Singer Jennifer Hudson hit this year's Essence Music Festival, performing on opening day in New Orleans Friday (July 1).

The Grammy winner rocked the crowd in a sheer black dress and red heels, singing tracks off her current chart-topping album 'I Remember Me.' While the audience was seeking refuge from the 95 degree weather, the 29-year-old heated things up with her hour-long set, in which she showed off some of her dance moves.

"There's not much for me to remember from, so this is where this song comes from," she said before going into the album's title track. Nearly three years ago the singer experienced tremendous hardship when her mother, brother and nephew were murdered by her sister's ex-husband. Following their death Hudson, who was in the middle of promoting her first album, retreated from the media spotlight but has since reemerged, got engaged, gave birth to a son and dropped a reported 80 pounds.

Hudson also reunited with her former 'American Idol' cast member George Huff, who works as her back-up singer, and is a native of New Orleans. Huff stepped out from the shadows when Hudson called him to the front of the stage for a duet of Michael Jackson's 'I'll Be There,' in honor of the two-year anniversary of the death of the King of Pop.

The night also included a performance of Hudson's 'No One Gonna Love You,' the latest single off 'I Remember Me,' and she closed the show with 'Spotlight,' the lead single off her 2008 debut.

The Essence Musical Festival will be held through July 3. For more information, visit www.essence.com.



Watch Jennifer Hudson's 'No One Gonna Love You'
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