'American Idol': Ray Chew hired as music director

ray-chew-idol-320.jpgVeteran bandleader Ray Chew will be "American Idol's" music director in the coming season.

Chew, who has worked with Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Aretha Franklin (among others) and was the music director for "Showtime at the Apollo," replaces Rickey Minor in the "Idol" job. He's already begun working with the contestants in preparation for the start of live shows in February, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Minor left "Idol" at the end of last season and is now the bandleader for "The Tonight Show."

Chew was a member of the "Saturday Night Live" band in the early 1980s and was in the Apollo Theater's house band before becoming musical director of "Showtime." He's served as musical director for the BET Awards for the past two years and did the same job for President Obama's inaugural ball in 2009.

"American Idol," featuring Chew and a host of other new faces, premieres Jan. 19 on FOX.

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