December 20, 2004 12:00 PM

I Need an Angel

Long before he was dubbed the Velvet Teddy Bear on American Idol, Ruben Studdard could be found singing on Sunday mornings in Birmingham, Ala. On this gospel excursion, the cuddly singer takes it back to church, and whereas he never seemed quite comfortable in his role as R&B love man on last year’s debut, Soulful, he seems totally in his element here. Studdard is clearly inspired to perform songs he grew up on, like “Amazing Grace” and “I Surrender All.” His selections include the traditional (“Fix It, Jesus”) and the contemporary (the Fred Hammond collaboration “We Have Not Forgotten,” which was also featured on Soulful). R. Kelly wrote and produced the pop-flavored title tune, which is such a strong number you wonder why Kelly didn’t use it for his own inspirational disc, U Saved Me. Eric Dawkins of the gospel duo Dawkins & Dawkins produced three cuts, while Mary Mary join Roo-ben on an uplifting version of the Winans’ 1987 hit with Anita Baker “Ain’t No Need to Worry.”

DOWNLOAD THIS: “I Need an Angel”

GOSPEL

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