The former American Idol judge's big performance comes two weeks after she revealed her father Harry died
The pop veteran, 56, sang a spirited medley of her biggest hits, including her 1988 No. 1 “Straight Up,” her breakthrough smash “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me,” as well as chart-toppers “Opposites Attract,” “Cold Hearted” and “Forever Your Girl.” Abdul received a standing ovation from the audience — as well as the adoration of host Kelly Clarkson — at the end of the performance, which saw her doing everything from tap-dancing to leaping into the waiting arms of her dancers.
It’s been 30 years since Abdul hit No. 1 with four tracks from her debut album Forever Your Girl, which spent 64 weeks on the Billboard charts.
Abdul opened up about returning to the stage during E! News’s red carpet pre-show.
“For me, I think if you align yourself in that heart space what you love to do, then you’re on the right path. You have to be willing to make sharp left turns and sharp right turns … It’s hard to make it in this business. You can’t take things too seriously, and as I get older the more I’m in the moment, the more I appreciate everything that’s going on.”
The singer added: “I’m doing it for my mom and my dad!”
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“My Father was, and always will be, my superhero. ♥️🙏🏼” she wrote alongside several photos of the pair together on April 17. “Thank you ALL for the heartfelt condolences. Your love and support is comforting me during this difficult time. xoP”
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Abdul also shared a video with her father, in which she sat beside him and told him, “I love my daddy more than anything in the world! I love you to pieces,” before planting several kisses on his cheek.
“‘Dad: a daughters first love.’ – Unknown — Everyone loved my father,” she captioned the sweet clip. “He had a heart of gold and carried his heart on his sleeve wherever he went, and shared it with everyone he came in contact with.”
The 2019 Billboard Music Awards are broadcasting live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.