“American Idol” alum Ruben Studdard is back with a new album – his fifth, and opened up about his divorce, weight gain, a recent tax debacle and even about Clay Aiken’s run on “The Celebrity Apprentice” in an interview to promote the record on “The Wendy Williams Show.”
Studdard, 33, won the second season of “American Idol,” while Clay Aiken was the runner-up. Studdard was dubbed the “Velvet Teddy Bear” while on the show. His new album, “Letters from Birmingham,” is named after his hometown in Alabama and features the single “June 28th (I’m Single).” The album and the songs deal with the ups and downs of modern romance.
Ruben Studdard filed for divorce from wife Surata Zuri McCants in November after 3 years of marriage. The two met in 2006, at a CD signing event in Walmart. McCants has a daughter from a previous relationship.
“We were just going in two separate directions,” he said on “The Wendy Williams Show”. “There’s no hard feelings. At the beginning, I think we should have taken a lot more time to get to know each other. We dated for about six months and then we got engaged. I want a big family. Some people don’t want a big family.”
Studdard was overweight when he won “American Idol.” His weight has fluctuated over the years as he tried new diets and said on “The Wendy Williams Show” that he has regained most of it due to stress eating, adding: “I just started going out and kicking it.”
Ruben Studdard’s records have not sold as well as those put out by Aiken and fellow “American Idol” alumni, namely season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson and season 4 champion Carrie Underwood. Clay Aiken is featured on the current season of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” which has stars participating in business-oriented tasks to win money for charity.
Studdard made a point to praise Aiken for all he does.
“When you’re in that kind of situation, I think Clay is going to come out and he’s actually one of the funniest people,” Studdard said. “I mean his personality…A lot of people think that both of us are really shy, when we’re really not. We did a tour together, and both of our managers were saying that ‘we should have a camera so everyone can see how stupid you guys are.’”
Studdard also ‘came clean’ to Wendy Williams about owing $100,000 in back taxes to the IRS, “saying he’s never been late” and that he “always filed.”
“We’re trying to work it out right now,” Studdard said. “We’re in the process of working with them, and hopefully we can get that accomplished here soon. But you know, I won’t be the first person to be on television with that and I won’t be the last.”
Studdard joins a long list of celebrities who have owed thousands to the IRS, including Val Kilmer, Christie Brinkley, The Osbournes and Marlee Matlin, who placed second on the previous season of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Studdard discussed FOX’s newest singing contest series, “The X Factor,” headed by former “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell. The show is looking to replace departing judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. Mariah Carey, Britney Spears and Fergie have been named as rumored contenders.
“I definitely think Mariah Carey would be a great judge,” Studdard told Wendy Williams. “I feel like that because she wouldn’t hold any punches – she would just say exactly what’s on her mind.”