Award-winning and Grammy-nominated R&B, gospel and pop singer Ruben Studdard released “Ruben Sings Luther,” his first album in four years. Studdard, known as the “Velvet Teddy Bear” and American Idol Season 2 winner, pays homage to the multiple Grammy award-winning singer, writer, and producer Luther Vandross who passed in 2005.
Studdard is well-known for skillfully covering popular songs recorded by music legends. It comes at no surprise that Studdard would return to the music world after a four-year recording hiatus with a solid release of nostalgic songs made famous by Vandross.
“In my young teens, I would perform a Luther song or two at weddings and people would keep requesting more of his hits,” said Studdard. “ I recorded ‘Superstar’ awhile back which was Grammy-nominated and sang different Luther songs during my live shows.”
In conjunction with the new music, Studdard embarks on a 25-city “Always and Forever” tour with a stop at The Rose, 245 East Green Street in Pasadena on April 11. Doors open at 6 p.m. with opening sets by H’Atina G and The Millen Sisters at 7 p.m. Studdard’s approximately 90-minute set begins at 9 p. m.
“I am excited and proud of my latest project “Ruben Sings Luther,” which dropped on March 16, 2018,” said Studdard. “For years, people have asked me when I would record Luther’s songs.”
Studdard finally answers his fans’ persistent requests and delivers a 10-song album dedicated to Vandross’ legacy of timeless music.
“My goal was to not only to pay tribute to Luther but to add my own passion on top of Luther’s brilliant songs,” he said. “I picked the songs that I thought I sounded good singing. I felt that the “House is Not a Home,” which is a Burt Bacharach song-not a Luther original, to be my best.”
Ruben Sings Luther Playlist:
• “Always and Forever”
• “Never Too Much”
• “So Amazing”
• “Don’t You Know That”
• “Bad Boy/Having a Party”
• “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”
• “Here and Now”
• “Til My Baby Comes Home”
• “A House Is Not a Home”
• “Power of Love”
Studdard said there is no bigger fan of Luther than his mother, Emily. “I grew up listening to Luther,” he said. “My mother collected all his records and still has them.”
He recalls her playing “Don’t You Know That,” while doing household chores.
“That song became one of my favorites,” he said. “My mother wouldn’t hesitate to hire a baby sitter so she could attend Luther’s concerts.”
Studdard is the youngest of his siblings.
“I guess I was always a fan from a distance,” he said. “I never saw Luther perform live or met him but got to know him through my mother’s love for his music, eventually he became my favorite too.”
As a teen, Studdard said he really learned to appreciate Luther when he became serious about singing. The carefully selected songs prove that Studdard has musically filled the shoes of Vandross and has nailed down other details to bring the fans a “Luther-ese” experience down to the stylist wardrobe and choreography.
“I have been planning to go on tour for a while and my live shows give fans a chance to reminisce about Luther,” said Studdard. “My album offers fans the opportunity to take me home and listen to my interpretation of the songs they love.”
“My heart and soul will be in every note I sing as I honor one of the greatest vocalists we’ve ever had,” he said.
What’s next for Studdard? “I’m working on a new album to be released before my birthday in September,” he says. “I also have a Christmas album yet to the titled but hope to have out by this Christmas.
To date, Studdard recorded seven studio albums, appears frequently on TV, and has sold more than two million albums worldwide. Ironically, the “Always and Forever” tour, as of this date, does not include his hometown, Birmingham, Alabama.
“I hope to bring it home for my mom and fans soon,” said Studdard.