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Jennifer  Holliday

Jennifer Holliday

Broadway Star

Biography

Jennifer Holliday is a “singer’s singer,” a diva with a voice that can leave an audience absolutely breathless. Whether punctuating a presidential ecumenical service at the White House with a rousing “down-home” gospel hymn or shaking the rafters of a concert hall with a hand-clapping show tune, this lady is at home wherever she performs. Read More >

With her superlative skills, soulful artistry, and church-influenced technique, Holliday’s “spine-tingling” hits—“And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and “I Am Changing” from the Broadway Smash Hit “Dreamgirls”—catapulted her to stardom and national recognition, and still bring audiences to their feet.

But things haven’t always gone smoothly. Holliday was in despair for more than ten years before she could admit to herself that she had more than a case of the blues. Now she shares her story of overcoming depression—day by day—and stresses that seeking medical treatment for this common disease is the key to successful recovery. “It's as if my whole life has started over, and God has shown me how to laugh again, to have fun,” she says. Now a volunteer advocate for the National Mental Health Association, she spreads the message that there is a healing path out of depression's darkness. Depression, though, isn’t the only challenge she faces with her health. Holliday was diagnosed years ago with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative inflammatory disease causing physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems. She now fights back by exercising regularly, meditating and reading.

Jennifer Holliday is arguably one of the greatest voices of the new millennium. “My deepest desire has always been to sing from my heart and to be honest with my truest heartfelt emotions. My song not only speaks from my soul but it also speaks through me to the hearts of those who hear me sing.” Whether advocating for mental health or sharing stories from her career, Holliday is an inspiring speaker who will captivate your audience.

Holliday was discovered at the age of 17 in her hometown of Houston, Texas, by Jamie Patterson, a dancer from New York, who was touring in the national company A Chorus Line. Patterson bought Holliday a plane ticket to New York and arranged her audition for Vinnette Carroll’s “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God.” Holliday sang one of her mother’s favorite hymns, “God Will Take Care of You.” She was hired that very same day and won the lead role in the Broadway revival of “Arms Too Short” at the Ambassador Theater. The rest is Broadway history. At the age of 21, her portrayal of the heroine, “Effie ‘Melody’ White,” in “Dreamgirls” garnered her the 1982 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and her first Grammy Award for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance for her signature “Torch Song” and Top 40 hit “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” Her second Grammy came three years later for her rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday,” a moving tribute to the late Mahalia Jackson, who was the greatest gospel singer of the 20th century.

Holliday recently made a triumphant return to Broadway starring in the revival musical production of "The Color Purple" and received rave reviews. Her latest CD release "The Song Is You" features soulful renditions of favorite jazz standards and r&b classic songs. She also still continues to perform across the country as well give concerts throughout the world to her loving and devoted fans.

Jennifer Holliday sings to bring hope to all people in search of healing and encouragement. She is a passionate philanthropist who uses her voice and her name to raise funds and bring awareness to many various causes that affect our families and every communities. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

CBS Morning Interview

Speech Topics

Sharing My Song with the World

Singing from the Heart

Connect with Jennifer Holliday