On this day in Alabama history: Ruben Studdard won ‘American Idol’

On this day in Alabama history: Ruben Studdard won ‘American Idol’
Singer Ruben Studdard performs onstage during the 2015 Hollywood Christmas Parade. (Mike Windle/Getty Images for The Hollywood Christmas Parade)

May 21, 2003

Ruben Studdard is a pop/rhythm and blues/soul/gospel singer. During the “American Idol” competition, he was fondly dubbed the “Velvet Teddy Bear,” and was noted for his 205 Flava jerseys, which represented his hometown of Birmingham. Studdard’s Idol performances were recognized by well-known artists, such as Lionel Richie, Neil Sedaka, Robin Gibb, Luther Vandross and Gladys Knight. He won the contest over runner-up Clay Aiken with 134,000 votes out of 24,000,000 cast that night.

Studdard debuted his first album, Soulful, in December, 2003, on the Billboard 200 album chart. It sold more than 400,000 copies in its first week. He received a Grammy nomination that same month for best R&B male vocal performance for “Superstar,” and won the NAACP’s “Best New Artist” award in March, 2004. With his latest project, Studdard honors R&B legend Luther Vandross, to whom Studdard has often been compared.

Studdard sang for the first time at age 3 at Rising Star Baptist Church in Birmingham. He graduated from Alabama A&M in 2000 with a major in voice studies and launched his musical career by singing in the Birmingham-based jazz/R&B band, Just a Few Cats.

Read more at Bhamwiki.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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