Jennifer Holliday landed her first big role on Broadway at age 19, after she auditioned for the Broadway production of Your Arm’s Are Too Short to Box with God. Her performance in that musical earned her a 1981 Drama Desk nomination. Her next role was the role for which she is best known: the role of Effie Melody White in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Holliday originated the role of Effie and remained with the show for nearly four years after its December 20, 1981 opening. Her performance in the role was widely acclaimed, particularly in her iconic performance of the musical number that ends Act I, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”.

Among the acclaim was Holliday’s sweep of awards in 1982, including the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, a Grammy award for her recorded version of the song, and Drama Desk and Theater World awards for the performance. Holliday also performed in the touring company of Sing, Mahalia, Sing in 1986. In 1998 Holliday was featured on the album “My Favorite Broadway Ladies” as one of “The Queens of Broadway”.

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