Christopher Ruben Studdard (born September 12, 1978) is an American pop, R&B, and gospel singer. He rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol. He received a Grammy Award nomination in December 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Superstar."
In the years following Idol, Studdard has released four studio albums, including his most recent disc, 2009's Love Is.
In addition to appearing on various television shows he has toured with Robin Givens in the comedy-drama Heaven I Need a Hug and in 2008 accepted the role of Fats Waller in a national tour of Ain't Misbehavin'.
Studdard, who was born in Frankfurt, Germany while his American father was stationed there with the U.S. Army, grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. The youngest son of two teachers, at the age of three he sang for the first time at the Rising Star Baptist Church in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. He continued singing gospel in church, performing solos as a child while his mother sang in the local choir. While at Huffman High School, he played football for which he received a scholarship to Alabama A&M University. While there he joined the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity.
After growing up listening to his mother's Donny Hathaway albums, Fred Hammond, and gospel music, Studdard began to pursue a career in the music industry, majoring in voice studies at Alabama A&M. He sang with Just a Few Cats, a popular local Birmingham jazz and R&B band founded by members of Ray Reach's UAB Jazz Ensemble, along with other local musicians. "A lot of people don't realize how hard I was trying to get into the business before American Idol," Studdard related several years later. "I was making demos and just working so hard." A back-up singer from Just a Few Cats asked him to accompany her to Nashville, Tennessee for an audition on the 2003 second season of "American Idol".
Studdard met Surata Zuri McCants in October 2006, when he was signing CDs at a Wal-Mart in Atlanta. On June 28, 2008, Studdard married McCants in a short, private ceremony outside of Birmingham, Alabama.
American Idol 2003
When auditioning, Studdard sang Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky." This guided him to being one of the local finalists. On American Idol, he impressed viewers with his performances of the Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett song "Superstar" (originally a hit for The Carpenters and Luther Vandross) and the Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle duet "A Whole New World"; during his time on the show, Studdard received praise from music legends such as Lionel Richie, Neil Sedaka, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, Luther Vandross, and Gladys Knight.
During the televised competition, Studdard gained the nickname "Velvet Teddy Bear" and was noted for his shirts printed with "205", the telephone area code of his hometown of Birmingham. Studdard also did a cover version of "For All We Know", originally recorded by Donny Hathaway, whose music he grew up with.
He won the contest over runner-up Clay Aiken by only 134,000 votes out of 24,000,000 cast in the May 2003 finale, becoming the second American Idol winner and the first African American contestant and only male (as well as the oldest winner) to hold that title until 2006, when fellow Birmingham native Taylor Hicks won Idol's season five. On April 21, 2003, he also became the first American Idol winner to end up in the bottom 2 or 3 and the only male winner to do so, until 2009 when Kris Allen, who won season 8, landed there once during that season. Fantasia Barrino was also in the bottom 2 or 3 twice during season 3. They are the only three winners to have done so.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley declared as "Ruben Studdard Day".
Debut Album: Soulful
Studdard released his first single, a cover of Westlife's "Flying Without Wings" (which he had sung on the show's finale), produced by the The Underdogs and Babyface, a month later in June 2003. Fueled largely by sales, it debuted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. In December 2003, advance orders for his album Soulful topped the 1 million mark before it was released into stores. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart that month, selling over 400,000 copies in its first week and attaining the second highest first-week sales of any American Idol winner. The single "Sorry 2004" from this album found substantial airplay, reaching #9 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. Studdard received a Grammy Award nomination in December 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Superstar", nominated with his idol Luther Vandross (Vandross won that category). In March 2004, Ruben won the NAACP Outstanding New Artist award.
2004: I Need An Angel
Studdard released the gospel album I Need an Angel on November 23, 2004. The title track and first single "I Need an Angel" was a cover of a 2002 single performed by R&B singer Daniel DeBourg and written by R. Kelly. The album sold over 96,000 copies in its first week, it also entered the Gospel charts at #1, opened at #20 on the Billboard 200 chart, it since has sold over 500,000 copies. It was also #1 on the 2005 Billboard Year-End Gospel Albums Chart. As of June 2007, Studdard is the fifth-best selling American Idol performer with more than 2.4 million albums sold in the U.S.
In March 2005, Studdard filed a lawsuit against his godfather and business advisor Ronald Edwards. The suit alleges that Edwards ran up $156,000 on Studdard's credit cards and stole $90,000 from his checking account. Edwards filed a countersuit. On June 15, 2006, Studdard was awarded $500,000 for personal losses and another $1.5 million in punitive damages.
Between his second and third albums, Studdard began a diet and fitness program to deal with his weight, out of concern for a family history of diabetes and hypertension. Studdard lost over 70 pounds on a vegetarian diet.
2006?2008: The Return
Third Album: The Return
Studdard's third album, The Return was released in October 2006; it goes back to his R&B roots, but is different from his previous efforts. Studdard collaborated with the artist Ne-Yo on this album, along with a variety of producers. The single "Change Me" was released ahead of the album. The Return sold 71,000 copies in its first week to open at #8 on the Billboard 200 album chart, but sales declined rapidly after that, not approaching those of his earlier albums. However, Studdard did have good success on the Urban Contemporary chart with "Change Me" (which reached #1) and its successor "Make Ya Feel Beautiful". Studdard continued to tour saying he would play a variety of music: "Coming out to my show is like coming to my house. I'll play the songs I love. It's like a party. For me, a party has all different types of music happening."
Studdard appeared on the finale of American Idol season 6 in May 2007. He spent a few weeks touring with Robin Givens in the comedy-drama Heaven I Need a Hug and prepared to take on the role of Fats Waller in a national tour of Ain't Misbehavin' in 2008. The tour is scheduled to begin November 17, 2008 in Atlanta, GA and end May 14, 2009 in Syracuse, NY.
In December 2007, it was announced that Studdard had been dropped from his record company, J Records, due to poor sales of The Return and " short of expectations." He remained under contract with 19 Recordings, however. As such he was assigned the high-profile position of performing the American Idol season 7 farewell song, a recording of Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home", in a new version produced by Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam.
Studdard performed "Celebrate Me Home" live on May 20, 2008, at the Nokia Theatre for the first night of the two-night Grand Finale of American Idol's seventh season.
2009?Present: Love Is
Studdard was featured in the music video for gospel singer Deitrick Haddon's "Love Him Like I Do" along with Gospel duo Mary Mary.
Studdard announced that his next album, to be released May 19, 2009, would be released on Sony Music offshoot Hickory Records. The new album, entitled Love Is, is being produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The first single off "Love Is" is the ballad "Together", which was written by Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Phillip Taj Jackson and Martin Kleveland, produced by StarGate & Martin K.
He performed his new single "Together" on American Idol season 8 on March 26, 2009.
Love Is was released on May 19, 2009 to mostly positive reviews. The album, which features a mix of covers and original songs, sold 15,200 units in its first week to debut at #36 on the Billboard 200, #5 on Top Independent albums and #8 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Studdard has worked as an actor in several roles, including single-episode appearances on the television series 8 Simple Rules, Life on a Stick, All of Us, and Eve, as well as a cameo appearance in the film Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. He has also appeared on a television commercial for a Birmingham-area Kia dealer.
He appeared in an episode of One on One as himself & in an episode of All of Us as an older Bobby. He also appeared in the 8 Simple Rules episode where CJ's dad comes; he played a delivery boy whom CJ mistakes for his father. He greets him by hugging him and saying, "You have always been my idol," referring to his win on Idol. Studdard also appeared on an episode of Eve as Paul, Janie's younger brother who has a huge crush on Shelly.
Studdard is currently headlining the revival tour of Ain't Misbehavin', starring alongside fellow American Idol (season 2) alums, Trenyce and Frenchie Davis. Starring as Fats Waller, Studdard has been receiving positive reviews and will be part of a cast recording album to be released by Rhino Records on January 13, 2009.
Awards and nominations
American Music Awards
2004, Favorite Male R&B/Soul Artist: (Nominated)
2005, Best Gospel Artist: (Nominated)
2004, Best New Artist: (Nominated)
2004, Best Male R&B Artist: (Nominated)
2004, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: "Superstar" (Nominated)
2004, Outstanding New Artist: Soulful (Winner)
Soul Train Awards
2004, Best New R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist: "Superstar" (Nominated)
All Ruben Studdard lyrics
- 2 Morrow May Never Come
- After The Candles Burn
- Ain't No Need To Worry
- Ain't No Party
- Amazing Grace
- Blow Ya Mind
- Can I Get Your Attention
- Center Of My Joy
- Change Me
- Don't Give Up
- Don't Quit On Me
- Fix It Jesus
- Fix It. Jesus (feat. Harvey Watkins Jr.)
- Flying Without Wings
- For All We Know
- Get U Loose
- Goin' Up Yonder
- How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
- I Need An Angel
- I Surrender All
- If Only For One Night
- I'm Not Happy
- Listen To Ya Heart
- Make Ya Feel Beautiful
- No Ruben
- One Side
- Our Story
- Play Our Song
- Rather Just Not Know
- Running Back To You
- Shout To The Lord
- Sorry 2004
- Take The Shot
- The Return (Of The Velvet Bear)
- This Christmas
- To Da Crib
- We Have Not Forgotten
- We Have Not Forgotten (feat. Fred Hammond)
- What If?
- What Is Sexy?
- What Is Sexy (feat. Fat Joe)
- What Tha Business Is
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.