This bright and booming talent is a perfect example of how NOT winning the title of "American Idol: The Search for a Superstar" (2002) can actually be a boon to your career and not necessarily the end of a childhood dream.
Born Jennifer Kate Hudson on September 12, 1981, in Chicago, Illinois, she earned minor attention as one of the twelve finalists on the third season of the FOX TV series in 2004. She came in an underwhelming sixth runner-up. Hudson grew up singing in gospel choirs, acting in community theater productions, singing on cruise ships and touring in "Disney's Hercules: The Musical." With no formal musical training, her gospel-tinged voice initially pleased the panel of judges. The songs were arguably ill-advised but evidence of her greatness peeked through at times. She, Fantasia Barrino and La Toya London were promoted as the show's own version of the Dreamgirls and were expected to be the final three standing in the competition when Jennifer was unexpectedly cut from the pack. Fantasia may have won the competition, but Hudson won an Oscar for her portrayal of Effie White in the Best Picture "Dreamgirls." In 2008, her self-titled debut album went gold and won her a Grammy Award.