In the 1980s, Abdul rose from being a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers to being a sought-after choreographer at the height of the music video era, then to being a Pop-R&B singer with a string of hits in the late-1980s and early-1990s. She has scored six number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, placing her in a tie for fifth among the female solo performers who have reached #1 there. She won a Grammy for "Best Music Video - Short Form" for "Opposites Attract" and twice won the "Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography."
After her initial period of success, she suffered a series of setbacks in her professional and personal life, until she found renewed fame and success in the 2000s as a judge on the television series, American Idol. Abdul was most recently featured in the eighth season of American Idol. Abdul was working on a new album and had hoped to have the album released by the end of 2009, but nothing came of it. Abdul has a mezzo-soprano vocal range.
She left the American Idol judge panel after season 8 due to a contract dispute. However, rumors have been going around saying that she may not have left American Idol, and might return before the ninth season begins, but that didn't happen. There were also rumors that she was going to be a judge on the American version of Simon Cowell's popular British talent show The X-Factor. None of that turned out not to be true at the time because she was busy debuting a new show, Live to Dance, which she would host and serve as executive producer. Live to Dance debuted on CBS in January 2011 but ended up cancelled due to low ratings.
Abdul reunited with Simon Cowell on the American version of his hit British talent show The X-Factor, but that reunion was short-lived as Abdul, along with pop singer Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones, was fired in January 2012 after the show's first season ended.
Abdul is now a judge on the FOX dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance. She had previously been a judge on the Australian version of the show.
Paula Abdul was born in the San Fernando Valley, to Harry Abdul, a former livestock trader and owner of a sand and gravel business, and Lorraine Rykiss, a concert pianist who once worked as film director Billy Wilder's assistant. Her father, a Syrian Jew, was born in Syria, raised in Brazil, and subsequently immigrated to the United States Abdul's mother is also Jewish and originally from Saint Boniface (now part of Winnipeg), Manitoba, Canada.
Abdul and her sister, Wendy, grew up with their mother in the San Fernando Valley. An avid dancer, Abdul was inspired towards a show business career by Gene Kelly in the classic film Singin' in the Rain as well as Debbie Allen, Fred Astaire, and Bob Fosse.
Abdul began taking dance lessons at the age of eight and showed a natural talent. She attended Van Nuys High School, where she was a cheerleader and an honor student. At 15, she received a scholarship to a dance camp near Palm Springs, and in 1978 appeared in a low-budget Independent musical film, Junior High School.
Abdul studied broadcasting at California State University, Northridge. During her first year, she was selected from a pool of 700 candidates for the cheerleading squad of the Los Angeles Lakers — the famed Laker Girls. Within three months, she became head choreographer. Six months later, she left college to focus on her choreography career.