Stephen M. Silverman
December 09, 2003 05:04 PM

Tuesday is the big day for “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard. Like his pal and competitor Clay Aiken, the so-called “Velvet Teddy Bear” now gets to claim part of the spotlight with the release of his debut album, “Soulful.”

But can Studdard, 24, compete with Aiken, 25, who seems always to upstage the winner? Aiken’s single, “This is the Night/Bridge over Troubled Water,” released at the same time as Studdard’s “Flying Without Wings/Superstar,” beat Studdard’s in sales and commanded more attention, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone magazine put Clay on its cover first, and it was Aiken (not Studdard) who sang at the World Series and Miss America pageant. Clay’s album also landed in stores first, becoming an instant best-seller in October.

With Tuesday’s J Records release of Studdard’s primarily R&B (with a little hip-hop and gospel) effort, the Birmingham, Ala., native appears to be taking everything happily in stride.

“Everybody has their time in the spotlight, and it’s Clay’s time to shine right now,” Studdard told AP. “He has his album out that’s selling tremendously well, and I’m proud of him.

“Of course, I would want to have the same success. Every artist wants to be a multi-platinum-selling artist, so I’m looking forward to selling a lot of CDs as well, but I’m not going to hate on Clay just because he’s doing his thing.”

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