‘American Idol’ stars Studdard, Aiken reunite on ’Twenty’ tour.


To “American Idol” fans, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken were rivals during the second season.

But they became brothers.

Studdard and Aiken will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their “American Idol” showing and their friendship on the “Twenty” tour, which stops May 11 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. with 2003 “American Idol” winner Studdard and runner-up Aiken. The duo will perform songs from that year from the TV show.

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Ruben Studdard, left, and Clay Aiken will perform May 11 at the Palladium. (Photo courtesy of Amplified Entertainment)

“We do stuff we did on the show. Everything during this show we are doing the type of thing that was or could have been performed on ‘Idol’ in 2003. It’s about nostalgia,” Aiken said. “We hope to transport people back to that time.”

Studdard and Aiken toured together on the 10th anniversary of “American Idol.” They then appeared together in a three-week holiday engagement on Broadway in 2018.

“I stopped touring so we compromised, and I did Broadway where I could sleep in the same bed every night,” Aiken said. “When the 20th anniversary came around, Ruben talked me into getting back on the bus. It’s been worth it so far. We’ve had fun. I’m a little more sore than I would have been 20 years ago, but we’ve had fun with it.”

Aiken said when his son was born 14 years ago, he began to step away from doing anything musically.

“I wanted to spend more time with him and I had some interests I wanted to work on, public service stuff,” Aiken said. “I stopped focusing on music, and Ruben kept on the road.”

Studdard said it wasn’t too hard to convince Aiken.

“I think there is always a burning desire for a performer to perform,” Studdard said. “I definitely had to have a conversation or two with him, but at the end of the day, everyone wants to get on stage and sing, and I don’t think my brother (Aiken) is any different.”

Aiken said Studdard is being nice.

“He twisted my arm,” Aiken said. “I would not have done it on my own and wouldn’t have done it with anyone else, and that’s the truth. He didn’t have to put me in a headlock or anything. We have fun on stage. We don’t get along all the time because we’re like brothers. When we get on stage, there is a chemistry that I don’t think either of us even realized. We constantly get told this by people we work with or (who) come to the shows. It’s natural and easy to be on stage together.”

Aiken said except for a period between 2004 and 2005, when they might have gone a few months without being in touch, they talk or text at least once a month and usually more often.

“No one else has been through the same thing he and I have when it comes to that experience,” Aiken said. “We bonded from that. We’re very different people. Ruben grew up playing sports a lot. I grew up with people who didn’t have the same passion for performing as I did. It wasn’t until I met Ruben and others on ‘Idol’ (that I found that) there were people that enjoyed it as much as I did.”

Studdard said they share their experiences with the audience.

“Not many people have had the opportunity to meet the caliber of record producers, writers and singers that we did,” Studdard said. “Just alone talking about our experience with (record producer) Clive Davis is enough to put in a bottle and send to other people in the industry. We had the opportunity to sit in the room with one of the greatest executive producers in the music business ever.”

Aiken said the four months that he and Studdard appeared on “American Idol” created a wealth of stories.

“We packed in enough experiences, memories and moments that could have filled most entertainers’ entire careers,” he said. “He talks about Clive Davis and Lionel Ritchie. We met Neil Sedaka. We worked with Burt Bacharach. We worked with Diane Warren – huge industry giants we got to work with. The stories change every night.”

For more, visit thecenterpresents.org.