Paula Abdul is an internationally acclaimed choreographer, songwriter, singer, and TV personality who rose to fame in the early 80s. In 2002, Paula became a worldwide sensation once again, but this time, neither because of dancing nor releasing chart-topping hits, but through guiding aspiring singers in the popular American Idol singing competition.
Paula spent her childhood days in San Fernando Valley, California. At the age of eight, she started taking dance lessons. And her obsession with dancing brought her to lead the Van Nuys High School’s cheering squad, where she was also elected as a senior high president.
While Paula was studying for her bachelor’s degree in TV and radio at Cal State-Northbridge, she successfully qualified as a member of the L.A. Lakers cheerleaders. And due to Paula’s exceptional performance, she eventually became the L.A. Lakers cheerleading squad’s head. Unfortunately, it was too difficult for Paula to continue her college studies while leading the cheerleading team. Since dancing is her first love, she opted to drop out of college and lead L.A. Lakers’ cheerleading squad full-time.
In 1984, no less than the ‘The Jacksons’ hired Paula to choreograph the music video of the band’s hit single ‘Torture.’ The project served as a springboard for the other artists to discover Paula’s superb dancing skills including Debbie Gibson, George Michael, ZZ Top, Dolly Parton, and Janet Jackson.
Despite her success as a choreographer, Paula never abandoned her love for singing. But she just waited for the right time for her to enter the mainstream music industry.
In 1988, Paula finally showcased her singing prowess to the world as she released her debut album entitled ‘Forever Your Girl’ with Virgin Records. This album made Paula a legit smash hit after five of her songs, including the ‘Forever Your Girl,’ ‘Straight Up,’ Opposites Attract,’ ‘The Way That you Love Me,’ and ‘Cool Hearted,’ became worldwide hits. This album sold over seven million copies in the United States alone and vaulted her into being one of the top pop stars of the 80s.
Three years after, Paula released another album entitled ‘Spellbound.’ But unlike her debut album, Spellbound did not only produce five chart-toppers but rather dominated the entire American Top Ten Hit songs entry of that time. Among the ten hit singles of this album, it was the song ‘Rush, Rush’ that caught the listeners’ interest. Many never expected that ‘Rush, Rush,’ would land on the top spot since it is not an R&B, nor dance-pop music. The song was actually a ballad.
After enjoying the limelight, Paula decided to take a brief hiatus. Paula had to take a break to seek treatment for physical and personal problems.It was later learned that Paula suffered from a condition called bulimia and also had a divorce with her husband, the actor Emilio Estevez.
On June 13, 1995, Paula released the ‘Head Over Heels,’ her third studio album under the Virgin Records. The album was considered a comeback attempt for Paula after having been gone for a while in the music scene.
Three singles were included in Paula’s third album, including the ‘My Love is for Real,’ ‘Crazy Cool,’ and ‘Ain’t Never Gonna Give You Up.’ But unlike her previous singles, Paula’s three new songs did not dominate the Billboard’s Top 20 hit chart. The failure of the ‘Head Over Heels’ was blamed on the lack of promotion. Virgin Records, admitted that there were some problems in the album’s promotional campaigns. This is the reason why the album just sold three million copies worldwide. With these setbacks, Paula again decided to take a break from the music scene.
In 2002, Paula was chosen as one of the three main judges for American Idol, together with music producer Randy Jackson and British record executive, Simon Cowell. Her on-screen comeback in the hit reality-singing competition show revitalized Paula’s career. Paula won praises from the audience, who saw her as a compassionate and sympathetic judge. American Idol placed Paula in the limelight again, and she was also given the opportunity to co-anchor the TV magazine show Entertainment Tonight.
Meanwhile, Paula released a new album entitled ‘Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow’ in 2008, with a single of the same title which she sang with her American Idol co-judge, Randy Jackson.
Paula served as judge of the American Idol from the first to the eighth season of the show. In 2009, Paula finally bid goodbye to the show.
After more than a year, Paula reunited with her American Idol co-judge Simon Cowell, but this time, judging the reality show, ‘The X Factor.’ Paula stayed in the show for a year and hosted several variety shows after.
Sad news shocked Paula’s fans in 2004 after she was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which probably the result of damage due to a plane accident she survived in 1992. In her interview with the PEOPLE in 2005, Paula revealed that the plane accident impacted her cervical spine, making her partially paralyzed for some time.
But no illness could defer the ever-determined Paula. She still does what she loves. In October 2013, Paula fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams: to visit Israel and send prayers at Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Aside from these, Paula also visited Galilee and paid a courtesy visit to the then Israel president, Shimon Peres.
Paula still possesses the determination and positive outlook she banked much in her younger years. Indeed, Paula is an exceptional choreographer, singer, and influencer!