On Friday, Sept. 25, Jennifer Hudson sang "Hallelujah" at a concert to welcome Pope Francis on his first visit to the U.S.. The event, called "A Journey in Faith," stretched for two hours at Madison Square Garden with performers standing on a white elevated stage that would soon transform into the altar from which the pope would celebrate Mass. Hudson, the Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning singer, sang "Hallelujah" backed by an orchestra, and drew roars from the crowd.
Hudson rose to fame in 2004 as a finalist on the third season of American Idol, coming in seventh place. As an actress, she made her film debut portraying Effie White in Dreamgirls (2006), for which she gained worldwide acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She has also appeared in such films as Sex and the City (2008), The Secret Life of Bees (2008) and Winnie Mandela (2013). As a singer, Hudson won a Grammy Award for her debut album, Jennifer Hudson, released in 2008. The album spawned the hit single "Spotlight" and was certified gold by the RIAA, with sales exceeding a million copies worldwide. Her second album, I Remember Me, was released 2011 and was certified gold by the RIAA, producing the hit "Where You At".
Stephen Colbert made a video appearance, welcoming to the arena "Catholics and the non-Catholics who arrived really early for a Knicks game." He apologized for not being at the Mass in person, but said he had promised CBS that he would "do (his) new talk show every night."
Additionally, a bishop took the stage and gave a brief history of the papacy including a roll call of pope names, noting there had been "23 Johns, 12 Piuses, six Pauls, 14 Clements, but one Peter and one Francis," which drew loud cheers.