AURORA – "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard grew up listening to the music of Luther Vandross.
Studdard, who was hailed as the "next Luther Vandross" during his "American Idol" run, will bring his "Ruben Studdard Sings Luther Vandross" show to the Paramount Theatre on Oct. 25.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Studdard about the upcoming show. The interview has been edited for length and style.
Eric Schelkopf: You bring your “Ruben Studdard Sings Luther Vandross” show to the Paramount Theatre on Oct. 25. What would you like people to come away with from the show?
Ruben Studdard: I just want people to have a good time. I mean everybody, of course, loves the music of Luther Vandross. I have had a wonderful time presenting his music to his fans and my fans. Our objective is to let people have a wonderful time when they come to the show. That's truly our only objective.
Schelkopf: Last year, of course, you released your album, "Ruben Sings Luther." Did you know at the time that you would want to do a tour based around the album?
Studdard: I didn't know that I was going to do that when we released the album. But I'm really glad that we did.
I enjoying singing this kind of material. And for me, it gives me the opportunity to connect with those "American Idol" fans who connected me with Luther Vandross when I was on the show. They have come out in droves to hear me sing. So I'm really excited about getting the chance to do the show.
Schelkopf: How did you choose the songs to put on the album? Was it hard to choose which Luther Vandross songs you wanted to put on the album?
Studdard: To be perfectly honest, I went through a lot of his albums and I chose the songs that I really loved. My mom was a big Luther Vandross fan, so I kind of ran my list past her. She went to so many of his concerts. Once she said the list was perfect, that's what we went with.
Schelkopf: I understand that you had listened to Luther Vandross since you were a boy growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. What attracted you to his voice?
Studdard: Honestly, when I was a kid, I wasn't really a fan. It was my mom's thing. It wasn't until I got older – when I was 11 or 12 – that I got really serious about singing and I became a fan of Luther Vandross, in particular, because I was singing all his songs at weddings and getting paid for it. Having the opportunity to do his songs was really good for me.
Schelkopf: As you became older, what did you appreciate about his songs and his voice?
Studdard: He did a great job of picking good material. A lot of his songs were definitely not original material. He did a lot of cover songs and I do that as well. He did a really great job of picking material that resonated with him.
For me, I was drawn to the quality of his voice and the tone of his voice. Everything always seemed so perfect.
Schelkopf: Why is your mom such a big Luther Vandross fan?
Studdard: You'd have to ask her. But I'm sure that it's probably for some of the same reasons that I'm a fan.
Schelkopf: You had a busy year last year. You were in a limited Broadway show with Clay Aiken, "Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show." Aiken finished second behind you in the second season of “American Idol.” What was it like reuniting with him?
Studdard: Well, you know, Clay and I had done a show together before, about five years previously. And we talked about doing a Broadway show. It just took both of us sitting down and taking the time to come up with the concept for the show. We're family, so it's always great to work with family. I'm glad I got the opportunity.
Schelkopf: Because, of course, he finished second behind you on the second season of "American Idol." Out of all the contestants, did you think you would win the competition and that he would come in second?
Studdard: I don't think either one of us really thought about where we would place. My objective was to get exposure. Winning was the icing on the cake for me.
Schelkopf: What was it like winning "American Idol"?
Studdard: It was amazing. I mean I definitely had the opportunity to watch a dream come true. It definitely was a wonderful experience.
Schelkopf: If you hadn't won the second season, do you think you'd still be involved in music?
Studdard: I definitely would, but I'd probably be teaching music.
Schelkopf: Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?
Studdard: I really want to do things to help young people in my community and live out their dreams. That's pretty much where I am focusing my energy outside of doing my tours and stuff like that.
If you go
WHAT: "Ruben Studdard Sings Luther Vandross"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Oct. 25
WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora.
COST: $39 to $49