Billboard Music Awards

Studdard Plots Fall 'Return' With New CD

Currently in an Atlanta studio, 2003 "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard is finishing up his third J Records release, "The Return of the Velvet Teddy Bear," for a tentative fall release date.

Currently in an Atlanta studio, 2003 "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard is finishing up his third J Records release, "The Return of the Velvet Teddy Bear," for a tentative fall release date. Although he is tightlipped regarding the entire project, the Alabama native did confirm he's working with various producers on more than potential 20 tracks.

"I think everybody is bringing a different flair to the situation and if it clicks, it makes good music," Studdard tells Billboard.com. "[I did] a session with Mario Winans that turned out really well. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to work with Warryn Campbell (Luther Vandross, Brandy, Dru Hill) now. Hopefully [there will be] some other big named producers. It's coming along really, really well and it's turning out like I wanted it to, so I'm excited."

Despite the fact Studdard's 2004 sophomore album "I Need an Angel" was positioned as an inspirational or even gospel release, the crooner takes exception to the label. "It's R&B," he says. "I never went gospel. That was just a holiday release. I never made an announcement that I was becoming a Christian artist."

The 26-year-old singer recently returned to his pre-"American Idol" outfit Just A Few Cats by making an appearance on the group's new album, "CATastrophunk." This weekend, the artist will appear with the jazz/soul outfit, which also acts as his touring band, at a CD release party and a benefit for the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala.

While he has a few solo dates planned for this summer, a full-fledged tour is being set up for the fall. "I like to work and I just try to keep it moving," Studdard says.