YouTube/The Pulitzer Prizes
YouTube/The Pulitzer Prizes

Watch Jennifer Hudson's Powerful Tribute to Aretha Franklin at Pulitzer Prize Ceremony

Manuela Cardiga
May 29, 2019
08:37 P.M.

Jennifer Hudson surprised the crowd at the Pulitzer Prize luncheon with a tribute to Aretha Franklin.


The Pulitzer Committee honored Aretha Franklin at the 2019 Pulitzer Prizes for Arts, Drama, and Music "for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades."

As a special surprise, Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy called Jennifer Hudson to the stage at Columbia University at the end of the program to closed the show with a musical performance.



Hudson gave a powerful rendition of the Gospel classic immortalized by Franklin - Amazing Grace.

Hudson had previously sung at Franklin's funeral, and at a Grammys tribute to the Diva of Soul.


Hudson was handpicked by Franklin herself for the lead in the biopic, "Respect."


Hudson closed the program, but the audience had previously been privileged to hear a performance of Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" and the spiritual "Hold On" by Brandie Inez Sutton, a soprano for New York's Metropolitan Opera.



The Pulitzer Prize is an awarded for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition and it was established in 1917. Canedy explained the inclusion of Franklin in the prestigious roll of honorees:

"Like people and institutions throughout America, since her death, we’ve been reflecting on her life and work and contribution to American music and society, and it was in that spirit we were really honored to be able to do this."


The special citation awarded to Franklin is a rarity, and only 43 special citations have been granted by the Pulitzers since 1930.

Franklin is the first woman to have been awarded a special citation, joining the distinguished company of fellow musicians John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams.


Franklin passed away on On August 16, 2018, at her home in Detroit, the victim of a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor. Franklin was 76, and had dedicated her last 62 years to her music.



In January 2018, it was announced that singer and actress Jennifer Hudson would be portraying Aretha Franklin in a movie about her life.

Hudson was handpicked by Franklin herself for the lead in the biopic, "Respect."

“It is an absolute honor to be a part of bringing Ms. Franklin’s story to audiences who adore her around the world. She is one of the most iconic and talented artists of all time and what a dream come true it is to portray her extraordinary life on screen." Hudson said.

There have yet to be any further cast announcements for the film.

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