Entertainment — 11 October 2012
Former American Idol Judge Paula Abdul Visits Music City at IEBA Conference

By Janice Malone

The International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) took place earlier this week in downtown Nashville.  The IEBA is a non-profit trade organization for live entertainment industry professionals. Founded in 1970, IEBA provides networking, showcasing and educational opportunities to strengthen relationships, foster growth and increase revenue for the live entertainment industry. IEBA showcases the best and brightest talent in all genres of music and all fields of entertainment. Representing over $1 billion in buying power, IEBA is an intimate organization that makes a huge impact. www.ieba.org

It was a week filled with music, talent and power broker entertainment executives. Hollywood power broker WME Co-CEO Patrick Whitesell and Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde were featured in an intimate discussion about the entertainment industry from Mr. Whitesell’s perspective. Attendees were treated to an array of showcases from a variety of genres of live entertainment. Some of the acts who performed included: The Guess Who, Imperial Acrobats of China, America’s Got Talent’s Zuma Zuma, World Champion of Magic Jason Latimer, Dance Y’All, Jason D. Williams and Rocker’s Collective, and others.

One of the highlights of the conference was singer/dancer/choreographer Paula Abdul receiving the IEBA Career Achievement Award. In addition to picking up the award, the former Americal Idol judge was part of a power-packed panel discussion, How Reality TV Has Affected the Music Industry. The panel also included American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle, Dick Clark Productions’ Barry Adelman, and RPM Management’s Scott Siman, and was moderated by renowned entertainment journalist Fred Bronson.  Ms. Abdul accepted the award at the Sheraton Hotel (downtown), from singers Scott MacIntyre and Nashville’s own Melinda Doolittle (American Idol finalist season 6).

During the panel session Abdul often joked about the many foibles of working with “Mr. Meany” himself, Simon Cowell.  She readily admits that she and Simon’s clashes helped make her an even more stronger person during their eight years of working together on the show. Paula shared her concern for what happened to a lot of the winners and first runner ups after winning American Idol.

She says, “I would often tell them, first of all, it’s a TV show. Number two it’s a TV show and number three it’s still a TV show! But a person’s singing talent is for a lifetime. Singers have to keep that in mind when it’s time for their talent to be out there on that show and make the best of it. A lot of singers set up their websites, social media etc., and help themselves with the gift they’ve been given.  But as the years went on with American Idol, I found that one of the worst places to be in coming into an audition like Idol, was to be a ‘good singer.’ If a person was a good singer, it was an unfortunate spot to be in because again, it’s a TV show first. A singer needed to be extraordinarily great or extraordinarily wacky. “

Many hard core critics have often been critical of American Idol and similar powerful TV talent show juggernauts of having winners and finalists who haven’t paid their dues, so to speak, in the music industry. But Paula disagrees. “I really hate when people say these kids haven’t paid any dues,” says Ms. Abdul.  “Viewers have no idea what it’s really like to be a part of a show that’s a fast moving bullet train like American Idol. It’s a lot of stress, pressure, a lack of sleep in some cases. It looks like it’s all glamorous but things start happening at 7:30 or 8am in the morning and often don’t finish until midnight.  It’s non-stop, with constant changes—themes change, song changes, costume changes. Sometimes songs can be changed the day before the live shows.  And then the contestants have to learn routines as a group for the cheesy group numbers (she laughs). The amount of pressure these kids go through is a lot. It’s a tough gig. The truth is, a singer has to get up on that stage and have America connect with them., and that’s not always easy. The viewers want to get that personable feel with the contestants. They want to know your back story. They want to know where did you come from.  How did this singing talent come about? So again, being a contestant on a big show like Idol is not necessarily that easy and glamorous. It’s a lot of hard work.   But I will say that it was such a blessing and so inspirational to watch amazing things happen for some of these performers. It was sometimes like having an out of body experience or something. Many of them have gone on to succeed more in music and some are now TV hosts, presenters, and are now stars in their hometowns. “

Paula says she’s back performing on stage again. She was recently in concert in Russia and has other tour dates scheduled. Keep up with her latest activities on her website—www.paulaabdul.com or follow her on Twitter @paulaabdul

Photo By: Janice Malone 

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