This Day in Black History: May 20, 2003

Ruben Studdard becomes American Idol's first Black winner.

Posted: 05/20/2014 12:00 AM EDT
This Day in Black History: May 20, 2003

When Ruben Studdard came on the national scene, it was with his singing a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky” on American Idol, at the height of the show’s popularity. Before long, Studdard won the competition, becoming the first African-American winner on the show on May 20, 2003.

Studdard was born in Germany while his father was stationed there with the United States Army. He grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and starting singing at the age of three in a local Baptist church. He attended Alabama A&M University on a football scholarship and, while there, joined Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the men’s music fraternity. After listening for years to Donny Hathaway albums and gospel music, he pursued a career in the music industry.

He went on to have a solo career and appears in plays as well. He recently appeared on The Biggest Loser. He is signed to Verve Records and in 2014, he released his newest album, Unconditional Love.

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(Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

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