Alicia Keys and the band fun. opened for Jennifer Hudson for her last big performance in Washington, as she sang standing next to a pair of dancing Obamas, during this year's set of inaugural balls. This time around, the songstress had to contend with a slightly less talented set of musicians: members of Congress.
On Wednesday night, Hudson appeared at the annual Grammys on the Hill Awards to be honored by the Recording Academy. "It will go right up there next to my Oscar and my Grammy," she cooed when accepting the award.
But before she sang her heart out, there was lobbying to do. The Recording Academy's Daryl Friedman, the group's chief advocacy and industry relations officer, welcomed the 20 or so members of Congress who came and thanked them for being at the Recording Academy event as opposed to the Consumer Electronics Association's dinner down the street. (The two groups have butted heads on issues like SOPA and PIPA in the past).
"Like here [they're having] a wonderful banquet dinner, like here they're having an industry audience full of trade representatives, and like here they're honoring a talented, young, dynamic star," he began. "In our case, Jennifer Hudson. In their case, Congressman Jared Polis," he said, to a round of delayed laughter.
Next up, it was time to show off some cool new Melodyne technology (it's like auto-tune) in a very Washington way. Using a sound bite from Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Friedman presented the crowd with the congressman's newest hit, "The Paycheck Reduction Act" -- turning a bit of the congressional record into a hip-hop jam.
Then it was time for some crowd participation, as lawmakers such as House Whips Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and, yes, Conyers were pulled onstage to sing "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes. That's when the audience got a taste of Conyers' real singing voice -- a deep croaking sound -- as the other members squawked away.
Finally, it was time for Hudson. "Anytime there is anything positive going on ... you can always call me, I will be there with bells on," she said. "It's not always about lights and money and fame, but it's when you make a difference, and that's what I look forward to the most."