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Jennifer Hudson's Sensational "A Change Is Gonna Come" Will Stop You in Your Tracks

The celebrated Sam Cooke classic was included in the soundtrack of the film Malcolm X.

By Elizabeth Logan

This performance brought the audience to its feet, and for good reason.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of The Voice on Monday, September 23 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

EGOT winner and former The Voice Coach (Seasons 13 and 15) Jennifer Hudson delivered an extremely powerful performance of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" that will stop you in your tracks. The cover took place at the 2019 American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award tribute to fellow Oscar winner Denzel Washington, and no one watching could contain their excitement.

"We love you so much Mr. Washington, you are so amazing, God bless you," Hudson said during her standing ovation, blowing a kiss to the actor, who returned the gesture. The track is included in Spike Lee's monumental biopic Malcolm X, in which Washington played the late activist. See the performance below to instantly understand why Hudson was chosen to cover the anthem.

What to know about "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke

Inspired partially by Bob Dylan's "Blowing In the Wind," singer-songwriter Sam Cooke penned the song in 1963 after a run-in with racist motel owners in Louisiana. It was released on the album Ain't That Good News in February 1964, and then re-released as a single just days after Cooke's funeral in December of that year.

In the verses, Cooke sings about hardship, but the chorus is optimistic, making it a perfect song to encapsulate the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s which was rooted in the acknowledgment of deep injustice, but predicated on the idea that things can improve.

As of February 2024, "A Change Is Gonna Come" sits at number 3 on Rolling Stone's list of the best songs of all time.

RELATED: EGOT Winners Jennifer Hudson & John Legend Take Us to Church with This Masterful Duet

Split of Jennifer Hudson and Sam Cooke