by David Borzo
Don’t let the beautiful smile and the provocative dance moves and videos throw you; don’t let some of the American Idol stories lead you to a wrong conclusion; don’t let her slight stature fool you for even one minute: Paula Abdul is a powerful performer who has used talent, intelligence and – she’s the first to say some luck – to make it to the top. She is an artist and performer in the classic tradition with a solid grounding and perspective. Her all-question session for the final 2013 SmartTalk Connected Conversations™ was revealing. Along with the special dance work to Paula’s hits by the Des Moines Ballet, it all made for an excellent presentation.
Paula tried to get to it all. Or as much as she could in the two hour program time, but there’s no way to get to the whole Paula Abdul story in one evening; the three months preemie baby weighing two pounds; the San Fernando Valley girl who grew up surrounded by neighbors that later formed the groups Tower of Power and Toto, and a babysitter named Michael Bolton who sang her lullabies; the 17-year-old Paula who lied about her age and became a LA Lakers Girl (on her third audition); the 18 year old who started working as choreographer for the Jackson family dynasty; the pop idol Paula in her own right with tens of millions of records sold; the Paula who has been choreographer for multiple Hollywood movies and on TV; the producer Paula, the saleswoman, the talent scout, and of course famous American Idol judge…there is just too much to cover.
So put aside the Grammy’s and Emmy’s, take away the star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, accolades and awards and we get down to a fiercely determined and tenacious young teenager who wouldn’t take no for an answer, who constantly threw herself into the unknown. By getting jobs she wasn’t specifically qualified for, she learned how to grow into new roles quickly. This has been an underlining theme of many of the distinguished SmartTalk speakers; it’s not about rejection, it’s about how you handle it. It’s not just how to get a job – it’s about continuing to grow into a new job. It’s all about confidence and taking chances.
It’s like her idol Gene Kelly who over a half century ago recreated the American Movie Musical: Paula has re-created herself dozens of times to fit the opportunities that she was offered. She’s really an old-fashioned artist who has a great sense of history and respect for the performers that came before her, respect for all her collaborators, and respect for that little boy or girl who starts on the road to greatness with a lot of sweat and courage. A great story, role model and cap to a successful. 2013 SmartTalk season!