Keith Urban and rapper Nicki Minaj are the newest American Idol judges, the Fox network officially announced Sunday (Sept. 16).
“It’s really an honor to have been invited to be a part of the American Idol family,” Urban said in a statement distributed by his publicist. “I’m looking forward to working with everyone and to seeing the same passion that I have for music in all of the participants.”
The announcement follows weeks of speculation that Urban and Minaj would join Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson as judges for the 12th season of Idol. Carey was confirmed for the show in July, and Jackson has been a judge since the beginning of the popular series. Urban and Minaj will replace Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, who relinquished their judgeships after two seasons.
Although American Idol’s producers contacted other country artists about the possibility of becoming judges, rumors of Urban’s selection intensified last week when he announced he would not be returning for another season of the Australian version of The Voice.
The Season 12 judges gathered Sunday in New York City, where auditions began for the new season. Additional auditions will take place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Baton Rouge, La., and Charlotte, N.C.