Paula Julie Abdul was born in 1963 in San Fernando, California. From the age of nine, she took dance lessons and impressed her teachers with her natural ability to dance and entertain.
Paula appeared on TV at the age of 16 (in the 1978 movie-musical Junior High School). In the early 1980s, Paula auditioned to cheer for the LA Lakers and passed the audition, going on to cheer for the legendary basketball team, eventually becoming the squad’s choreographer.
She quickly gained a reputation as one of the most talented and innovative choreographers in Hollywood and worked on the movies Private School (1983) and Coming To America (1988). She also choreographed routines for the TV series The Tracy Ullman Show.
Paula was eventually hired by Janet Jackson to choreograph the video clip for Nasty. Since the clip (and the song) was a hit, Paula was soon sought after by (amongst others) George Michael, Debbie Gibson, Duran Duran, INXS and ZZ Top.
Deciding to take the plunge from choreography and dance into music, she recorded a demo tape and persuaded Virgin to record an album.
In May 1988 she recorded and released a single called Knocked Out which peaked at #41 on the American Hot 100.
A month later, Virgin released Forever Your Girl, Paula’s debut album. Her follow up single The Way That You Love Me reached only #88.
Despite the initial poor sales, a third single, Straight Up, was released in February 1989 and went straight to #1. The title track to the album Forever Your Girl was released as a single and that also went to #1. Paula had her third #1 hit in September with the single Cold Hearted.
The Way That You Love peaked at #3 in December 1989. In February 1990 Paula had her fourth #1 single with Opposites Attract (featuring MC Skat Kat). To this day Paula remains one of the few female artists to have achieved four #1 singles from a debut album.
Forever Your Girl (the album) sold over ten million copies worldwide, going multi-platinum and making Paula Abdul a household name throughout the world.
Paula’s second album Spellbound was released in 1991, and it appeared that her success would continue where Forever Your Girl left off.
The first single from Spellbound, Rush Rush went to #1 in May 1991 and stayed there for five weeks. Her second single Promise Of A New Day also went to #1 in September.
Her third single, Blowing Kisses In The Wind, peaked at #6 in February 1992, marking a downturn in Paula’s commercial success. However, she continued to make the headline with her highly publicised marriage to Hollywood Brat Packer, Emilio Estevez.
In 1992 Abdul confessed to suffering from the eating disorder bulimia and checked herself into a clinic. She also divorced Estevez in May 1994, citing irreconcilable differences.
Her reputation was damaged when backing vocalist Yvette Marine claimed she, and not Paula, had sung the main vocals on several tracks from the Forever Your Girl album. Paula and Virgin eventually won the case.
By 1995 Paula had successfully overcome her demons and prepared to return to the spotlight. In the summer of 1995, she released her third album, Head Over Heels, a departure from her first two albums, with a mixture of pop, soul and a little hip-hop.
However, a new generation of musicians had overtaken her, and Head Over Heels peaked at just #18 on the Billboard 100. The three singles that were released from the album failed to reach the top twenty.
In October 1996 Paula married Brad Beckerman, heir to a clothing giant called ‘Starter’, in a whirlwind romance after they were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. Sadly, this was to prove to be yet another false start in Paula’s life and they divorced just seventeen months later citing irreconcilable differences.
In January 1997 Paula ventured into TV, making her adult acting debut with ABC’s Sunday Night Movie Touched By Evil, the true story of a woman recovering from a brutal rape. She went on to make appearances on Spin City, NBC’s Mr Rock & Roll: The Alan Freed Story, the cable TV movie The Waiting Game, NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and ABC’s Sabrina The Teenage Witch.
In 1998 she released an aerobics video called Cardio Dance, a follow up to her Get Up and Dance video released in 1995. She also established her own dance education company, Co Dance.