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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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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

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Track List: Meant To Be (Single)

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

Comments

LYRICS PLEASE!
What happened to the lyrics?
I love the music thats playing on pandora.... but the lyrics are not here anymore! please bring the lyrics back
I Love this song it makes me cry to to know of all the things Christ sacrifice for me... Jesus you are the center of my Joy!!!!
kledwards.20 1 2 3 3
This song makes me feel beautiful and sexy.
Flying on Grace
Where's the lyrics
HEY...WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE LYRICS!!!!
I surrender all to you Lord! Jesus I love calling your name singing to you.
His voice is smooth, soothing and amazing at the same
I been up, I've been down. 7 times, times 7 I'll always be up more than down. the world may not know but. But God knows
U dont love him like I do
I'M PROUD OF YOU, GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!
That' Y I luv like I do....Gratef u l . . . I love this song!
Ruben Studdard.... a m a z i n g vocals!!!
With a voice like that, he has already sent you an Angel .. Beautiful..
This is my song, and its so true about what we do to each other in relationship s . Instead we need to look in the mirror and concentrate on changing our own flaws and when we do that you have a recipe for a successful long lasting relationship
Real good song
You are good
Men god do amazing things its up to u to begin a new storyline
Amen
Love this that's were I'm at right now
@mizzlovesje s u s 1 3 :-) AMEN is all we need to say :-) :-) :-) :-) You said enough :-) BE BLESSED :-) :-) :-)
❤Amen❤������
I love this song
oh yeah, our story is a great too, oh and one side, actually I liked the entire cd, hee hee
oh man I was so pleased to have bought this album, I mean cd. really, really nice!! I saw you perform this one morning on tv and you was awesome.
Love this song........ . . . . . . R O M A N C E WINE let's have fun 2 night
Ok rkuk:::::::: : : : : : : : : : m : : : m m m m m m : : : got me talking in tounges
ddetaylor
God is truly the Center Of My Joy !!
Blesseth be the name of The Lord. Lunetha harrison
Blesseth be the name of the
edafewhara1
I love this song!
lakea2
Love, Love, Love me some Ruben!
Sang yall
Awesome. ....I was truly blessed as I listened to how well Ruben delivered this song..
sbsimon656
Jesus, you are the center of my life.
Ruben is awesome. He was great on the Soul Train Awards. I love the song choices he's made throughout his career. I am always looking forward to is music.
I barely hear Ruben, but every time I do I'm literally blown away, what a gracious man of God. Seeing him last night on the Wendy William's show and how I heard about him being on the show the Biggest Loser touched my heart, he's a man that actually wants to do something with his life and God has brought him SOOOO far, he can conquer whatever he sets his mind to do, amen.
Beautiful remake! MJ would be proud!
Loving it yes Jesus the center of mind joy beauitful
Love you Jesus Youre my joy!!! You make me strong lord. Lord help me I need you. I'm in a situation were I don't find a solution!
JESUS IS THE CENTER OF MY JOY!! Love All His Music.
True
My baby always sing this to me....I always feel beautiful when I hear this...makes me feel appreciated. Love when he says I wanna know you emotional and physical to, cause most guys my age just wanna know you physically smh.
FEEL BEAUTIFUL praise GOD, j listen to this song every morning first thing in the morning
AMEN!!!!!!
dandmwarrick
Hands down God is absolutely wonderful. Amen!!!!
I wish you were god already
I love this song! My man sings this to me cause I always say i'm avg, and he say Baby your so humble you know your f**king gorgeous, you bad girl. This song does make me feel very beautiful tho! Btw Ruben was on biggest loser.
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