NEW YORK (Billboard) - Jennifer Hudson may have taken longer than fans wished before officially announcing the September 30 release of her self-titled debut album. But early signs indicate it might’ve been worth the wait.
The 26-year-old Chicago native won the Academy Award last year for her supporting turn in the musical “Dreamgirls,” three years after being voted off “American Idol.”
The lead single from her Arista album, “Spotlight,” is currently No. 51 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, two weeks after debuting at No. 99. It was written by rapper Ne-Yo, and produced by Stargate, the moniker used by Norwegian producers Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen.
Ne-Yo notes there were challenges in choosing the first single, but says he’s “really, really proud” that his song was picked for the job.
“They were really trying to figure out where to take her,” he says. “The main issue with Jennifer Hudson is her voice is so huge, so how do you take that and radio-ize it, make it radio-friendly? She can’t do (“And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls”) every song because you’ll eventually be tired of it. So (“Spotlight”) is kind of a classy midtempo, and I hope and pray it does well because Jennifer is an amazing talent.”
According to Arista senior VP of marketing and artist development Scott Seviour, the track is intended to not only tide fans over until the fall album release but capitalize on Hudson’s role in the “Sex and the City” film, which opened in the top spot at the North American box office last weekend with sales of $57 million. The soundtrack, with the Hudson track “All Dressed in Love,” debuted this week at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Aside from having been on a radio promotional tour since the beginning of May, Hudson will star in and campaign for the movie “The Secret Lives of Bees,” set to hit theaters in October. “She has some stuff to do for the movie in June, so that keeps her in the public eye,” Seviour says.
In addition, “Spotlight” will be made available digitally June 10, and multiple remixes of the track will be serviced to the Internet and radio. July and August will be reserved for additional radio and TV appearances.
While a follow-up hasn’t been chosen, some tracks in contention are the Timbaland-produced “Pocketbook” featuring Ludacris and “Can’t Stop the Rain,” also written by Ne-Yo.
Additional contributors to the album include Robin Thicke, the Underdogs, Diane Warren, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Jack Splash. R. Kelly and Akon are expected to contribute as well.