amazing energy,” Hudson said via e-mail. “It means so much to me to be able to return and participate in an event that helps children with disabilities. This is an issue that is close to my heart.”
When an issue matters to Hudson, she gets involved. She and her sister started the Julian D. King Gift Foundation in 2008 to provide stability, support and positive experiences for children in their hometown of Chicago.
Hudson’s most recent public appearance was six weeks ago at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. At this massive rally for gun control, Hudson — who lost her mother, brother and nephew to gun violence in 2008 — interpreted a famous Bob Dylan song with a mighty gospel choir.
“My mother always taught us the importance of helping others and giving back. More than anything, we need to support our youth as they truly are the future,” wrote Hudson, a 36-year-old mother. “I was so proud to stand with all the students at March for Our Lives. They are making sure their voices are heard in an incredibly important movement. I performed ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” — and I really think they are.”
The latest news from the House of Hudson is that she will star in an Aretha Franklin biopic. She declined to go into specifics — the director, co-stars, schedule or how she’ll approach interpreting those definitive songs. She simply gushed about the project.
“It is an incredible honor that Aretha Franklin would choose me to play the legacy that is her life on film,” Hudson said in her e-mail response to questions from the Star Tribune. “I have always looked up to her and her career.”
Hudson’s answers did not make it clear which project will arrive next. There is an album in the works — her first since 2014’s “JHud.” Last year, she released two singles, “Burden Down,” a gospelly piano ballad about pain and strength, and “Remember Me,” an ebullient scorcher that evokes Adele.
What can we expect on the new album?
“You’ll have to wait and see!” she responded coyly.
Between the album and the film, Hudson keeps busy working a variety of highly visible projects. She even sings in a television commercial for American Family Insurance.
Actually, she’s been all over the tube in recent years — acting on “Hairspray Live,” playing recurring characters on “Empire” and “Smash,” and coaching on talent shows.
“Working on ‘The Voice’ and ‘The Voice UK’ has been such an amazing experience, because I get to spend my days with musicians who have shaped the world of music, while helping to discover incredible new talent,” she explained. “I had the best time with Adam [Levine], Blake [Shelton] and Miley [Cyrus]. I looked forward to work every day.”
Hudson has had many defining moments on TV — from when we first discovered her on “American Idol” in 2004 to her bringing down the house at the 2013 Oscars with “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls.” But nothing was more memorable — and daunting, no doubt — than when she opened the 2012 Grammys one day after Whitney Houston died, singing “I Will Always Love You.”
“Whitney has always been such an inspiration in my career and life. She has done so much for not only me, but the world of music. To be able to honor her and her incredible legacy is something I will never forget.”
Between all those gigs, Hudson also made her Broadway debut in 2015 in a revival of “The Color Purple.”
“The story, the music, the acting — I loved helping to bring that show to life,” she e-mailed. “It certainly wasn’t goodbye to Broadway for me!”
Her role as Effie in the film “Dreamgirls” remains her favorite, though, because it “was my first movie and the one that has probably had the biggest impact on my life.”
Yes, an Oscar for best supporting actress. That trophy is in a “hidden wall in my office where I keep all of my awards.”
But the versatile Hudson has no preference for film over music or TV.
“I am never able to choose just one! They all fulfill me in different ways. Each outlet of expression speaks to my soul. I thank God that I am able to live out my dreams every day and that I don’t have to choose just one. I love to perform and be onstage, but I also love to see people living out their dreams and help them on their journey.”