Jump to content

January through June, 2023

Recommended Posts


‘American Idol’ rivals Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken share a meal in Alabama, ahead of dual tour




‘American Idol’ rivals Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken share a meal in Alabama, ahead of dual tour

Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken

Ruben Studdard, left, and Clay Aiken acknowledge fans during a curtain call for "Ruben & Clay's First Annual Christmas Show" on December 11, 2018, at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)


Two “American Idol” veterans, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, were spotted in Alabama this week, dining at Joe’s Italian in Alabaster.


The restaurant — which specializes in pizza, pasta and other hearty Italian fare — posted a photo of the two singers Thursday night on its Facebook page, saying, “Looky Looky, Looky who joined us for dinner tonight .... @Ruben studdard and Clay Aiken @american.idol.winners.”


Studdard and Aiken became inextricably linked in the public’s consciousness in 2003, when they took first and second place on “American Idol” during one of the reality show’s most popular seasons. Studdard, an R&B crooner from Alabama, and Aiken, a pop singer from North Carolina, vied for the “Idol” title with good humor and easy camaraderie, drawing fans to the series in droves.


When Studdard took the crown that year and performed his emotional coronation ballad, “Flying Without Wings,” Aiken was right beside him, cheering him on.


It’s unclear why Studdard and Aiken are spending time together in Alabama, but the two singers, now 44, have stayed in touch over the years and maintain a cordial friendship. They’ve performed together on occasion and starred in a Christmas show on Broadway in 2018.


Also, Studdard and Aiken are planning to tour together this spring, marking 20 years since their time together on “Idol.” The tour starts on April 12 in Troy, New York, and ends May 16 in Wausau, Wisconsin. The agenda includes a half-dozen dates in the South, including a May 7 show at the Oxford Performing Arts Center in Alabama. (Tickets are $29-$55 via the venue’s website.)




Link to comment
Share on other sites


Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard discuss reunion tour, Troy concert




Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard discuss reunion tour, Troy concert

by: Cassie Hudson




TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After two decades of friendship, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken are going on tour this spring. The two American Idol stars are kicking off their 20th anniversary reunion concert tour in Troy at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on April 12.

During the tour, they’ll be singing all the songs you know them best for, as well as new collaborations. They also plan to share a lot of behind-the-scenes stories from their time on American Idol.

“Ruben and I were both 24 when we were on the show, so in some ways – maybe you feel differently – it’s kind of almost hard to know what life was like pre-Idol,” said Aiken.

Tickets are still available for the show. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling (518) 273-0038.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


'American Idol' contestants to celebrate 20 years together at The Zeiterion on April 14




'American Idol' contestants to celebrate 20 years together at The Zeiterion on April 14

7da6e438-a909-4aea-9661-6e6d34439f45-ScrSeth Chitwood

Additionally, he performed in several stage productions, including “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Ain't Misbehavin'.” His latest single "Change Me" was released in 2019. He also teaches master classes and course at institutions such as at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

'American Idol's' Ruben Studdard, left, Clay Aiken, right, to perform at the Zeiterion on April 14

In 2009, Studdard visited New Bedford to meet contestants of New Bedford Idol at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center.

“American Idol was one of the most fond memories of my life,” he said. “Why it's good to have both of us (Aiken) in the room together, is because we can bring up and recall things that the other one doesn't remember.”

He also has his own foundation, The National Inclusion Project, which works to help disadvantaged and disabled children.

Clay Aiken, left, and Ruben Studdard, right, during the finale of 'American Idol' in 2003.

“I think that we're in a moment right now where people love the “Night Court” reunion reboot, they love the “Will and Grace” reboot. I think we are looking for, as people, as a society, things that are comfortable and safe,” Aiken said.

“What both Ruben and I want the most to do with the show is sort of bring back that fun, safe, warm feeling, we want people to feel that nostalgia when they come to the show.”

Remembering their time on ‘American Idol’

Season 2 of “American Idol” continues to be the most watched season to date for the series. The 2003 finale had a record-breaking 40 million views on Fox.

Neither of them watched the show until recently when preparing to do the show. “We didn't really even watch it then because we were on it. It was live,” Aiken said.

“It's just been really kind of magical to relive what we experienced 20 years ago,” Studdard quickly added.

Aiken recalled being scared to death during his first live episode. “I remember being behind the big screen as we're walking around and thinking, oh my god, I'm so nervous,” he said.

“I was thinking my stomach was going to like fall out of my rectum.”

Suddard said he didn’t start to feel the nerves until he was recognized by fans while in a bar in Atlanta with his brother.

“It just blew me away. It just didn't click to me that this show is everywhere,” he said.

What to expect on April 14

Aiken and Studdard will be performing several songs during their performance such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” while also telling stories about their “American Idol” experience.

Working this week on the second act, Aiken said they have so many songs and stories they’ve been struggling to cut it down for time. 

“I think people are coming because they want to get that behind the scenes information that they wouldn't have gotten just from watching us 20 years ago,” Aiken said.

“Listen, we're gonna be doing some amazing music, have a good time, tell some great stories and who doesn't like a good time? Who doesn't like a party?

“It's a celebration. It's the 20th anniversary of me beating Clay!” Studdard said with a big laugh.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


American Idols Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken discuss concert coming to Newberry



American Idols Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken discuss concert coming to Newberry

American Idols Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken are coming to the Midlands as for their 20th Anniversary Reunion concert tour. 

14 hours ago 

 Miya Payton

NEWBERRY, S.C. (WOLO) – American Idols Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken are coming to the Midlands as for their 20th Anniversary Reunion concert tour. 

20 years after American Idol Season 2, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard are heading to Newberry. The two artists say their lives changed overnight after the show and often look back on their journey in disbelief .

“I have those moments often and it usually comes in the form of being on stage with someone I used to idolize – like when I got to go to Japan and sing on stage with Natalie Cole or when I got the chance to tour with Boys II Men,” says Studdard. 

“We both were not the type of folks that you would expect to be the biggest pop stars. I was a hot mess from Raleigh, N.C. and Ruben was this sort of quiet, big guy from Alabama,” says Clay.  

American Idol season two finale continues to be the most watched episode. “We remind people all the time. I tell them I’m the reason and the prep-work,” says Clay.  

Ruben and Clay will be appearing as mentors for this season of idol competitors.

“You tell them the things that could have derailed you in your success, you can see some of the mistakes that you’ve made that could have kept you from but the grace of God kept you from being in the position you’re in,’ says Studdard.  

While Clay plans to bring some of Simon’s attitude to this season. “Simon prepared us for a real world in the music industry that’s not always going to tell you you’re wonderful.” 

The duo is inviting you to join them at Newberry Opera House.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


Ruben Studdard & Clay Aiken hitting Xcite Center next month




Ruben Studdard & Clay Aiken hitting Xcite Center next month


The ‘American Idol’ season 2 stars talk 20 years of friendship and more in this exclusive interview

Two decades of friendship: American Idol season 2 alums Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken are hitting Parx Casino’s Xcite Center on April 28. Source: Submitted Photo

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken stood side-by-side on the American Idol stage, anxiously waiting for Ryan Seacrest to crown the winner of the competition’s second season.

Two decades later, Studdard and Aiken are a little older and a little wiser, yet ultimately, not much has changed. These unlikely buddies have not only maintained the friendship formed during the grueling Hollywood Week, but they’re still sharing the stage together.

On Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m., they’re bringing “Twenty | The Tour” to Parx Casino’s Xcite Center for an evening of nostalgia and celebration of their American Idol season’s 20th anniversary. Ahead of the show, The Times caught up with Studdard and Aiken, who are thrilled to reunite for this momentous occasion.

“I feel absolutely and extremely blessed to have reached this milestone,” said Studdard. “To have the opportunity to celebrate one another, to celebrate with the fans that gave us the opportunity to do this, it’s just great.”

“It’s surreal to realize that it’s been 20 years,” said Aiken. “There are not many people, period, that get to keep performing and having people buy tickets 10 years after their first album or hit. To be able to continue to do it 20 years later, it’s surreal.”

After coming out victorious on American Idol, Studdard has been on the road consistently, including on the “Ruben Sings Luther Tour.” Aiken, on the other hand, isn’t a big fan of tour life … unless he’s able to do it with his friend. The two embarked on the “Timeless Tour” to celebrate their Idol season’s 10th anniversary, and also had their own Broadway show in December 2018. Once COVID calmed down, Studdard knew they had to partner up again.

“Maybe it’s just God’s will that every 10 years, we say, ‘Hey, here we are.’ So be on the lookout for the 30th anniversary,” said Studdard.

“If I’m still around,” joked Aiken. “There’s only one person who’s been able to get me on a stage in the past decade, and it’s been Ruben both times. It’s very easy to work on stage with Rube. We’ve known each other for 20 years. We do finish each other’s sentences sometimes. Performing together, you have to trust somebody because when you’re up on stage, if I drop a line — which I never do *laughs* — but if I were to, Ruben would pick it up and vice versa. There’s something nice about going out and performing with a friend, so this was an easy thing, to celebrate 20 years and do it with my brother Ruben.”

So how did this pair — an R&B singer from Birmingham, Alabama and a nerdy vocal powerhouse from Raleigh, North Carolina — become so close? According to Aiken, they remember the story a little differently.

“We met in Hollywood Week during the first round where everyone came after they got their Golden Ticket. We stayed at the Glendale Hilton and on our evenings off, sometimes the contestants would socialize and get to know each other. And being the ‘ladies man’ that I am, I had a whole bunch of girls hanging out with me at the bar. And Ruben being the real ladies man that he is, noticed that I had all these ladies hanging out around me and he was impressed by my skills,” said Aiken, unable to keep a straight face. “OK, fix it, Ruben.”

“I was intrigued by the young person that had so many young women around him at the bar and I decided to go speak to them, to the table,” said Studdard.

While it’s unknown if any numbers were exchanged with the female contestants, Aiken and Studdard found in each other a friend for life. There was no cutthroat-ness regarding American Idol, but they did — and still do — often battle about who hails from the better state.

“We became strangely competitive over that, not over singing,” said Aiken. “I don’t wanna make Ruben feel bad, but Alabama’s got two American Idol winners, and North Carolina has three American Idol winners. But it’s OK, Rube, you’ll get there eventually.”

This sort of banter — along with some memorable songs from their Idol days and respective careers — is exactly what people can look forward to at the upcoming Xcite Center show.

“Just come expecting to have a good time,” said Studdard.

“We built this show in so many ways to recapture that 2003 energy and excitement. It was not just instrumental and a turning point in both of our lives, but I think in a lot of viewers’ lives,” said Aiken. “It was so exciting for people to gather around the TV with their family on Tuesday and Wednesday and see who was gonna sing what and who was going home. We want to return to those simpler times. It’s the kind of show that you can and should bring your grandparents to, your mothers, fathers and children. It’s going to be full of nostalgia and stories, and hopefully a lot of magic that people loved back then.”

While both Studdard and Aiken admitted to not being regular viewers of American Idol (it’s far too stressful to watch the show since they know the inner workings of it), they provided some advice for the next generation. Above all, they highlighted the importance of staying true to oneself.

“Just be authentic. I think the one thing that’s really cool about Clay and I is that we were able to be our absolute selves on American Idol,” said Studdard. “Just be you. It’s good enough.”

“We all came in exactly as we were,” agreed Aiken. “I walked into my audition with my puka shell necklace and Ruben walked in with his jersey T-shirt. People, I think, were attracted to the authenticity of Idol and especially the authenticity of our season. Neither one of us were the types of people who were being put on TV as singers prior to that show. I like to believe that people could see themselves in this guy from Birmingham and this kid from North Carolina. I think that’s why it was a hit. Our friendship developed because of that, too. We were both excited to be there, a little bit dumbstruck and pleasantly surprised that we were able to be accessible and stick around as long as we did.”

“First of all, my shirts were cool, just to be clear…,” responded Studdard.

If you go: Catch Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken’s “Twenty | The Tour” on Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m. at Parx Casino’s Xcite Center, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available at parxcasino.com/bensalem/xcitecenter.



Link to comment
Share on other sites




Why Clay Aiken is done with politics but can’t quit touring with ‘Idol’ pal Ruben Studdard


MARCH 15, 2023 10:51 AM 

Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, who were 24 years old when they became two of “American Idol’s” biggest stars, are starting to sound an awful lot like a couple of old men. 

Or, at least, like a couple of middle-age men. 

It escalated quickly: As they settle onto a Zoom call — for an interview to promote their 20th-anniversary reunion concert tour, which stops in Cary on April 29 and Charlotte on May 4 — Aiken mentions that Studdard is squeezing this in between music courses he teaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where the former “Idol” champ is a full-time faculty member. 

So, one naturally has to ask Studdard if his students are aware that he won the show back in 2003, when it was the most-watched show on television in Amer —

“They have absolutely no idea who I was. No,” says the now-44-year-old Studdard, cutting off the questioner. 

They weren’t born, were they?” chimes Aiken, also 44, who was Season 2’s runner-up. “Maybe.” 

“They were not born,” Studdard continues, shaking his head and closing his eyes. “I have one student who is an older gentleman in my class, and he’s the only person that knows about ‘American Idol.’ He’s a veteran, so he started school late. But the rest of them have absolutely no idea. They couldn’t care less.” 

Then, he adds, as a smile blooms on his face: “I actually did a lesson one day on the show, so that they could understand who I was.”

“It’s a little bit depressing,” Aiken concludes, though he’s now smiling, too. “We actually realized a week or so ago that we were now, currently, older than Simon and Paula were when we were on the show, when they were critiquing us,” referring to former “Idol” judges Cowell and Abdul, then 43 and 40, respectively. 

In case you’re wondering, Studdard has put out seven albums since “American Idol,” but none since 2018. Aiken recorded six albums in the nine years after the show, but zero since “Steadfast” was released 11 years ago. 

They’ve evolved in ways fans might not have expected. Studdard has shifted much of his focus to higher education. Aiken, a UNC Charlotte alum and Raleigh resident, mostly retired from the entertainment biz and unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Congress seats representing N.C. districts in 2014 and 2022. 

One thing that hasn’t wavered, however, is their going-on-two-decades-old friendship.

And in fact, the “Twenty Years | One Night” tour represents their third major collaboration as pals who like to perform together, having also done a loosely similar road show in 2010 and a Christmas show on Broadway in December 2018. Studdard and Aiken spoke with The Charlotte Observer recently about their close relationship and how it (and Aiken getting fed up with politics) birthed this new tour, while also reflecting on “Idol’s” good-old days. 

The conversation has been lightly edited.

 Q. So I was in my late 20s when you guys were on it, and “American Idol” was obviously a huge deal back then. I stopped watching probably after Season 11. Its power and influence over pop culture seemed to be changing. I mean, that show just felt different in those earlier seasons. You guys obviously still have a connection to the show. I saw that you’re both gonna be on this season’s finale. Does the show feel different now? 

Studdard: When I go back there — and I’ve been back a lot — I feel like an elder statesperson. And that’s not a bad thing. But it is interesting, because I remember when we would go back early on, and you kind of still felt like a contestant. Then as I got older, it starts to feel like you’re everybody’s uncle. I mean, these people, their parents are our fans. ... Their parents were the ones that voted for us. Not the contestants.

But we still have a lot of information to give (as guest mentors). The show, still, is pretty similar. It’s run kind of the same way. So, I think that Clay and I are an invaluable resource to Fox. 

Aiken: It’s on ABC now, Ruben.

Studdard: Oh, ABC — sorry. Not Fox. ABC. 

Aiken: See, that’s how much it’s changed over the years! But you know what? The fact that it has changed networks speaks to its permanence in American media. I mean, I’ve compared it — maybe wrongly — but I’ve compared it to Miss America in the past. Miss America used to be the thing you expected every year. Still is going on, obviously. “Idol” is sort of that. I mean, Kelly Clarkson was Miss “American Idol” 2002, Ruben Studdard “American Idol” 2003. And so on. I’ve always said they should do it (by number) — “American Idol 21,” or whatever. 

I went back this year, myself, to mentor, and had almost exactly the same experience as Ruben. In fact, one of the girls who I was mentoring, her mother had waited in line to audition with me in Atlanta. She didn’t make it through. She went and had a wonderful life, and children, and one of those children, who she had well after she stood in line with me, is now on “Idol” this season. It was hilarious. Kind of depressing.

I mean, he’s right: We are elder statesmen when we go back, in a way. But it’s amazing how much the industry has changed. Back when we were on, (the format was) text message or call in to vote. Now it’s on the computer. The contestants audition on Instagram, they audition via Zoom, like this. So it’s a different show. 

But what it continues to do is what it did for Ruben and I. It allows young people to change their life, it allows them to dream. I don’t know if I’ve told you this story, Ruben, but when I went back to the Hollywood Week this year, as I was waiting to be checked in to the hotel, there was a young contestant who was showing up for Hollywood Week at the desk next to me. He had a guitar on his back and he was talking to the lady at the counter, so excited — “Oh, yeah, I’m here, today’s such and such, and then tomorrow we’re gonna sing, and then if you make it through you get to” — he was telling her about how it goes, and I had this crazy flashback to when we checked in for Hollywood Week ourselves. I checked in, and I’m sure I did the same conversation with the lady at the Glendale Hilton. I checked myself into the Glendale Hilton, and that was probably the last time I checked myself into a hotel for a decade. 

And I thought, as he was standing there, this could be the last time he has to check himself into a hotel. His life could change after this week, in the same way ours did. At that Glendale Hilton. I got chills thinking about it, how much potential “Idol” has to do that for kids, to let ’em hope and dream that they can be the next Kelly Clarkson, or Ruben or Clay.

Q. Speaking of the show changing people’s lives: When you think back to your experience in 2003, can you pinpoint a moment when you actually had a feeling that your life was going to change?

Studdard: I knew it was about to be different when I was in the room with Clive Davis (then chair and CEO of RCA Records). I knew the music business. I knew about Clive. A lot of people go to “American Idol” not really knowing the behind-the-scenes people. But I remember, very vividly, seeing Clive Davis on “Entertainment Tonight” maybe a couple of months before I auditioned. He was introducing Alicia Keys on “Entertainment Tonight,” and I said to my roommates: “I’m gonna meet him one day.” And I remembered that moment as soon as I walked in that hotel when we all were on camera meeting Clive Davis. I was like, Man! I told these people last year I was gonna do this, and I’m actually doing it. 

So that show, man, the amount of access that we had to people like Lamont Dozier, Gladys Knight, Verdine White — those are people with huge careers that we were able to get to glean little bits of knowledge from, and that is invaluable. 

Aiken: But did you know it when it was happening? Did you realize it while it was going on? 

Studdard: I understood the gravity of the meetings. 

Aiken: I don’t think I did. When it’s happening, everything around you is moving. We worked so hard. We were on that show every day. Our day off was the day we shot the Ford commercial. That was the only day we didn’t have to worry about the show. It wasn’t until probably several years later when I looked back and realized, Holy crap. I am in Sweden right now. I mean, things moved so quickly that it took awhile after the first album cycle — maybe into the Christmas album for me (November 2004’s “Merry Christmas With Love”) — that I finally was able to see this was not a flash in the pan. This was not just a summer camp experience — something we do, and then we go home and it’ll go back to our normal lives. We never went back to “the normal life.”

Q. Can you talk about expectation versus reality, as it relates to what you thought the future held at the time? I mean, I imagine a 24-year-old who wins a show like “Idol” envisions the albums and the tours, some fame and some fortune, like you guys have had. But Ruben, right now you’re also teaching college music courses. Clay, you tried to enter politics on a large scale. Do you think, if not for the show, that you guys would have gone in these sorts of directions?

Studdard: Well, I was gonna be a teacher anyway. When I left Alabama A&M (in 2000), slightly prior to finishing my degree in music education, I promised my mom if I didn’t make it in five years, I would go back to school. Literally three years to the day I told my mama that, I won that show. And I was sweating bullets, ’cause I was like, Man, I’m gonna have to go teach. 

And now look at me. I’m teaching! My mom thinks that is the most hilarious thing. Even now, she’s like, “Before you and Clay go on the road, I’m coming to UTC. I gotta come sit in your class and watch you, ’cause you said you were never gonna be in nobody’s classroom.” (Editor’s note: Studdard did go back to school, eventually earning a master of arts degree from Alabama A&M University.) 

Aiken: I wonder if that means that we always are destined for what we’re destined for, regardless. Because if we could find my mom’s old IBM PS/1 from 1992, you would find posters that I made on Print Shop of me running for Congress. Of what my sign would be. I was fascinated by it. My eighth-grade class project was to interview and write an article about somebody who you admire. And I hunted down Terry Sanford, who had just lost his Senate race, and I interviewed him, and wrote my story about him. So it’s interesting that we both, in a way, ended up in similar places to where the “middle-school us” thought we might be.

I would say this: I may have tried to run for Congress had it not been for “Idol.” But I never would have been able to. I mean, granted, I wasn’t successful. But I never would have been as successful as I was — or had the ability to even do it — had it not been for “Idol.” Ruben, I don’t know; maybe you would have been teaching, but maybe not at a great college like you are. 

Studdard: I was just enamored with my arts teachers. Everybody that taught me something in the arts, they were all my favorite teachers. Even to this day, they are still some of my favorite people in the world. And I wanted to be that version of that for some child. That was my dream — to be that, for somebody else. 

Q. But you both still have some sort of itch that needs to be scratched when it comes to being on a stage, right?

Aiken: Ruben’s itch for performing has never gone away, and may never go away. Mine definitely went away, but strangely has returned, and I’m kind of pumped for it now. 

Q. So whose idea was this tour?

Studdard: I think that we both discussed the possibility of it for years. 

Aiken: Yeah, we toured together in 2010 and really enjoyed it, and realized we’d like to do something together again. I’m the one who said “no” for a while, because I took the detours that I took. We went back and did a show on Broadway in 2018 together, largely because I went out and saw Ruben’s “Ruben Sings Luther” show and caught the bug again — told my manager, “OK, I really want to perform with him again. Let’s figure something out.” So we did a Christmas show on Broadway that year. 

But Ruben was very helpful to me in both my campaigns. He’s the only person in the entertainment world who came out and supported me in both of them. He came out to this one in Durham last year, and this one did not go the way I wanted it to. So when the campaign ended, I just decided, F--- politics. They’re not helping anybody. Neither side. And I just had this realization that I felt great about myself when I went and saw Ruben sing, and people enjoyed our Christmas shows, maybe if I actually want to help people, maybe the better thing to do is shut up about politics — because they’re all full of s--- — and instead just go and sing, and do something happy. I mean, Ruben had always been saying, “We should do something.” And after the campaign was over, one of the first calls I made was to say, “OK, let’s do it. I’m done with this crap forever! Let’s go sing.”


Q. What’s are the differences between this tour and the one you guys did together in 2010?

Studdard: Honestly, the tour is probably gonna look a little similar. Probably in some ways much better, because we have more technology, more things that we can do now that we couldn’t do 10 years ago. We have less people. I know that for sure, because technology has given us the opportunity to travel with less people. Also, the setlist is fire, fire, fire. If you like old-school music, you gonna have a good time at our show. We leanin’ into our childhood to play the ’80s and ’90s. We’re giving ’em the best of ourselves in those eras right there. 

Aiken: There is old-school music. We’ll still do some stuff that we both recorded also. But our “Timeless” tour was a little more regimented. We started in the ’60s and we worked our way through decades of music. I think this show is a much more authentic and real look at both of us — as people, and as fans of music. Because it was created based off of really just a natural jam-session-type conversation. We sat down in Birmingham with our music director, and Ruben and I just talked about our memories of 2003, and “Idol,” and the things that he loved about it. From each of those stories that we were sharing with each other came musical moments that were very natural. I just love the way this show was put together, because it was so organic in its development. People are going to have this opportunity to really reminisce and have the nostalgia of 2003, and re-live that magic. They’re gonna get to know us in ways that maybe they haven’t in the past. 

And I think why we perform very well together is that we trust each other on stage. If one person goes left, the other goes left, too. We trust each other, and that makes performing so much easier with each other. I’ve been backstage at “Idol” in years after ours where I could literally hear people trying to trip the other one up. That never happened with our season. We’ve never really been competitive with each other. In the entertainment world, a lot of times people need to be number one, or number two. We joke about that all the time. But neither one of us necessarily feels the need to have more solo lines than the other, or sing more songs than the other. We enjoy performing together. We put on whatever we think is the best show. 

Now Ruben’s gonna remind you that he won and I lost. 

Studdard and Aiken both laugh. 


When and where: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Koka Booth Amphitheatre (8003 Regency Pkwy.) in Cary and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at Knight Theater (430 S. Tryon St.) in Charlotte. 

Tickets: Starting at $35.50 for the Cary show, and $24.50 and up in Charlotte. 

More details: www.rubenandclay.com.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


Seven ‘American Idol’ Finalists to Return As Mentors During Season 21’s Hollywood Week: Exclusive




Seven ‘American Idol’ Finalists to Return As Mentors During Season 21’s Hollywood Week: Exclusive

"Having a mentor in Hollywood Week is something we've always wanted to explore," executive producer and showrunner Megan Michaels Wolflick says.

American Idol will continue to honor the series’ long history by inviting seven past finalists to mentor season 21’s contestants during Hollywood Week, which begins airing on ABC on Sunday, April 2. The returning Idols are Justin Guarini (season 1), Clay Aiken (season 2), Jordin Sparks (season 6), David Archuleta (season 7), Phillip Phillips (season 11), Catie Turner (season 16) and Noah Thompson (season 20).

“Having a mentor in Hollywood Week is something we’ve always wanted to explore,” executive producer and showrunner Megan Michaels Wolflick tells Billboard. “We usually have over 150 people come to Hollywood Week, so it’s hard to have one mentor talk to everyone individually. I thought, ‘Who better to mentor on the Hollywood experience than people who have actually been through it.’ Jordin Sparks always speaks so well about this. She feels that Hollywood Week really was a perfect training ground for the music industry, all baked into that week. There’s no one better to mentor this week than people who have been there, and now that we can pull from 20 years of Idols, it was incredible. The people who came back this year were so excited to do it.”

Explaining how this year’s Hollywood Week will be revamped, Michaels Wolflick says, “In the past two years in the ABC era, we’ve done this genre challenge. We would say, ‘Okay, you’re rock. You’re pop. You’re soul/R&B,’ and it was becoming less relevant, because a lot of the finalists were telling us, ‘I’m pop-soul.’ ‘I’m country-rock.’ There was a blurred genre thing going on. So I thought we should explore something else.

“This year we gave all the contestants one of three areas that they wanted to work on: confidence, songwriting or stage presence. It was my challenge to pick two people who would be applicable for confidence. Clay Aiken and David Archuleta were total confidence. Both of them came in second place, and it was funny because when we were first talking to them about it, they said, ‘I still don’t have all the confidence.’ I told them, ‘Yes, but you have more than you came with.’ For the songwriting category, we had Catie Turner and Phillip Phillips, who are both songwriters in their own right. Both of them in their respective seasons brought an artistry to the show that maybe we hadn’t seen. And for stage presence, we have Jordin Sparks and Justin Guarini, two people who commanded the stage in their own way and still do.”

The seventh mentor is last season’s winner, Noah Thompson. “He gave some motivational speeches and was able to talk about his experience from last year. I can’t tell you how many people auditioned this year inspired by him. His friend Arthur signed Noah up [to audition], so we had a lot of people secretly signing people up, which was really cool.”

Addressing the legacy of 21 seasons of Idol, Michaels Wolflick says, “I think American Idol is now like the NFL, where people train their [whole] lives to come on the show. It’s now bigger than a TV show. It’s something you can aspire to be a part of — young singers are born every day.” As proof, the 15-year-old contestants on the current season were born during Idol’s seventh season, when Archuleta was competing on the show.

Michaels Wolflick, who joined the Idol production staff in season 2, says, “If you come on the show, you’re part of the American Idol alumni. You are part of our history. This show has changed lives in so many different ways. When David Archuleta makes news, it’s picked up everywhere. Even though he was on the show in 2008, people still have a passion for him. The investment is real. Carrie Underwood knows to this day when she’s playing to full arenas, there might be a good portion of these people who voted for her. There’s a special connection that all of the alum have to the show. They like to give back to these people who are coming in and the people who are coming in love to talk to them.”

Michaels Wolflick revealed to Billboard that more Idol alums will be returning during this 21st season, including the winner of season 2. “Clay and Ruben [Studdard]’s finale was on May 21, 2003. They’re going to come back and perform on this year’s finale, 20 years to the day.”



Link to comment
Share on other sites


Jordin Sparks, Clay Aiken, Phillip Phillips and more return to 'Idol' as mentors for Hollywood Week




Jordin Sparks, Clay Aiken, Phillip Phillips and more return to 'Idol' as mentors for Hollywood Week

'Idol' brings back its best to mentor contestants during Hollywood Week.

By Evan Wyno and William Escobar OTRC logo
Friday, March 24, 2023 6:12PM
Familiar faces from previous seasons talk with On The Red Carpet about making their return as mentors for aspiring singers during Hollywood Week.
LOS ANGELES -- "American Idol" continues it's 21-year celebration of amazing talent and remarkable entertainment. Familiar faces from previous seasons talk with On the Red Carpet about making their return as mentors for aspiring singers during Hollywood Week.

Season 5 winner and returning mentor, Jordin Sparks is thrilled to be back as a coach for an all-new group of passionate and talented singers. "I can help with certain things, I can assess certain things and also just encourage them to be who they are so, I'm very excited to be back here."

David Archuleta recalls his experience 15 years ago as a contestant. "You feel the pressure, there's like a lot of just this thickness in the air. People are excited but mostly nervous and it's just kind of an awkward place to be," the Season 7 runner-up explains. "So that's why it's like nice to be like, hey it's OK you can get through this and be a little bit of a relief to everybody." Like Archuleta, former Season 16 Idol contestant, Catie Turner shares her feelings about the stress of Hollywood Week. "Suddenly you get to Hollywood Week and your whole view of what your world is, is just crumbled 'cos you have a ton of people. Everyone is insane and you somehow have to deal with stress, self-doubt while still sounding good an um making friends," Turner said. "It's a lot at once and you and you're sleep deprived. It is insane. It is like singing bootcamp."

In addition to the stress of Hollywood week, Season 1 runner-up, Justin Guarini talks about his ability to channel nervous energy into something positive. "There's just a couple of little tweaks that can take them from being good to great. What I love to do in my job is to say, hey, take that pressure take those nerves - either let's get rid of them, leave them aside or let's use them," Guarini said. "So, I just love to take the energy and shift it and take their attention off the "I'm not good enough" and focus it more on being present and connecting."

For Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken, returning to the show that launched his career is an unforgettable experience. "When we checked in last night to the hotel, here right next to us there was a kid who is checking in, who is a contestant and it reminded me that yeah, I had to get here and check myself in, by myself that day," Aiken said. "It's almost in a way sort of the last moment of innocence really was that the beginning of Hollywood Week because after that it all took off and it's been like that for 20 years."


Phillp Phillips is grateful for being an "Idol" mentor. "This is my first time ever coming back as a mentor," the Season 11 winner said. "I feel like it's going really well, just talking, just communicating with these contestants. It's been fun and it was really cool honor for them to ask me. So yeah, hopefully we all get to learn a little bit of something this week."

Watch "American Idol" Sundays on ABC at 8/7c. Hollywood Week starts Sunday, April 2.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


Seven Returning ‘Idol’ Stars Talk Mentoring Season 21’s Contestants




Seven Returning ‘Idol’ Stars Talk Mentoring Season 21’s Contestants

Justin Guarini, Clay Aiken, Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta, Phillip Phillips, Catie Turner and Noah Thompson tell Billboard about coming home to the show that made them famous.

American Idol
Season Five of ABC's "American Idol"Eric McCandless/ABC/GI

Hollywood Week takes a new twist this Sunday (April 2) when seven American Idol finalists from past seasons return to mentor the season 21 contestants during what is famously a grueling and challenging period. Executive producer and showrunner Megan Michaels Wolflick invited Justin Guarini (season 1), Clay Aiken (season 2), Jordin Sparks (season 6), David Archuleta (season 7), Phillip Phillips (season 11), Catie Turner (season 16) and Noah Thompson (season 20) to return to Idol to lend their expertise in three different areas: confidence, songwriting and stage presence.

Justin Guarini was the very first runner-up, coming in second to Kelly Clarkson in season 1. He is just starting work on his seventh Broadway show and is the author of the book Audition Secrets. He teaches actors and performers about confidence and how to successfully audition. Clay Aiken has run for Congress twice and will be touring the U.S. with Ruben Studdard, commemorating the 20th anniversary of their season 2 finale. Jordin Sparks, the winner of season 6, has graced the Broadway stage in Into The Heights and is working on a new album. David Archuleta has consistently recorded and toured since he was the runner-up on season 7, and made national headlines in 2021 when he came out as gay. Phillip Phillips’s season 11 coronation song “Home” is considered to be the best of all the winners’ initial singles; his new album will be released this summer. Catie Turner has gone from season 16’s quirky songwriter to pop song perfectionist and has a new single out now. Noah Thompson won last season’s competition and has been touring and recording new material since then. He will open for Luke Combs on the country star’s upcoming tour.

Billboard spoke to the returning seven to find out about their latest experience of coming home to Idol.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...