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Abdul was born in San Fernando, California to Jewish parents.
Abdul's father, Harry Abdul, was born into the Syrian-Jewish community in Aleppo, Syria, and was raised in Brazil and immigrated to the United States.
Abdul co-produced the 2001 pilot for Skirts, an MTV television series about a high school cheerleading squad; Abdul was also set to appear as the head coach. In 2002, she began appearing as one of three judges on the Fox reality competition series American Idol, where she won praise as a sympathetic and compassionate judge and mentor.
She seemed especially kind compared to fellow judge Simon Cowell, who was often blunt in his appraisals of the contestants' performances.
"Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" was a modest comeback hit for Abdul, peaking at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 11 on i Tunes, and number 2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.
A second compilation album, Greatest Hits: Straight Up!
, was released in 2007 by the Virgin label, who also made all of Abdul's releases under their label available for digital download on i Tunes.
The lead single from Head over Heels, "My Love Is for Real", featured a fusion of R&B and traditional Middle Eastern instruments, and was performed with Yemeni-Israeli singer Ofra Haza.
Its accompanying Lawrence of Arabia-inspired music video was played in theaters across the world as a prologue to the film Clueless.