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Actor Hugh swaps House for blues

Actor Hugh Laurie is swapping House for blues -- after signing a record deal at the age of 51, it was announced today.

The self-taught star -- who is seen playing guitar and piano on US TV hit House -- is to release an album with major music group Warner.

British star Laurie will team up with a range of guest musicians for the New Orleans blues album which he will record this summer.

Warner label WME will release the album, working with musician and producer Joe Henry, in the autumn.

Laurie said: "I am drunk with excitement at this opportunity.

"I know the history of actors making music is a chequered one, but I promise no one will get hurt. I am particularly thrilled to be working with Joe Henry, who has produced some of my favourite records of all time, and I can't wait to get started."

Golden Globe-winner Laurie has sung and performed music throughout his career and was seen playing piano in TV's Jeeves And Wooster.

He plays keyboards in the charity group Band From TV and played on Meat Loaf's latest album.

Henry has worked with artists including Elvis Costello, Teddy Thompson, Solomon Burke and Loudon Wainwright III.

He has also written songs for acts such as Madonna and Madeleine Peyroux.

Henry said: "All musicians are actors to begin with -- our jobs being to embody characters and articulate stories for three and four minutes at a time.

"I've been a great fan of Hugh's work on screen, and believe purely that he is investing the same wit, intelligence and emotional generosity into his music."

President of Warner Music Entertainment Conrad Withey said: "The world already knows how wonderfully versatile and talented Hugh is, so this first album is an exciting opportunity to put the spotlight on his passion for New Orleans blues."