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In one of her first appearances on a record, Hudson is featured in a duet, "The Future Ain't What It Used to Be", on Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose.

In September 2006, Hudson performed the song, "Over It," live on Fox Chicago Morning News.

The track was produced by Chicago natives Powell and Herman Little III, who also arranged the song.

The film also received eight nominations at the 2009 NAACP Image Awards, including a nomination for Hudson for her performance.

In 2009, Hudson starred as Kathy Archenault in Fragments, a film based on the novel by Roy Freirich, with Dakota Fanning and Forest Whitaker.

Hudson auditioned for the third season of American Idol in Atlanta commenting that she had been singing on Disney Cruise Lines (aboard the Disney Wonder) for the past few months (as one of the Muses from Hercules); and contestant judge Randy Jackson said, "We're expecting more than a cruise ship performance from you." Hudson received the highest number of votes in the "Top 9" after her performance of Elton John's "Circle of Life" on April 6, 2004, but two weeks later was eliminated during the "Top 7" show after performing Barry Manilow's, "Weekend in New England." The bottom three consisting of three African-American females led to controversy.

In May 2010, the Los Angeles Times claimed Hudson to be the third greatest Idol contestant in the history of the show, placing behind season one winner Kelly Clarkson and season four winner Carrie Underwood.

In the interview she stated the song would be included on her debut album, to be released in early 2007; however, this was before she was signed to a record label.

Hudson also recorded a song she co-wrote with Bill Grainer and Earl Powell called "Stand Up", which was available for preview on her fan website.

In October 2008, after Hudson's mother, brother and nephew were killed in a shooting, Hudson stepped out of the public eye for three months.

Hudson resumed her public appearances in 2009, with high-profile performances at Super Bowl XLIII, the Grammy Awards, American Idol, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

As Effie White, Hudson has garnered 29 awards from film critics as Best Supporting Actress and Breakthrough Performer of 2006.

She won the Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

In January 2002, Hudson signed her first recording contract with Righteous Records, a Chicago-based independent record label.