Jennifer Hudson Speaks out about Recovering after Family’s Death

Jennifer Hudson surprised many when, just months after a family tragedy that saw her mother, brother and nephew murdered, she returned to the stage to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XLIII.

But as the “Dreamgirls” star and former “American Idol” favorite sees it, she didn’t have a choice — her murdered brother wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hudson appears on the January 8 edition of NBC’s “Dateline” to discuss the tragedy, among other topics, and tells the show’s Lester Holt that she heard her brother Jason’s voice, which urged her to undertake the comeback performance.

“I felt as though I had to,” Hudson tells Holt. “ust the same as I hear my mother’s voice in my head, I can hear my brother’s voice in my head. And he– they, like, everybody, it’s like, is she ever gonna sing again? Is she gonna– you know? And what was I gonna say to that– I could hear him, like, ‘Jennifer–‘ he would always say, ‘Knock it off, Jenny,’ if I was cryin’ about somethin’ or if I was upset, discouraged, mad, ‘Jenny, knock it off.’ That’s what I hear in my head. And it’s like, ‘Okay, well, what they want me to do? I can either just sit here and mope around, or do what I know that would make them proud.’ And that’s what I did.”

Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, along with her brother Jason, were found shot to death in Donerson’s Chicago home on October 24, 2008; Donerson was 57, and Jason 29. After a search, Hudson’s 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, was found in a parked car, after dying of what the medical examiner’s office determined to be multiple gunshot wounds. William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia, pleaded not guilty to the murders and awaits trial in February.

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