Ruben releases third album, wants to be “take[n] seriously as an artist outside of ‘American Idol.’”

American Idol’s second winner, Ruben Studdard, released his latest album today. Fittingly, it’s called The Return.

Ruben isn’t running away from the show. “Honestly, I never want people to forget I won the show but I do want people to take me seriously as an artist outside of ‘American Idol,’” he tells the AP. He says he respects Kelly Clarkson’s growth outside the series. “With these sophomore projects in the mainstream, we have to reintroduce ourselves to the market,” he said.

Despite the large quantity of Idol-related albums coming out this fall, Ruben doesn’t feel like he’s in competition with the others, particularly the heavy hitters. “All of us are in totally different genres. Kelly (Clarkson) is in rock. Clay (Aiken) is in adult contemporary. I’m urban. Even if we were in the same market I still wouldn’t feel like that because we are family,” he said.

Besides recording the record, Ruben has lost 70 pounds and become a vegetarian. And while he says he doesn’t “want to be by myself for the rest of my life,” he’s single “because I don’t have time to devote to a relationship.”

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