Jennifer Holliday (born Jennifer Yvette Holliday on October 19, 1960 in Riverside, Texas) is a female R&B singer and Tony Award-winning actress.
She is well-known for her role in the Broadway musical, "Dreamgirls." She is also known as the Queen of Broadway Gospel.
In 1979, Jennifer landed her first big role on Broadway at the age of 19, performing in the musical production of "Your Arms Too Short to Box with God" which earned her a 1981 Drama Desk nomination.
At the age of 21, Jennifer scored her most well-known Broadway role in the musical, "Dreamgirls" as Effie White. She remained with the show for nearly 4 years after it opened on December 20, 1981.
Her performance received wide acclaim, most recognizably in the musical number that ends the first act, "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going."
Jennifer won the 1982 Tony Award for "Best Leading Actress in a Musical" along with a Drama Desk & Theater World awards for her acting performance in "Dreamgirls."
In 1982, a pop version of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" became a hit, peaking at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped Billboard's Hot Soul Singles Chart for 4 weeks from July 24, 1982 to August 14, 1982. The song also peaked at #32 on the UK Singles chart.
The song earned Jennifer the Grammy Award for "Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female" in 1983 and has been covered by numerous artists, including Jennifer Hudson, who portrayed the role of Effie in the 2006 movie version of "Dreamgirls" and turned it into a Top 20 R&B hit & a #1 dance hit.
In 1985, Jennifer appeared in the touring company of "Sing Mahalia Sing" and was a featured vocalist on Foreigner's #1 hit song, "I Want to Know What Love Is."
The remixed version of the song peaked at #26 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart and #30 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Maxi-Singles Sales chart.
The remixed version of the song peaked at #3 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Maxi-Singles Sales chart and topped Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart for a week in February of 1986.
On October 30, 1986, Paul Simon hosted a gospel session that was originally televised as a part of series of "Cinemax Sessions" which featured Jennifer, Luther Vandross, The Oak Ridge Boys, Andrae Crouch, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, and the Mighty Clouds of Joy. The show started with Jennifer's powerful version of "His Eye is On the Sparrow."
She joined Paul Simon & Luther Vandross on the song, "Still Waters Run Deep," Aretha Franklin on "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and all of the artists singing "Gone at Last" and "Amazing Grace."
The only single to chart was "Heart on the Line" which peaked at #48 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for 10 weeks.
During the 90's, Jennifer lost a substantial amount of weight and during promotional interviews, she talked about her health struggles with depression.
At first, the weight loss was attained strictly from diet, but eventually, she underwent gastric bypass surgery in an effort to avoid regaining the weight.
The follow-up single, "Love Stories" peaked at #29 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for 12 weeks.
In March of 1991, Jennifer married keyboardist Billy Meadows, but divorced by December. In March of 1993, Jennifer married for the second time to Detroit minister, Reverend Andre Woods.
The marriage was covered in the April 19, 1993 issue of "Jet" Magazine, but by 1994, the marriage ended, just four months after her mother passed away of cancer.
A new remixed version of "No Frills Love" topped Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart for a week in November of 1996. It also peaked at #10 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Maxi-Singles Sales chart.
Along with her music and stage career, Jennifer has also appeared on television as well, on shows such as "Touched By an Angel"& "Hang Time" along with a recurring guest-star role as choir director Lisa Knowles on the Fox series, "Ally McBeal."
In 1999, Jennifer released the single, "A Woman's Got the Power" which peaked at #7 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Club Play chart and #18 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music\Maxi-Singles Sales chart.
During that same year, Jennifer received a Doctor of Music honoris causa from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In 2001, she was the presenter for the tap dance show, "21 Below" at Town Hall in New York City & headlined Equity Cares\Broadway Fights AIDS "Nothing Like a Dame" show at the St. James Theatre where she was accompanied by teenage tap dance sensation, Michela Marino Lerman & Hannah Leah Dunn.
She also sang "America the Beautiful" on the first WWE pay-per-view that was held after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Coincidentally, the 2007 remix of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" was climbing the Billboard dance chart during the same time as Jennifer Hudson's cover version of the song with both songs making the top 10 in February of that same year.
In 2005, Jennifer was featured on pre-teen gospel singer, Najiyah's album, "It's Just Me" on the track, "Through the Storm."
On June 26, 2007, Jennifer made a surprise appearance at the BET Awards singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" with Jennifer Hudson, who had won an Oscar for her performance in the 2006 film version of "Dreamgirls."
Jennifer wasn't offered a cameo role in the movie and expressed displeasure with the movie in the media. She was featured on the "Why Did I Get Married?" movie soundtrack with the song "Givin' Up."
On October 17, 2011, Jennifer appeared on "The Wendy Williams" show where after a sit-down interview, she performed "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" which received a standing ovation from the studio audience.
On May 23, 2012, Jennifer appeared on the Season 11 finale of "American Idol" where she sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" with finalist Jessica Sanchez which received positive comments, amazed the world-wide audeince and received a standing ovation from the audience at the Nokia Theater including the American Idol judges.
As of late-February of 2011, Jennifer resides in Atlanta, Georgia. In July of 2012, Jennifer reprised her role as Effie White in the St. Louis Muny production of "Dreamgirls" which lasted from July 16th to July 22nd. Jennifer says that she doesn't plan to return to the role of Effie White again.
To see Jennifer's official Facebook page, go to:
To see Jennifer's MySpace page, go to:
To see a video of Jennifer performing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," go to:
To see a video of Jennifer performing "I Am Changing," go to:
To see a video of Jennifer performing "I Am Love," go to:
To see a video of Jennifer performing "Just Let Me Wait" on "Soul Train," go to:
To see a fan-made video for "Hard Times for Lovers," go to:
To see a fan-made video for "No Frills Love," go to:
To see a fan-made video for "I'm On Your Side," go to:
To see a fan-made video for "Love Stories," go to:
To see a fan-made video for the Love to Infinity remix version of "No Frills Love," go to:
To see a fan-made video for "A Woman's Got the Power," go to:
To see a fan-made video for "Think it Over," go to:
As a bonus, here's the video of Jennifer Holliday and Jessica Sanchez performing "And I Am Telling You" on the 11th season finale of "American Idol." To see the video, go to: