Jennifer Holliday was only 19 – a real Broadway baby – when legendary director/choreographer Michael Bennett, the creator of A Chorus Line, saw her performing in Your Arms Are Too Short To Box With God, the show in which she made her Broadway debut. He invited her to participate in a workshop of a show, then known just as Project No 19, which turned out to be Dreamgirls. At that point the signature song And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going hadn’t been written. Agreeing to participate, Holliday created the role of Effie White and went on to play her in the original 1981 Broadway production, winning a Tony Award. Her cyclonic, heart-rending performance of And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Leaving is now iconic.

Jennifer Holliday. Photograph courtesy of Sydney Cabaret Festival

Since then, Holliday’s credits have ranged from playing Mama Morton in Chicago to Lisa Knowles in the television series Ally McBeal with Calista Flockhart. She has released five albums, and recorded with many artists including Barbra Streisand, Paul Simon and Michael Jackson. In 2016, she returned to Broadway when she took over the role of sexy cabaret singer Shug Avery from Jennifer Hudson in the...

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