Singer Jennifer Holliday will have her story told on the next episode of Unsung tonight on TV One. Unsung first premiered in American households in 2008. The popular TV series, which is mostly watched by African Americans, focuses on once-popular R&B and Soul artists who hit the Billboard charts, but faded into the background after some major life catastrophe. On tonight’s show, TV One viewers will hear commentary from music industry insiders, friends, family members, and other artists. Unsung is hailed as the African American TV show that gives declining artists back the respect and dignity they deserve. Listen in as Unsung viewers will get to see a biographical account of her rise to fame and the major pitfall that cost her the career that she worked so hard for.
Her high-powered voice burned up radio airway in the 1980s with the debut of her popular hit song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” She had already made a name for herself on Broadway’s Dreamgirls— a theater show that premiered in 1981. According to the Los Angeles Times, the show ran for almost four years and won 16 Tony awards, making Jennifer Holliday a star. But, what started out as a dream come for Jennifer Holliday ended up as a major disappointment as she became increasingly unhappy and lonely with her lifestyle. The loneliness of being in show business, according to her, is what drove her into a downward spiral of overeating and depression.
By the time she was 30-years-old, the depression had gotten so bad that, on her birthday, she contemplated suicide. But, instead of dying, Jennifer Holliday realized that she needed to do something to improve her life.
Jennifer Holliday’s life took a upturn when she met her future husband, whom she says encouraged her to lose the weight that had made her so miserable in life. Struck by his undying support and loyalty, she now had the strength she needed to lose around 200 pounds and 222 inches off of her entire body, according to an old article in Jet. Starting out at a size 28 and carrying 330 pounds, Jennifer was able to shed the pounds, dwindling herself down to a beautiful size 12. The award-winning singer couldn’t have been happier, and credits her success to her husband. Sadly, the marriage dissolved in less than a year. Jennifer Holliday had one more marriage after that, but that relationship fizzled out, as well. Eventually, she left the spotlight and no one really knew what was going on with her over the years. She began living a quiet life, but continued singing and performing, just not on the scale that she had been on in the early 1980s.
The music world became acquainted with Jennifer Holliday again with the release of the movie Dreamgirls, starring Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson. The new generation got to the hear the haunting song that gave audiences chills throughout the 1980s. However, instead of being happy, it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that Holliday was left bitter and upset that she had been overlooked.
“Why is it necessary for them to wipe out my existence in order for them to have their success? It’s scary that they can be so cruel. I know it’s business, but why do they have to go to this extreme? I’m a human being. I need to work, too. Why do I have to die to make them a winner?”
Already dealing with the endless publicity surrounding the new Dreamgirls movie, what hurt her more was hearing Jennifer Hudson singing her tune. The Los Angeles Times relates the story this way.
“After weeks of suffering privately with the constant ‘Dreamgirls’ onslaught — particularly the raves surrounding the other Jennifer — she said the final crushing blow came the night before her Ars Nova stint when she watched Hudson on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ as Holliday’s version of ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ from the original cast recording played during the segment… When I saw that, I just gave up, I thought, ‘This is a hopeless situation. I am being canceled out as an artist.’ “
Actress Loretta Devine said she hoped that somehow Jennifer Holliday and Jennifer Hudson could meet and talk things out, according to USA Today. And judging by the photos of Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday together, it appears that they have done just that.
For the rest, you’ll have to tune in to Unsung tonight at 8/7 central. Also, be sure and let us know how you liked TV One’s coverage by using hashtag #Unsung and #JenniferHolliday. Read up on Inquisitr‘s Unsung coverage of Bernie Mac and Sammy Davis Jr.
[Image via Jennifer Holliday / Facebook]