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Paula Julie Abdul was born in San Fernando, California, to Jewish parents, Harry Abdul, who was born into the Syrian Jewish community in Aleppo, Syria, but was raised in Brazil and then immigrated to the U.S., and Paula’s mother, Lorraine, who was a concert pianist. Abdul has one sibling, an older sister named Wendy.
Abdul began taking dance lessons at an early age in ballet, Jazz, and Tap and was inspired to become a dancer from Gene Kelly’s performance in the classic 1952 film Singin' in the Rain. She was a cheerleader in high school and at 15 years old, received a scholarship to a dance camp near Palm Springs. In 1980, Abdul appeared in a low-budget Independent musical film, Junior High School. She attended California State University at Northridge, where she studied broadcasting, but during her freshman year, she was selected from a pool of 700 candidates for the cheerleading squad of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team, which became known as the famed Laker Girls and within a year became the team’s head choreographer.
Abdul was discovered by The Jacksons, after a few of the band members had watched her while attending a Lakers game. Abdul then choreographed videos for several singers throughout the 1980s, including many videos for Janet Jackson during the time of her Control album’s success.
In 1987, Abdul used her savings to make a singing demo. In 1988, Abdul released her pop debut album, Forever Your Girl, which produced five American Top Three singles. In 1991, she won her first Grammy for Best Music Video for Opposites Attract. Her follow-up album, Spellbound, contained even more chart-topping hits such as Rush Rush, for which the music video starred a young Keanu Reeves. Personally, Abdul battled privately with bulimia for years, but eventually recovered, but her future albums never matched the success of her first two. She then took a break from the music industry but continued her work as a choreographer.
In 2002, Abdul reappeared in the spotlight as a judge on the hit Fox music competition show American Idol, alongside fellow judges Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell and stayed a judge for nine seasons of the show before leaving in 2009.
In honor of her 52nd birthday, here is a Top 10 list of Paula Abdul songs.
Image courtesy of INFphoto.com