Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Quddus

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

Host of new ABC TV singing competition, “Duets”

DUETS - ABC's major music series, "Duets," is hosted by Quddus ("Total Request Live") and stars four of the music industry's biggest Superstars, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, and Robin Thicke. The series is a one-of a kind singing competition that takes the Superstars out from behind the judges' panel and onto the stage. (ABC/CRAIG SJODIN) QUDDUS

A native of Canada, Quddus is the face of “Duets,” the new hit ABC singing competition that pairs would-be superstars with established luminaries in the recording industry. In an era when this popular brand of programming has launched the careers of some of America’s best-known talents, Quddus is now counted in the ranks of hosts alongside such household names as Ryan Seacrest and Carson Daly.

Audiences were first introduced to Quddus when he hosted MTV’s popular “Total Request Live.” There, he made his mark by interviewing some of the world’s most admired celebrities such as Beyoncé Knowles, Jay-Z and Denzel Washington. Today, he is eager to note the differences between his latest gig and the other musical competitions on network television.

“The only thing ‘Duets’ has in common with the other shows (“American Idol,” “The Voice,” and “The X Factor”) is that it is a singing competition,” he said. “Everything else feels different and looks different. The incredible cast features John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke — massive, active and relevant superstars. Not just superstars, but artists. So that is the big distinction. Our artists go out and organically find amateur talent to join with them as singing partners to compete with.”

He added: “The artists are really serious about the competition, because they are serious about their music. For example, John Legend is known for being very cool, but we see him in moments on the show where he loses some of that cool. Viewers will be blown away by seeing the different aspects of these stars — it’s not a game. The celebrities are accustomed to winning, and don’t take anything lightly when it comes to their art or craft.”

Quddus describes himself as a true aficionado of music. He began his career as a deejay, and looks back fondly on those early days.

“I am from the creative side of the music industry,” he said. “I [am different] from other hosts; they are hosts who happen to like music, I am a music guy who happens to host. I offer a different conversation because I come from music. My passion for music is unrivaled, and there is nothing I love more than playing music for people. The first mixtape I created, when I was 15 years of age, had the Wu-Tang-Clan, A Tribe Called Quest and other underground hip-hop artists on it. Now, my tastes are more eclectic, but my musical roots are deeply embedded.”

Known as a global activist and philanthropist, Quddus is determined to use his celebrity to improve conditions in the world. He has worked with such organizations as Mothers About Making Amends (M.A.M.A.) Earth, raising funds to create safe and sterile water birthing stations for expectant mothers in Haiti.

“Doing the humanitarian work that I do is really a priority,” he said. “It really is the reason why I got involved in the entertainment business. I saw my mom and how much she worked as an educator, and it really burned her out. She was on the front line trying to make a change, and she found that way was kind of ineffective. To a certain extent, of course, she had an impact on some students but I just took a note from her. In our society, entertainers have more of an influence on the next generation; unfortunately, more than teachers, social workers and guidance counselors. But the point to all of this is to have a platform to have a voice, and to drive attention to what is really important in the world. Music is power, and it can shift consciousness.”

Long gone are the days when aspiring stars could be discovered singing on street corners. On that note, Quddus offers this advice for up-and-coming musical talent: “It is important for new artists to recognize that it still comes down to the song,” he said. “You have to come up with authentic music … The more attention you pay attention to the music, and the less attention you pay to chasing down a record label hoping to get signed, you will be on the right track. My philosophy on life in general is that you must focus more on what you have than what you don’t have. Then, you will have more of what you want.”

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