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Jennifer Hudson won the world over as we watched her compete to become the next American Idol in 2004. Although she didn’t win, she was a fan-favorite with the talent that would eventually blossom into an international career.

Hudson belted out hits after hits flexing her strong vocals but unfortunately, tragedy struck when her estranged brother-in-law, William Balfour, murdered her 57-year-old mother, 29-year-old brother, and seven-year-old nephew.

Balfour was charged with three consecutive life sentences without chance of parole. The Chicago singer does her best to honor her late family. She shared some lessons she learned from her Queen in a recent interview with The Guardian. “She used to tell us: ‘No matter what you put your mind to, you can do.’ She said: ‘I think you can act.’ Or, ‘Jenny, I think you can draw.’ I’m like, ‘Whatever, Momma,'” Jennifer recalled. “One of my other favorite things she’d say is, ‘Whatever makes you happy. As long as you’re happy, Momma’s happy.’ And that’s how it should be. No one knows what makes you happy, and who’s to say what you should and shouldn’t be? You know your value. Just because you value one thing, someone else may value another thing and you should respect that. And my mother – I can just see her saying all that.”


Hudson admitted that “of course you still get sad” but her mother’s wisdom keeps her going. “I think I attribute that first to God, next to [the fact that] when you experience trauma, it comes and goes. It’s always there. But it’s a matter of how you deal with it,” she said. “. It would be worse, to me, not to press forward. I’m hearing my brother’s voice say, ‘Jenny, knock it off!’ He would be angry at me for giving up. Or all the things that my mother instilled in us. She prepared us. She would say, ‘You know, I’m not always going to be here and I want you all to be able to make it.’ She used to say, without family, you have nothing, which is why it’s so important to take care of family. So if I’m doing that, I know I’m pleasing my mother. As for my nephew; that’s where the Julian D King Gift Foundation comes from, because he was strong and very smart. So to live in a way that honors them is what presses you forward. Not to mention, thank God, that I have a child to live for.”