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'Idol' champ shows growth on new album

Oct. 17, 2006 at 8:47 AM

NEW YORK, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Second-season "American Idol" champ Ruben Studdard has made his return -- "The Return," in fact -- to the CD racks.

The R&B singer said he hopes that "The Return," his third album, shows greater maturity than its predecessors.

"I just wanted people to see the growth in my voice," said Studdard, whose smooth vocals earned him the nickname "the velvet teddy bear" during his "Idol" run. "We picked the 15 best songs for people to really hear the real Ruben.

"The first album (2003's 'Soulful') I felt was like a souvenir project for the people that watched the show; I think this one will really stamp me as a true stand-alone artist."

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