My Friend Threw His Shoe at Jennifer Hudson and It Was Amazing

On Friday, September 29, 2017, Boston College’s 25th annual celebration "Pops on the Heights" gala started out like any other. It was my first time attending Pops, but the energy in the air was familiar and palpable. Members of the BC community, from students to faculty to distinguished donors, were dressed to the nines and excited to enjoy a night of music by the Pops orchestra with an appearance by renowned composer John Williams and special guest, award-winning singer, Jennifer Hudson.

The night began with a rendition of the Olympics Fanfare and Theme by members of the Screaming Eagles Marching Band followed by an introduction from co-chairs of the Pops Committee and Chris O’Donnell. Member of the class of ‘92, O'Donnell who is most known for his role NCIS LA was tasked with presenting the University’s President’s Medal for Excellence, Boston College’s highest honor, to honoree, award-winning composer John Williams. Personally, I recognized his name at first but I soon learned that Williams was responsible for creating some of the most memorable cinematic scores in history from Harry Potter to Star Wars to Indiana Jones. Williams has made his mark in the world of music as a composer but not before he conducted the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra at the very first Pops gala 25 years ago. As Fr. Leahy presented Williams with the medal, I couldn’t help but think what an honor it was to be in the same room as such a legend.

As the night went on, the audience enjoyed a selection of orchestral works ranging from Beethoven to the Star Wars theme song accompanied by a mesmerizing light display using wristbands that were found under our seats. However, the highlight of the night wasn’t until after intermission, when Hudson finally graced the stage. Donning a sparkly, silver dress and a bold lip color, she began wowing the crowd before she even stepped foot on stage. By the time she began singing her second selection, “Spotlight” from her debut album, my friends and I were on our feet singing along in an attempt to show her the same amount of energy she was giving us. Even from the balcony, Hudson already recognized how excited we were and that became even more important later on in the night when she pulled one of our friends on stage with her.

During one of her more upbeat songs which included a spin on Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk,” Hudson found her way to the main floor of Conte and began dancing with the audience. It was at this point that my friend, determined to get her attention, headed down the stairs to the very first row of chairs and began swinging his jacket over his head. After she had finished singing, she made her way back to the stage and for a moment, we lost hope but then she noticed my friend out of the corner of her eye and invited him on stage for her last song. In disbelief, we all began screaming his name in approval to which Hudson responded with a wave in our direction. As Hudson began singing the one song we had been eagerly waiting for “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from DreamGirls, we all began screaming even louder in excitement as our friend appeared visibly shocked and started to shed tears on stage. At one point, he dramatically fell on the floor of the stage, and in a moment that has been featured on Buzzfeed ( and People (, he threw his shoe at her. Although this may be a shocker to many people, Hudson actually took it as a compliment because she did it to one of the contestants on the Voice where she is a coach this season.

In addition to being a platform for Hudson’s unforgettable performance, Pops on the Heights also raised a record-breaking $14 million for student financial aid and brought members from different walks of life of the BC community for one night. It truly was a night I will never forget and I can’t wait to see what the next Pops has in store.