Hudson and Grande recently joined Carey on stage at Madison Square Garden in NYC for a surprise performance of their “Oh Santa!” remix

Performing with Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande felt like a Christmas gift for Jennifer Hudson.

After Carey surprised the crowd with the two vocalists for a performance of their “Oh Santa!” remix during her Merry Christmas One and All! Tour stop at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, Hudson reflected on the experience during the latest episode of The Jennifer Hudson Show.

“I ended up going to New York because Miss Mariah Carey, she always comes up with big, great ideas, and she came up with the idea that her Christmas angels, which is Ariana Grande and myself, be a surprise for her Madison Square Garden performance,” recalled the EGOT holder, 42. “What a lovely surprise that was, because nobody knew we were coming.”

Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande perform during Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas One And All!" at Madison Square Garden on December 09, 2023 in New York City

Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande perform in New York City on Dec. 9, 2023.

While the trio first teamed up in 2020 for a new version of Carey’s “Oh Santa!” on the soundtrack for Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special on AppleTV+, the appearance at Madison Square Garden marked the remix’s first live performance.

“It was a lot of fun, but she wanted us to do it live, so we flew out,” said Hudson. “Nobody had no idea we was popping up, and she was like, ‘My Christmas angels. Where’s JHud? Where’s Ari?’”

According to the talk show host, Carey’s audience loved the surprise. “The crowd, when I say they went crazy — I’m still getting tags on my Instagram from that performance,” she added.

The concert appearance also marked a rare reunion for Hudson and Grande, who both starred in 2016’s Hairspray Live! and hadn’t seen one another since filming the “Oh Santa!” music video in 2020.

Another standout moment of the evening for Hudson was getting the chance to finally introduce her son David Daniel Otunga Jr., 14, to Carey’s twins — son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, both 13 — for the first time.

Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande


“My baby’s so big. He is 14 in a size 14 shoe, and he’s taller than everybody, and Mariah thought he was a whole grown man,” said the Respect star. “I’m like, ‘Mariah, that’s my baby.’ He’s only 14, and the kids were like, ‘Huh?’ I’m like, ‘He’s really only a year older than y’all.’”

Overall, the whole night was special for Hudson. “It turned into a reunion or something. It felt like being with family,” she said. “It felt like Christmas!”