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Ruben Studdard

Partway through the second American Idol competition in early 2003, guest judge Gladys Knight christened corpulent crooner Ruben Studdard a "velvet teddy bear," a nod to his smooth, Luther Vandross-styled voice and his Barry White-sized girth. The nickname stuck, since it captured the persona of the 25-year-old native of Birmingham, Alabama, who had unexpectedly become the front-runner in the televised talent show. Surrounded by skinny kids emulating Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, the two singers who had dominated the previous American Idol season in 2002, Studdard stood out with his massive frame, winning smile, mellow voice, and trademark jerseys bearing the number 205, the area code of his hometown.

That hometown looms large in Ruben's background. The son of two teachers, Studdard was born in Birmingham on July 14, 1978. He sang at his parents' Baptist church as a child, but it wasn't until college that he seriously pursued music. Abandoning a promising career in football that would lead to an athletic scholarship at Alabama A&M University, he decided to switch his major and study voice at the school, eventually graduating with a degree in 2000. He then launched his professional career as a singer for Just a Few Cats, a Birmingham-based jazz and soul band. During 2002, Ruben joined one of the group's backup singers at an audition for the second American Idol, making the first round of cuts at his local audition, then winning himself a slot on the national television program.

Studdard made a big impression from the start. Where most of his competitors were pop star wannabes hungry to win the competition, Ruben was quiet and exceedingly laid-back, impressing audiences and judges alike with his large voice and easy confidence. He soon climbed to the top of the pack and stayed there throughout the show, only once being voted into an elimination round. By that point, American Idol 2003 had turned into a horse race between Studdard and Clay Aiken, a skinny, geeky kid from the South whose appearance and taste were perhaps the polar opposite of Ruben's. Like many horse races, this one ended in a photo finish, with Ruben beating Clay by a few thousand votes in May 2003.

Within a month of the show's completion, Ruben's first single, "Flying Without Wings," was released concurrently with Clay's "This Is the Night," a clever release scheme designed to keep the competition alive. Aiken beat Studdard to the top of the charts, and shortly afterward, it was announced that the proposed joint release of their debut albums would be delayed, with each album released separately instead. As Aiken rode a wave of popularity that eclipsed Studdard's, Ruben worked frenetically -- recording his debut, touring with his American Idol cohorts, filming a cameo for Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, and suing 205 Flava Inc., the company that made the jerseys he famously wore on American Idol, claiming that the clothes makers illegally profited from his image. 205 Flava Inc. countered that they paid the singer $1,000 to wear the jerseys on the show during the competition, and presented checks written to Ruben's brother and manager on MTV News to support their claim.

As Ruben worked, his album's release date kept getting pushed back; originally slated for an August release, the album was first rescheduled for October, and then postponed to November. Studdard's recording sessions boasted a variety of producers and collaborators, including Fat Joe, Missy Elliott, and R. Kelly, whose names were leaked to the press during the studio process in an effort to shore up Ruben's hip-hop and R&B credentials. When the finished product, Soulful, was finally released on December 9, 2003, it didn't boast either the highly touted Missy or Kelly tracks (though Fat Joe made the cut), but it did display a distinct hip-hop-flavored R&B bent, which stood in contrast to the pop-oriented efforts by such American Idol contestants as Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, and Justin Guarini. Sporting two Top Ten hits, the album quickly went platinum.

The gospel album I Need an Angel followed one year later, featuring collaborations with contemporary gospel icons such as Bill Gaither and Walter Hawkins. Although the album sales failed to approach those of Studdard's debut, I Need an Angel did fare well on the gospel charts. Even so, Studdard returned to his urban roots in 2006 with an aptly named third album, The Return, which featured such contributors as Scott Storch and Ne-Yo. Leadoff single "Change Me" topped the urban contemporary charts that same year, but The Return proved to be the slowest-selling album of the singer's career, prompting J Records to cancel his contract in 2007.

In 2008, Studdard took a well-received foray into theater by portraying Fats Waller in a revival tour of Ain't Misbehavin'. Following the show's completion in May 2009, he returned to his studio career with another album, Love IS, whose subject matter honored the singer's then-recent marriage. The two divorced in late 2011. In 2012, Studdard released Letters from Birmingham, his first album for the Shanachie label. The following year, he competed on the reality TV show The Biggest Loser. His sixth album, Unconditional Love, was released on Verve in February 2014. A mix of originals and covers, it was highlighted by a duet with Lalah Hathaway on an update of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1967 Top 30 R&B single "If This World Were Mine." ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Unconditional Love (Deluxe Edition)

1. The Nearness Of You

2. Close The Door

3. Love, Look What You've Done To Me

4. I Can't Make You Love Me

5. Hello Again

6. Love, Love, Love

7. They Long To Be (Close To You)

8. If This World Were Mine

9. My Love

10. Unconditional

11. Meant To Be

x

Track List: Letters From Birmingham

1. Letter #1

2. Turn U Out

3. Love Skies 1

4. Wear Me

5. Letter #2

6. Pure Imagination

7. Do It Right

8. Today (Hallelujah!)

9. Letter #3

10. Twisted Love

11. Rock Wit'cha

12. All About You

13. Letter #4

14. Her 4 U

15. Whats The Reason

16. June 28th (I'm Single)

x

Track List: Love Is

1. Together

2. More Than Words

3. Song For Her

4. How You Make Me Feel

5. Don't Make 'Em Like U No More

6. I Can't Help It

7. Just Because

8. My Love Is A Rock

9. The Long And Winding Road

10. For The Good Times

11. We Got Love (That's Enough)

12. Footprints In The Sand

x

Track List: The Return

1. The Return (Of The Velvet Teddy Bear)

2. Change Me

3. Make Ya Feel Beautiful

4. Get U Loose

5. Our Story

6. One Side

7. What The Business Is

8. Rather Just Not Now

9. Ain't No Party

10. Listen To Ya Heart

11. I'm Not Happy

12. To Da Crib

13. Blow Ya Mind

14. If Only For One Night

x

Track List: I Need An Angel

1. I Need An Angel

2. Center Of My Joy

3. Goin' Up Yonder

4. Fix it, Jesus (feat. Harvey Watkins Jr.)

5. Amazing Grace

6. Shout To The Lord

7. Running Back To You

8. Restoration

9. We Have Not Forgotten (feat. Fred Hammond)

10. I Surrender All

11. Ain't No Need To Worry

12. Don't You Give Up

x

Track List: Soulful

1. Sorry 2004

2. No Ruben

3. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

4. Take The Shot

5. What Is Sexy (feat. Fat Joe)

6. What If

7. Superstar

8. Can I Get Your Attention (feat. Pretty Tony)

9. For All We Know

10. Play Our Song

11. Don't Quit On Me

12. After The Candles Burn

13. Flying Without Wings

14. We Have Not Forgotten (feat. Fred Hammond)

x

Track List: Can't Nobody Love You (Single)

1. Can't Nobody Love You

x

Track List: June 28th (I'm Single) (Single)

1. June 28th (I'm Single)

x

Track List: Meant To Be (Single)

1. Meant To Be

x

Track List: Medicine (For Someone Else) (Single)

Comments

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❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ t h i s song
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I just love the way he sing its smooth
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This remind me about my grandmother that's going to be with God
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Ok
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I love his voice.
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My grandparents are next door neighbors with him.
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I LOVE U RUBEN STUDDARD❗��
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Love this song! I love him like I do. God is good!
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Let's get this right!
Either you.
LOVE...,or.. . H A T E ! !
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I love this song Reuben, Deitrick, and Tina Campbell
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R Kelly have written songs working with gospel as secular he produced TruStee 7
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His Grace have saved all us on the tree and took all sins and bore all the pain yet we were in our mess.Amen
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YESSSSSSSSSS S
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Talented singer doesn't get his due as an artist!
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Love ruben
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JESUS CAN DO ANYTHING BUT FAIL. LOVE THIS SONG
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Ruben......r e m a k e of Running Back to You...very nice!! (fun fact did you know R Kelly wrote the song I Need an Angel on Ruben Studdard's cd I Need an Angel cd).
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Great one
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nanabooismyl i f e 1
Why u wanna change me!
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Still my jam
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Loveeee this ❤️❤️ aye play this for the grown & Sexy ayyee��
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Ruben Studdard stepped up a notch he put it down on this s*** the lyrics is hard for you beautiful women Eugene Guss Cali forever
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incredable i love this song
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iverman96
God bless you Ruben Studdard
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Great romantic peace
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Keep putting out that music. Keeping us real men on top
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So handsome voted for him every night of idol
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Ruben Studdard.... . v e l v e t teddybear... . o n l y time i voted on American Idol!
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carolynrusse l l 4 5 0
Remember: Jesus should be #1 in life & then other things will be added.
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a.smith079
I remember him winning American Idol. He has such a good spirit and you can't help but love him...mwuahh !
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JESUS YOU ARE MY JOY I SMILE JUST BECAUSE OF THE THOUGHT OF YOU AMEN lowery247
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Happy birthday
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hope385
God is perfect
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I love u so much keep going from Newark nj 07103 u are truly blessed u wanna change me best song I never change u god made u perfect
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The center of our life ,the word that came living life too redeem me of my sins teach,reach me through love and forgiveness. w a l k , c a r r y through all hurt and pain.
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tkeyah944
Why did they put cassie's album for his song.. Smh.. Do better Pandora!!1
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GO RUBEN KEEP ON SINGING FOR JESUS lowery247
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Ur the center of my joy.
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love the lord love the song cause I surrender all ��
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NONE OTHER LIKE YOU JESUS AMEN lowery247
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Keep pressing on!
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They put cassie's album pic on this song :(
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mlenton0
god bless you followed you on biggest loser
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Ruben is so soulful, talanted, skilled
And a wonderful artist he deserves more recognition from the music industry.
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I LOVE THIS SONG God love SING I can't sing I do sing I like sing power in all things that gave us I LOVE YOU GOD and everything TO ME
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What if....you'll NEVER know so go for it & ENJOY life!
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IM SORRY , IM SORRY 2004
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Yeah eminem ruben also call me room to memorable bailey I am forever I will be what I will got it thanks good on this
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Another 340million set to outer-explor a t o r y . . . . . . . . a n d some of you.
Complain about.
The future generation., n o t being affirmative. To see. Exactly what they . Want out-of-life? ? ? ? . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A CHANCE TO BE RESPECTED!!! ! ! !
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