Two idols return to Riverdale, but this time they will be together, live on stage.
Ruben Studdard, the American Idol season two winner, will step onto the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts stage for a second time. His first performance was in 2019.
Clay Aiken traveled through Riverdale on leisure rather than performing, as he lived in Manhattan roughly a decade ago.
“The Bronx is a part of the city that no one ever thinks about. They don’t think about the greenery and trees and beautiful neighborhoods,” said American Idol season 2 runner-up Aiken.
The singers will continue to reminisce on the northwest Bronx as they celebrate with a reunion tour — “Twenty Years, One Night.” While traveling the country, the duo will stop at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 22 at 8 p.m.
“We’re taking people on a journey on our experience together and it’s the 20th anniversary of being on American Idol so, of course, we have stories on the show,” Studdard said. “We are just going to sing songs and have a good time.”
Studdard received more than 100,000 votes on Idol, with over 38 million viewers tuned in to see the winner’s results. That was higher than the previous season of Kelly Clarkson’s finale of 22.8 million.
During their tour, at some point there will be a different story behind each song because every day stories change, Aiken said. He assured that the concert would be a casual, laid-back reunion.
“I don’t think either of us feels like it’s been 20 years or like we are 40-something years old,” Aiken said.
“The way I process that it has been 20 years is during rehearsals when I’m sitting in a chair and my knee hurts when I get up,” Studdard jested.
Studdard said after that season they tried hard to make an effort to keep in touch with the other contestants. There is a Facebook group as well as text group chat. He’s been to other Idol-centric events, but he knows other season contestants haven’t seen each other in years.
Aiken spoke to a different winner who had not seen or spoken to their runner-up in 10 years. Aiken is still determining why other contestants have been this way. It could be because season two was unique. After all, it was new and no one knew how their life would change. Now people know their life will change.
Studdard and Aiken’s friendship continued to grow since the competition of their season. But their first impressions of each other is something they continue to tell the world about.
“I thought Clay was a player,” Studdard said. While Aiken clarified to The Riverdale Press, not the sports kind.
“We were staying at the Glendale Hilton and I walked into the bar and I saw this one guy with like 13 girls holding court with him and I was like holy hell,” Studdard said.
Aiken said that same night he saw Studdard from afar in the “courtyard of the Alex Theatre” during the “Hollywood week thing,” and once Aiken and his friend glanced at his colleague, he knew that Studdard would make it to the end of Idol. He was someone to be friends with. In addition to Studdard’s “aura” around him, he makes others want to be surrounded by him.
Since then they have made a name out of themselves with a combined total of 12 recorded albums that have sold more than 8 million worldwide and four Billboard awards. They even had a show called “Ruben and Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show” at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway.
Studdard received a Grammy nomination and was a contestant on “The Biggest Loser,” having lost more than 100 pounds. Aiken’s first album debuted in 2003, which made history as the first Idol song to hit the No. 1 Billboard charts and the first to be on a triple platinum album.
When the two singers look back during their time on Idol, they would have never thought their career would take off.
“Before we were about to walk out to hear the results,” Aiken said. “Ruben said to me, ‘look at us, the two least likely people to be here. And here we are.’”
Aiken said there was so much emphasis placed on image when they were contestants on Idol. The runner-up of Idol could not tell The Riverdale Press how many times the producers have said he doesn’t “look like an American Idol.”
Season two was the most viewed, possibly because of talent rather than looks, both singers believed. Ironically, it was a talent competition and not a model competition.
“Right in my first audition, Simon (Cowell) said you don’t look like a pop star, but you sound like one, so now what do we do?” Aiken said.
Eventually, during the Wildcard pick, Idol’s head judge, Simon Cowell, allegedly said how the show will continue — image versus the talent. Aiken admitted competitors Kim Caldwell and Carmen Rasmusen looked like pop stars.
While Aiken, Studdard and Kim Locke were the three that allegedly did not look like traditional pop stars.
“I didn’t think about the stress, but it was a little stressful to have someone to tell you you’re ugly on TV,” Aiken laughed.
Although the concert can be a different experience, if audience members want to purchase the VIP Sound Check Experience. During the afternoon portion of the day, when the singers do soundcheck, there will be a talkback or meet and greet and Q & A with the audience.
For $300, with the Lehman Center concert ticket, audience members will receive a photo opportunity and exclusive merchandise.