R&B’s teddy bear Ruben Studdard, is gunning to be the next Luther Vandross with his fifth album dropping this January. “This is the first opportunity I had to really be in complete control of the project and make the kind of music that I want to make,” confessed Studdard. “This is exactly what everyone has been asking me for over the past eight years — for me to come into my own and do those Luther style songs and this albums is exactly that.”

The Shanachie Entertainment recording artist is attempting to fill some very big shoes, but he says that he has been involved in the development of this project from its conception, the art work, to every lyric penned on each track — so he believes it is a challenge he can handle.

“The working title is ‘Letters from Birmingham’ and it’s really a relationship progression, so it’s about all different phases of a relationship that people generally go through — just about life experiences,” said Studdard. “We studied what made Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross great and tried to put all of that into an album that represents who I am, it’s about time I started showing that.”

Being 75 pounds lighter, thanks to recently becoming a vegan, has the smooth vocalist in perfect performance condition. He says he can’t wait to get back on tour and show the world who he really is.

“I hope people will see that I’m more than what they saw on television. A lot of time people are pulled into a character that the show has made you become, so I want everyone to see my growth and that I’m my own man,” said Studdard.

The exact drop date of “Letters from Birmingham” has not been set but it is slated for a January release.

Marcus A. Williams

Special to the AFRO