Q&A Will.i.am Launches New Smartwatch And Shares His Thoughts On Apple, Michael Jackson, And Beats Co-Founder Jimmy Iovine

Sources: CNet – By Richard Nieva | All Things Michael


SAN FRANCISCO — Will.i.am is no stranger to technology. After all, he’s the grammy-award winning artist and member of the Black Eyed Peas who once rapped, “I’ve got that rock and roll, that future flow.”

The musician — born as Will Adams — also served as Intel’s creative director and has a founding stake in Beats Electronics, the headphone maker and streaming music company that Apple bought for $3 billion in August. He has also been a vocal proponent of STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — education.

On Wednesday, Will.i.am added one more thing to his portfolio: He launched the Puls (pronounced Pulse), a sleek minimalist wrist-worn device — he insists it’s “not a watch” — onstage at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference at the Moscone Center here.

The watch can make calls without pairing with a smartphone.

The watch can make calls without pairing with a smartphone.

The device stores music, has a voice navigator named Aneeda powered by the speech-tech company Nuance, and makes phone calls without being paired with a smartphone. While that’s rare when compared with the rest of the smartwatches that have already been unveiled by other companies — including the Apple Watch, coming early next year — it won’t be alone. Samsung’s Gear S watch, demonstrated in September, will also make calls. Network partners for the Puls are AT&T in the U.S. and O2 in the U.K.

While the musician gave the device a proper coming out party on Wednesday, he first showed it off in April, on a British talk show.

The market for wearables is nascent but promising. In 2013, 9.7 million wearables were shipped, according to CCS Insight, a research firm. By the end of 2014, that figure is projected to jump to 22 million units. And by 2018, 250 million wearables will be in use, the research firm estimates.

This isn’t the first wearable device that Will.i.am has put out. Last year, his company i.am+ launched the foto.sosho, an iPhone case worn around the neck that costs $475. The accessory essentially turns your iPhone into a fancier camera, with things like a keyboard, interchangeable lenses, built-in flash and photo editing. On Wednesday, Will.i.am also talked about other connected-wearables his company makes, like shoes, a bag and a jacket.

CNET sat down with Will.i.am in San Francisco, hours before he launched the watch on stage. Below are excerpts of the conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Question: You’ve done wearable tech products before. Why did you think it was important to get into this space?
Will.i.am: The wearable conversation has been led by tech alone. And the fashion world has called it “fashion” for decades. They don’t say wearables. The reason they say wearables is because there’s technology inside of the things you put on your body. And I want to enter the conversation, and suggest, ‘Hey, here’s a device we are bringing to market that is non-tethered.’ And we want to design it from the standpoint of expression.

We’ve created other components that allow you to have two days of [battery] power, or utilize the device with jackets. We’ve created shoes that allow you to weigh yourself and count your steps. Because what good is it to count your steps from your wrist if you don’t know how much you weigh? So we’re completing the conversion by looking at it from a perspective that most folks aren’t looking at if from.

Wearables haven’t gotten mainstream quite yet. What do you think companies haven’t yet done right? And how is your product different?
Will.i.am: That’s a hard question. Because I don’t want to knock other people’s attempt to bring awesome technology to culture. So it’s not my place to say what awesome companies are doing right or wrong. What’s my place is to tell my team what we should aim to do right. Because it’s all relative. Some people like things that I don’t like. I like things some people don’t like. I want to use my energy to corral my team to think of things other companies haven’t thought of.

My colleague saw you at the Apple Watch launch event last month. What do do you think of the watch?
Will.i.am: That’s an amazing piece of technology. It’s awesome. It’s beautiful. It’s Apple. They’re like the most amazing company on earth. [Pauses.] They’re the most amazing company on earth.

You are both in the wearables business now. Do you see them as a competitor?
Will.i.am: There’s a guy that I worked with in the past — I’m going to use music as a metaphor. Before I worked with him, he was my idol. His name was was Michael Jackson. He did the most amazing music on earth. He entertained us all. He showed us what to do when you’re successful.

Michael Jackson was the most amazing artist ever. But that didn’t stop me from doing music — because Michael Jackson made music. I didn’t look at Michael Jackson as a competitor. He was my inspiration. He made me want to make music too. Apple makes me want to make products. How can I compete with those guys? Those guys are the masters of the universe. Literally. And they’re my inspiration. And they make amazing stuff.

Speaking of Apple, you have a founding stake in Beats Electronics. What do you think of the company’s acquisition by Apple?
Will.i.am: That came out of the blue. That’s a blessing. Jimmy Iovine, that guy’s amazing. I showed Jimmy my device, and he’s proud of me. Because most people have ideas and are afraid to execute them. And when people tell them no, they stop.

I funded this. People in world are waiting for someone to give them money. They say, hey, I’ll promote your product. That’s going to cost you. Rarely are they ever willing to put down X amount of dollars.

I know Jimmy Iovine is one of your mentors. What advice did he give you as you were starting this company?
Will.i.am: Jimmy would say, [starts doing Iovine impression] “Whatever you do will, just gotta focus on it. You can’t be doing a million different things. You already do too much. Focus on it.”

So, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years. I’ve got to build this company. Not only for me but for the kids I’m telling to get into STEM. I’m telling them not to hang out on the corner, and learn to code. And then I’m not doing the same thing?


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Please listen to Will’s beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Michael. It will have you in tears. It’s starts at 1:18

US Justice Department Finally Settles Suit Against Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President Allowing Him To Keep Some MJ Memorabilia

Sources: The Wall Street Journal – By James V. Grimaldi| Edited By – All Things Michael


One of the Justice Department’s biggest efforts to seize property in the U.S. from allegedly corrupt foreign leaders is ending with a settlement for less than half of what the government sought.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the vice president of Equatorial Guinea and son of the impoverished but oil-rich African country’s longtime president, has agreed to sell a Malibu, Calif., mansion, Ferrari and six life-size Michael Jackson statues.

In return, the Justice Department will allow the 45-year-old Mr. Obiang to keep assets that include a Gulfstream jet, a luxury boat and most of his collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia. It includes a white, crystal-encrusted glove from the late singer’s “Bad” tour in the late 1980s.

U.S. officials accused Mr. Obiang in three civil cases filed since 2011 of buying the items with money looted from Equatorial Guinea. His government salary is about $100,000 a year.

Both sides have agreed to the civil settlement, which was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. A copy of the signed settlement was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The deal will be reviewed by the same federal judge who encouraged Mr. Obiang and U.S. officials last year to settle the case.

In their decadelong investigation of Mr. Obiang, U.S. officials alleged a three-country shopping spree of more than $100 million. The Justice Department went after $70.8 million in U.S. assets—and will recover about $34 million. The settlement amount is based on the estimated market value of property that will be sold as part of the agreement with Mr. Obiang.

Mr. Obiang’s mansion in Malibu, Calif. Carrillo/CelebrityHomePhotos.com

Mr. Obiang’s mansion in Malibu, Calif. Carrillo/CelebrityHomePhotos.com

The settlement shows the ups and downs of the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, announced in 2010. So far, the agency has collected about $600 million out of the $1.2 billion pursued from 15 cases against current or former officials and businessmen in at least 14 different countries, according to a review of the cases by the Journal.

Most of the cases involve alleged bribery, extortion or embezzlement. Justice Department officials said additional cases haven’t been made public yet because their court filings are sealed.

About $480 million of the total came from a civil-court judgment in August against Sani Abacha, a former Nigerian dictator who died in 1998. The Justice Department is pursuing $120 million in additional assets from alleged co-conspirators of Mr. Abacha.

U.S. officials said the agreement with Mr. Obiang is the latest sign that the anticorruption program has become an important deterrent to foreign leaders who consider the U.S. a haven for ill-gotten money or other assets.

“These cases do send a strong message that if you bring your assets into our country, if you buy real estate here, we will find them. We will take them,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, who runs the Justice Department’s criminal division.

Mr. Obiang settled without admitting any wrongdoing. In addition, the Justice Department has told lawyers for Mr. Obiang that the agency will not pursue a criminal investigation into his alleged removal of Michael Jackson memorabilia from the U.S. during the civil case.

“I am pleased to be able to end this long and costly ordeal,” Mr. Obiang wrote in a statement on his Facebook page. “I agreed to settle this case despite the fact that the U.S. federal courts had consistently found that the Department of Justice lacked probable cause to seize my property.”

Lawyers for Mr. Obiang have said the disputed property was bought with money earned legally through timber concessions and companies he owns.

The Justice Department faced daunting obstacles in its fight against Mr. Obiang that are common in corruption cases against foreign leaders. To win in court, the government must prove that assets in the U.S. were bought with proceeds of illegal activity in the country where the alleged corruption occurred.

The money trail is even harder to follow when the target has a large number of overseas shell companies and accounts, as Mr. Obiang did, according to court filings in the civil case. “These accounts are suspicious,” U.S. District Judge George Wu said in a ruling last year.

But he threw out most of the Justice Department’s case, concluding there “is no evidence that the defendant assets were purchased with those funds.” In December, the Justice Department filed a new civil suit against Mr. Obiang. Before the settlement was reached, the two sides were sparring over whether a statute of limitations had lapsed. [...]

Mr. Obiang said one reason he decided to settle the case is because the forfeited property would be sold and its proceeds “used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.” He added: “For the good of my country, it was important to resolve this matter and put the relationship back on firm footing.”

The registration for the Gulfstream jet that Mr. Obiang is keeping as part of the deal was changed during the past year from a corporation owned by Mr. Obiang to the government of Equatorial Guinea, according to court records filed in a federal court in Washington.

Mr. Obiang’s collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including the crystal-encrusted glove, a “Thriller” jacket and platinum record albums, were shown at an exhibition in the Equatoguinean Cultural Center in the capital city of Malabo.

Michael Jackson's glove on display at the Equatoguinean Cultural Center in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, last year. The glove is part of Mr. Obiang’s collection of the pop star’s memorabilia. Equatorial Guinea Press and Information Office

Michael Jackson’s glove on display at the Equatoguinean Cultural Center in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, last year. The glove is part of Mr. Obiang’s collection of the pop star’s memorabilia. Equatorial Guinea Press and Information Office

When the show opened last year, a government news website wrote: “Despite the efforts of some Western institutions to prevent these objects from coming to our country, justice has finally returned them to their authentic owner.”


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Patricia Ward Kelly Talks To Students About Gene Kelly And Michael Jackson

Sources: The Vista Press – By Pat Murphy | Photos by Phillipe Carre | All Things Michael


In the main office of the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts hangs a beautiful and colorful mural made by students. In the middle of the mural are the words “Kindness Matters”. On Friday afternoon the day before her show, “GENE KELLY – THE LEGACY”, Patricia Ward Kelly exemplified that motto as she thrilled hundreds of students and a handful of parents at the Academy’s main auditorium. Also present and captivated by Mrs. Kelly’s presentation were faculty members and a couple of former students, Jennifer Mahoney and Anna Johnston, who are now part of Vista’s Art Community.

Magnet School Coordinator Melanie Paliotti and Dance Instructor, Michele Earnest upon learning Patricia Kelly would be in town early to prepare for her show at Moonlight Amphitheatre on Saturday, Oct. 4, contacted the former wife of Gene Kelly and were able to arrange for this special show for the students. The students were all jazzed up and excitedly (but orderly) filled up the auditorium. Separated by their ability to be photographed, they sat with legs crossed on the carpeted floor and when prompted by Principal, Catina Hancock, “What do we do with our voices?”, they all said in unison, “off’ and then it was quiet in the big room. That in itself was amazing. Even Patricia Kelly remarked several times during the one hour assembly, “What a great audience!” the students were. The decorum was only interrupted at the end of each of the three short film clips and when she mentioned having dinner with Michael Jackson.

Prior to starting this mini-show, Patricia mingled with students and autographed a brochure that featured photos of her and Gene Kelly. She handed out one of these to every student. In between the three film clips, she took questions from students and parents. Some questions were very personal and some were very astute but she didn’t mind answering all the questions. She cautioned everyone that “we only have a short time” and asked for their close attention so there would be time to answer all the questions. Questions like, “Where did you go on your honeymoon?”, “How old were you and Gene Kelly when you married?”, and “When did Mr. Kelly die and what caused him to die?” kept Patricia Kelly on her toes. Her answers were direct and honest which is something we should all be with children’s curiosity. Mrs. Kelly asked her own questions of the students. She wanted to know if any of them had ever danced in the rain and how many of them wanted to be singers and dancers. She told us how Gene Kelly wanted his movies to “bring joy” and how he was always looking for new things to do. Patricia encouraged the kids to “show up on time, do your job and always look ahead to find that something new”.


Patricia told her audience how “being on time” was something that Gene Kelly felt was of the utmost importance. He always took great care to be on time even to the extent of checking out the location and route to an appointment he had on the following day. She told us about meeting Michael Jackson and how Michael had memorized all of Gene Kelly’s work. Gene was a fan of Michael and encouraged him to take his talents to the next level. The boys and girls seemed to hang on Patricia’s every word. They also appeared to share Patricia’s love for one of the greatest entertainers of all time.


Today being the day before the big show at the Moonlight meant that Patricia Kelly had a lot on her plate. She had to go to the amphitheater and check out all the lighting and sound equipment and being a professional like her late husband, she also had to rehearse. She always tells people that some of the qualities she most admired in Gene Kelly were his kindness and gentlemanly manner. Well, the time she spent with the students at the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts demonstrated that she is also a kind and generous person.

The vision in Vista Unified School District is to be the model of educational excellence and innovation. Their stated purpose is to inspire each and every student to persevere as critical-thinking individuals who collaborate to solve real-world problems. The schools strive to instill Values like Respect, Trust and Collaboration in every student. The teachers and Faculty that I met today at the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts are certainly achieving these lofty goals and Patricia Kelly’s presentation fit right in with those goals as she spoke to the young aspiring actors, dancers and choreographers.


I was asked to remind our readers that the Annual VUSD Festival of the Arts is being held on Saturday, Oct. 18, 10 AM to 4 PM, in the downtown area by the Krikorian theatre. The festival will showcase the visual and performing arts from students within the district, grades Kindergarten through 12. For more information on the event, check out the web page; https://www.facebook.com/pages/VUSD-Festival-of-the-Arts/146428605397441.

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‘The Voice’ Season 7: Mayra Alvarez Nabs Spot With Michael Jackson Tune

Sources: Zap2it | All Things Michael

The Voice - Season 7

On Monday’s (Oct. 6) “The Voice,” Mayra Alvarez successfully navigated the selective final round of blind auditions and grabbed a spot on resident cool-girl Gwen Stefani’s team.

In the clip, the Texan backup singer and vocal teacher wows both Stefani and fellow coach Blake Shelton with her smooth rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” And despite Shelton’s attempts to woo Alvarez with his southern connections and charm, she ends up going with Stefani who literally shrieks with delight when her name is picked.

Considering that Alvarez will be up against quite a number of other talented female artists from Team Gwen in theKnockout Rounds, it will be interesting to see if she’s unique enough to stay in the running.

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Boy Bands And Their Contributions To Pop Culture

Sources: Nola.com- Keith Spera | Edited By – All Things Michael


Fifty years separate the Beatles’ Sept. 16, 1964 performance at City Park in New Orleans and One Direction’s Sept. 25, 2014 headlining appearance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Both are quartets from the United Kingdom who, early on at least, incited mass hysteria from their predominantly young and female fan base.

Much has changed about the boy band business in five decades. Tickets for the Beatles at what is now Tad Gormley Stadium were $5. Tickets to One Direction are in the $100 range.

The Beatles, arrayed on a plain, barebones stage, were barely audible above the screaming, given the crude state of stadium audio in 1964. They might as well have stood on a flatbed truck.

One Direction, by contrast, will roam a technologically dazzling array of ramps and platforms, blown up many times larger than life on giant screens and projected to all corners of the Dome by a pummeling, state-of-the-art sound system.


Locals recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ City Park concert. If history is any guide, come 2064 we won’t be collectively remembering this week’s One Direction’s concert with quite the same reverence, if at all.

Thus, today’s golden rule of boy bands: Enjoy it while it lasts.

Here’s a look at boy bands with varying degrees of staying power:


The choreographed hair and clothes. The individually marketed personalities. The fainting female fans. The Beatles, in many ways, pioneered the boy band model. Unlike many such bands that followed, they also played instruments, wrote their own songs, and, obviously evolved well beyond the boy band label.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: The greatest catalog in pop music.


One of the first “manufactured” boy bands, the Monkees were assembled by a rock impresario intent on grooming a Beatles-like phenomenon. He succeeded, even though the four Monkees, setting a boy band precedent, broke off ties with him and set out on their own.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: A great Neil Diamond trivia question (“Who wrote the Monkees hit ‘I’m a Believer’?”).


The Jackson 5 crafted utterly addictive Motown ear candy while rocking huge Afros and sequined jumpsuits. Little Michael Jackson inherited Paul McCartney’s mantle as “the cute one.”

Lasting contribution to popular culture: The King of Pop!!!!!!


The Boston combo was a sort of non-sibling Jackson 5. Like J5, NE often pined for unrequited puppy love in such perfectly crafted singles as “Mr. Telephone Man.”

Lasting contribution to popular culture: Bobby Brown.


Assembled in Boston by New Edition impresario Maurice Starr – who was intent on realizing the commercial potential of a “white New Edition” – New Kids was so big that they had their own Saturday morning cartoon show at one point. They eventually left Starr, changed their name to the more grown-up NKOTB, and released a more serious album in 1994 with the self-fulfilling title “Face the Music.” It was soon over.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: “Blue Bloods” co-star Donnie Wahlberg.


Puerto Rico’s entry in the boy band sweepstakes enjoyed an international following throughout the 1980s that spilled over the to United States. The band’s staying power may have been harmed by its habit of booting out members when they turned 16, their voice changed, or they otherwise exhibited any evidence of growing up.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: The concept that your dreams die with puberty.


Would-be boy band impresario Lou Pearlman assembled the Backstreet Boys in Orlando, Fla. Early gigs were in malls and at SeaWorld. Before the ’90s were out, BSB was selling out stadiums; “Millennium” was the best-selling album of 1999. The most successful of the latter-day boy bands – or, as they prefer, “male vocal groups” – the Backstreet Boys have reportedly sold more than 130 million records around the world.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: “I Want It That Way.” Also, the Nick & Knight Tour, featuring the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter and New Kids On the Block’s Jordan Knight, which is coming to the Civic Theatre on Nov. 4.


Another Lou Pearlman creation and the only real rival to the Backstreet Boys in the late 1990s. *NSYNC ‘s “No Strings Attached,” released in 2000, was the best-selling album of the subsequent decade. Pearlman eventually went to prison. A certain member of the band’s solo and acting career essentially doomed the group.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “Bye Bye Bye” and Justin Timberlake.


Continuing the tradition of white boy bands who specialized in R&B-influenced pop, the members of 98 Degrees – including brothers Nick and Drew Lachey — wrote much of their own music, and were signed to Motown. They peaked in the late 1990s with the album “98 Degrees and Rising,” but splintered in the early 2000s.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,” the deliciously trashy reality show documenting Nick Lachey’s doomed marriage to Jessica Simpson.


The rare Irish boy band was huge just about everywhere in the world other than the United States.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: A counterpoint to fellow Irish quartet U2’s relentless seriousness.


Bucking the norm, the Hanson brothers have seemingly grown into well-adjusted adults, with stable marriages and kids of their own. And they still like one another enough to continue touring and recording as Hanson, happy to play to far more modest crowds than in their heyday.

Last contribution to pop culture: “MMMBop,” and the possibility that you could be in a boy band and not in the tabloids.


The Jonas Brothers’ ascent, fueled by the trio’s quasi-fictional portrayal of themselves on a Disney Channel show, was as vertigo-inducing steep as their eventual descent. One minute, they were selling out arenas. The next, they were cancelling a reunion tour and a planned fifth album, and going their separate ways, professionally at least.

Lasting contribution to pop culture: Not much.


One Direction’s first three albums entered the Billboard chart at No. 1. Their fourth, “Four,” will likely do the same upon its release in November. But if history is any guide, this week’s show will be the one and only time they headline the Superdome; eventually, every boy band’s audience grows up and moves on.

Lasting contribution to popular culture: “Bad boy” Harry Styles apparently helped convince Taylor Swift to swear off dating.

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Fashion: Learn To Rock A Leather Jacket Like A Pro!

Source: Huffington Post – By Chanel Parks | Edited By – All Things Michael


If there’s one piece of clothing that defines cool, it’s the leather jacket. Just ask any celebrity — they’ve been rocking the classic look in the edgiest of ways for decades.

Between Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston and Kanye West, leather (both faux and real) has always been a part of pop culture. And if there’s anything we can learn from this, it’s that the timeless coat pairs perfectly with anything: jeans, little black dresses, boots — the list goes on and on.

See how style icons and our favorite celebs wear the style below. We have no doubt you’ll be inspired to indulge in purchasing the sleek staple for your fall wardrobe.

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Alfonso Ribeiro Addresses His ‘DWTS’ Edge

Sources: ET | Edited By – All Things Michael


Alfonso Ribeiro has emerged as the clear frontrunner on Dancing with the Stars, and ET went behind the scenes during his dance rehearsal with pro partner Witney Carson.

While many know Ribeiro, 43, for the “Carlton Dance” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, his dancing history actually goes way back. In 1983, Ribeiro made a name for himself in New York as the lead in the Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid. The next year, Ribeiro was featured in an iconic Pepsi commercial with Michael Jackson.

“Obviously, the older generation remembers the Pepsi commercial, but I was 12,” said Ribeiro, who maintained that dancing doesn’t come back like riding a bike, and he’s been working hard to get his dancing legs back.

Ribeiro’s DWTS stint follows the birth of his first child last fall. He and wife Angela Unkrich welcomed a baby boy, Alfonso Jr. and Ribeiro shared how difficult it’s been to be away from him.

“It is tough,” Ribeiro admitted. “I do get my time with him. Most Americans go to work every day and get home at six o’clock and then they get to spend time with their kids, so at the end of the day, I’m really just doing what everybody else normally does when they have kids.”

Watch the clip to see Alfonso in his first ET interview.

Interview Video Link


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Jennifer Hudson Talks About Her Dream Role Playing Aretha Franklin and Why She’s Not Her Son’s Favorite Singer (Guess Who Is?)

Sources: Billboard – By Chuck Arnold | All Thing Michael


Since her star-making turn as Effie in 2006’s Dreamgirls, which took her fromAmerican Idol also-ran to Academy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson has left no doubt that she could crush a big ballad. Now on her third album, JHUD (Sept. 23, RCA), the singer-actress flips the script, hitting the dance floor with beats by Pharrell (who produced three tracks) and assists from R. Kelly, Iggy Azaleaand T.I. As she gets her new groove on, the Chicago native, 33, dishes on her dream role, going gospel and being sick of singing that song.

You worked with Pharrell on JHUD. How did he connect with you as a producer?

I worked with Pharrell for my first album [2008's Jennifer Hudson], although we didn’t end up having anything make that album, but we already had a rapport from back then. I was so excited to work with him again. Where we connect is we both have a love of old-school music. He’ll come in with a track and then I’m like, “I already know where I’m going with this. I feel you.”

Now that your music is more dance-driven, are you working on your moves?

I got one or two! I’m still working on it. It’s been fun. The only times I’ve really ever danced [with choreography] were when I worked on a cruise ship and then when I did Dreamgirls. And I didn’t miss a step!

JHud is a nickname that people have been using for you for a while. Did you always like it?

From the beginning. The first time I heard of it was when I was on American Idol, and apparently a radio DJ in Chicago gave me this nickname. Ever since everybody’s been calling me JHud. No one calls me Jennifer Hudson anymore. I grew up being called Jenny Kate, so this is like the world’s version of Jenny Kate.

JHud also takes a page from J.Lo. Do you have a favorite J.Lo song?

Oh my god, yes! “Jenny from the Block.”

Would you ever consider being an American Idol judge like Jennifer Lopez?

No, there can only be one Jenny on the block. [Laughs.]

Your signature song is of course “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Do you ever get sick of singing it?

You hit the nail on the head! But I’m grateful for it. I would never have guessed that I would still be walking around singing this one song. I will go through a whole 50-minute set and ain’t nobody paying me no attention, but as soon as I sing “And I Am Telling You,” it’s like, “Really, that’s all y’all want?” I will be singing “And I Am Telling You” for the rest of my days.

You have one of the best voices in the game right now. Who are some of your favorite singers, past and present?

Obviously I love the Aretha Franklins and the Whitney Houstons. I like voices with depth and range, like this [gospel] artist named Jessica Reedy. I also loveMeghan Trainor and Ariana Grande. And one of my favorite artists of today is Mali Music. He actually sang for my birthday [on Sept. 12].

Now that your son David is 5 and can appreciate your music more, what does he think about it?

Well, he told me I’m his second-favorite singer. Michael Jackson is first — and then mommy. He’s always around the house making little videos of himself doing Michael Jackson moves. I was telling him recently that, “You know, you were in my tummy when I sang at his memorial.” And he was like, “Really? Wow!”

ennifer Hudson pictured with fiance David Otunga Sr. and their son David at her Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Jennifer Hudson pictured with fiancé  David Otunga Sr. and their son David, pose at her induction ceremony on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2013

There was some talk that you might play Aretha Franklin in a movie. Is that still a possibility?

Well, apparently they’re still figuring that out, but that is my dream role. I would love it. I feel the same way I felt about Dreamgirls. I’m ready, honey!

After JHUD, what other kinds of music projects do you see in your future?

I want my next album to be a live album, like an old Aretha performance where she sat at the piano and played. I love moments like that. Then eventually I want to do opera because I sing opera as well. But my ultimate goal is to do the ultimate gospel album.

An edited version of this story orginally appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of Billboard.


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