Jennifer Holliday is undeniably one of R&B and Broadway’s greatest voices. Endowed with a commanding and irresistible voice, immeasurable range and artistry that few can rival, Holliday has long stood in a class by herself. The dynamic songstress’ now legendary show-stopping, heart-wrenching performance of the torch ballad “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going” in the smash hit Broadway musical, Dreamgirls, made her a household name and introduced her big soulful voice to the world. Her portrayal of Effie “Melody” White, a role she co-created, not only brought theatergoers to their feet for eight performances a week, but also garnered her a Tony-Award for Best Actress in a Musical and her first Grammy-Award for Best R&B Female Vocalist.
From Broadway to major TV appearances including (Ellen, Ally McBeal and Touched By An Angel) and half-a-dozen soundtrack credits, Holliday is one of the most distinctive, enviable and revered voices in modern music. Through the years, Holliday has collaborated with everyone from Barbra Streisand, Luther Vandross, David Foster, and Paul Simon, to Michael Jackson, Maurice White and Foreigner. She has also sung with the Boston Pops and The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra with Peter Nero, among numerous other esteemed orchestras.
Holliday considers herself to be a Broadway Baby and theater continues to be a significant part of her career. Her illustrious resume includes such theatre credits as Sing Mahalia Sing: The Mahalia Jackson Story, Downhearted Blues: The Bessie Smith Story, Harlem Suite (with Aretha Franklin), Chicago (starring as “Mama Morton”), Grease (starring as “Teen Angel”) and Black Nativity (starring as the “Angel of God”).
The in-demand star has also been invited to participate in Chaka Khan’s induction into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame ceremony to take place June 10 at the Apollo Theatre and broadcast later on BET. Considering herself a “bi-partisan songbird,” Holliday is both honored and grateful to have performed at the White House for President Ronald Reagan, President George Bush, President Bill Clinton, and President George W. Bush.
January 21, 2014, Shanachie Entertainment will release Holliday’s highly anticipated label debut, The Song Is You, an enchanting collection of R&B and Jazz numbers that showcase Holliday at her best.
Shanachie General Manager, Randall Grass said, “Jennifer Holliday is one of the greatest voices of our time; her many fans are hungry for new music from her. This new album may be the most complete fulfillment of her artistry and vision as she recorded it free from any pressure to fit a commercial format.”
The Song Is You is Holliday’s first pop album in 23 years and it defies expectations. Produced by Daniel Moore and Jennifer, much of it is her take on standards but there are also previously unrecorded songs and lesser-known compositions. The dynamic vocalist draws from jazz, R&B and Broadway but even when the song is well-known, her interpretation transports the songs into fresh territory. When Holliday tackles “At Last,” for instance, a song that has been done countless times, one would think that there is not much new that could be done with this standard but the singer builds it into a hurricane of emotion that is ultimately transcendent. Her version of the Kern/Hammerstein chestnut “The Song Is You,” a song associated with Frank Sinatra, follows the template of Sinatra’s classic Nelson Riddle-arranged recordings but Holliday brings R&B testifying to the big-band swing. Holliday actually dedicates the title track to Michael Bublé – who she affectingly calls “Mr. Wonderful.”
But amidst the standards is a memorable pop ballad Holliday penned for Whitney Houston called “The One You Used To Be.” She also features a classic-sounding R&B song, “Are You Leaving Me” by an unknown author that has only previously been recorded as a demo by Aretha Franklin and “It’s Not About You,” a new song by neo-soul singer/songwriter Gordon Chambers. Other highlights on The Song Is You include a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch with a stellar version of “Nobody Does It Better.” Also showcased are versions of such lesser-known R&B numbers as “Love Is On The Way” and “Touch.” Even when Jennifer sings the classic “The Look Of Love,” at some point she takes you to church, to the depths of her heart and soul in a way that only the great divas can.
The orchestrations on the album equally match the sublime artistry exhibited by Holliday. There are no synthesized string or horn sections; it is all high-end live string and horn players, something you rarely hear nowadays. It is an almost shocking reminder of what an accomplished musicians and a great vocalist can do together. Overall, The Song Is You is a great reminder of just how powerful a vehicle for human expression music can be.
Although Holliday released a Gospel duet album, Goodness & Mercy, in 2011, it has been 15 years since she has released a solo album.