Thursday, June 14, 2007

Just loving the music

I hope you don't mind if I bring this article here. I'm only doing so to point out how a true musician views his work.

'Idol' champ Ruben Studdard preparing to begin work on fourth album

By Christopher Rocchio, 06/14/2007Ruben Studdard sang in gospel choirs as a child and graduated from Alabama A&M University with a voice studies degree in 2000, but the 28-year-old couldn't break into the music industry until he auditioned for a certain reality competition series in 2002.

"I tell you what -- the one thing I can say is that I tried my whole life to be a professional singer and nothing ever worked until American Idol came around," the Fox mega-hit's second-season winner told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an interview published Thursday. "I'm appreciative of everything they've ever done for me, and I will always sing their praises." (too bad Clay Aiken nor his fans can appreciate the same. Funny that Ruben would be the one saying this when he was the one treated like the stepchild while Clay stepped in and stole his spotlight.)

While Idol may have launched Studdard's career into pop stardom he proved that he could also remain faithful to his roots, as his 2004 gospel album "I Need an Angel" was certified gold after selling more than 500,000 copies since it's release.

"The gospel album started off being a Christmas album and [RCA chairman and producer Clive Davis] said, 'You grew up in the church and gospel is something you really love,'" Studdard explained to the Times-Dispatch. "Plus, Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway, my favorite singers, have all done gospel albums. I got a chance to pay tribute to some singers that I grew up listening to, and because of it, everyone thought I turned into a gospel artist."

Studdard characterized those thoughts as a "misconception" and backed that up with 2006's "The Return," an R&B album that may have only sold 226,000 copies since its October release but definitely has a more soulful sound than Idol fans are used to hearing from him.

"[With 'The Return'] I knew I wanted to come out with something everyone would love," Studdard told the Times-Dispatch. "The album took so many directions. I worked on it for two years, so you can imagine how many directions you could go. But it turned out exactly the way I wanted."

The "Velvet Teddy Bear" said he plans on starting to work on his fourth album in July and his sights set on recording a duet with a fellow Idol winner.

"I really want to do a duet with [Idol 3 champ Fantasia Barrino] on this next album," Studdard told the Times-Dispatch. "We met while she was on [Idol] and have been friends ever since. I'm hoping this next album will be more soulful than all the ones I've ever done." (Looks like he's finally listening to those fans like myself, who wants the soulful Ruben back.)

Studdard's sound isn't the only thing that's constantly changing, as he's also dropped some serious weight recently when he made the decision to become a vegetarian.

"I wanted to do something different as far as my diet was concerned, and what could be more different than being a vegetarian? It's working. I have a lot more energy. I've probably lost 85 to 90 pounds," he told the Times-Dispatch. "I do exercise -- cardio and weight training -- but I'd taken a month off and today was my first day back, so I'm a little sore."

Because Studdard knows not every aspiring singer will have the opportunity to show-off their abilities on Idol, he founded the Ruben Studdard Foundation in 2003 to help others attain their dreams.

"[It's] a scholarship organization to help deserving high school seniors studying music and to give grants to schools that need sheet music. Anything musical, we try to give money for it," he told the Times-Dispatch. "I had a wonderful music education in high school -- that's what promoted me in college. There's no way a child could come from high school with a not-so-good music program and major in it in college... We are just looking to do whatever we can do [to give kids the same opportunity]." (Ruben, you mean to tell me it wasn't created because you were jealous of Clay creating a bogus to real foundation???? You ACTUALLY cared for the kids??? Okay, so I'm being "snarky" :lol:

Despite a cameo in 2004's Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed as well as several small television roles, Studdard said he has no immediate plans to attempt a Jennifer Hudson-like move and take the plunge into acting.

"I just want to make the music, man. All the rest of that stuff will come when it comes," he told the Times-Dispatch. "I'm big on going with the flow. I never like to push things. If an opportunity presents itself, I'll take it. People voted for me to sing, so that's what I feel I should bring to them."

...and this is what being a musician and loving the music is all about. If they just sing to earn a paycheck [like we know who], one can easily see that there's no passion, no interest, no desire to go beyond and amaze the fans. Ruben just wants to make the music and even when his performances are at a smaller scale, they are constantly coming. He has no "official" tour, but it's constantly performing and that's what builds a career. As much as I hate that sometimes he just doesn't care whether he performs with AI rejects or big stars such as Aretha Franklin, his "gigs" are steady and includes all kinds of venues. The basis of an artist is to get exposure. For someone like Ruben, in a genre that is so competitive and coming from AI, his efforts are twice as hard. If you also add the mistakes he has made in the course of his career, to find him moving on and continuing to bring his art wherever he can, and doing it successfully it is indeed commendable. It's not about fame, but about the music.

I'm one of his biggest fans and also one of his hardest critics. I don't believe in sugarcoating (no shit...) or trying to make excuses for him because that's not how an artist grows, and just like an artist loves to hear what people likes of them, it is from hearing what they don't that they can learn and better themselves. The fact he says he will do a more soulful CD makes me think he listened to those of us who strongly criticized his "pimped out" image (that in my opinion was totally foreign to the real Ruben) and is willing to compromise by giving his fans what they would like to hear more of.

I totally respect his commitment to the music and to making sure that others less privileged can also be given the same opportunity he was given to pursue their dream. I also admire his commitment to himself and to make sure that no matter what setbacks presented themselves to him, he has been able to overcome them in spite of those who tried their darnedest to make him fail. The wheels are now turned and as we always knew, Ruben STILL won!

Contributed by emach1300