Ruben Studdard Talks Music, Jazz Alley, Aretha Franklin & Seattle

In the thirteen years since Ruben Studdard won “American Idol” he has truly become a household name. The Velvet Teddy Bear, as Gladys Knight tagged him, has been busy creating music, racking in well-deserved awards and working with some legends in the industry. Studdard has even toured as Fats Waller in a national stage tour of “Ain’t Misbehavin”. He also gives back to the community in an abundance of projects and supports youth programs with vigor.

Studdard is bringing his unparalleled talent to Jazz Alley for four days and six shows. He promises to mix it up and leave you hungering for more. Each show will be a bit different and showcase his musical skills along with his love for the venue itself. The shows are running March 30th – April 2nd. Get tickets here.

Are you excited about your show at Jazz Alley?
I am always excited about shows at Jazz Alley. It is one of my favorite venues.

Could you tell me a little about the show you are bringing to Seattle?
Well, Jazz Alley is a jazz club so I generally do a jazz heavy show with a mix of other songs in there. We try to mix it up and do a different show every night. It is not like doing a set R&B show with a set that doesn’t change. It is definitely a good time. The fans at Jazz Alley are always amazing. It is such a music friendly venue.

I saw that you are going to be a guest judge on “Chopped Junior” How did that come about?
(Laughter) Well they called and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. I said of course, I am a fan of the show and watch it whenever I can. It was really a great time.

Ruben Studdard singingIs it amazing to watch all these young kids with so much cooking skills and talent?
Absolutely! It is always great to see young people shine whether it is singing or cooking.

It has been thirteen years since “American Idol.” They have so many challenges to really test your skills and take you out of your comfort zone. How do you think that has shaped or changed your career?
It definitely makes you a hard worker. I really think that “American Idol” is one of the hardest boot camps in the industry. They put you through sleep deprivation, vocal skills and just all sorts of things that you have to go through in the course of a season as a professional performer. I definitely think I am better for having had that experience.

Would you suggest similar shows to young talents now?
Definitely, I think that anything that young people can do to show their gifts and talents is something they should do.

How did it feel when you received your Grammy nomination?
Man, it felt like I really just graduated from high school. You spend all that time watching your idols get nominated and go up on that stage to accept their awards. It was an amazing experience just to be mentioned in that company.

How did it feel to honor and perform for Aretha Franklin?
I was nervous. At the time I was still on J Records. Clive and Aretha had a very long relationship, so of course he doesn’t make it any easier on you. He wants you to do a great job for Aretha. It wasn’t even just her in the room. It was packed with lots of legendary singers. It was a great privilege to sing for her. She invited me to do a concert with her in Detroit after that performance.

What is it like working with David Foster?
David Foster is the highest selling music producer of all time. He is a legend. We still work together and I sing with him often. I met him about ten years ago at Mohamed Ali’s Fight Night. About a year or two after that, David called to ask me to sing on a UNICEF show. We have been working together ever since. He produced my last album and you know he is just a great friend. It really trips me out to call these people my friends. Can you imagine sitting in a room and telling someone that Stevie Wonder played harmonica on my album? (Laughter)

Is there anyone out there that you would just love to collaborate with?
I would love to work with Quincy Jones. (Laughter) You know, that is just wishful thinking.

How do you juggle all of your different music projects?
I love music! I try to do as many different things as a possibly can. It is definitely an opportunity for me to show off the skills I have learned and worked on over the years.

How do you stay creative?
It think that you are either creative or you are not. I come up with musical ideas all the time. It is what it is. I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t creative. I think some of it comes from spending so much time just creating sill stuff as a kid.

You mentioned that you love Jazz Alley. Is there anything else that you just really love about Seattle?
I really love that venue. I love walking down to the original Starbucks. I just love the town. There are a lot of great restaurants right around Jazz Alley and I always enjoy it.

Ruben Studdard’s Jazz Alley show run from March 30th – April 2nd. Get tickets here.


more info below

Artist’s Info From Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley:

The Pacific Jazz Institute at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley welcomes R&B/Jazz Singer and America Idol winner, Ruben Studdard for four nights and six shows. Band members joining Mr. Studdard are John Jackson (keyboards), Justin McKinney (bass) and David Smith (drums). Show times Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and 9:30pm, and Sunday at 7:30pm. Doors open at 6pm on Thursday and 5:30pm Friday – Sunday.

It’s been 13 years 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.”

His recent releases are “Letters From Birmingham” — one of Ruben’s most personal albums yet — and “Unconditional Love,” where he collaborated with the Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster.

Inducted into Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2005, this alum continues to give back through various ways. Since his induction, Ruben has performed at local Boys & Girls Clubs events across the country. He also established “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 also 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 has hosted The Ruben Studdard Celebration Weekend in his home state of Alabama in which he participated in a half marathon. The former football athlete studied music while attending Alabama A&M University on a football scholarship.

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.”

Over the years, Ruben has been nominated for Grammy, Soul Train and American Music Awards and was the recipient of a NAACP award.



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Earle Dutton

Earle Dutton

Earle Dutton is the Chief Blogger and Editor of He founded in 2013 to provide information about LGBTQ friendly events of interest, and to support LGBTQ entertainers and supportive artists who visit our community. Earle is a successful businessman in the Pacific Northwest with a long history of support for and involvement in, the Northwest LGBTQ community. His personal interests include: music, theater, pets, culinary arts and technology.

1 Reply to “Ruben Studdard Talks Music, Jazz Alley, Aretha Franklin & Seattle”

  1. D. Sanders says:

    Great interview! I’m a huge fan of his!

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