Six years ago, Ruben Studdard’s life changed in an instant and it’s been changing ever since. This year has brought about even more changes, with the release of Ruben’s fourth album, Love IS (Hickory Records/19 Recordings). Love IS, is helmed by two of the most successful producers in the business, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Since its release on May 19, Love IS has been celebrated for its collection of love songs. Vibe says “The "velvet teddy bear" can belt billowing love songs” and Entertainment Weekly called the album a "mix of crafty originals and sturdy covers".
The album features Ruben’s versions of Extreme’s classic hit “More Than Words” and Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It.” The first single, “Together,” produced by Stargate, reached Top 15 on the Urban AC chart. "Don’t Make 'Em Like U No More", the follow up to “Together”, is a sleek and soulful R&B ode to everyone's special someone. It also was #1 most added at Urban AC Radio. Another original song on the album is “A Song For Her,” a very personal song co-written by Ruben for his wife, Surata Zuri McCants, whom he met at a Wal Mart signing in 2006.
A new album and a new family are just part of the picture for Ruben in 2009. He starred in a 30th anniversary production of the Fats Waller musical, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” It was Ruben’s first musical theater work since he was in a high school production of “Grease.”
“Fats was a cool cat,” says Ruben. “I loved getting dressed up, sitting at the piano and winking at the girls, just like he did.” Ruben also loved being on the road with Frenchie Davis and Trenyce, who were both contestants with him on the second season of “American Idol.”
Ruben Studdard was born Sept. 12, 1978, in Frankfurt, Germany, where his father was stationed in the United States Army. Ruben was nine months old when his mother brought him home to Birmingham. His musical talent was evident early in life: he was a three-year-old pre-schooler when he started singing at the Rising Star Baptist Church. As a member of the Cherub Choir, he sang a majority of the solo vocals, making his debut with “I’m Yours Lord.”
By the age of seven he was singing at school, in various churches and at banquets and local functions. His mother was a fan of Donny Hathaway, Luther Vandross and the O’Jays and Ruben learned to sing their songs. “I was the number one New Edition fan and in middle school I switched over to Boyz II Men. My father bought a lot of records, and that’s how I heard John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I became a big jazz fan.”
In high school, Ruben joined the football team as an offensive tackle. “I loved to sing and play sports so I went back and forth between the two,” he recalls. “But sports were just recreation for me. I became serious about singing and learning everything I could about music.”
In ninth grade, Ruben was a member of the mixed ensemble choir, the male chorus and the concert choir and sang in a male quartet called Eternal Harmony.