John Legend to Replace Lionel Richie on ‘Duets’

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  • John Legend is in and Lionel Richie is out of ABC’s upcoming musical competition series “Duets,” which pairs contestants with established singers.

    According to the Hollywood Reporter, Richie has dropped out of the program due to scheduling issues. It was announced in early March that the former Commodores front man would join Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as they search the country for undiscovered musical talent to be featured on the summer show. The mentors will ultimately choose two singers to be their partners, and in the end, one partner will receive a recording contract with Hollywood Records.

    Legend said of his sudden gig, “I’m thrilled to be part of ‘Duets,’ and I’m looking forward to finding an undiscovered gem out there. This is going be a lot of fun.”

    Former “Total Request Live” host Quddus will lead the series, set to debut at 8 p.m. May 24.

    Legend has won nine Grammys since breaking out his 2004 debut Get Lifted. All three of his albums have made the top five of the Billboard 200 and topped the R&B chart. His most recent disc, 2008′s Evolver, peaked at No. 4 and went gold. He also has collaborated on songs by dozens of acts including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and T.I.

    As of late, Richie — whose country duets album Tuskegee has been No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the past two weeks — has made appearances on NBC’s “The Voice” as a mentor and had a two-hour CBS concert special, “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends — In Concert,” that aired April 13.

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