(Photo: REUTERS/MARIO ANZUON)
Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson has experienced loss and gain through the murder of three family members and her rise to fame, but it is her faith that has made it possible to overcome her tumultuous life experiences she said.
The award-winning star recently revealed that losing her 57-year-old mother, Darnell Donerson, her 29-year-old brother Jason Hudson and her 7-year-old nephew Julian King in 2008 was "the lowest of lows," but it was also a test of her faith in God.
"It (faith) was the ultimate help to me. We always said: 'If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it,'" said Hudson in an interview with The Observer Magazine. "There would be no point in faith if it wasn't tested. My mother always told me no matter how negative your life seems to be, you must always look for a positive. That is what I believe a woman of faith should do."
Hudson was living out her musical dream in 2008 while on tour when she was notified by her sister Julia, Julian's mother, that he was missing and that their mother and brother had been shot dead in their Chicago home.
Her former brother-in-law, Jason Balfour, was convicted of the three murders in 2012 and received three life sentences. During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Balfour, who was married to Julia, as a jealous estranged husband who often stalked Julia's house months before the shootings.
Despite the emotional toll brought on by her loss, Hudson notes that the trial itself was the most "dreadful" part of her grieving process.
"I know my mother would not have wanted us to miss a beat, so we were there every day. I wouldn't wish it on anyone to have to experience anything like that, but that is what you do for your family, so that is what we did…," said Hudson.
Her mother was the secretary at the church Hudson grew up singing solo performances in and her brother was an influential voice in her life, whose advice she now shares in a song, "Moan," in her upcoming album "JHUD."
"… Mom would always tell us if you are hurting, moan and you will feel better … There is not a day that goes by when I don't repeat the things she said. She was very quiet. The complete opposite of us kids. Now she has gone, I realize she had a lot to say. My brother, too, I hear him, too. When we were kids any time my brother saw me crying he would be like, 'Jenny, knock it off.' And that's what I hear him say when I cry now," said Hudson.
Hudson also notes that despite losing her family, her grief does not define her soul-based vocal expression but does have an effect on the way she portrays her emotions through music.
"Certainly there is a lot of emotion there, but I think I have always been in that kind of space. What do they say in church? Sing from your heart, because you are singing to God," said Hudson.
She added, "You know, when I used to sing those solos in church I would go through every line and ask the director 'What does this mean? What are we trying to convey here?' If you can't feel the emotion of a song, how do you expect anyone else to? It's like a testimony in that way."
While some of the most important people in her life were taken away from her and despite hitting her lowest point, Hudson notes that in addition to her faith, one thing has remained the same through it all.
" … So many things have changed. I sometimes think the only constant is my voice. That hasn't gone away," said Hudson.