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Fergie made 'Peanuts' at the beginning of her career

Fergie, left, hosts "The Four: Battle for Stardom," a new reality-TV singing show. Also pictured: The show's judges -- producer DJ Khaled, music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, Grammy Award-winning musician and songwriter Meghan Trainor and record label head Charlie Walk.

FOX/TNS

By RICK BENTLEY | Tribune News Service | Published: January 26, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Don’t be surprised if during one of the episodes of the new Fox reality music competition series "The Four: Battle for Stardom," Fergie (born Stacy Ann Ferguson) turns to Sean Combs and says "You’re such a blockhead, Diddy." That would only mean the singer/actor/host is flashing back to one of her earliest jobs.

She was the voice of Sally Brown in the made-for-TV "Peanuts" cartoons, "It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown" (1984) and "Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brown" (1985), as well as working on four episodes of "The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show." In the later work she became the voice of Lucy.

Her fondest memory of working on the animated productions was getting to meet Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.

"There’s no higher honor than to have gotten to work with the ’Peanuts’ gang," Fergie says during an interview to discuss the new Fox show. "I really enjoy doing voices because I love doing characters. In parts of my performance, I will go into weird, funny accents -- which are horrible. But I have fun doing it.

"The bigger message for me is to not limit yourself in your thoughts about what you can and can not do. I am living proof. I am a girl from Hacienda Heights who joined a hip-hop band and now I am a host of this huge Fox show. I never thought I could do this, but it just keeps stamping that message into me that you can never dream big enough."

Grammy Award-winning, multi-Platinum solo artist Fergie is the host of the series that features a panel of industry experts, including music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, producer DJ Khaled, Grammy Award-winning musician and songwriter Meghan Trainor and record label head Charlie Walk. When the six-week run of the show is over, the last performer standing wins the support of the judges to help guide them in their career.

Fergie’s success came the old fashioned way: She worked for it. After a career in voice work and on the syndicated "Kids Incorporated," Fergie made the move to the music world, first with Wild Orchid, then with The Black Eyed Peas and also as a solo artist. Her "The Dutchess" sold 7.2 million albums and 29 million tracks around the globe on route to three No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits: "London Bridge," "Glamorous" and "Big Girls Don’t Cry."

Fergie would have jumped at the chance to be on a show like "The Four" when she was trying to get her musical career going. There was the show "Star Search," but she landed "Kids Incorporated" at that time.

Hosting "The Four" has been a good project for her to kick off 2018 to go along with her role as a single mom.

"This is a new show, a new role for me. I am getting to learn the skills of really being a host of a show on this level and that is a huge stepping stone for me," Fergie, who was a West Coast host for "Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve" for 11 years, says. "This puts me at the top level of hosting that a person can do."

One thing she learned in the first episodes of "The Four" was you can take a performer out of the musical world, but it is difficult to take the music world out of the performer. She watched herself kind of rapping the introductions or doing a subtle dance. Eventually, she settled down and focused on talking directly to the viewers.

Combs has high praise for Fergie describing her as more than just a host but taking on the role of a ringmaster.

"Out of all the hosts that I’ve seen that are out there, it’s like this is somebody that we know. We know Fergie. We know her journey. We know that artists that are up there can relate to her and give her comfort, and that’s something that’s different," Combs says. "You will see that it’s different than being a host. It’s a little bit of acting involved. It’s a little bit of drama, which we know she knows how to bring the drama, and it’s just great to watch.

"It’s been great to see, because none of us have done this. It’s not like our professions. So we’re not seasoned in this. So to see her grow from the first half hour to the second half hour and learn the process and find her footing to create something unique has been great to see. And I know for a fact that she’s created something unique.

The other thing Fergie learned was the four judges are there to be honest with the contestants. It falls to her to show a protective maternal side to the participants.

"There are some many times I was tearing up and thinking in my head ’Don’t lose it right now.’ I have to be that warm hug for that person who has to walk off that stage," Fergie says. "I know how they feel.

"When I joined the Black Eyed Peas, people would say ’Who is this woman who ruined the Black Eyed Peas?’ There were a lot of mean things said. So, I know how much your feelings can be hurt. At the end of the day we are human beings too. We are artists and you have to go out there and the show much go on. But there has definitely been some tears in my life. I have had to pick myself up and fight even harder. I want to be that person for them."

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