ONE-ON-ONE: Ruben Studdard kicks off national tour - KMSP-TV

ONE-ON-ONE: Ruben Studdard kicks off national tour

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

He's the American Idol many came to know and love as the velvet teddy bear, but he just kicked off his national "Meant to Be" tour in Minneapolis and sat down to talk with Fox 9's Iris Perez.

"I have a really fun feeling for Minneapolis," he said. "I love this city."

Studdard won season two of "American Idol," but as he winds down his three-night stint at the Dakota, he's still happy to share the wisdom he's learned with current contestants even as he prepares to hit the road with Grammy winner Lalah Hathaway.

"They have to give their all -- and be comfortable in the person that you are," he recommended.

R&B lovers rejoiced when they learned Studdard would take the stage with the Grammy-winning songstress, but he says it's just the beginning of a power-packed year. As fans gleefully take in the one-of-a-kind, soulful duo, it's impossible to ignore the remarkable difference in Studdard's stature since 2003.

The crooner stands tall at a solid 6'3, and he's lost more than 100 pounds since he signed on to the show, "The Biggest Loser."

"It was an amazing experience and it really changed my life for the better," he reflected.

The sleeker-looking star is also unveiling a new album called "Unconditional Love," and Studdard says the February release will fill a musical void for classical sound and real love songs.

"It often times scares me because a lot of people try to compare me to people like Luther Vandross or Donny Hathaway, but in my mind, I'm still not there," he admitted.

As an Idol winner who has reached his level of success, he said he has learned a lot from the judges -- and he urges other contestants to consider their input too.

"When they give you advice, it's coming from a place of love and concern -- not just trying to dictate to you what you should and should not perform," he said.

Eleven years after his big win, Studdard continues to earn the kind of respect that is easy to envy.

"It's been an amazing ride, and I had an excellent time with this music game," he said.

As for what's next, Studdard said he plans to produce a Christmas album, a jazz album and is very much looking forward to collaborating with other artists.

More information:

- Ruben Studdard
- Lalah Hathaway
- Get tickets for the Meant to Be tour

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