Christopher Ruben Studdard (born September 12, 1978), best known as Ruben Studdard, is an American R&B, pop and gospel singer. He rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol and received a Grammy Award nomination in December 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Superstar.
Studdard, who was born in Frankfurt, Germany while his American father was stationed there with the U.S. Army, grew up in Birmingham, Alabama.The youngest son of two teachers, at the age of three he sang for the first time at the Rising Star Baptist Church in his hometown of Birmingham. He continued singing gospel in church, performing solos as a child while his mother sang in the local choir. While at Huffman High School, he played football for which he received a scholarship to Alabama A&M University. While at Alabama A&M he joined the Omicron Delta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the men’s music fraternity of America.
When auditioning, Studdard sang Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky.” This guided him to being one of the local finalists. On American Idol, he impressed viewers with his performances of the Leon Russell/Bonnie Bramlett song “Superstar” (best known as a hit for The Carpenters) and the Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle duet “A Whole New World”; during his time on the show, Studdard received praise from music legends such as Lionel Richie, Neil Sedaka, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, Luther Vandross, and Gladys Knight.