Ruben Studdard

ruben-studdard Ten years ago, Ruben Studdard’s life changed in an instant when he won American Idol and it’s been changing ever since. of Ruben’s fourth album, Love IS (Hickory Records/19 Recordings) is helmed by two of the most successful producers in the business, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Since its release, Love IS has been celebrated for its collection of love songs. Vibe says “The "velvet teddy bear" can belt billowing love songs” and Entertainment Weekly called the album a "mix of crafty originals and sturdy covers".
Facts:

? Winner of 2003 American Idol
? Grammy Award Nominee
? American Music Award Nominee
? 3 of his 4 albums are RIAA Certified Platinum or Gold
? Single “Flying Without Wings” sold Triple Platinum
? New album – Letters from Birmingham – debuted #1 on iTunes

Ruben Studdard was born Sept. 12, 1978, in Frankfurt, Germany, where his father was stationed in the United States Army. Ruben was nine months old when his mother brought him home to Birmingham. His musical talent was evident early in life: he was a three-year-old pre-schooler when he started singing at the Rising Star Baptist Church. As a member of the Cherub Choir, he sang a majority of the solo vocals, making his debut with “I’m Yours Lord.” By the age of seven he was singing at school, in various churches and at banquets and local functions. His mother was a fan of Donny Hathaway, Luther Vandross and the O’Jays and Ruben learned to sing their songs. “I was the number one New Edition fan and in middle school I switched over to Boyz II Men. My father bought a lot of records, and that’s how I heard John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I became a big jazz fan.” In high school, Ruben joined the football team as an offensive tackle.

“I loved to sing and play sports so I went back and forth between the two,” he recalls. “But sports were just recreation for me. I became serious about singing and learning everything I could about music.”

Ruben majored in music at Alabama A&M University where his studies included opera.

“Can you believe that!” he exclaims. “I loved Pavarotti and I worked very hard at becoming an opera singer. I was going to get an agent but in my sophomore year I joined a gospel group, God’s Gift. I left school after two-and-a-half years to pursue a career in gospel music. We worked at it seven days a week. It seemed like it was about to happen. Then everything came to a standstill.”

Ruben moved on, joining a group called Just a Few Cats.

“A girl who was one of our background singers wanted to audition for ‘American Idol’ but she didn’t want to go by herself,” Ruben remembers. “She asked me to go with her and I didn’t want to, but I went just to support her.”

They drove to Nashville and she didn’t make it through to the second round of auditions. But Ruben did.

“Once I was actually there trying out, I felt like I could really do something. I just gave it my best shot.”

Hollywood, where he advanced from a semi-final round into the top 12 and quickly became America’s favorite, surviving every elimination to win the title of “American Idol” in a dramatic finale on May 21, 2003.

Ruben’s impact on the charts was immediate. His single “Flying Without Wings” debuted at No. 2 on the Hot 100 while his version of “Superstar” peaked at No. 2 on the R&B chart. In December 2003, his first album, “Soulful,” had advance orders of over a million copies, automatically qualifying for platinum certification. The record entered The Billboard 200 at No. 1. A follow-up single, “Sorry 2004,” reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on the R&B chart.

Kenichi Ebina

Kenichi Ebina is a solo self-taught dance performer who started out dancing Freestyle HipHop and expanding his style to Poppin’, Lockin’, Mime, House, Jazz, Contemporary and Ethnic dance. Kenichi’s unique dance show, with illusion sound, light and visual effects, entertains a lot of people who are not even interested in performing arts. In 2001, Kenichi founded a dance group with all Japanese dancers, BiTriP.

BiTriP won 1st place in the grand championship of “Amateur Night” at the world famous Apollo Theater in 2001. In 2007, Kenichi appeared on a dance contest in “Showtime at the Apollo” as a solo performer and became the grand champion of the 2007 season after winning 7 times. Kenichi is the only two-time grand champion in Apollo theater history. In 2013, Kenichi won America's Got Talent season 8. Kenichi has performed at many events, TV shows and has taught in the USA, Europe, Russia, China, Korea, Singapore, Japan, Morocco and Australia. Kenichi has also performed, directed and choreographed for many projects and dance and theater companies.

Melissa Fleis

Melissa Fleis is an American fashion designer currently based in San Francisco, California. Since receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, as well as her Master of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art University, Melissa has been committed to launching her self-titled brand. After studying with former Alexander McQueen advisor Simon Ungless, at the Academy of Art, Melissa spent her Fall / Winter 2012 season in Lucca, Italy interning under Italian fashion designer Alessandra Marchi. Shortly afterwards, Melissa was selected to participate in Lifetime’s Project Runway Season 10, where she later went on to show her collection as a finalist in the "top three" at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Having always been fascinated with German art movements such as Bauhaus, and Dada - Fleis combines her bold, architectural silhouettes with a modern, artisanal edge. Melissa has been focusing her recent efforts on creating a collection of handmade leather garments and accessories - as well as building her brand through various fashion shows, gallery events, collaborations, and educational workshops. She spends the rest of her time creating custom made-to-measure garments for select clients. Melissa designs her clothing for the contemporary woman, as well as herself.

Roary

Roary is the official mascot of the Detroit Lions and spokeslion for the Detroit Lions Kids Club. Roary attends elementary schools all over the state of Michigan as part of the “Lions’ Leaders for Life” Educational School Assembly Program, a high-energy character education program designed to discuss six qualities it takes to become a successful leader. Roary likes to live on the edge and is quite the adventurist! He has been known to ride mechanical bulls, tube down a ski hill and water ski. There isn’t anything Roary won’t do. This past off-season, Roary was committed to creating a “new look” Roary. He wanted to become a bit more agile, quicker, and stronger looking, just like the new Lions logo. He’s done just that. Enjoy the transformation of Roary, the “New” King of the Jungle!

Santa

A celebration of wonder, enchantment and delight, Santa Claus is one of the most beloved figures in the history of mankind. Santa is equally an emblem of generosity, kindness and good will towards man. Adored by children of all lands, Santa indeed keeps the child alive in all of us and does so with humor and warmth. Santa Claus continues to create instantaneous mirth and joy. He brings out our best selves and has given that gift repeatedly to generations of children throughout time.

Douglas Keane

In the eight years (2003-2012) that Chef Douglas Keane owned and operated his flagship restaurant, Cyrus, in Sonoma County, he amassed a litany of local and national awards. For seven consecutive years he maintained both two stars from The Michelin Guide and four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as a James Beard Award for Best Chef Pacific, Esquire Magazine Chef of the Year and Gourmet Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants in America, to name just a few. His cooking follows a simple philosophy, Shibumi, that he learned from his travels in Japan. Shibumi is a Japanese word meaning refined simplicity, simple elegance, unobtrusive beauty, and quiet perfection. While currently searching for a new home for Cyrus, Douglas oversees the Healdsburg Bar and Grill, a casual American burger joint. He spends an equal amount of time on his other passion in life, dog rescue. He helped start Green Dog Rescue Project in Sonoma County and remains active and hands on day to day in training and rehabilitating his four legged friends. If Douglas is not cooking on any given day, the Dearborn, Michigan native can be seen driving three or four dogs around idyllic Sonoma Wine Country in his 1997 Ford pick up truck. Douglas has appeared on Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen as a judge but with his current hiatus from Cyrus he decided to take the plunge as a contestant on Top Chef Masters.

Garrett Clayton