Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul: Stories from the Idols and their Fans that Open Your Heart and Make Your Soul Sing

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Stories from Idols and Their Fans for Everyone Who Believes in a Dream. . .

With stories from Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken,

Jordin Sparks, Ruben Studdard,

Melinda Doolittle, Blake Lewis, Sanjaya Malakar,

and many other top Idols from every season!

Do you love the thrill of seeing people's dreams come true? Do you enjoy the excitement of ...

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Stories from Idols and Their Fans for Everyone Who Believes in a Dream. . .

With stories from Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken,

Jordin Sparks, Ruben Studdard,

Melinda Doolittle, Blake Lewis, Sanjaya Malakar,

and many other top Idols from every season!

Do you love the thrill of seeing people's dreams come true? Do you enjoy the excitement of rooting for your favorite contestant ? Has your spirit ever soared from watching a performance on American Idol ? For anyone who has watched America 's best loved television show, here's a collection of captivating stories that take you into the hearts, minds and souls of the Idols, the fans, and the team that makes the show possible.

These are the stories the television cameras don't see--true, uplifting, and entertaining tales told with humor and candor that will leave you laughing, crying, and feeling inspired, whether you are a die-hard Idol watcher or an occasional fan . Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul is the perfect marriage of the #1 show in television history and the #1 non-fiction book series in publishing history--both dedicated to celebrating the triumph of spirit over adversity, the fulfillment of dreams coming true, and the power of love.

In Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul , those closest to the heart of American Idol -- from the executive producers to the stylists, from the fans to the judges, from the top finalists to the behind-the-scenes crew --share their moving stories of obstacles overcome, love and support shared, lessons learned and lives touched and changed forever. This is truly the stuff that dreams are made of--and why almost 60 million people faithfully tune in week after week, year after year.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling coauthors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series , and Debra Halperin Poneman have all dedicated their lives to the personal and professional development of others.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616853129
  • Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen are the co-creators of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Debra Poneman (Evanston, IL) is the author of What, No Meat?!: What to Do When Your Kid Becomes a Vegetarian. She has two kids who are absolute American Idol fans.


While Jack Canfield himself may not necessarily be a household name, it's very likely that you have heard of his famed Chicken Soup for the Soul series and nearly as likely that you have at least one of them sitting on your very own bookshelf! Having got his start as an inspirational speaker, Canfield's own story is nothing less than inspirational.

Jack Canfield had been traveling around delivering key note speeches and organizing workshops to help audiences build their self-esteem and maximize their potential when he had an in-flight brainstorm that changed his life. While flying home from a gig, Canfield realized that the very same advice he had been delivering during his in-person addresses could potentially form the basis of a book. Canfield used inspirational stories he'd gleaned over the years as the basis of his speeches, and he thought it would be a terrific idea to gather together 101 inspirational stories and anthologize them in a single volume. Upon returning home, Canfield approached friend and author Mark Victor Hansen about his concept. Hansen agreed it was a great idea, and the two men set about finding a publisher. Believe it or not, the mega-selling series was not an easy sell to publishers. "We were rejected by 123 publishers all told," Canfield told "The first time we went to New York, we visited with about a dozen publishers in a two day period with our agent, and nobody wanted it. They all said it was a stupid title, that nobody bought collections of short stories, that there was no edge -- no sex, no violence. Why would anyone read it?"

Canfield wisely practiced what he preached -- and persisted. Ultimately, he and Hansen sold the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book to a small press based in Deerfield Beach, Florida, called Health Communications. The rest, as they say, is history. There are currently 80 million copies of the Chicken Soup books in print, with subjects as varied as Chicken Soup For the Horse Lover's Soul and Chicken Soup For the Prisoner's Soul. Canfield and Hansen ranked as the top-selling authors of 1997 and are multiple New York Times bestsellers. Most important of all, the inspirational stories they have gathered in their many volumes have improved the lives of countless readers.

This year, expect to see Canfield's name gracing the covers of such titles as Chicken Soup For the Scrapbooker's Soul, Chicken Soup For the Mother and Son Soul, and Chicken Soup For the African American Woman's Soul. He and Hansen have also launched the all-new "Healthy Living" series and 8 titles in that series have already been released this year. There is also the fascinating You've GOT to Read This Book!, in which Canfield compiles personal accounts by 55 people each discussing a book that has changed his or her life. The most compelling of these may be the story of young entrepreneur Farrah Gray, who read Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success at the age of 11 and made his first million dollars at the age of 14!

With no sign of slowing down, Canfield continues to be an inspiration to millions, who fortunately refused to give up when it seemed as though he would never even get his first book published. "Mark and I are big believers in perseverance," he said. "If you have a vision and a life purpose, and you believe in it, then you do not let external events tell you what is so. You follow your internal guidance and follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell used to say."

Good To Know

Canfield is the founder of two California based self-esteem programs, "Self-Esteem Seminars" in Santa Barbara and "The Foundation For Self Esteem" in Culver City.

Writing the first Chicken Soup book was a lot more daunting than Canfield expected. After the first three years of research, he and Mark Victor Hansen had only compiled 68 stories -- 33 tales shy of their goal of 101 stories.

Along with co-writing dozens of full-length books, Canfield also publishes a free biweekly newsletter called Success Strategies.

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Canfield:

"My inspiration for writing comes from my passion for teaching others how to live more effective lives. I started out as a history teacher in an all-black inner city high school in Chicago, graduated to a teacher trainer, then psychotherapist, then trainer of therapists, then large group transformational trainer and then a writer and keynote speaker. All along the way, my desire was to make a difference, to help people live more fulfilling lives. That is what I still do today. Most people don't know this but I was not a good writer in college. I got a C in composition. Nobody would have ever believed I would grow up to be a bestselling author."

"I play guitar, and I am learning to play the piano. I love movies and some TV shows. My favorites are Six Feet Under, Grey's Anatomy, House and Lost. I love to play Scrabble, poker and backgammon with my in-laws, nieces and nephews. We really get into it. I love to travel. I have been to 25 countries and try to add two or three new ones every year."

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    1. Hometown:
      Santa Barbara, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 19, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Worth, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Now There's Enough for Everybody

Ruben Studdard
American Idol, Season 2

My whole life, I never wanted to do anything but be a singer. But before Idol, it just didn't seem to work my way.

In the fall of 1999, I left college during my junior year to pursue a career in music. This was not welcomed by my mother because both my parents are educators. There were four of us friends in different colleges in the South, and we all decided to leave school. I promised my mom if I didn't make it in five years, I'd go back.
Our group was called God's Gift, and we practiced every day. We practiced, practiced, practiced, but we never seemed to get anywhere. We shopped demos, went out to find deals—we tried just about everything.

Sometimes, it got us down. I remember a minister saying, 'Everything happens in God's time, so be patient.' I was pretty much the only guy in the group who had already been doing this for years, so my thought was, How much more patient can I be?

Eventually, the group gave up because it just wasn't happening. I joined a jazz band called Just a Few Cats. By that point, I wasn't even concerned with making it; I just wanted to have fun. Soon, we became the most popular group in Birmingham. We started playing 500–600 seat venues that sold out almost immediately.
One day, a background singer in our band said she was going to try out for American Idol and asked me to go with her. 'I'm not doing that,' I said.

I thought I was everything the American Idol wasn't. I mean, I wasn't exactly Kelly Clarkson. I was this big guy in a jazz band who in college had been pursuing a degree in operatic performance. I just envisioned going up there and embarrassing myself on national television. All the odds were against me.

But I told my friend I'd go to give her support and to cheer when she made it through. We drove to Nashville and spent all night waiting outside. Fortunately, she brought pillows and blankets because we had to sleep on the ground.

In the morning, one of the producers woke us and asked if we were there to audition. 'Yeah,' I said, still half-asleep. Maybe I meant, 'Yeah,' as in, 'Yeah, she's here to audition and I'm with her,' but next thing I knew, I was singing in front of the assistant producers. I made it through, and my friend didn't.
From that moment on, I had to believe there was a master plan because it all just flowed, one thing after the other.

I was told to come back the following day for the next audition, but I sure didn't want to sleep outside again. Then I found out a friend was in Nashville for an engineering conference and just happened to have an extra hotel room.

When I met the show's producer, Nigel Lythgoe, he said, 'You don't look like an American Idol, but I bet you can sing.'
I sang Stevie Wonder's 'Ribbon in the Sky,' and Nigel said, 'Man, you are going on.'

I was flying high when I went home to Birmingham, but I had to return to Nashville the next week to sing for Randy, Simon, and Paula. I didn't know what to do because my car wouldn't make it.

My brother Kevin offered to take me. This was really something because I always drove him nuts when I sang. He would beg me to stop singing, please. When we were kids and walked to the store, he punched me out for singing all the way down the street. But now he was driving me to Nashville?

When I sang for the judges, all three said, 'Absolutely, yes!'
I just knew something great was going to happen. I didn't think I was going to win the show by any means, but I did feel like it just might give me the opportunity to somehow live my dreams.

American Idol helped me accomplish more than I could have dreamed in a million years on my own. I sang at the American Music Awards. I was nominated for a Grammy®. I went to South Africa and sang in soccer stadiums. I've done concerts for hundreds of thousands of people. I've had a platinum album and Billboard #1 songs. I never would have imagined that I'd sing for the President, but I did that, too—twice. I've done so much since Idol—and I would have been happy just making one album!

When people ask me for advice, I'm always willing to share it: always be prepared. I know that might sound funny since I sure didn't seem prepared for the audition that morning in Nashville, but I can honestly say I've studied my craft since I was ten years old. I went to school to be a classical musician. I took every class I could on music theory. If your opportunity shows up and you're not prepared, you might lose it . . . and it might not come back again.

Last weekend, I sang at Ella Fitzgerald's ninetieth Birthday Benefit with Natalie Cole, Quincy Jones, and Nancy Wilson. When I do a gig, I'm always prepared. I tell people, 'Don't wing it.' You know when someone's winging it, and it's not going to get you where you want to go.

And the other advice I give is to always have a pleasing attitude. The one thing everyone always says about me is I have a good attitude. I believe that will take you further than a great voice or loads of talent.

Needless to say, my life has changed since Idol. But I'm the same guy, the same Ruben—the same son, the same friend, the same brother. Kevin and I still love—and fight with—each other. When people ask if we still fight over the last sandwich in the refrigerator, like I talked about on the show, I tell them that's another thing that's changed since Idol: now there's always enough of everything for all of us.

And don't think I'm not grateful. I'm one of those people who lives life based on gratitude. I believe the more grateful you are, the more good things will come to you. I will always be grateful to American Idol—I will never forget what it has done to help me make my dreams come true.

©2007. Ruben Studdard. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Debra Poneman. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.

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