Aretha Franklin, the late Queen of Soul, was posthumously awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Special Awards and Citations yesterday (May 28) at Columbia University. If that wasn’t exciting enough, Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson wowed the audience as the event’s surprise performer.
Franklin, an 18-time Grammy-winner who was also the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll of Hall of Fame, was honored “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades,” according to Pulitzer. She also became the first woman to earn a special citation prize since it was first awarded in 1930, Colorlines previously reported.
Music mogul Clive Davis and Franklin’s longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn accepted the award on her family’s behalf, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In addition to Franklin, the awards committee recognized people who have been affected by gun violence. Dana Canedy, administrator of The Pulitzer Prizes, said during the event that the organization turned to Hudson not only for her connection to Franklin—she sang at Franklin’s funeral last August—but also because of her deeply personal experience of losing a loved one to gun violence.
“[Jennifer Hudson] too has unfortunately experienced unfathomable loss due to gun violence,” Canedy said before introducing the vocal powerhouse.
Hudson performed “Amazing Grace,” as an homage to Franklin’s soul-stirring version and as a nod to the concert film of the same name, currently in theaters. Next year, Hudson is set is star in the Franklin biopic “Respect.”
Watch Hudson give new life to “Amazing Grace,” in Aretha Franklin’s honor, on The Pulitzer Prize’s Instagram feed:
Special surprise guest, Academy Award-winning actress and Grammy Award-winning recording artist Jennifer Hudson @iamjhud performing “Amazing Grace” at the Pulitzer luncheon @Columbia University today, in honor of 2019 #Pulitzer Special Citation awardee, the #QueenOfSoul @ArethaFranklin. @DonLemon @clivedavis . #PulitzerPrizes. #music. #ArethaFranklin Video by @spinitsocial
A post shared by The Pulitzer Prizes (@pulitzerprizes) on May 28, 2019 at 12:56pm PDT
Ready for Part II! Surprise guest, Academy Award-winning actress and Grammy Award-winning recording artist Jennifer Hudson @iamjhud performing “Amazing Grace” as she closes out the Pulitzer luncheon @Columbia University today, in honor of 2019 #Pulitzer Special Citation awardee, the #QueenOfSoul @ArethaFranklin. . #music. #PulitzerPrizes. Video by @spinitsocial
A post shared by The Pulitzer Prizes (@pulitzerprizes) on May 28, 2019 at 1:07pm PDT