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American Idol 2014 Judges, Winners, Auditions: Musical Director Rickey Minor Returns for Season 13

First Posted: Nov 22, 2013 11:22 AM EST
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Rickey Minor will join host Ryan Seacrest, judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. on season 13 of "American Idol" with a return to his role as musical director.

Minor was musical director on "American Idol" since season one until he left the show during season nine in 2010 to head "The Tonight Show" band. Now that Jimmy Fallon will be replacing Jay Leno on the talk show, Minor has the chance to return to "Idol."

"Of course there are things about ["The Tonight Show"] that I'll miss, but I'm grateful to be coming back because a lot of people get invited, but not everybody gets invited back," Minor told The Hollywood Reporter.

Despite his excitement to return to "Idol," Minor says that he is "honored to be a part of that legacy" that was Leno's "The Tonight Show."

"We are thrilled that Rickey Minor and his band are returning to "American Idol XIII," bringing great live music to enhance our contestants' performances," Trish Kinane, FremantleMedia North America president of entertainment programming, said. "Rickey really cares about helping the kids shine, and whether it's the most current pop hits or classics, Rickey knows how to bring them to life with authenticity."

Minor's return was discussed ever since the musician produced "VH1 Divas" with Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager, new "American Idol" executives.

"We talk all the time," Minor said. "They asked if I would be interested in being a part of the team again. I was like, 'Yeah!' I really love working with those guys. Then, ["Swedish Idol" exec Per Blankens] and Trish came in with a game plan and asked, "How we can elevate our game?'"

Minor has some ideas on how to do just that.

"Bringing in a strong, live element and really making distinct arrangements based around the contestants," he said. "Because a great song is a great song, but make it contemporary and original, like we did with Adam Lambert and David Cook and all the artists where we helped them find their voice. That's really the key ... Our mission is to help them find their voice and surround them with an arrangement that really supports their voice and them as an artist."

Minor says "Idol" is different from "The Voice" and "X Factor," which Minor previously worked on, because the winner's success is essential to the show.

"The key is to really nurture that artist. ..." Minor said. "Give them guidance because that's what they need. If they didn't, they wouldn't be on the show."

The musical director will be seen after auditions.

 "I don't know if it's a top-30 or top-24, but whenever the artists appear on stage, I'll be there," he said.

Minor also has plenty of love for season 13's judges.

"Keith is a stand-up guy and a straight-shooter [who's] very warm," he said. "Harry ... We're both from Louisiana, and I've worked with him many times. He's going to tell it like it is, and what can you say about Jennifer? From everything I've heard, it's a really good chemistry, and they all have the same goals, which is to support the contestants together. You're going to have varied opinions, but the goal is still the same: to add value to the contestants."

 "American Idol" will premieres on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 with two-hour-long episodes at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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