2012 Stone Soul Performer: Ruben Studdard

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Christopher Theodore Ruben Studdard (born September 12, 1978), best known as Ruben Studdard, is an American R&B, pop, and gospel singer. He rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol. He received a Grammy Award nomination in December 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Superstar.”

In the years following Idol, Studdard has released four studio albums, including his most recent disc, 2009′s Love Is.

In addition to appearing on various television shows he has toured with Robin Givens in the comedy-drama Heaven I Need a Hug and in 2008 accepted the role of Fats Waller in a national tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’.

When auditioning, Studdard sang Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky.” This guided him to being one of the local finalists. On American Idol, he impressed viewers with his performances of the Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett song “Superstar” (best known as a hit for The Carpenters) and the Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle duet “A Whole New World”; during his time on the show, Studdard received praise from music legends such as Lionel Richie, Neil Sedaka, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, Luther Vandross, and Gladys Knight.

During the televised competition, Studdard gained the nickname “Velvet Teddy Bear” and was noted for his shirts printed with “205″, the telephone area code of his hometown of Birmingham. Studdard also did a cover version of “For All We Know”, originally recorded by Donny Hathaway, whose music he grew up with.

He won the contest over runner-up Clay Aiken by only 134,000 votes out of 24,000,000 cast in the May 2003 finale, becoming the second American Idol winner.

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