With a voice as big as his much-discussed girth, this soulful singer became the second American Idol
winner in 2003. Raised singing gospel music, he attended college on a football scholarship before switching his focus to showbiz. Markedly different from his AI
competitors — particularly freckle-faced runner-up Clay Aiken — the affectionately nicknamed "Velvet Teddy Bear" won over viewers with his smooth style and easygoing attitude. His post-show career was not the juggernaut everyone anticipated: The tracks and release date of his first album, Soulful
, changed many times, while his second, I Need an Angel
, smartly featured Studdard doing what he does best: gospel tunes. He also branched out into acting with a string of sitcom guest shots. In 2010, he reunited with his AI
cast mate Aiken for a summer tour. Studdard founded The Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts to promote and support music programs in the Greater Birmingham, AL area.Ruben Studdard Fast Facts:
- Was a member of Alabama-based gospel group God's Gift.
- Nicknamed the Velvet Teddy Bear by Gladys Knight, who served as a guest judge on American Idol.
- Alabama governor Bob Riley designated March 11, 2003, Ruben Studdard Day.
- Winner for Season 2 of American Idol (2003); runner-up was Clay Aiken.
- Launched his own label, Real Music Records, at the close of 2003.
- Had a cameo in the 2004 movie Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
- Played Fats Waller in a 2008 revival tour of Ain't Misbehaving, opposite fellow AI alum Frenchie Davis.
- His cover of "Celebrate Me Home" was used as the exit song for AI season 7.
- Ruben Studdard Relationships:
- Kevin Studdard Jr. - Half Brother
- Hattie Williams - Grandmother
- Kevin Studdard Sr. - Father
- Emily Studdard - Mother
- Surata Zuri McCants - Wife (separated)
- Attended Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL