It's a good thing Ruben Studdard didn't sustain any injuries when Shaquille O'Neal dove into him during Sunday's NBA All-Star game. (Clay Aiken might not have been so fortunate.)
The "American Idol" winner, an aspiring Shaq of R&B, needs to be in one piece for his first headlining tour, which launches March 4 in Los Angeles. Studdard has long anticipated the outing, which hits 19 cities before wrapping up April 11 in Detroit.
"That's my joint. I been doing it forever, just performing everywhere since I was a kid," Studdard said recently. "That's my thing. I only started recording when I was like 13."
Ruben is especially anxious to tour after getting a taste of life on the road during last summer's "American Idol" trek (see "Ruben Studdard Confronted By Rabid Claymates At Tour Stop").
"I had the most songs on the show, so it was fun," Studdard said, laughing. "Being on the tour buses was a great learning experience, 'cause I've done tours before but never to that magnitude. Learning how to deal with mobs of fans trying to break through barricades and stuff, it was a real different experience. And then being around Clay with the Claymates, it was crazy."
Aiken won't be around on this tour, but some friends from the past will join him: his pre-"American Idol" band, Just a Few Cats.
"I'm all about performing with my band," Studdard said. "We've been together for two and a half years, so I've been ready for this opportunity for a long time, to be able to bring my friends along."
Just a Few Cats are a 12-piece ensemble consisting of three background singers, three horn players, two guitarists, two drummers and percussionists.
"They're exceptional musicians and I'm glad to have my family with me on the road," Studdard said. "We're going to show some people what we can do."
Before the tour launches, Ruben will perform Friday at Harlem's Apollo Theatre for inclusion in a "Showtime at the Apollo" episode airing in March.
Studdard's Soulful has sold more than 2 million copies and lingered among Billboard's top 10 albums for seven weeks.
Ruben Studdard tour dates, according to J Records:
- 3/4 - Los Angeles, CA @ Pantages Theatre
- 3/5 - Las Vegas, NV @ Cox Pavilion
- 3/7 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
- 3/12 - Washington, DC @ Warner Theatre
- 3/11 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
- 3/13 - Baltimore, MD @ Murphy Fine Arts Center
- 3/14 - Charlotte, NC @ Ovens Auditorium
- 3/16 - Miami Beach, FL @ Jackie Gleason Theater
- 3/17 - Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
- 3/18 - Atlanta, GA @ Symphony Hall
- 3/21 - Grand Prairie, TX @ Next Stage At Grand Prairie
- 3/23 - Dallas, TX @ NextStage Theater
- 3/24 - Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theater
- 3/25 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
- 3/26 - Memphis, TN @ Orpheum Theatre
- 4/7 - New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
- 4/8 - Richmond, VA @ Carpenter Center
- 4/9 - Cleveland, OH @ Allen Theatre
- 4/10 - Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
- 4/11 - Detroit, MI @ Opera House