Paula Abdul Biography

19 June 1962, San Fernando, California, USA. After spending much of her childhood in dance schools and troupes, Paula Abdul secured a role in the L.A. Lakers basketball cheerleaders team and at 17 became their choreographer. Spotted by the Jacksons, she was employed to assist them on dance routines for their live dates on the Victory tour. Abdul’s big break came when she landed a job choreographing a young Janet Jackson’s videos for Control. Their immediate success focused attention on Abdul’s dance talents and she quickly found herself much in demand from a string of other artists (including ZZ Top, Duran Duran and the Pointer Sisters) seeking a high MTV profile. The inevitable move to a singing career brought immediate fame. Stylistically in the mould of her former pupil, Janet Jackson, her third single, ‘Straight Up’, went to number 1 in the US in 1988, and was followed by three other chart-topping singles: ‘Forever Your Girl’, ‘Cold Hearted’ and ‘Opposites Attract’. The latter’s popularity was enhanced by the video’s depiction of the singer duetting with a cartoon character, MC Skat Cat.

Abdul’s debut, Forever Your Girl, triumphed on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching number 1 in the USA, staying there for 10 weeks, and peaking at number 3 in the UK. A follow-up collection of remixes, Shut Up And Dance, issued in early 1990, marked time until Spellbound was released in 1991. The latter gave Abdul another US chart-topping album and spawned two US number 1 singles in ‘Rush, Rush’ and ‘The Promise Of A New Day’. Her popularity in Europe, although quite substantial (‘Straight Up’, ‘Opposites Attract’ and ‘Rush, Rush’ were all UK Top 10 singles), was nonetheless no match for her image in the USA, being every young girl’s role model as the all-singing, all-dancing trouper. Abdul’s choreography work in the movies and her marriage to actor Emilio Estevez also helped maintain her high profile, although the couple were divorced in May 1994. She returned in 1995 (after a long absence owing to a lawsuit filed by a former backing singer) with the minor hit single ‘My Love Is For Real’, which preceded Head Over Heels. Abdul made her adult acting debut in January 1997 with the television movie, Touched By Evil. She subsequently signed an abortive recording contract with Mercury Records, while continuing to work as a top ranked choreographer. In 2000, she co-wrote Kylie Minogue’s UK chart-topping single, ‘Spinning Around’. Two years later, she resurfaced as a judge on American Idol, the US version of the phenomenally successful UK series Pop Idol.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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