The “Velvet Teddy Bear” performs live at SF Sept. 19

The “Velvet Teddy Bear” performs live at SF Sept. 19

Ruben Studdard, the singer who won the “American Idol” title in 2003, will give two performances—one at 6 p.m. and one at 8:30 p.m.—on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in the Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College’s Northwest Campus, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville, Florida. Studdard’s appearance is part of the college’s Master Artist Series that brings arts professionals to campus to teach and mentor students in dance, music and theatre, capping their residencies with performances.

Tickets for the performance are $15 for adult orchestra and mezzanine seats; $12 for adult balcony seats; $9 for seniors, children, and University of Florida students and faculty; and $9 for faculty, staff and students of Santa Fe College. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 352-395-4181. Tickets may be purchased on line at:

Studdard will work with student members of the Santa Fe Singers who will join him on stage during selected songs. Studdard will also share the stage with members of three local gospel choirs—from Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Church of God by Faith, and Passage Family Church—who will accompany him on the songs “I Need an Angel” and “Flying Without Wings,” which was the final song that Studdard performed the night he won “American Idol.”

An Alabama native who grew up listening to music by Donny Hathaway, Fred Hammond, and gospel artists, Studdard majored in voice at Alabama A&M University. After winning “American Idol” and being nicknamed “the Velvet Teddy Bear” by Gladys Knight, he has had a string of gold and platinum records, top 10 albums and R&B and pop singles. Studdard has performed around the world, toured as Fats Waller in the national stage production of “Ain’t Misbehavin,” and earned several Grammy and American Music Award nominations. His albums include “Soulful,” “I Need an Angel,” “The Return,” “Love Is,” and “Letters from Birmingham.”

Studdard’s performance at SF College will feature songs from his new album, “Unconditional Love,” which he describes as “my most romantic album yet—and most mature. It shows my growth as a vocalist, and is also the most heartfelt album I’ve ever recorded and includes many of my favorite songs from all different eras.” One reviewer has said the album “finds Studdard at the top of his game vocally…exuding grace, confidence and class” as he successfully positions himself as “a stylish crooner.” Another reviewer calls the album “quite possibly his best work yet.” The album debuted at #7 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart.

“Unconditional Love” includes classics such as Paul McCartney’s “My Love”; the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song “Close to You” that was a hit for The Carpenters; Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You”; Marvin Gaye’s “If This World Were Mine”; the J.R. Bailey-Ken Williams song “Love, Love, Love” made popular by Donny Hathaway; Boz Scaggs’s hit “Look What You’ve Done to Me”; Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”; and Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” The album’s first single is “Meant to Be,” co-written by Studdard and David Foster and debuted by Studdard on the finale of the television program “The Biggest Loser.”

In addition to singing, Studdard has acted on television and created The Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts, whose mission is “to promote the essential role of the arts in education through learning initiatives for the development of students in the Greater Birmingham area.” He is also an official spokesperson for “Be Sickle Smart,” a nationwide grassroots health education program aimed at increasing awareness of iron overload among people living with sickle-cell disease.

The Master Artist Series is sponsored in part by the SF College Fine Arts Department, the SF College Foundation and Arts Patron program, and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

For more information, call Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes, 352-395-5296, or Cultural Programs Coordinator Kathryn Lehman, 352-395-5355.