Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken are about to embark on a tour celebrating their 20 year American Idol anniversary. The two friends dropped by The Tamron Hall Show recently to reminisce about their time on American Idol back in 2003, and to talk about their present lives as fathers.
That second season was hotly contested, with Ruben pulling out a win and Clay coming in second place. Still, the two have remained close over the years. Ruben stated that the producers of their season did a good job of making the contestants feel like family. When fellow singers were eliminated “we were really sad,” said Ruben. “These were like our brothers and sisters.”
Backstage before host Ryan Seacrest announced the winner, Clay said Ruben looked at him and said “Look at us, the two people who were least likely to be here.” He continued, “Idol was about finding people who really had no business being on stage!”
“The business is extremely superficial at times,” Ruben clarified. “A person like myself or Clay would be overlooked if we were at a traditional talent scouting agency. And so for us, the competition of it all is what evened the playing field for all of us.”
Clay didn’t understand he was gay until he was on Idol
Clay came out as LGBT in 2008 shortly after his son Parker was born. The singer said that he didn’t understand he was gay until he was on Idol. But a small circle of friends that included Ruben, always had his back.
Ruben laughed about how he, the late Rickey Smith and the notorious Corey Clark would sneak out at night to party. He believes their behavior changed how producers handled future casts, instituting rules and such.
One funny anecdote the two shared was about how they met. They were out in a bar. Clay was surrounded by gorgeous women, and Ruben approached them to get in on some of that action. Clay insists that Ruben was “impressed” by his “game.” Ruben eyerolled that statement!
A couple of things Clay says during the course of the interview aren’t actually true: No, producers didn’t ditch the Idol mansion after their season! Contestants lived in a house together for most of the seasons up until season 11. Clay also seems to believe that he and Ruben are the only Idol alums who have stayed in touch with each other after their seasons. I could write an entire piece on American Idol friendships! Suffice it to say, many Idol alums have stayed friendly over the years.
How Ruben remembers his late brother Kevin
Ruben is married to Kristin Moore and they are the parents to Olivier who is two years old. Olivier is Ruben’s late brother Kevin’s middle name and also his father’s middle name. Kevin died in 2018.
“I gave my son my brother’s middle name, which is also my father’s middle name. I just wanted him to have a connection to his uncle because I know how much his brother wanted to meet him, if he ever showed up.”
“So he’s here, and he can always say, ‘I got my uncle’s middle name,’ ” shared Ruben.
Here is a sneak peak of Ruben and Clay’s “Twenty the Tour”. The two duet on Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”
The tour begins on April 1 in Troy, New York and concludes on May 16 in Wausau, Wisconsin. Tickets and schedule are available on the tour’s official website, rubenandclay.com.
“We’re starting out this spring and we’re going to be celebrating the last 20 years since we did Idol and the music we’ve gotten to make and the friendships we made along the way,” Clay said when the two announced the tour on The View last year.
As it turns out, the American Idol season 21 finale date will coincide exactly with the 20th anniversary of the season 2 finale episode. The two will appear on the American Idol 2023 finale to experience that full circle moment.