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Letters from Birmingham

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Letters from Birmingham, Ruben Studdard's fifth album — and first for Shanachie, refuge of the veteran, major-label cast-off R&B artist — isn't nearly as heavy as the historical Martin Luther King, Jr. missive its title references. The album traces the arc of a relationship, from love at first sight to "June 28th (I'm Single)," a throwback-contemporary hybrid where Studdard addresses his ex-wife and potential mates. Four brief "letter" interludes help guide the listener through the stages in the singer's relationship; without them, the album would still have a discernible linear flow. The stylistic transitions, however, are not as smooth. There's some Southern-friend funk, neo-Philly soul, alternately silky and churning adult contemporary R&B, a very slow cover of Bobby Brown's Babyface/L.A. Reid-penned "Rock Wit'cha" (featuring K. Michelle), and even a twinkling version of "Pure Imagination" (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). There is almost enough shifting to fill a season's worth of American Idol performances, and it detracts from the fact that this clearly is Studdard's most personal set of songs to date. With the right push and some open-minded radio programming, two of these songs — the Ne-Yo-worthy "Wear Me" and the Chrisette Michele-assisted "Do It Right" — could be significant hits and debunk the notion that Studdard excels only with ballads.


Geboren: 14 juli 1978 op Birmingham, AL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Jaren actief: '00s, '10s

Partway through the second American Idol competition in early 2003, guest judge Gladys Knight christened corpulent crooner Ruben Studdard a "velvet teddy bear," a nod to his smooth, Luther Vandross-styled voice and his Barry White-sized girth. The nickname stuck, since it captured the persona of the 25-year-old native of Birmingham, Alabama, who had unexpectedly become the front-runner in the televised talent show. Surrounded by skinny kids emulating Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, the two singers...
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Letters from Birmingham, Ruben Studdard
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