Jennifer Hudson has opened up about the shocking triple shooting that robbed her of her mother, brother and nephew in 2008.
"I have definitely seen the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows," the Grammy and Oscar-winning actress and singer told The Observer.
Hudson's mother, church secretary Darnell Donerson and brother, Jason Hudson, were shot dead inside the Chicago home they shared with the singer's older sister, Julia Hudson, in October 2008.
The body of Julia Hudson's seven-year-old son, Julian King, was found three days later, wrapped in a shower curtain in the back of a car on the other side of the city.
"You don’t know how strong you are until you are placed in that kind of moment," the Dreamgirls star said.
Jennifer Hudson with mother Darnell Donerson in 2006
Julia Hudson's estranged husband, William Balfour, was convicted of the murders and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences in 2012.
"In many ways the trial was the most dreadful part of it all," the 32-year-old singer said. "But again I know my mother would not have wanted us to miss a beat, so we were there every day."
She Told The Observer she wrote Moan, a single on her upcoming album JHUD, in memory of her mother.
My momma taught me everything I know, and I will take it everywhere I go, if you think you've seen it all, just keep on living, live long," read the lyrics from the song.
"My mother always told me no matter how negative your life seems to be, you must always look for a positive," Hudson said. "That is what I believe a woman of faith should do."
She continues "Mom would always tell us if you are hurting, moan and you will feel better. That’s the title of the song.
"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 realise 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.”
Speaking about her bond with her sister, Julia, Jennifer says “We have always been very close. She works with me now – although she doesn’t do all that much work!
"She bosses me around, she’s a tough cookie. We don’t live together or anything, she likes being Julia and I like being Jennifer, but she never stops being my big sister."
Discussing her stunning career path, as well as her significant physical transformation since she was a losing finalist on American Idol, she said of her early years in the dangerous Englewood neighbourhood, "It feels like another Jennifer life."
"I don't look the same … So many things have changed. I sometimes think the only constant is my voice.”