Ruben Studdard

Ruben Studdard Biography(Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Christopher Theodore Ruben Studdard (born September 12, 1978), best known as Ruben Studdard, is an American R&B, pop, 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 five studio albums.

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'.

Early life

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. 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 at Alabama A&M he joined the Omicron Delta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the men's music fraternity of America.

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".

American Idol

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" (best known as a hit for The Carpenters) 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.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley declared March 11, 2003 as "Ruben Studdard Day".


2003–2004: 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 Underdogs and Babyface, a month later in June 2003. Fueled largely by sales, it debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. In December 2003, advance orders for his album Soulful topped the one 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 number nine in the Billboard Hot 100 and number two 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.

2004-2005: 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 number one, opened at number twenty on the Billboard 200 chart, it since has sold over 500,000 copies. It was also number one 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 resulting in his losing over 70 pounds on a vegetarian diet.

2006–2008: 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 number eight 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 number one) 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, Studdard had been dropped from his record company, J Records, due to poor sales of The Return and "[falling] 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.

2009–2010: 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 number 36 on the Billboard 200, number five on Independent Albums and number eight on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

Studdard appeared with the "David Foster and Friends" 10 city tour beginning October 21, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois and ending November 8, 2009 in Vancouver, Canada.

A fifth album, Playlist: The Very Best of Ruben Studdard was released on January 26, 2010 by Sony's Legacy Recordings.

Studdard returned to the American Idol stage on March 31, 2010 to perform his latest single "Don't Make 'Em Like U No More". In his on camera interview with Ryan Seacrest after his performance he said that he would be touring with Clay Aiken in the summer.

Studdard and Aiken brought their "Timeless" tour to cities in the US and Canada beginning in Asheville, North Carolina on July 23, 2010 and ending in Biloxi, Mississippi on August 14. Instead of a concert focusing on each singers recordings, Studdard and Aiken opted for a variety show format covering medleys of songs from the 60s to the 90s with a few solos and interspersed with comedy bits.

2010–present: Letters from Birmingham

It was announced in July 2011 that Studdard had signed with Shanachie Entertainment and would release his next album in early 2012. His first album for the label and fifth release overall, Letters from Birmingham, was released in March 2012.


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 headlined the revival tour of Ain't Misbehavin', starring alongside fellow American Idol (season 2) alums, Trenyce and Frenchie Davis. Starring as Fats Waller, Studdard received positive reviews and was part of the cast recording album released by Rhino Records on January 13, 2009.


Studdard's love of music led him to create The Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts. The foundation's mission statement says their aim is "to promote the essential role of the arts in education through learning initiatives for the development of students in the Greater Birmingham Area."

Studdard has signed on as an official spokesperson for ?Be Sickle Smart', a nationwide grassroots health-education program aimed at increasing awareness of iron overload among people living with sickle-cell disease.

Personal life

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 in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

After a performance on American Idol on March 31, 2010, Ruben discussed losing approximately 80 pounds through a vegan diet and regular exercise.

On November 16, 2011 Studdard's attorney announced that Studdard was in the process of a divorce. "Ruben Studdard and Zuri McCants Studdard have separated, and they are in the process of seeking a dissolution of their marriage," said Byron Perkins. Studdard's divorce was finalized in April 2012.

Awards and nominations

  • American Music Awards
    • 2004, Favorite Male R&B/Soul Artist: (Nominated)
  • BET Awards
    • 2005, Best Gospel Artist: (Nominated)
    • 2004, Best New Artist: (Nominated)
    • 2004, Best Male R&B Artist: (Nominated)
  • Grammy Awards
    • 2004, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: "Superstar" (Nominated)
  • Image Awards
    • 2004, Outstanding New Artist: Soulful (Winner)
  • Soul Train Awards
    • 2004, Best New R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist: "Superstar" (Nominated)



Year Album Chart Positions Certifications & Sales
(sales threshold)
2003 Soulful
  • Released: December 9, 2003
  • Label: J Records
  • Format: CD
1 1 "? "? US: Platinum
US sales: 1.8 million
2004 I Need an Angel
  • Released: November 23, 2004
  • Label: J Records
  • Format: CD
20 6 1 "? US: Gold
US sales: 483,000
2006 The Return
  • Released: October 17, 2006
  • Label: J Records
  • Format: CD, digital download
8 2 "? "? US sales: 238,000
2009 Love Is
  • Released: May 19, 2009
  • Label: Hickory Records
  • Format: CD, digital download
36 8 "? 5 US sales: 50,000
2012 Letters from Birmingham
  • Released: March 13, 2012
  • Label: Shanachie Records
  • Format: CD, digital download
73 12 "? "? US sales: 9,000

Compilation albums

Year Album Sales
2010 Playlist: The Very Best of Ruben Studdard
  • Released January 26, 2010
  • Sony Legacy
US sales: 3,500


Year Title Chart positions Album
2003 "Flying Without Wings" 2 13 27 Non-album single
"Superstar" 112 2 "? Soulful
2004 "Sorry 2004" 9 2 "?
"What If" "? 47 "?
"I Need an Angel" "? "? 32 I Need an Angel
2006 "Change Me" 94 18 1 The Return
2007 "Make Ya Feel Beautiful" "? 32 6
2008 "Celebrate Me Home" "? "? "? single
2009 "Together" "? 60 "? Love Is
"Don't Make 'Em Like U No More" "? 32 40
2012 "June 28th (I'm Single)" 73 16 Letters from Birmingham

Single certifications

Year Title CAN
2003 "Flying Without Wings" 3x Platinum

Other albums

  • American Idol Season 2: All-Time Classic American Love Songs (2003)
    • "What the World Needs Now" (with Season 2 Finalists)
    • "God Bless the U.S.A. (Proud to Be an American)" (with Season 2 Finalists)
    • Superstar
  • American Idol: The Great Holiday Classics (2003)
    • "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
    • "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (American Idol Ensemble)
    • "This Christmas"
  • Genius & Friends (2005)
    • "Imagine" with Ray Charles and The Harlem Gospel Singers
  • Ain't Misbehavin' (2009 Cast Recording)
    • "Honeysuckle Rose" duet with Frenchie Davis
    • "The Jitterbug Waltz" with Patrice Covington & Company
    • "Lounging At The Waldorf" with Frenchie Davis, Trenyce Cobbins & Patrice Covington
    • "Your Feet's Too Big"


  • Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
  • Natural Born Komics (2006) (direct-to-DVD)
  • Lifted (2011)
  • The Perfect Gift (2011)

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