Jennifer Hudson brought some uplifting pre-show entertainment to the televised 2020 NFL draft on Apr. 23. The 38-year-old Oscar winner shared a message that, “We love you, we appreciate you and we are praying for you,” to COVID-19 frontline workers before launching into the late Bill Withers‘ classic “Lean on Me.” It went down 15 minutes before the official team selections began. This was the league’s way of acknowledging the coronavirus crisis and lockdown, which caused all of the selections to be made remotely via FaceTime and Zoom.
Jennifer performed the song from what appeared to be a home studio, as a guitar could be seen on the wall, as well as some other equipment in the background. She looked incredible, with long blonde braids pulled over her left shoulder. Clearly she hasn’t been one of the folks impacted by having bad hair grow out during lockdown. J-Hud rocked a casual denim jean jacket over a shiny metallic top, as she was seen from her chest-level up on the broadcast.
Jennifer began singing the first verses a capella with her powerful pipes, then when she got to the chorus was joined in by a choir of four other singers via zoom. “Lean on Me” was an especially touching choice, as the song’s legendary writer and original singer Bill just passed away on March 30, 2020 at the age of 81. Even though some joked on Twitter that it confused them with the six-feet social distancing orders in place during the coronavirus pandemic. One user named @Yetter90 joked, “So that Jennifer Hudson Lean on Me thingy 15 min before the draft was a little inconsiderate. Better be leaning 6ft away.”
Jennifer Hudson sings “Lean On Me” before NFL Draft to definitely confuse social distancing guidelines.https://t.co/COaWTrHbg3
— Alejandro Guerra (@Cinephile420) April 24, 2020
Jennifer Hudson chopping it up from home for the NFL Draft.
— MM (@MaxieMillian1) April 23, 2020
Fans took to Twitter to praise Jennifer’s performance. User @daveQ0822 wrote, “@IAMJHUD amazing opening to the nfl 2020 draft. #leanonme,” while @MaxieMillian1 shared, “Jennifer Hudson chopping it up from home for the NFL Draft. An absolute Queen #NFLDraft,” along with a GIF of the 2014 Oscars audience rising to their feet in applause of something. Fan @CarrieR_SEL wrote, “Wow!!! Jennifer Hudson singing Lean On Me before NFL draft Fabulous!!! #weallneedsomeone,” along with applause emojis.” User @1stgrace108 tweeted, “Holy Moly Jennifer Hudson and some friends just killed it singing ‘Lean On Me’ for @NFL draft. Dedicated to our front line heroes. Awesomeness.”