Jennifer Hudson, who will portray famous soul singer Aretha Franklin in next month's biopic Respect, has released a new song. Titled "Here I Am (Singing My Way Home"), the track was co-written by Carole King and songwriter Jamie Hartman and produced by Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.am.
The song will be included on the Respect soundtrack, and will be the only original song to appear on the tracklist.
"Music is such a living and breathing character in this film, as it was in Ms. Franklin's life. The process of creating this song was like constructing the greatest tribute I could possibly offer to her spirit," Hudson said in a statement. "It was the final exhale of this extraordinary project and one that I let out with complete fulfillment." The singer went on to note that "being able to do so with Carole and Jamie was an incredible privilege. 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."
"Writing a song with Jamie Hartman and Jennifer Hudson felt both familiar and fresh at the same time," added King, who originally co-wrote Franklin's popular 1967 hit "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." "The process of songwriting continues to amaze me. One minute there's nothing, and then a song grows out of the seed of an idea. The seed was dormant when Jennifer, Jamie, and I first met virtually. Jennifer and I had previously performed together, and I was excited about writing with her for no less than a film called Respect in which Jennifer plays Aretha Franklin!"
Respect focuses on the Queen of Soul's struggle to find her own voice as she moves through her career. Hudson, who was handpicked by Franklin to play the role before she died in 2018, told EW that the two met in New York after Hudson won her Oscar for Dreamgirls. "There was no script at the time, but she wanted to meet with me, and we stayed in contact after that," Hudson shared. "It was when I was on Broadway when she called me and said, 'I've made my decision and it is you, young lady, who I want to play me. But don't you tell a soul.' And I was like, 'Yes ma'am, I won't!'"
You can listen to the new song below.