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Lionel Richie Pulls Out of ‘Duets’ Show

Lionel Richie
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

In the past few months, reality TV news has been buzzing with word of the new celebrity judges joining hands for ABC’s new singing competition, ‘Duets.’ After announcing that Sugarland‘s Jennifer Nettles, Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke and Lionel Richie would be working as judges on the show, Richie has pulled out of the deal.

The soul-turned-country singer cited scheduling conflicts as his reason for skipping out on ‘Duets,’ according to the Boot. With only weeks before the show hits the airwaves, executives scrambled to find a new judge. Turns out, John Legend will be available to join the cast, leaving Nettles and recent crossover Kelly Clarkson to defend country’s good name.

‘Duets’ will be similar to already-popular prime time shows like ‘The Voice,’ except that the famous judges will be singing with the contestants. Each coach will look for new singers, and then they will narrow down the contestants to two performers. Once they settle on two performers each, they will mentor and perform with the contestants each week. Nettles is already gaining speed in her hunt — as is Clarkson, who recently performed with some of her top picks onstage. The grand prize is a recording contract on Hollywood Records.

If Lionel Richie can’t make ‘Duets’ work because of his schedule, he must be seriously busy, not that it’s much of a surprise given how well his country debut ‘Tuskegee’ did on the charts. Still, Jennifer Nettles will be juggling her responsibilities on the show with Sugarland’s In Your Hands Tour this summer. Despite her jam-packed calendar, she is is excited about working with new talent on ‘Duets.’

”I am most excited by the opportunity to perform WITH the contestants,” Nettles said in a blog post earlier this year. “And, selfishly, while I know the premise is for the contestants to have the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge by performing with the artists, I know that there will be so much for me to learn from my fellow artists on the show as well (and probably from the contestants too).”

‘Duets’ premieres May 24 on ABC.

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