Jennifer Hudson Says the Murder of Three Family Members Was a Test of Her Faith

Pam WrightLife

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Jennifer Hudson endured a horrific experience few of us can even contemplate — the murder of three of her closest family members.

The singer recently said the 2008 murder of her 57-year-old mother, Darnell Donerson, her 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, and her 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, was "the lowest of lows."

Believing the experience was a necessary test of her faith, Hudson says it was that faith which allowed her to move forward, accept the loss and find the positive in the wake of her devastating loss.

"It (faith) was the ultimate help to me. We always said: 'If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it,'" the award-winning singer said in an interview with The Observer Magazine. "There would be no point in faith if it wasn't tested. My mother always told me no matter how negative your life seems to be, you must always look for a positive. That is what I believe a woman of faith should do."

It was while on tour in 2008 that Hudson learned from her sister, Julia, that her nephew was missing and that their mother and brother had been shot dead in their Chicago home by her former brother-in-law, Jason Balfour.

Julia's son was found dead several days later with 'multiple gunshot wounds’ in the back of an abandoned SUV.

Prosecutors said Balfour was a jealous ex who had been stalking his estranged wife's house for months prior to the murders.

Convicted of the murders in 2012, Balfour received three life sentences.

Hudson says the trial turned out to be the most "dreadful" part of the whole ordeal. It was then that her grief hit her the hardest.

"I know my mother would not have wanted us to miss a beat, so we were there every day. I wouldn't wish it on anyone to have to experience anything like that, but that is what you do for your family, so that is what we did…," said Hudson.

In her album, JHUD, Hudson shares a very special song entitled Moan about her mother and brother.

"… Mom would always tell us if you are hurting, moan and you will feel better … There is not a day that goes by when I don't repeat the things she said. She was very quiet. The complete opposite of us kids. Now she has gone, I realize she had a lot to say. My brother, too, I hear him, too. When we were kids any time my brother saw me crying he would be like, 'Jenny, knock it off.' And that's what I hear him say when I cry now," said Hudson.

Hudson says the loss of her family members has allowed her to tap into even greater depths of emotion when singing.

"Certainly there is a lot of emotion there, but I think I have always been in that kind of space. What do they say in church? Sing from your heart, because you are singing to God," said the Dreamgirls actress.

"You know, when I used to sing those solos in church I would go through every line and ask the director 'What does this mean? What are we trying to convey here?' If you can't feel the emotion of a song, how do you expect anyone else to? It's like a testimony in that way."

The singer shared that she has one thing that hasn't changed despite pain, loss and upheaval.

“If I close my eyes, I can almost remember what it was like, what I was like, 15 years ago. I was at home in Chicago, still in high school, singing in church, living with my family.” said Hudson. “But generally, no, it feels like another Jennifer life. I don’t look the same. I’m a mother now. So many things have changed. I sometimes think the only constant is my voice. That hasn’t gone away."

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Pam Wright