Ruben Studdard, aka the Velvet Teddy Bear, formally returned to the music scene this month with a new album, new single and new label. Released Feb. 4 by Verve Records, “Unconditional Love” marks Studdard’s sixth album since claiming the “American Idol” crown in 2003.
The romance-themed “Unconditional Love” is comprised of nine covers (including the Beatles’ “My Love” and “Close to You” with Stevie Wonder on harmonica) and two original songs. Producers include Verve chairman David Foster, Jaymes Foster, Eric Benét and longtime Studdard collaborators John Jackson and Warryn Campbell.
Studdard performed one of the original tunes—lead single “Meant to Be” — on the Feb. 4 finale of television’s “The Biggest Loser.” An alumnus of the show’s recent season, Studdard has lost 120 pounds.
Studdard’s newly trim physique and new music will be showcased during various TV appearances, including upcoming stints on NBC’s “Today,” “Dr. Phil” and BET’s “Being.” On Monday (Feb. 10), the Birmingham, Ala. native appeared on “Live! With Kelly & Michael” and performed several songs during a Livestream session. This spring, Studdard and recent Grammy Award winner Lalah Hathaway (who duet on the album’s “If This World Were Mine”) will launch a string of concert dates beginning April 5 at Detroit’s Garden Theatre with subsequent stops in Minneapolis, Seattle and Chattanooga, Tenn.
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