Chicago, IL —
Oscar-winning actress and Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Hudson is officially slated to take the stage as one of Chicago Pride Fest's headliners, ChicagoPride.com exclusively confirmed early Saturday morning.
"True to our slogan, Bigger is Better, we are thrilled to bring Chicago's own Jennifer Hudson to Pride Fest," Jen Gordon, a spokesperson for the Northalsted Business Alliance
, told ChicagoPride.com. "She is the ultimate headliner for this iconic festival.The 2-day street festival is returning to Boystown for the 12th year June 21-22, the weekend before the city's annual Pride Parade that draws hundreds-of-thousands to Chicago. Hudson is scheduled to perform Saturday, June 21 at 2:40 p.m.
"The entire Pridefest committee along with the board of North Halsted has worked diligently for the past few months to secure the iconic Jennifer Hudson," Sean Kotwa, Hydrate general manager and co-chair of the Northalsted Business Alliance
organizing committee, told ChicagoPride.com. "We're so excited that Jennifer will be kicking off this year's festivities."
On Twitter Hudson said: "Excited to play @pridefestchi in my hometown! Lets do this Chicago!"The Chicago-native gained exposure and a loyal fan base after appearing on Fox's American Idol in 2004. Hudson went on to play a Motown-era singer in the 2006 film Dreamgirls, for which she won a Golden Globe and an Oscar. She also won a Grammy in 2008 for her debut album.The 32-year-old diva has always connected with the LGBT community, recently telling V Magazine that she got her start in gay nightclubs."I used to go out to the gay clubs when I was a kid. We were 16 or 17 and my best friend would pretend to be my manager," she said. "I'd have these amazing drag queens style me up and down, honey. They would be up there lip-synching and then I'd get up and sing for real — some Whitney Houston or some old-school Shirley Murdock — and I would make all the money. That was, like, my training."This past August as her home state of Illinois looked to pass marriage equality, Hudson joined Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for their live performance of the marriage rights anthem Same Love during MTV's Video Music Awards.Related: Jennifer Hudson joins Macklemore during MTV 'Same Love' performanceHudson is finishing her new 70's inspired album, slated for release this spring. The record features collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and Babyface. Among the tracks is a song called Whatever Makes You Happy, an empowerment anthem in which she invites everyone to be themselves."Earlier in my career I was just a soloist singing other people's songs. Now I really want to be an artist," she said. "I want to lift the people up, have fun, create a moment."Hudson will also perform at LA Pride, Los Angele's annual Gay Pride celebration which takes place June 6-8.Saturday's announcement follows another musical surprise for Chicago Pride Fest. A source confirmed with ChicagoPride.com Feb. 20 that Alex Newell, an actor and singer best known for his role as Wade "Unique" Adams on Glee, is officially slated to take the Pride Fest stage on Sunday, June 22.Hudson and Newell join Mya, Thelma Houston, Betty Who and more for the two-day festival, which marks the beginning of Pride Week. Organized by the Northalsted Business Alliance, Chicago Pride Fest is scheduled for Saturday, June 21 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, June 22 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a $10 gate donation. The event is located on North Halsted Street between Addison and Grace. The same group organizes Northalsted Market Days."We would like to remind the entire public that talent of this caliber is only made possible through the generous donations from festival goers at the gate," Kotwa added.
The 45th annual Chicago Pride Parade is Sunday, June 29 at Noon. Related: Glee star Alex Newell tapped as Chicago Pride Fest headliner