'American Idol' Pioneer Ruben Studdard is Singing Luther Vandross Classics in Over-the-Rhine This Week

The Velvet Teddy Bear performs his 'Ruben Sings Luther' show at Memorial Hall on Thursday, Nov. 14

click to enlarge Ruben Studdard - Davenport Design
Davenport Design
Ruben Studdard
Singer Ruben Studdard, whose career took off after he won the second season of American Idol in 2003, has of late been performing concerts that pay tribute to the late R&B legend Luther Vandross.

Studdard’s ties to Vandross stretch back to the very start of his singing career. He performed a head-turning version of “Superstar” for his first-round song on Idol, which set the stage for his ultimate overall win. “Superstar” was originally released in 1969 by the duo Delaney & Bonnie (it was co-written with Leon Russell), but it was a bigger hit for The Carpenters in 1971 and then for Vandross in 1983. Studdard’s recorded version — a single from his debut album, Soulful — was nominated for a Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Grammy; the 2004 award ultimately went to Vandross himself, for his work on the song “Dance with My Father.”

Last spring, Studdard — who earned the nickname the Velvet Teddy Bear on Idol — released his Ruben Sings Luther album, which features his arrangements of Vandross hits like “Always and Forever,” “Power of Love” and “Never Too Much.”

“Since I won American Idol, people have been asking for me to sing Luther songs for a long time,” Studdard told People magazine. “I thought, ‘OK. You want to hear it? I might as well do it.’ I thought it was the perfect time to pay homage to one of the greatest song interpreters of all time.”

8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14. $45-$65. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, memorialhallotr.com.

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