By Florence Anthony
The Chicago Sun Times reported that Academy Award-winning actress and R&B singer Jennifer Hudson teamed up with a Chicago TV news crew to ask the public to donate new and unwrapped toys that were given to the kids at the Abraham Lincoln Center in the Windy City on December 22. JHud sang a Christmas Carol and presented toys to hundreds of kids from the center. The Weight Watchers spokeswoman participated in the holiday toy drive in memory of her nephew Julian King, who lost his life along with Hudson’s mother and brother during a senseless shooting in their South Side Chicago home two years ago.
An Atlanta radio show hosted a very Keri Christmas listening party at Harlem Nights Ultra Lounge recently, where Keri Hilson previewed tracks from her upcoming “No Boys Allowed” album in stores, December 21. Keri showed the crowd how to “Pretty Girl Rock” and explained the inspiration behind each song. Several fans walked away with autographed merchandise and one lucky winner won a Panasonic sound system.
The hottest place to be in the cold Big Apple recently was my favorite guy, Freddie Jackson’s listening party for his new album, “For You,” which took place recently at Club Ciello in the Meatpacking district. “For You” is Freddie’s first album in five years. A native of Harlem, where he still resides, Jackson, who co-wrote two of the songs on ‘For You” and served as the album’s executive producer, credits veteran producer Barry Eastmond with persuading him to end his break from recording. Said Freddie: “Barry opened up the door of his studio and said: ‘Freddie, you should be making a record.’ I went to his house just to do a few songs and see how it went, and we ended up doing 12. ” For You” hit record stores on November 16.
The Queen of Soul is happy to be home. Aretha Franklin, who underwent “highly successful surgery for an undisclosed ailment on December 2 – and is reported to have pancreatic cancer – was discharged from a Detroit hospital last week. Says Franklin: “I’ve been at home for almost three days now. My family and friends who brought me home are taking great care of me. I also have a private nurse who visits on a daily basis.” Aretha says she’s hoping to be strong enough to go out and see the upcoming Sam Cooke play at the Music Hall in downtown Detroit before January 2, as well as a performance of “DreamGirls” at the Fox Theatre before it closes.
After getting engaged several months ago, actress Jurnee Smollett got married to her fiance Josiah Bell this past October. The “Friday Night Lights” actress married the musician in Los Angeles on October 24, with only family and close friends in attendance. According to reports, the couple registered at simple places like Bed, Bath and Beyond. “It was such a fun process,” said the actress. “We didn’t have a wedding planner. Josiah and I literally decided every detail together.”