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Fergie departs the Black Eyed Peas to focus on solo project

Fergie, apl.de.ap, will.i.am and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas perform during the 2011 Super Bowl halftime show.
Fergie, apl.de.ap, will.i.am and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas perform during the 2011 Super Bowl halftime show.
(Kevin Mazur / WireImage/ Getty Images)

The Black Eyed Peas are once again a trio.

Amid rampant speculation that Fergie was phasing herself out of the hip-hop/pop group, its members have confirmed the singer has indeed departed.

“Fergie is family and will always be a Pea,” frontman will.i.am said in a statement to The Times. “She is focused on her solo album, which we fully support.”

The news surfaced via an interview that will.i.am gave to Ahlan! magazine.

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The act began as a jazzy alternative hip-hop outfit called Atban Klann (it was briefly signed to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records) before re-branding itself as Black Eyed Peas. The group released two acclaimed but under-appreciated projects, and the trio welcomed Fergie, then a member of girl group Wild Orchid, in 2002.

The addition of Fergie as the group’s lead vocalist — as well as a new, pop-leaning sound — catapulted the Black Eyed Peas to multi-platinum success.

However, there’s been speculation about Fergie’s status in the group since 2015, when the Peas dropped “Yesterday,” their first single in four years, to mark the 20th anniversary of their debut album, and Fergie was not on it.

Fergie has been at work on her sophomore album, “Double Dutchess,” since 2014, issuing a handful of singles, including “Life Goes On,” late last year.

Rumors of her exiting the group intensified after she announced she had left longtime label Interscope and will.i.am Music Group (home of the Peas) to enter a partnership with BMG and launch her own Dutchess Music imprint.

“It’s an opportunity to release my solo music as well as develop and nurture new artists,” she said in a statement at the time. “This next chapter in my career will allow me the independence to evolve both as an artist and as a businesswoman.”

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gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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For more music news follow me on Twitter:@GerrickKennedy


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