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ABC orders 'Duets' reality singing competition featuring Kelly Clarkson


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/09/2012 

ABC has decided to throw its hat back in the reality singing competition ring.

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The network has announced it has ordered Duets, a new reality singing competition which will feature four established recording artists each taking to the stage with the undiscovered talent of their choosing.

Duetswhich will air this summer, will feature singers Kelly Clarkson -- who was crowned American Idol's first-season champion -- Jennifer Nettles, Lionel Richie, and Robin Thicke as they individually search America for talented singers worthy of performing with them.

Each star will eventually select two singers to be his or her duet partners, and together, they will perform onstage each week for a live studio audience rather than simply judge them from a panel. The new series will conclude with one duet topping the charts and the amateur performer in that duo winning a recording contract with Hollywood Records.

"The simple fact that I get to go out and find two people that I believe in, sing with them every week, and help them accomplish their dream is an amazing thing that I can't wait to be a part of!" Clarkson said in a statement.

"The concept of Duets is so fresh because its mentoring is active and participatory. Most of my greatest learning was from singing and playing with other performers throughout my life and career. To have had the opportunity to perform with an established artist would have been so incredible when I was up and coming," Nettles, the lead vocalist for international duo Sugarland, said.

Singers Richie and Thicke explained they're equally excited to be a part of the fresh new reality singing competition in which they'll be afforded the chance to use their skills to shape new artists and also demonstrate their own vocal ability alongside them.

"I can't wait to get started working with these phenomenally talented young artists. My goal will be to focus on developing true artistry and giving them the tools necessary to be creative artists instead of created artists, and I am eager to pass along a few of the nuggets of wisdom that I have received throughout my 40-year career from my own mentors, such as Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder," Richie said.

"I'm truly excited to be a part of Duets. The format is unlike anything that's out there right now, and the opportunity to work with such talent, both the other artists and contestants, is definitely going to make for an exciting competition," Thicke added.

Duets will be ABC's first attempt at a reality singing competition since The One -- an adaptation of Operacisn Triunfo, the smash-hit Spanish reality singing competition that premiered around the same time as American Idol's Pop Idol predecessor debuted in the U.K. -- aired on ABC in Summer 2006. 

Like all other Operacisn Triunfo adaptations, The One -- which featured future American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi as one of its judges -- focused just as much on the contestants' behind-the-scenes activities as their on-stage singing performances, including the cast's participation in a boarding school-like music academy where they received training and instruction from a staff that included DioGuardi and the show's other two judges.

However despite high production values that included a slick studio set and high-definition broadcasts, ABC canceled The One -- which was produced by Endemol, the reality TV powerhouse behind numerous reality shows including Big Brother, Fear Factor, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition -- due to extremely poor ratings after only two weeks. 

Nine of The One's eleven finalists still remained in the competition at the time of the show's abrupt cancellation, including Syesha Mercado, who subsequently finished third on American Idol's seventh season.

(Photo credit ABC)


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