Hairspray Live!: Jennifer Hudson Sings 'I Know Where I've Been' — Grade It!

With just a few weeks left in 2016, we’ve finally found the year’s most perfect casting: Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle.

During NBC’s Hairspray Live! on Wednesday night, the American Idol grad showcased her powerful pipes (and a fabulous blonde wig) for the role of Baltimore’s resident record store owner.

Hudson’s big moment? A rousing rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been,” the stirring gospel song performed during Maybelle & Co.’s fight for racial equality. 

Hairspray might be known for high-energy numbers like “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “Nicest Kids in Town,” but Hudson’s big moment — a particularly timely one, at that — will likely be the one you’re still talking about tomorrow. (Those key changes, people!)

Of course, Hairspray Live! ain’t Hudson’s first musical theater rodeo: In addition to winning an Oscar for the film version of Dreamgirls in 2007, she made her Broadway debut in 2015 as Shug Avery in the Color Purple revival.

Watch Hudson’s performance above, then grade “I Know Where I’ve Been” below and drop a comment with your thoughts on the overall production.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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24 Comments
  1. Mark Mummert says:

    Jennifer sang very well. The camera work and lighting are dreadful.

  2. GB says:

    Can I give it an A+?? She was fantastic.

    Only thing worth talking about from this production at all tbh.

  3. iHeart says:

    Can anybody say TVline performer of the week?

  4. Lynn says:

    She really is in a whole different league from everyone else and the best thing about this show by far.

  5. Liz says:

    There should be an A+ (Hot Damn!) option for this poll! Jennifer was ridiculously amazing!!!!

  6. Kelly says:

    I cried real tears and might have even thrown a shoe!!! She was ridiculous!!

  7. Mushhead says:

    Astounding. Brought tears to my eyes.

  8. Heather says:

    I need to be able to vote for something more than an A. Like an A+++++++++++

  9. Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:

    That was a MOMENT in Tv history!!! 😱💗😭🙌🏽 SANG Jennifer!!! She deserves ENDLESS emmys, Tony’s and Grammys after that!!!

  10. dan says:

    Best thing in the show!

  11. Rod says:

    Someone should be getting an Emmy nod next year!!

  12. Garvle53 says:

    Sorry but I still prefer Queen Latifah as Maybelle. Ms. Hudson was very good and I love her voice, but she was better in Dreamgirls.

  13. Temperance says:

    Amazing song, great vocal. I’s like a bit more storytelling and a bit less histrionics, but it was impressive for live TV.

  14. Nicole says:

    I literally was crying. Her performance was amazing.

  15. n says:

    She gives me goosebumps. Best voice since Aretha?

  16. ceebee says:

    Hudson WAS Amazing and totally stole the show…however — I think she was too young for the part – I would have preferred Patti Labelle or a true Broadway legend – Jennifer Holliday for the part – but I understand why they went with J-Hud for the ratings!

  17. jj says:

    She is horrible.

  18. I Sears says:

    What a voice. She deserves every award you could possibly think of. No one can top her!!

  19. It was so good, I threw up my “Hallelujah!” hands at the end!!