American Idol can be an overwhelming experience for competitors, but the show does what it can to make things a little easier. This season, the singing competition welcomed past competitors to mentor the young contestants, including one famous face from all the way back from Season 2. When it came to returning, winner Ruben Studdard had a specific reason for wanting to return, part of it being he knows the struggle.
Getting to an audition in front of the actual celebrity judges on American Idol can be a challenge, and sometimes the struggle even begins before that. Studdard talked to Billboard.com about his return to American Idol and why he was inspired to return and speak to Idol competitors:
My inspiration is always the same when it comes to aspiring professional singers...It’s that I was once in their shoes and I know the road that lies ahead for them. Like many before me I had been trying to be a professional artist many years before my time on Idol. So understand how difficult it can be to continue pushing towards a goal that can sometimes seem unreachable.
Ruben Studdard is one of the many examples of success on American Idol and would be a great mentor to competitors to talk to as they move onto the Hollywood phase of the competition. Studdard had a pretty easy road throughout his run, save one moment in the Bottom 2 during the Top 5 round of Season 2. He ultimately edged out other Idol notable Clay Aiken for the win and has celebrated a successful musical career in the years since.
Ruben Studdard is not the only American Idol alumni returning for the latest season, as the series always seems to find a variety of past competitors to appear and mentor the current season competitors in various ways. Season 4 on ABC has already featured former Season 10 competitor James Durbin.
If past seasons are any indicator, more names are on the way, possibly some of the competitors who competed during last season, which was postponed by COVID. Given that the show is still dealing with some COVID issues in this latest season, the commentary from anyone from that crowd may be the most valuable to competitors yet. Personally, I think it would be great to see winner Just Sam again, if only because she was robbed of a proper celebration given the state the world was in during the last Idol finale.