Jennifer Hudson Says She’s “Heartbroken” Over Death Of ‘Idol’ Vocal Coach Debra Byrd: “She Will Be Dearly Missed”

Two days after the news broke that American Idol vocal coach Debra Byrd had died, one of her most successful students has paid tribute.

Jennifer Hudson took to social media and wrote that she was “heartbroken” at the news of Byrd’s passing.

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“She encouraged and supported us from the very beginning ! I am so grateful for everything she taught us,” wrote the Season 3 standout. “She will be dearly missed, but her legacy lives on through the music of countless artists she influenced during her lifetime.”

That list of artists stretches far beyond the reality competition’s stages. In addition to hopefuls, Byrd’s students included Grammy winners, recording artists, actors, musicians and Broadway stars. She worked closely with Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, Bob Dylan, Barry Manilow and many others.

Byrd performed with Manilow for many years, touring around the world as part of Ladyflash, the featured backup group for Manilow.

“This is one of the saddest days of my life,” Manilow wrote on X/Twitter. “I just can’t wrap around the fact that Debra Byrd is no longer with me. She was one of the most wonderful friends I’ve ever had. I will miss you forever, my love.”

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