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‘She Sang to Me’: Jennifer Hudson Shares Her Last Words With Aretha Franklin

Singer Jennifer Hudson is sharing the last words the great Aretha Franklin said to her before she passed away. The actress and singer spoke to “Entertainment Tonight” at the premiere of the movie “Respect” on Sunday, Aug. 8, in Los Angeles.

Hudson said that she talked to Franklin just before she passed. She said that the “Chain of Fools” singer sang a song of The Isley Brothers to her. Franklin also requested that Hudson cover the song “Skylark” during a previous conversation.

Jennifer Hudson attends the Los Angeles Premiere of MGM’s “Respect” at Regency Village Theatre on August 8, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

“I talked to her right before she passed, and I still can’t get over that and she sang to me The Isley Brothers on the phone, she said, ‘Now Jennifer, that’s the Isley Brothers.’ I said, ‘Yes ma’am, I know,’ so that was one of the last things I got to hear her do, was sing that.”

“I got to tribute her a lot, and one of her last requests was for me to sing ‘Skylark,’ which I am going to do … it’s a couple of others; I can’t think of ’em right now … I love ‘Accentuate The Positive,’ ‘This Bitter Earth.’ I’m a fan, OK? So, I have discovered so much more music during this whole process.”

Hudson met Franklin in 2007 just after she’d won the Oscar for “Dreamgirls,” the Associated Press reports. Franklin wanted to meet Hudson and tell her that she wanted the Academy Award winner to play her in a film about her life. The actress had dreamed of playing Aretha Franklin one day and even auditioned using one of her songs for “American Idol.”

“She’s one of my ultimate idols,” said Hudson. “And to just meet your idol is a moment in a lifetime, right? So to meet her, and then to be able to pay tribute to her numerous times and then to have it to be my dream to want to play her and then to have her say, ‘I want you to play me?’ Like that’s a lot to take in. I’m still taking it in, you know?”

After nearly 15 years, Hudson’s dream has finally come to fruition. Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker also stars in the film as Franklin’s father, as well as Mary J. Blige, Audra McDonald and Marlon Wayons.

Respect will be in theaters on Friday, Aug. 13.

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