Ruben and Zuri
A Jamie Foster Brown interview
(excerpted from the March 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine)
Ruben Studdard has come a long way from playing football at Alabama’s A&M University to singing in a local band to winning “American Idol” in 2003. Since the win, which secured his recording deal with J Records, he’s learned a lot about the music business and life in the limelight. Actually, having that type of notoriety and fame can be a detriment to you because a lot of people come up to you who wouldn’t have approached you before. Some of those people are more interested in your celebrity than you, so it’s hard to maneuver through that minefield of women or men who are seeking someone to fill a financial, personal or social void in their lives.
But it seems like Ruben’s got it together, and even though he hasn’t become a mega-star like Carrie Underwood, he’s mega-happy and seems to have found a great way of making a living and a good woman. How many of us can say that?
Ruben married his wife, Surata Zuri McCants, last summer, but it was interesting that the first two times he had met her, he barely noticed her. Of course, destiny is destiny, and the third time they met, when she showed up in a line at a Wal-Mart CD signing, Ruben was very interested in her. She asked him to sign a CD for her friend, who was one of his biggest fans, but Ruben wanted to know whether Zuri liked him! Zuri told me she was ready to put him in check because she was turned off by the “siddity” attitude he had during their first two meetings, but the couple eventually fell in love, and today they have a lot of fun together.
Zuri and her daughter Khobi moved to Alabama to live with Ruben, but Zuri said her transition to housewife was hard, so she decided to return to school to become a hair stylist.
Another big change in Ruben’s life is that he’s no longer with J Records. He produced his new album (which was untitled at press time) with the help of the legendary music production duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Read on to find out what life is like today for Ruben and his wife. He explains how he’s handling the Louis Vuitton lawsuit that caused his second CD to be pulled from stores, the funny mishaps that nearly kept him from proposing to Zuri, and he also discusses his weight and his life on tour with Ain’t Misbehavin’. Mrs. Ruben Studdard chimes in on a few things too.
And remember, after you read this interview, you can check out video of funny moments from their photo shoot (and see how cute this couple is together) on the new and improved s2smagazine.com.
Jamie: Well, finally!
Jamie: Hey, Mr. Teddy Bear!
Ruben: How you doin’, gal?
Jamie: I’m doin’ fine. I haven’t talked to you in so long.
Ruben: I know, man, I called Calvin. I called him twice to get your address for our wedding. He didn’t call me back.
Jamie: I’m going to kill Calvin because I told Ken Wilson, “Ken, would you tell Ruben I would come down to the wedding?” He didn’t do that, either. Because Ken said, “Well, I’m going to the wedding.” I said, “What? And I can’t come to the wedding?” I was going to crash.
Ruben: You was on the list too.
Jamie: Alright, so where is the Mrs.?
Ruben: She’s right here.
Zuri: Hi, Jamie.
Jamie: Hi, honey! Can I say hello and congratulations and Happy New Year?
Zuri: Thank you. Ditto.
Jamie: Where you all going tonight?
Zuri: To see Sinbad.
Jamie: Sinbad is performing tonight?
Jamie: That’s great. I just love it. He is so good. Are you all going to dance afterward or no?
Ruben: Going to one of my friend’s houses from college.
Jamie: I’m so happy for you two. Ruben, you be quiet for a minute because this is women talking. [laughs] Did you know you wanted him when you saw him?
Zuri: Well, actually, no. [laughs]
Jamie: Did you watch him on “Idol”?
Zuri: I did. I watched a couple shows. But honestly, I watched the first season religiously, and I was in and out on his season.
Jamie: Oh, so you didn’t even pay attention to him.
Zuri: Not really.
Jamie: What about with the videos and stuff afterward?
Zuri: My best friend is one of Ruben’s hugest fans, so anything he did I was aware of. I thought he was cute.
Jamie: Tell me how you met.
Zuri: My best friend, she wanted to get off work, but she couldn’t, so she called me and asked if I can go for her to get her CD signed because he was signing CDs at the Wal-Mart. I went. I told him all about my best friend, and he was like, “That’s cool; what about you?” I was like, “Uh, well…” He was like, “What you think about me?” I was like, “You a’ight. I like you. You got nice music and everything.” He was like, “Oh, okay.”
Jamie: [laughs] Totally unimpressed, right, Ruben?
Jamie: So what happened then?
Ruben: She thought I had an attitude problem because she met me four years prior.
Zuri: I met him twice, and he didn’t even remember meeting me the first two times.
Jamie: Wait a minute, so this was the third time?
Zuri: He said I was stuck-up because I’m light-skinned, but he was the stuck- up one. [laughter]
Jamie: Wait a minute: I know Ruben didn’t say you were stuck-up because you were light-skinned. [teasing] You all brown-skinned, dark-skinned people get on my daggone nerves, trying to give us complexes; we can’t help the way we look. [laughter]
Ruben: You all bourgeoisie!
Photo by Whitney Thomas Photography
Read what other outrageous things they said when you pick up the March 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine.
Check out video from the interview here.