Returning Idol judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson had the privilege of welcoming Sparks, who won Idol when she was only 17 in 2007, and Studdard, a GRAMMY-award winner who won Season 2 of Idol, to the stage for their first duet together since they performed “You’re All I Need To Get By” during Idol’s Season 6 finale in 2007.
“She bewitched us with her amazing range and power when she was just 16-years-old, becoming the youngest winner in Idol history back in 2007,” Abdul said, introducing Sparks, before Jackson welcomed Studdard to the stage, saying, “He’s the 2003 winner from the 205, that’s right, who smooth vocals gave Paula chills and got us on our feet week after week.”
“It’s Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard,” Abdul and Jackson collectively said as the two singers entered the stage in confidence.
Sparks and Studdard then delivered a show-stopping performance of Aretha Franklin’s “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a track from her thirty-first studio album, Aretha, which was release in 1986.
Back by a full band and a solid production, the pair flawlessly traded verses and belted out the lyrics to the iconic tune in perfect harmony as the past and present Idol judges, Abdul, Jackson, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, watched from the judges panel.
Their impressive duet earned a roaring applause from the live audience and the judges.
“This is wild,” Perry gushed, before Abdul added, “you know what’s crazy is I remember you walking into the room to audition like it was yesterday.”
“You know what I remember? I remember Jordin Sparks outside with her mom two years before she auditioned and her mom and her saying ‘she’s going to try out.’ And she tried out and won the damn thing,” Jackson added.
“Honestly, I was there, I was there at the beginning of this ride for you Ruben, but all I can say to both of you. You are now pros, absolute pros in the business,” Richie said.
Earlier this season in March, Sparks and Studdard returned to Idol during Hollywood Week to mentor the contestants who earned a golden ticket.
Studdard is currently on the road, while Sparks is currently working on new music.
“I’m just extremely excited to be back on the road with Ruben sings Luther, It’s a blessing,” Studdard said.
“I’ve got about 130 [songs], that I have, and they’re all good too, so keep your ear’s peeled,” Sparks teased.
The Great Idol Reunion featured a series of duets, where former Idol winners and contestants paired up with fellow Idol alum for one-of-a-kind collaborations.
In addition to Sparks and Studdard, Laci Kaye Booth, Laine Hardy, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, David Cook, Kris Allen, Maddie Poppe, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Willie Spence, David Archuleta, William Hung, Justin Guarini, and Grace Kinstler also returned to the Idol stage for performances during the show.
Former Idol judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson also made special appearances during the special.
American Idol airs every Sunday and Monday at 8/7c on ABC.