Soul balladeer Ruben Studdard has been crowned the second “American Idol.” The aspiring artist learned he was the victor of a public vote at the end of last night’s (May 21) two-hour season finale of the Fox talent contest/reality series. Following Tuesday night’s final performance episode, more than 24 million votes were logged, “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest announced. A mere 130,000 votes separated the winner and the runner-up; Fox said the amount was misread during the broadcast.
Studdard won the audience over with his performances of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “A House is Not a Home,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and the Westlife song “Flying Without Wings,” written by Wayne Hector and Steven Mac.
“Flying Without Wings” will be Studdard’s debut solo single, to be released soon by the RCA Music Group’s J Records label. The disc will also feature his version of the Carpenters’ “Superstar.”
It was announced today that Studdard has signed to J Records through 19 Recordings Limited, the label started by “Idol” creator Simon Fuller. The album is due in September.
Runner-up Clay Aiken’s solo debut single, “This Is the Night,” an original song he performed on Tuesday night’s show, will be released by RCA. The cut will be backed with his version of the Jeffrey Osborne ballad “On the Wings of Love.”
Also on hand for the second season finale was first season winner Kelly Clarkson, who performed two songs, including her single “Miss Independent.” RCA Music Group chairman Clive Davis was on hand to praise Clarkson and present her with a Recording Industry Association of America platinum award certifying U.S. shipments of 1 million copies of her RCA debut, “Thankful.” Released in April, the album debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200.
As members of the American Idol Finalists recording ensemble, Studdard and Aiken already have a No. 1 single under their belts. The group’s version of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” has spent five straight weeks on top of Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Sales chart. The single, which bowed at No. 4 on the Hot 100, has sold 215,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Amidst all of the media attention that will follow his “Idol” win, Studdard will begin concentrating on his debut full-length. “I want my album to be a R&B mix with a neo-soul/gospel vibe, Studdard says. “I really like Dave Hollister and Musiq. That’s the kind of sound I’d go for on my album.”
He hopes to collaborate with songwriters/producers Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Rodney Jerkins on the project. “I also really want to do a duet with Kelly Price or [first season ‘American Idol’ finalist] Tamyra Gray,” he adds.
Studdard says that he intends to write songs for his first album: “I’ve been writing songs since I was 14. If I wasn’t singing, I’d be writing and producing.” No timetable for the release of the album has been disclosed.
In July, Studdard and Aiken will join eight other second season “American Idol” finalists on a North American summer tour. As previously reported, the trek will kick off July 8 in St. Paul, Minn., and will also feature Kimberly Caldwell, Julia Demato, Joshua Gracin, Charles Grigsby, Kimberly Locke, Carmen Rasmusen, Rickey Smith, and Trenyce.
Seven of the finalists — Caldwell, DeMato, Grigsby, Locke, Rasmusen, Smith, and Trenyce — will be seen performing Sunday (May 25) at NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The race and the performance will air nationally on Fox beginning at 5 p.m. ET.