Jennifer Holliday, Queen of the Broadway-to-broadcast crossover

Jennifer Holliday is the rare performer to take her own signature song from the Broadway stage to the Billboard Hot 100. Holliday’s studio recording of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” her legendary first-act closer from Dreamgirls (music by Henry Krieger, lyrics by Tom Eyen), climbed to #22 on the Hot 100 and all the way to #1 on the R&B chart in 1982.

Remarkably, 25 years later, the song—this time sung by Jennifer Hudson in conjunction with the Dreamgirls movie—was a hit again (though less impactfully) reaching #60 on the Hot 100 and #14 on R&B chart.

The occasion of Holliday’s upcoming concert at the Marine’s Memorial Theater, presented by Feinstein’s, had us sifting through our collective memory banks to come up with other Broadway songs that have made it to the charts since the beginning of the rock era (The Broadway-to-radio connection was much stronger and more common prior to 1960).

Here’s a handful of other Hot 100 singles sprung from the stage:

“Somewhere” from West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein, music; Stephen Sondheim, lyrics) has been a great American earworm since 1957, but only made the Hot 100 after nearly three decades, charting at #43 in the version by Barbra Streisand in 1985. Though horrifying to contemplate, Phil Collins has also recorded the song.

“One Night In Bangkok” from the musical Chess, recorded by British actor Murray Head, went to #3 in 1984. Technically, the song was a hit before the stage show existed.  Chess began as a storytelling concept album (music by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA; lyrics by Tim Rice) and was not staged until 1986 on the West End and 1988 on Broadway.

“Written In The Stars” from Aida, performed as a duet by composer Elton John and LeeAnn Rimes went to #29 in 1999. The ballad, which also reached #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart once again demonstrated lyricist Tim Rice’s knack for choosing songwriting partners.

“Corner of the Sky” from the recently revived Pippin, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, was a #18 hit for the Jackson 5 in 1972. The song has also been recorded by Diana Ross.

“I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables (music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) has been recorded by many singers, but it never made the Hot 100 until TV competition-winner Susan Boyle took it to #62. Other notable versions have been sung by Neil Diamond, and the duet of Lea Michele and Idina Menzel on Glee.

“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” (Burt Bacharach, music; Hal David, lyrics), from Promises, Promises, is now probably associated more with Dionne Warwick—whose version reached #6— than with the 1969 Broadway musical.  A truly canonical pop song, its since been recorded by an odd lot of performers including Elvis Costello, Ella Fitzgerald, Patti Page and Isaac Hayes.