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N.E.R.D. makes like Black Eyed Peas and adds female member

October 7, 2009 |  2:21 pm

Up until 2003, Los Angeles band the Black Eyed Peas was a fledgling hip-hop act best known for its impressive dance moves and feel-good beats.

But with the addition of Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, BEP transformed into a sleek pop hit machine, churning out a seemingly endless stream of hit singles, which culminated with a record-breaking run at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling.”

Although there’s no indication that the Black Eyed Peas' female-powered success was any influence, N.E.R.D., the pop-rock outfit fronted by superstar producers the Neptunes, has followed suit by introducing a woman into its fold.

“Now you have this little Tinkerbell that's just stepped in and has been amazing,” Pharrell Williams told MTV News about new singer Rhea joining N.E.R.D., which has never found the stratospheric success of the Neptunes but has amassed a cult following.

“It's made it a fun process. We can go in so many more directions, because we have the vocal support,” he said, adding that the fourth N.E.R.D. album and first to feature Rhea -- tentatively titled “Instant Gratification” -- would be dropping sometime in 2010.

-- Scott T. Sterling

Photo: N.E.R.D., with new member Rhea, center, performs at a concert in Singapore on Sept. 25. Credit: Alphonso Chan / Getty Images