The Democrats came out swinging during the virtual Democratic National Convention and Jennifer Hudson’s mighty rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” delivered a powerful blow. 

On the third night of the DNC, J Hud, looking regal in a floor-length peach-colored Grecian gown, performed at the Harold Washington Cultural Center in her Chicago hometown. While she sang Cooke’s poignant song, Aretha Franklin fans knew that the Academy Award winner delivered Franklin’s version.

Hudson was accompanied by Franklin’s longtime collaborators Richard Gibbs and Fred Nelson (who was Franklin’s conductor) on piano. Soprano sax player Reginald Foster completed the trio, Variety reports. 

J Hud plays the “Rock Steady” singer in the forthcoming movie Respect. She stars opposite Forest Whitaker, Mary J. Blige and Marlon Wayans.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” was a more than fitting selection for the occasion, given 45’s problematic presidency and Kamala Harris’s historic vice president nomination, making her the first Black woman to be selected by a major party for that office. The taped performance ran following Harris’s speech, in which she talked about family, including her late mother and her husband, bonus children, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and HBCU brothers and sisters. 

But Harris’s most memorable lines were, “Let’s be clear—there is no vaccine for racism. We’ve gotta do the work for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, for the lives of too many others to name, for our children, for all of us. We’ve gotta do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law because none of us are free…until all of us are free.”

Cooke wrote the classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” in 1964 after being turned away from a Whites-only Holiday Inn in Shreveport, Louisiana. “Change” later became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement. According to CNN, in 2019, the Shreveport mayor apologized for its racist past and offered Cooke’s daughter a key to the city. 

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