On today’s ever changing musical landscape, the definition of R&B fluctuates as much as the rolling hills from the steep pitches and flat meadows of Birmingham’s Red Mountains. Generation Y looks to rhythm-driven artists Ne-Yo, Trey Songz and Usher as the personification of soul while many Baby Boomers insist that only the raw, melodious sounds of soul men like Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye are the real deal. Ruben Studdard is the uniquely perfect combination of both schools of music and he brings both exciting dimensions to Letters From Birmingham (Shanachie-March 13, 2012). This alluring concept album about the ups and downs of modern romance is the project Studdard has longed to make his entire career. With it, he surely sets the standard for modern day soul troubadours and boasts stunning performances that range from an angelic falsetto on love songs like “Today” to hard-hitting dance floor grooves like “Turn You Out” that show off a raw vocal edge.
It’s been almost a decade since Fox Television’s “American Idol” television talent competition crowned Studdard its 2003 winner after he pulled 24 million votes and became a household name. In the years since, the Velvet Teddy Bear (as Gladys Knight nicknamed him for his smoothly soothing vocal style) has produced a string of gold and platinum albums, toured as Fats Waller in a national stage tour of “Ain’t Misbehavin,’ appeared on various television shows, toured in the comedy drama “Heaven I Need A Hug” with Robin Givens and played a pastor in the Trace Adkins film, “Lifted.” Along the way, he’s also picked up GRAMMY® and American Music Award nominations and turned out now classic urban radio hits like “Sorry 2004,” “Superstar,” “Make Ya Feel Beautiful” and “Change Me.” He also scored a #1 Gospel hit with “I Need An Angel.” Letters From Birmingham is Ruben’s most personal set of music yet and he’s hoping his vast fan base will enjoy and be surprised by the album’s twists and turns.
Always one to give back, Ruben created “The Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts.” Through his foundation, Ruben strives to promote the essential role of the arts in education through learning initiatives for the development of students in the Greater Birmingham Area.
He is an official spokesperson for “Be Sickle Smart,” a nationwide grassroots health-education program aimed at increasing awareness of iron overload among people living with sickle-cell disease.
Studdard also created and recently held The Ruben Studdard Celebration Weekend in his home state of Alabama, in which he participated in a half marathon! The former football athlete (he received a scholarship to Alabama A&M University where he studied music) also recently became a vegan. A true musician, Ruben is equally at home in the world of R&B, gospel, jazz and rock. He even has his own rock band called "Just a Few Cats."
The set of song and aural letters showcased on Letters From Birmingham represents Ruben Studdard’s independence as an artist and showcases his R&B with a greater marriage of catchy hooks and sophisticated prose than his previous work. “I hope people will hear it and say, 'gosh these are great songs,'” he says. “I wanted to make an album that you could put in and not take off and it be on from start to finish… I think we did that. I hope in the next five years people will still be asking me to sing 'Love Skies.'”