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Jennifer Hudson performs "I Will Always Love You" during the In Memoriam portion of the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles.
Many paid tribute to the late, great Whitney Houston during Sunday's Grammy Awards. But an emotional performance of "I Will Always Love You" by Chicago's Jennifer Hudson arguably hit the highest note.
Hudson seemed to blink back tears as she powerfully moved through the pop superstar's well-known Dolly Parton cover, and morning-after reviews singled it out as a highlight of the 54th annual show.
As Hudson turned to throw a kiss to a photo of Houston, the woman who awarded Hudson a Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2009, it felt like the passing of the pop-diva crown.
Houston died Saturday at the Beverly Hilton while in town for the Grammys. The Los Angeles County coroner's office said Sunday her body was found in the bathtub in her hotel room.
As a generation of music lovers say goodbye to Houston, Chicago's Hudson faces upcoming trials and triumphs of her own.
The man charged in the slayings of three members of her family will face a jury in April. Jury selection begins April 9 in the trial of William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson's sister, Julia.
Balfour is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2008 slayings of Hudson's mother, brother and nephew.
Hudson has told NBCChicago she is looking for a house in the Chicago area and plans to be married in Chicago, as well.