UNIVERSAL CITY, California — It’s a good thing Ruben Studdard is so humble, because the latest “American Idol” winner wouldn’t have time to celebrate if he wanted to.
After a few days of publicity appearances, the 24-year-old Birmingham, Alabama, singer will hit the studio to work on his album, due in September. Clive Davis, who has overseen the careers of Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston, is executive-producing the project and will release it on his own J Records through “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller’s 19 Recordings Limited.
Studdard has already recorded his first single, “Flying Without Wings,” with producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. The song, originally recorded by British boy band Westlife in 1999, is due June 3.
“It was cool recording with Babyface,” Studdard said after the finale Wednesday (see ” ’Idol’ Winner Ruben Studdard Says He’s Living Out His Dream”
). “He’s, like, the man, so I was in shock when I met him. He’s really cool.”
Studdard’s album, which he said will include his group from home, Just a Few Cats, will blend elements of R&B, soul and gospel. Davis also hopes to add a hip-hop flavor, including a possible collaboration with Fat Joe, he told the Associated Press. Studdard, who’s been singing since the age of 3 and writing songs since 14, said he’d also like to work with Kelly Price on the album.
As for projects outside of music, the latest “American Idol” is open to acting, even possibly following in the footsteps of last year’s winner and starring with his runner-up. That’s only if Clay Aiken can find the time. Aiken’s also set to begin recording an album for Davis, which he said will be in the vein of his first single, “This Is the Night,” an original he performed on Tuesday’s show.
First, though, he’s got other business to take care of.
“I have 130,000 people to beat up,” the Raleigh, North Carolina, native joked, referring to the number of votes he lost by. “Actually, I’m probably going to lay down on a couch somewhere and watch TV, or just do something and vegetate, ’cause I haven’t had a chance [to relax].”
Aiken is also open to acting, including trying Broadway — something Cowell repeatedly said he would be perfect for. “It was never anything that I necessarily considered initially, but whatever doors open up I may explore,” Aiken said.
Ruben and Clay are busy bees, but they’re not the only “American Idol” stars hard at work. Here’s a rundown of what some other finalists (click for photos
), from this year and last, are up to:
Justin Guarini, last year’s runner-up, will release his self-titled debut on June 10, three days before “From Justin to Kelly” is due on the big screen (see “Kelly Clarkson Dispels Dating Rumors, Clears Up Movie Plot”
). “I just talked to Clive Davis a little while ago and he’s cool with it, so I’m excited,” Guarini said Wednesday of his album. “We’re getting the first single together now.”
Tamyra Gray, who placed fourth in the original “American Idol” (see ” ’American Idol’ Finalist Tamyra Gray Gets Recording Deal”
), will release her debut before the end of the year. Kelly Clarkson, who included Gray on her recently released album, will make a guest appearance, along with this year’s winner. “I love Ruben,” Gray said. “His voice, everything about him.”
Carmen Rasmusen, the 18-year-old blonde beauty from this season, is in negotiations for a movie role, although she’s focused now on preparing for this summer’s “American Idol” tour (see “After ’Idol,’ Clay And Ruben Will Share A Stage 39 More Times”
). “I’ve been working a lot with my singing teacher, picking new and exciting songs,” Rasmusen said.
Ryan Starr, the rabble-rouser from last year, is recording with producer Jed Leiber (Jeff Beck). She’s also designing clothes and pursuing acting, most likely a play or something short-term to leave time for her album. “It’s very edgy,” Starr said of her music. “It’s gonna be rock and roll, like hard rock and roll.”
Vanessa Olivarez, the first of this season’s final 12 to be voted off and the nude star of a recent PETA advertisement, is in negotiations for a sitcom and has also had stage offers. First, though, she’s lobbying to be a part of the “American Idol” tour, which as of now will only feature the top 10 finalists. “It was 10 last year and they wanted to keep it a constant,” Olivarez said. “Simon was very upset and has talked to them. There’s some magic in the works.”
RJ Helton, a finalist from the first season, announced Tuesday he will release his debut album in November on the gospel label Gospocentric/B-Rite Music. “I’m doing some inspirational [music], kind of getting back to my roots and doing some Latin and pop, R&B, urban,” Helton said. “It’s going to be really interesting. I don’t really think people are expecting what’s about to happen.”
A.J. Gil, another finalist from last year, is releasing his first single, “I Got the Hots for You,” in the coming weeks. “It’s a hit summer song,” Gil said.
And capitalizing on “American Idol” fame is not limited to contestants. Ryan Seacrest announced Thursday that he will host a syndicated daily live TV show described as a newsmagazine/variety-show hybrid. The program is due in January.