Jennifer Hudson Celebrates Aretha Franklin's 'Spirit' with New 'Here I Am' Visualizer
PEOPLE has an exclusive look at the clip for the Oscar-winning star's original song paying homage to the Queen of Soul
Jennifer Hudson is letting out her inner Aretha Franklin on her latest song.
The Oscar-winning actress, 39, will portray the late Queen of Soul in the upcoming biopic Respect and is celebrating the film's soundtrack with a new visualizer for her original song "Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)."
PEOPLE has the first look at the clip, which pays tribute to the legendary singer and finds Hudson bringing her own interpretation of Franklin's music.
"Music is such a living and breathing character in this film, as it was in Ms. Franklin's life," she tells PEOPLE exclusively. "The process of creating this song was like constructing the greatest tribute I could possibly offer to her spirit."
"Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)" is the film's sole original song and Hudson wrote the vocal-packed anthem with Jamie Hartman and acclaimed hitmaker Carole King, who also penned Franklin's seminal 1967 classic "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman."
The Dreamgirls star called the collaboration "an incredible privilege" and knew she was in good company when it came to honoring one of music's biggest icons.
"Carole is one of the greatest songwriters of all time and, whether we were trading stories, playing piano together over video conference, or working through lyrics, it was always a masterclass - both in life and music," she says. "Jamie and I have collaborated together in the past and it's always so wonderful to create with him - he is continuously thinking outside of the box in a way that deepens the musical experience in indescribable ways."
It's been a 15-year-journey for Hudson to bring Franklin's story to the big screen, revealing on Good Morning America last month that they had their "first conversation" about the project "right after I won my Oscar for Dreamgirls" in 2006.
"So you can only imagine how I feel now, like, 'Whoa, it's here? It's done?' " she said. "To see it actually manifest and for her to choose me is … I can't even begin to put it into words. I do not take it lightly. It's a dream come true. I don't want to sound cheesy, but it is."
Hudson also revealed she and Franklin, who died in 2018 of pancreatic cancer at age 76, "spoke weekly" about her life, and wanted to record something new to commemorate her legacy.
"Our goal was to show that music was always the anchor for Ms. Franklin, in all that she did, and I hope this song illustrates the strength of her voice - both literally and figuratively - which always brought her home," she gushed.
Respect documents Franklin's struggle to find her own voice as she navigates the music industry, and Hudson couldn't be more thrilled to have it finally reach audiences, saying, "It was the final exhale of this extraordinary project and one that I let out with complete fulfillment."
Respect premieres in theaters Aug. 13, with the soundtrack being released on the same day.
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