In Search of...Ruben Studdard

Way back in the day (2003) when “American Idol” was still white-hot, a Black boy from Birmingham, Alabama went on TV and sang his heart out. He sang all the way to the finals winning the competition and was seemingly poised to be a superstar. He was the big cuddly guy, his smile disarmed White folks and his Southern charm won them over. To Black folk, he the next in a line of great R&B singers, he size and amazing talent likened him to the legendary Luther Vandross who was stricken by a stroke during the competition. That spring, Ruben Studdard became the “American Idol” and his career was launched.

But a funny thing happened along the way; Clay Aiken was along for the ride, stealing Ruben’s thunder at every turn, performing with him, selling out shows, doing the TV circuit ahead of Ruben like he won the show. None of it bothered Ruben and his album went on to sale as the folks who watched the show, also bought the album. And just as quickly as he appeared, he was gone. I mean, he had a decent hit with “Sorry 2004”, was nominated for a few awards and appeared on some Black TV shows, but there was no follow-up album, the buzz was gone.

I guess the accoutrements of being the American Idol can be a bit overwhelming and attract predators, as Ruben found himself in the courtroom more than on stage, as he was being sued or suing folks for much of a three-year span, mo’ money, mo’ problems. He was also enjoying the excess of success eating and trickin’ off his money as fast as he could. He fell in love with a stripper (no T-Pain) and then decided to make a gospel album. OK...

I was shocked to find out that he’s released two more albums since 2009, but I can’t think of one song I’ve heard of his in the past 5 or 6 years, but it’s good to learn that he’s lost nearly 100 pounds. Now, if he can just get in the studio with able songwriters and producers to put that voice to work, none of the last nine years will be in vain. But sometimes a taste of fame is more than a man has the appetite for and we know that Ruben has had his fill of fame.

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