Grammy-nominated singer and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard pays tribute to the remarkable talent of Luther Vandross as part of a special concert event coming to Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu on Saturday, September 14 at 8 p.m. at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts.
There will never be another Luther Vandross, but no other voice comes closer to his than that of Ruben Studdard—the remarkable talent who was hailed as the “next Luther” during his American Idol-winning run. With Ruben Sings Luther, Studdard performs many of Vandross’ hits in a magical night that honors the late music legend.
Vandross was born in Manhattan and was raised in the Bronx from the age of nine. A singer/songwriter, Vandross was an eight-time Grammy Award-winning R&B mega-star who sold over 35 million records worldwide during his lifetime. Amongst his 30 top 10 hits are “Endless Love,” “Always and Forever,” “Here and Now,” “Power of Love,” “Dance with My Father,” and “Any Love.” Vandross passed away in 2005 from complications following a stroke.
Studdard is an American R&B, pop, and gospel singer and actor who has toured extensively for nearly two decades and has sold more than two million albums. He rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol, during which he was given the nickname “Velvet Teddy Bear” for his large voice, warm stage presence, and easy confidence by guest judge Gladys Knight.
His 2003 debut album, the hip-hop flavored R&B record Soulful, hit the number 1 position on the Billboard charts, has been certified platinum and won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist. The album spawned several top ten hit songs including “Flying Without Wings,” “Sorry 2004,” and “Superstar,” the latter of which earned a nomination for Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, ironically alongside his idol Vandross, who ultimately won the category.
Studdard’s next release, the gospel album I Need an Angel (2004), entered the gospel charts at #1, went gold, won the Billboard Gospel Music Awards for both Artist and Album, and was nominated for the BET Best Gospel Artist Award. During the next decade, Studdard toured and released three more hit albums that included the top selling singles “Change Me,” “Make Ya Feel Beautiful,” “Love Him Like I Do,” “Together,” and “Don’t Make ‘Em Like U No More.”
He has also found success on the stage. In 2008, he joined the revival tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’ starring as Fats Waller, and the well-received production was honored with a Grammy nomination for its soundtrack recording. Studdard toured with Robin Givens in the comedy-drama I Need a Hug, and he made his Broadway debut in December 2018 when he reunited with his American Idol contemporary Clay Aiken for Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show, where they playfully tried to upstage each other as they humorously traded verses of Christmas classics.
In 2018, Studdard came full circle from his American Idol “Superstar” days, with the release of his Vandross tribute album Ruben Sings Luther. The album features Studdard’s passionate interpretations of his favorite Vandross songs.
This performance is sponsored by the Office of the President of Pepperdine University.
WHAT: Ruben Sings Luther: An Evening of Luther Vandross Starring Ruben Studdard
WHEN: Saturday, September 14, 2019, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
TICKETS: (310) 506-4522 or arts.pepperdine.edu
PRICES: $40–$80 for adults, $10 for Pepperdine students