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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Letters to TV Guide Re: Clay Issue

TV Guide has published several letters in response to their conver story on Clay a few weeks ago:

>>Clay Aiken
What a fine cover story [7/24]! Clay Aiken is a complex young man with a faithful focus on the purpose of his unique voice. At 26, he's a reflective, serious star learning his place in the world. With a growing foundation and his UNICEF trips, he's even more determined to entertain the world while stirring its conscience. -Tish DeMauro, Canastota, N.Y.

I am so looking forward to Clay Aiken's Jukebox Tour. I love the fact that there's a performer out there who can be enjoyed by kids, parents and grandparents. And since succeeding in making a difference in the world still seems to be his priority, here's hoping he stays around for a long time to warm my heart and my caress my ears. -Dot Mahaffey, Phoenix, A.Z.

Thanks to starrynight4clay for this scan:
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Photos of Clay and All My Children's Susan Lucci Now Up!

All My Children's Susan Lucci interviewed Clay backstage at last month's GMA Appearance (see our late July archives) as a segment of an upcoming airing of ABC's daytime hit, All My Children.

Pictures from this interview are now up at the Official Fanclub's Media Section. Web Hosting Computers

Invisible on Today's Hollywood Confidential (Syndicated Radio Show)

Invisible was on today's Hollywood Confidential, syndicated on radio stations across North America and hosted by Leeza Gibbons.

New Audio Message From Clay at the Official Fanclub

From the CB:
YES, I just saw on the fan club board that he has an audio message at the STORE on the STORE link & check it out!! Article on Clay and His Success

Clay Aiken and me
A week ago tonight, I dragged a friend with me to the Peace Center in Greenville, SC. My mission, as part of a book I'm working on: See Clay Aiken in concert, and try to understand how he's become the most popular and most successful reality TV contestant ever. Because, honestly, I'm a pale white boy who can't dance, too, and millions of people don't swoon over me. Also, I can't sing. But I digress.

The performance, part of Clay's 25-city Jukebox Tour, was full of energy and, honestly, a lot of fun. Go check it out. Just don't say anything negative about Clay or you'll find yourself at the bottom of a Claymate pile and wake up in the hospital. (Oh, I kid the fans!)

As I wrote in a piece for MSNBC that starts to explore what I saw, “I don't know if I'll ever fully be able to see the Clay phenomenon in exactly the same way [his fans] do. But the performance made it clear that, in this era of manufactured pop, where top-40 music is constructed for the benefit of the audience by marketers and radio station conglomerates, Clay Aiken's fans believe they have found something real.”

Poll on What's Your Favourite NEW Song?'s board has a new poll asking:

Clay has now given us a taste of 3 possible songs for his new cd.

Which new song is your favourite?

To vote, make sure you're signed up and logged into the Message Boards.

Happy Birthday CB's NYmom4Clay

Happy Birthday from all your friends at CDD, NYMom!

2.3 Million Dollar LA House Not A Home For Clay Aiken

The following write up about Clay moving back to Raleigh after a one year stint in LA appeared in today's Baltimore Sun.

For Aiken, a $2.3 million house is not a home

LOS ANGELES - Clay Aiken is looking more mature these days since dying his strawberry-blond locks brown and getting a short haircut, but he apparently isn't quite ready to settle down - at least not in the San Fernando Valley home he bought for $2.3 million last fall.
The 26-year-old singer, who gained fame in 2003 as a runner-up on the TV show American Idol, is already selling the house. He listed it in March for $2.5 million and expects to close escrow next month.

The Mediterranean-style home was newly built when the pop singer bought it.

On more than an acre in a private, rural area of the valley, it has plenty of room for Aiken and a number of his friends and family.

The 7,800-square-foot house has six bedrooms, 6 1/2 bathrooms, a family room and a bonus room.

The grounds, zoned for horses (although Aiken has none), include a pool, a spa, a gazebo and a sports court.

It's like a small resort yet comfy. The master suite has a private study. There's a fireplace in the family room. And an open floor plan.

So, why is Aiken selling?

In a TV Guide interview, Aiken voiced concerns about living in what he has described as "lonely" L.A. and said he would like to go home to Raleigh, N.C., where he was a special-education teacher before being "discovered" on national TV.

But, since buying the house, Aiken has been busy and hasn't spent much time in L.A.

Aiken has been on his 25-city Jukebox Tour, which ends Sept. 1 in Atlantic City, N.J., and is expected to follow it with a Christmas tour.

He's also been working on a follow-up to his 2003 debut album, Measure of a Man.

Since performing on American Idol, Aiken has enjoyed sales of more than 3.9 million CDs, running just behind Kelly Clarkson, who is the biggest-selling participant in the show.

Aiken is also a UNICEF ambassador, and he has been helping raise funds for the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which he co-founded in 2003 with activist Diane Bubel to help children with developmental disabilities.

It was Bubel who persuaded Aiken to audition for American Idol after she heard him singing while he was caring for her autistic son, Mike.

Worries about Meadville, PA Ticket Sales

Reports from the CB Indicated sales for the Meadville, PA Show are not going too well:

Got this in my morning emails. What is the story with Meadville, PA? Clay is going to have an empty venue here?
Read what I got in my email.

I spoke with one of the directors of the Crawford Fair this afternoon.
told me that in their 10,000 seat venue, they have only sold 2800
tickets to
date. How come???

Tickets are very inexpensive at this venue ($30) and it is a lovely

I told him I thought it might be because fans could not select their
and had to go with what the venue assigned ... he told me that if fans
called the courthouse, they could confirm the general area of their
seats...within a row or two if not exactly.

There are still seats available in Sections D, E and F on the track.
are the center sections. He also told me that sections C and G were
good seating and very empty.

Please consider attending the Meadville Concert. If you have not yet
purchased tickets but plan to, please call 814.333.7400

Please post this on other boards.

Linda Learn

The Tickets are only $30.00. My goodness, would they cancel this? Or how about sending a ton of people for the Ticket project? Empty center section seating? Oh my goodness.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fayetteville Online Weekender Responds to E-mails from Claymates RE: Negative Cary Review

Stacy Peterson, a staff writer at the Fayetteville Online Weekender, responded to the 46 e-mails sent to her in the wake of her negative review of the Cary concert:

Clay must be doing something right
By Stacy Peterson
Staff writer

Opening my work e-mail Friday morning was a little like stepping on a yellow jacket nest.



They came from all directions: New Jersey, San Francisco, Dallas, Missouri, Chicago, Arkansas and here in North Carolina.

And they all stung.

I was being attacked with electronic messages from 46 Clay Aiken fans - and counting.

I was called stupid, crazy, nuts and one e-mailer wondered if I was from Mars. Maybe.

The jabs were in response to a preview story about Aiken's concert a week ago in Cary.

"Mr. Peterson - how very disappointing to read your article on Clay Aiken...." began one e-mail. She was being nice.

You probably know Aiken as the 2003 "American Idol" TV show finalist who has gone on to build a large and loyal fan base.

My story looked at how his concert tickets were selling much slower than his last visit to his hometown of Raleigh.

I interviewed an editor at Rolling Stone Magazine and the editor of Pollstar, a concert industry publication. One thought Aiken's appeal may be cooling. The other said he is fine. Aiken fans saw the story as cursing the name of Clay.

They all had arguments as to why tickets sold slower: No new album, time away from the spotlight, an outdoor venue, ticket prices.

One fan, an 80-year-old woman, said she had seen Aiken 90 times.

Many also assured me that if I went to the concert, I would change my tune.

I went and I admired Aiken's vocal talent.

But was there a "Clayversion?"

No, I'm afraid not. But God bless him, he must be doing something right. His fans mean business.

Chance meeting

One great thing about the show was meeting Rod Edwards, who had performed in bands with Aiken.

Edwards plays guitar and backed up Aiken several times in Smithfield, Dunn, Benson and Garner.

"To me it's like my brother," he said. "I see him that way."

Stacy Peterson can be reached at or 323-4848, ext. 384.

Toronto Sun Reports: New Album Out in October 2005

The Toronto Sun is reporting (along with it's contest for front row tixs and a M&G with Clay) that the new album will drop in October.

Clay said in August 14th's New York Post, however, that the album is NOT slated for a 2005 release and has been pushed back to 'early 2006' at the earliest.

Click to enlage.
The text under the MOAM pic says "New Album: October '05"
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Don't Forget Our Tour News/Media Section

Our Tour News/Media page is updated almost every day.

We have added a ton of new stuff:
Added Recaps, links to Clack for VALDOSTA, Updated Photo Album for VALDOSTA and CARY, News item added for VALDOSTA, Clay article in Aug. 11 Flint Journal, see CLIO for more info, Clay mention in Indianapolis Star, see INDIANAPOLIS, Raleigh News & Observer fan reviews, see CARY, Added photo album links for GREENVILLE, CARY and VALDOSTA, News items added for VIENNA, Photos uploaded into VIENNA photo album, Added pre-concert article to COLUMBUS, Added MSNBC Review for Greenville, Added Mention from ATLANTA Paper, Added Media, Recap and Photos for COLUMBUS, News item for DARIEN LAKE, Washington Post review for VIENNA, New photo album for COLUMBUS, TOLEDO Blade (Newspaper) Pre-Concert Article Added, Interview with Quiana Parler added to GENERAL, The Express Times BETHLEHEM review added, BETHLEHEM recaps, photos, etc updated, Flint Journal article/interview added to GENERAL and CLIO, CARY review from Cary News Added, New Photo Album for COLUMBUS added, New TOMSRIVER review added, News item for INDIANAPOLIS, News item for TORONTO added, Review for BETHLEHEM updated.

AD: Kettering, OH (Aug 12, 2005)

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William Hung Meets Clay Aiken

American Idol 3 Reject William Hung was interviewed by a Kansas City radio station and said he had met Clay:

From the CB:
We are having an event in Kansas City, sponsored by one of our radio stations. It is the 18th annual "Elvis Parade". William Hung is the "Grand Marshall" this year! He came by our studios and talked on the air regarding AI and mentioned Clay and that he had met him. He said he was a nice guy. Duh!!! It was kinda sad since everyone was making fun of him around here. He even sang and they have been broadcasting it all day!

Toronto Sun Running Contest for Front Row Tixs plus M&G!

Attention Southern Ontario Claymates!

The Toronto Sun is running a contest for Front Row tickets for Clay's Aug. 25 show at the Molson Amphitheatre plus a Meet 'n Greet afterwards. Entry ballots are available in today's issue of the Toronto Sun. More information here. Unfortunately, entries are not being accepted online.

Clay Mentioned in Romance Novel by Soap Star Finola Huges

From the CB:
I'm reading this book called Soapsuds, which (i think kind of ironic) is written by a former All My Children (and Genereal Hospital) actress, Finola Hughes.

Anywayz, i was reading it this morning on the train and there was a mention of Clay ! The book is basically about an actress going to work on a soap, and her character becomes very popular pretty quickly. So she is at a soap opera fan event. She is sitting and she sees a fan and the fan points to their shirt, and she has a button of the actress on their sweatshirt, and the actress is so surprised by this. So she says to herself..."O-ka-ay. I am not Bono, not Bowie, certainly not our beloved Madonna - not even Clay Aiken, for God's sake." I thought that was kinda nice they mentioned him right up there with all those famous singers! And its always nice to see a clay mention

Recent Editions of the Indianapolis Star Included Clay

From the CB:
In 8/9 Indy Star (with *big* pic of Keith Urban mastheading the article), they list all the fair acts - with pics. I think Clay's pic is from the JBT! Wording is as follows:

Aug 18
>As a UNICEF ambassador, "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken has visited Uganda and Indonesia.
7:30 p.m. Grandstand

Then in today's 8/12 Entertainment/Weekend section of the paper, again with *big* photo of KU, a version of the same pic they used of Clay on 8/9 (he's got a gray jacket, with a white shirt that has red "dribbled" down the front):

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. $35, $30 ($6 fair admission included).
Clay Aiken has been out of the news in recent months, but the former "American Idol" runner-up is edging back into the public eye by singing pop hits from the '50s to the present. His "Jukebos Tour" includes selections such as the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" and Barry Manilow's "Mandy."

Do you all consider these "good" mentions? (I can't help still thinking "when-oh-when will they quit describing him in terms of 'AI runner-up"!!) Otherwise, I guess they're just pretty straight-forward blurbs for his concert?

Kansas City's KUDL FM mentions Clay-Positive!

From the CB:
Roger is the mid-day show DJ for 98.1 KUDL or Clay-UDL as they sometimes call them selves. I know you have heard me mention them here on the boards alot. well i think this deserves its own thread.They played Clay this morning and Roger the DJ had some nice comments about clay. this is what he said, well my friend recapped what he said.

Amanda,Did you hear what Roger said after he played INVISIBLE? It was so
great! He said Clay had a broken heart. He mentioned his work with UNICEF
and Uganda. He mentioned the article about the children who travel at night
to escape being kidnapped from their families. I can't remember the term but
it's "night commuters" I think. He said what awful things happen to these
children. Said Clay would do this for the children even if he wasn't famous!
He used a term with Clay's name in it and I can't remember. But what a great
thing to say about Clay on the radio!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Toledo Blade Cover Boy and Cover Story: Clay Aiken

Cover boy Clay Aiken
Courtesy Toledo Blade Magazine.

The Jukebox Tour and Clay are featured on the cover of today's edition of Toledo Blade, a Toledo newsmagazine.

Something for everyone: Clay Aiken covers Top 40 tunes from the '50s to today

Kicking off a one-two set of concerts by American Idol stars, 2003 runner-up Clay Aiken comes to town for a concert at the Toledo Zoo amphitheater on Tuesday, followed by 2002 champ Kelly Clarkson at the SeaGate Convention Centre Aug. 22.

Aiken, who lost in Idol's second season to Ruben Studdard by a margin of less than 1 percent, is covering a lot of ground with The Jukebox Summer Tour 2005.

The show will feature 100 Top 40 songs from the 1950s to the present, with many strung together in medley form.

A lot of the tunes were on the charts long before Aiken was born in 1978, but said he enjoys music from all eras.

"I thought it would be cool to sing a bunch of covers and relate to everybody," he said in a press release. "There will be songs my mom likes and my grandparents like, and there are a lot of people who love the music of the '70s. I like the '80s, and we're going to have a lot of fun with songs from the '90s."

Among the songs in the show will be several golden oldies with which Aiken is already associated, including Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and Neil Sedaka's "Solitaire." He's also planning Motown medley and doo-wop medleys and will shake things up with a series of Elvis Presley classics.

Aiken, 26, of Raleigh, N.C., had always planned to be a teacher and was working with autistic children when a mother of a student talked him into trying out for American Idol.

"I had my life planned out until I was 50 years old," he said. "I was going to be a teacher and maybe a principal at some point."

But the mother of one of his students heard him sing during a visit to her home and persuaded Aiken to give the Fox TV show a try.

The first time he auditioned, in Charlotte, N.C., Aiken didn't get picked. But he tried again in Atlanta and wound up in the finals with Studdard. Although he lost by a whisker, the charismatic young singer was quickly signed by RCA Records.

Aiken's 2003 debut disc, "Measure of a Man," sold more than 2 million copies and produced the hit song "Invisible." Last fall, he released the holiday album "Merry Christmas With Love," which shipped more than a million units.

Aiken is currently working on his third studio album and is serving as national ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, for which he visited the tsunami-ravaged region of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and war-torn northern Uganda.

Clay Aiken will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Toledo Zoo amphitheater. Tickets are $39.50 and $47.50 from Ticketmaster. Information: 419-474-1333.

Contact David Yonke at: or

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NYT Article on The Firm Mentions Clay

The Firm was Clay's management team from May 2004 to early 2005.

Departures Cool Off Agency's Hot Start
Published: August 11, 2005

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10 - Three years ago Hollywood was asking whether Jeff Kwatinetz and his talent management company, the Firm, had set themselves on the road to empire. Lately the question has been: are they marching in circles?

Over the last year the Firm, based in Beverly Hills, has seen a string of senior executives depart to strike out on their own or join the ranks of rivals. The executive exits are a sharp contrast to Mr. Kwatinetz's drive for dominance, whose peak - so far - came with the 2002 acquisition of Artists Management Group, the talent company assembled by Michael Ovitz, the former super-agent.

Last month JoAnne Colonna, a manager of the company's film talent department, left for a job at rival Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, taking with her a list of clients that includes Anna Paquin, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brittany Murphy and Brendan Fraser. Only weeks before, her co-manager, Aleen Keshishian, had also left for Brillstein-Grey, along with the clients Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney and Freddie Prinze Jr.

Those moves followed the departures of the co-managers of the music department. In April Simon Renshaw left and took with him the Dixie Chicks, Clay Aiken and Anastacia; in May Andy Gould left with Rob Zombie. Gayle Boulware, who started as an assistant to Mr. Kwatinetz in the early days of the Firm and rose to become a manager herself, left to join Mr. Renshaw's new venture.

Officials at the Firm declined to comment for this article, but to hear Mr. Kwatinetz's allies tell it, the exits have been orchestrated largely by the Firm's chief executive himself, part of an overdue move to streamline the company after its takeover of Artists Management, which left it saddled with millions in debt.

"To another firm, it would seem like an exodus; to another company it would seem like this company is taking on water," said Jordan Schur, president of Geffen Records and one of Mr. Kwatinetz's closest friends. "In reality, it's a correction, of Jeff taking out people who don't want to work, people riding coattails."

Others suggest that the departures are far from over and that the exits to date reflect a wider cash crisis as well as internal doubts about Mr. Kwatinetz's strategies for expansion.

"It means that the original vision that Mike Ovitz was able to achieve, his ability to create a brand for C.A.A., never did get off the ground at the Firm," said Howard Rosenman, former head of motion pictures for Brillstein-Grey, referring to Mr. Ovitz's legendary tenure at the Creative Artists Agency. "To create branding, even the geniuses of this town have trouble. Look what's happening to DreamWorks."

While DreamWorks has put its live-action film business up for sale, Mr. Kwatinetz has so far been able to count on the support of his most substantial bulwark in the movie world, Rick Yorn, a partner in the company. Mr. Yorn joined the Firm with the Artists Management acquisition, bringing along heavyweight movie clients like Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Despite lingering speculation that Mr. Yorn would join the exodus, he has remained in place - anchored in part by business debt that is personally backed by the company's partners, including Mr. Kwatinetz, Mr. Yorn and David Baram. The partners declined to comment, but a person with knowledge of the company management said none of them planned to leave.

Even with the departures, Mr. Kwatinetz still lays claim to one of the most potent talent shops in Hollywood. In music, the company represents Kelly Clarkson, Linkin Park, Snoop Dogg, Audioslave and Jennifer Lopez, and in film its clients include Ms. Diaz, Mr. DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Samuel L. Jackson and Rachel Weisz. It also encompasses a film and television production unit, which currently has the series "Criss Angel Mindfreak" on the A&E cable network and was behind "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," a feature set for release by Sony's Screen Gems unit next month.

The departures also do not seem to have dampened Mr. Kwatinetz's appetite for major-league dealmaking. He has been pursuing an acquisition of the troubled Paxson Communications Corporation, for instance. And the Firm has been hitting up private equity companies for financing to create a brand fund that would purchase brand names that could be combined with its efforts to market talent.

One drag on the company has been the outstanding debt it picked up in acquiring Mr. Ovitz's unprofitable Artists Management venture. The initial terms of the financing called for the Firm to repay the debts over roughly 10 years, according to one person involved. But shortly after the acquisition, the Firm violated its bank covenant, and the bank shortened the term to just three years, this person said, forcing the company to devote much more cash to servicing the debt. Since then, the company has reduced the debt, with J. P. Morgan, to less than $3 million from more than $12 million, this person said.

All of that has come against the backdrop of a weak music industry, with the company's troubles compounded by frustration among some of the departed executives, who privately complain of what they view as missed opportunities to sell the Firm and cash in on its prominent place in the entertainment business.

Last year the company - with prodding from Thomas H. Lee Partners, an investment company that owns a small stake in the Firm - explored a plan to unite with Irving Azoff, the powerful music manager, who represents acts like the Eagles, Christina Aguilera and Jewel. The deal would have paid the Firm an estimated $60 million, according to people involved in the discussions. Mr. Kwatinetz, however, balked at the arrangement, in which his authority would have been diluted. Mr. Azoff declined to comment.

Before that, Mr. Kwatinetz had pursued a purchase of Time Warner's global music unit, a deal that would have placed him at the helm of a cluster of record labels and a catalog that ranges from Led Zeppelin to Ray Charles. But Thomas H. Lee Partners, which with Mr. Kwatinetz discussed the deal, ultimately backed a bid by Edgar Bronfman Jr., and purchased the company for $2.6 billion. Mr. Bronfman became chairman of the independent Warner Music Group; Mr. Kwatinetz received a multimillion-dollar advisory fee.

As for Mr. Kwatinetz, his drive and innovative urges appear to have survived the recent jolts intact. "He's got his eyes on the big prize," said Mr. Schur, whose label releases music by Firm clients including Weezer. "I think its about controlling a real asset that's a real media giant. He'll know it when he sees it. There definitely is a prize, but exactly what it is and what it looks like, only Jeff could tell you."

But even some admirers have come to doubt Mr. Kwatinetz's ability to realize the Firm's grander schemes - which called for cross-breeding actors, musicians, advertisers and other ventures in new business lines.

"We tried to put something together that we thought would change the industry, because the record labels are inherently unfair and take away all the artists' rights," said Mr. Gould, who remains a shareholder in the Firm. "We talked about a lot of things in secret rooms, but we never did anything. The experiment just didn't work."

Clay Article on

This is a fantastic article from another Blog, called Idolhabit.

American Idol: Clay Aiken and The Mystery of Credible Pop Radio

Monday night found me sitting in a tropical downpour at the fabled Wolf-Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia.

The occasion? One Mr. Clay Aiken and his Jukebox Tour.

Having only been able to score lawn tix the traditional way, the day of the show I rang up the friendly dude at the box office and inquired, in a friendly way, about the possibility of upgrading.

His heinous laugh was deafening.

He was like, dude, you're on the phone and peeps have been camped out here since at least 9:00 this morning, which, he informed me, was when he arrived at work.

Besides intimating that I was thoroughly insane, he further informed me that I should feel exceedingly lucky to have gotten tickets at all and that, please, the in-house tix sold out in---quote---"like, thirty seconds, I'm not kidding you."

How he found time to provide me with this exceedingly detailed oral history---what with all the apparently clamoring, desperate throngs of Claymates at his window---I know not. But there you have it.

So, the lawn it was. Which, from a professional blogger point of view, actually has advantages because it allows one to conduct research on several conversations and fan groups simultaneously.

Such as the lady who turned to her friend and asked, quite sincerely, "Why is everyone screaming?"

True, since the concert hadn't even started, one might legitimately wonder.

Except that, people, this is CLAY AIKEN, after all. The man whom I once described [here] as turning even the Fox people into blubbering wierdos every time he appeared.

Then there was the girl who turned to her BF and said, "It's intermission and he hasn't sung one Clay Aiken song yet."

(Not true if she was talking about songs Mr. Aiken had recorded: though literally interrupted by a bolt of lightening, he had sung "Solitaire," which most definitely is a Clay Aiken song. Even Neil Sedaka said so.)

But my point is: Lady, it's called the "Jukebox Tour," and that means . . .? Hmmm . . . ??

Of course, she was the one who was lamenting that they'd not brought any dinner (a Wolf-Trap tradition) because she'd gotten confused and thought the concert was tomorrow night, but then she heard the concert advertised on the radio and, lo and behold---SCREECH BRAKES AND MAKE U-TURN---it actually was tonight, and well, it was all very tumultuous.

Golly. Somehow it reminded me of last year when I was at one of Mr. Aiken's Christmas concerts, part of his tour to support his Christmas album, which was called Merry Christmas with Love.

And, oh yeah, it was Christmas.

I heard a young woman say to another young woman at intermission, "I can't believe he's only sung Christmas songs."

Whoa, dude, and I can't believe that the last time Elizabeth appeared in public they played "Hail to the Queen" rather than, say, "Stacey's Mom."


What I ended up thinking about as Mr. Aiken sang the stuffing out of everything he touched was how not one song---not one of the several dozen songs he covered over the course of the night---was stronger, deeper, more profound, more rich, more charming, or---yes, better!---than any track on Aiken's debut disc, Measure of a Man.

Yet, unlike the tracks on Measure of a Man, each one of the several dozen hits Aiken sang had received---often in several different versions over the years---extensive radio play.

So extensive that most everyone in the crowd, ranging from giggly gaggles of pre-teen girls to highly seasoned citizens, could sing along to a substantial portion of the setlist.

That's not to say the Jukebox Tour setlist isn't full of great songs. Of course it is. And what's not to love about anything by Elvis or Motown.

What would life be if we did not have songs such as "Love Me Tender" and "Midnight Train to Georgia"? Or "Jailhouse Rock," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and even "Workin' at the Car Wash"?

But are these songs actually stronger, deeper, more profound, more rich, more charming, and---yes, better!---than Clay Aiken's "Run to Me," "When You Say You Love Me," "I Will Carry You," "This Is The Night," "Invisible" or "Touch"?

Can someone actually demonstrate how these songs differ so greatly that the one group "belongs" on radio and the other---i.e., the group consisting of songs recorded by Clay Aiken on Measure of a Man---does not?

Recently, I wrote about Bo Bice and The Mystery of Credible Rock Radio, a piece discussing the sheer dumbness---not to mention short-sightedness---oozing from radio's snarlitude (oh! a word I coined in the context of AI4 contestant Scott Savol [here] and I want credit for it!) toward artists who emerged through our lovable American Idol discovery machine.

In regard to Bo, I wrote:

This is the only way judging a singer's "credibility" as a "rocker" can make sense: if rock is indeed a club with a Big Rule Book by which The Establishment (a/k/a Credible Rock Radio) judges just who is and who is not a club member in good standing.

And, may I remind that, in this scene the actual music is the least consequential factor in determining whether a person is "in" (i.e., "credible") or "out" (i.e., not "credible").

If this were not true, Bo Bice's version of "Vehicle"---a wondrous, rollicking, head-thumping rendition of a "credible" rock hit by a "credible" rock band sung by a great rock singer backed by a great and "credible" rock guitarist loaded with "credible" hard rock riffs---would be all over Credible Rock Radio.

But it's not.

Put Clay Aiken in the subject line and WHAT I SAID!

Fact. As multitudes of Claymates can attest, thousands and thousands and thousands of phone calls, emails, and personal visits failed to budge radio off its prehistoric boulder, to wit, "Sorry. We don't do American Idol."

Not: "Sorry. We think Clay Aiken's music stinks." Not: "Sorry. Clay Aiken's music isn't radio-friendly." Not: "Sorry. Clay Aiken's songs are 13 minutes long [they're not] and that doesn't fit our format."

No,---as with the DJ Stryker's comment that the hilariously self-described "Credible Rock Radio won't go near" the music of any artist found through our lovable American Idol discovery machine----universally the retort to Clay fans was simply some version of "We don't do American Idol."


Well, backatcha, buddy.

Puh-leeze. To repeat myself for the purpose of emphasis: besides the mesmerizing Clay vocals, what struck me most about Mr. Aiken's tromp through pop music history was exactly how worthy HIS pop music is compared to every radio hit he sang.

And it's not just pop history that makes this point. We live in a world, as I wrote previously here, where Gwen Stefani has a radio hit with "Rich Girl," a song she lifted from---

a beloved musical about a family fleeing Jewish pograms in pre-Revolutionary Russia and then turned it into a dumber, and more spoilt, version of Madonna’s “Material Girl.” Yet, apparently, the music industry is still bowing before her, intoning “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”

Today I listened to radio for all of 30 minutes and twice heard this new song by Bon Jovi: "Have A Nice Day."

I kid you not: Bon Jovi, rock royalty, has a new release called "Have A Nice Day" and IT'S GETTING SPINS.

And this is not some joke title, a clever entendre, an ironic caption on a deeply philosophical, poignant and important thought.

It's truly a song about having a nice day.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I do think there are songs that take that idea and present it in a way that, despite the "Living on a Prayer" guitars and gnarly Bon Jovi vocals, is more than a cartoon.

For example, the Clay Aiken tracks "Perfect Day" and "Shine."

They are equally about the optimism and attitude that Bon Jovi is expressing in "Have a Nice Day," but with the important difference that---lyrically, musically and vocally---the Aiken songs actually provide some insight, depth and real substance into how and why one gets from a rotten place to a better place in love and life.

Sure, "Perfect Day" and "Shine" are still pop songs, not Socratic tomes or Robert Browning poems.

But, tell me, how is it that "Have A Nice Day" "belongs" on radio and the Clay Aiken tracks get thrown on radio's self-appointed toxic waste dump?

Look, here's your idolhabit homework:

Check out Fred Bronson's book, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Pick 10 Number One hits at random (excluding "This Is The Night," the poignant love potion song by Clay Aiken that hit number one based on sales, not airplay) and look up the lyrics.

Then pick 10 tracks between Measure of a Man and the Bo Bice disc, "Inside Your Heaven" and "Vehicle."

See if you can discern an audible distinction, such that you---light bulb!---understand why radio chose to play those number one hits and chooses not to play Clay Aiken and Bo Bice.

Then compare the lyrics of the songs on your two lists and tell me if you can discern a poetic distinction such that songs such as "Rockin' Robin" were worthy of radio's good graces, but songs such as "Run to Me," "I Will Carry You," "The Way," "Invisible" and Bo's "Inside Your Heaven" and "Vehicle" were not worthy of ample airplay.

The funny thing is that radio has yet to catch on to the fact that, if it doesn't watch out and start playing what people actually want to hear (be it artists discovered through American Idol or wherever), people have options. Duh.

But, then again, radio is an industry that still compiles its ratings by having people take a pencil and write down on a piece of paper what they listened to that day, and then put the paper in an envelope, seal it, put a stamp on it and turn it in to the snail mail folks to haul it in big sacks to huge radio ratings office where, probably, Dilbert and friends use their hands to open the envelopes and then use pencils to mark down each ballot before sending the resultant mountains of paper off to the paper counting department where this 20th century process is repeated.

That's why I'm writing next time about radio and the stubby pencil.

True, the industry is changing. Shazamm, it's the 21st century, Grandma has an iPod, and Arbitron is just about to roll out a---WHOA!---computerized ratings system for radio.

Okay, so radio just showed up in Mr. Sherman's Wayback Machine, having---Three Stooges-like---accidentally pressed the forward button.

But it may be too late. American Idol generated fan bases that, more than any other fan groups in recent music history, wanted to and were determined to affect airplay.

True, fan support plus, um, industry support made Kelly Clarkson the darling on Top 40 radio [here] (and deservedly so). Her sophomore disc, Breakaway, is brilliant on several relevant scales.

But otherwise, despite massive fan efforts that, by rights, should have catapulted their guys and gals to the top of the charts, nothing happened.

Nothing happened on the airwaves, that is. But out in real life, a sea change happened. And if radio doesn't figure out how to ride that wave, it's going to find itself unable to get tickets to the concerts people actually are attending.

Clay Mentioned on Last Night's Jimmy Kimmel Live

From the CB:
It was a joke about 2 rappers who were arrested in Madison Square Garden for felony firearms possession. He gave the audience a test to see if they new which musical duo it was. Clay and Kelly were the first choice out of 4.

Flint Journal Article/Interview

Aiken takes 'Jukebox' out on the road

Thursday, August 11, 2005By Doug Pullen • 810.766.6140

It's been three years since Clay Aiken captured the hearts and minds of American women as the runner-up (to Ruben Studdard) on the second season of "American Idol."

Journal music writer Doug Pullen, who interviewed him last year, caught up with Aiken for a 10-minute telephone interview in advance of his "Jukebox" tour, coming Friday to the Meadow Brook Music Festival and Saturday to the Clio Area Amphitheater.

Q: You've been going steadily ever since "American Idol." Did you finally get some time off?

A: I took a good few months off at the beginning of the year, which helped a bit. I realized that I'm tired of taking months off. I get bored easily after going so steady for so long.

Q: What are some of the things you're working on now?

A: Obviously, we have some things in the works once we finish this tour. Of course, I'd love to do a Christmas show on the road. That's easily one of my favorite things to do. And we're in the process of working on a new album.

Outside of that, I try not to make too many plans. Everything so far has been (in a) provident direction: being in the right place, being open to the right things at the time. It sounds really bad. It's not a great example to say I don't set goals or make plans, but I've had more success by letting go. I'm perfectly willing to do that.

I want to do a Christmas tour and get an album out in the next (calendar) year, and outside of that, you know. I'm just open to seeing what comes.

Q: How did you come up with the "Jukebox" concept for this tour?

A: It actually came about because I couldn't do the same show over and over. I was up in the Flint area last year for a show in Clio and found out I would be again this year. When you have the opportunity to go back to the same venue - a number of other venues asked us to come back and do it again - we couldn't come back and do the same show. I have one album, really, so what are you gonna do, sing the songs backward?

We've got to do something creative, so I had a friend in a show... at the time, a revue of music from the '60s, and I thought that could be kind of neat to do a theme show like that. I don't know if I want to do '60s, '70s, '80s. Let's just do them all. I couldn't pick a single decade, so we'll do 'em all and wrapped the theme into the rock 'n' roll era ... about 50 years when the rock era started in 1955. It's not necessarily rock, but pop music. We came up with 120 songs, knocked it down to 100, then 70 and down to about 65 that are in the set.

It's quite the busy, energetic show. It's already worn me out.

Q: Are the songs personal favorites?

A: When we sat down to do it, we didn't necessarily pick songs that I liked the most. They're songs we recognized the most. I don't listen to 'Mr. Sandman' in the car on a regular basis, but it's a song everyone can recognize from the '50s, or heard in commercials or in the 'Back to the Future' movie. They heard it somewhere. Most will recognize songs from each decade. I got flak because I only do one Beatles song. I do a little Elvis. See, the whole idea is for it to be a fun, exciting show, not necessarily a retrospective of music as it could be. It's more just fun, summer songs from (the last 50 years).

Q: You caught flak for critical remarks you made about Los Angeles when announcing your decision to move back to Raleigh, N.C. How do you react to that?

A: People in the industry, to be honest, I think they agree with me, too. I think the problem was I generalized. I usually think before I speak, but I generalized a little too quickly and said everybody in L.A. is (....). It's not true. I've met honest and decent and real people there. I'm not talking about them. I think, honestly, people who got offended were people I generalized about. Everybody in L.A. is not necessarily evil. In Raleigh, there are people who are not nice, but that's where my family and friends are, where I grew up, but there are some nasty people there and I've run across some of them.

Q: It was reported that the Bubel Aiken Foundation (which he co-founded to help children with special needs) was not spending its money properly. How do you respond to that?

A: If you read the article (on, it said we were in line with every other (charitable nonprofit). My only reaction is disappointment that other news outlets, other media outlets decided to run only the first half of that story. The people who generated that first story did their research and found out that, yes, people were critical of it. They researched it and found out those concerns. But they're not really valid. ... My only concern is the other media outlets that chose not to get the full story.

Clay Aiken performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Meadow Brook Music Festival in Rochester and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Clio Area Amphitheater. Tickets are $23 lawn, $46.50 pavilion for the Meadow Brook show; $51 bleachers, $54 for seniors and $60 reserved for the Clio show. Tickets are available at each site's box office, Ticketmaster outlets, and (248) 645-6666. Details: (248) 377-0100.

An Interview With Quiana Parler (Clay's BackUp Singer)

The Clay Nation News has conducted a fantastic interview with Clay's longtime back up singer who has toured with Clay since the Independent Tour in Spring 2004.

On Singing

Clay Nation News: How long have you been singing professionally?

Quiana: Since I was 10 years old. I started in the production of Annie here in Charleston.

CNN: Did you always know you could sing?

Q: No. I actually started out as a ballet and tap dancer. That didn't work out. My dad was in a band and my mom was a singer also, and they would always rehearse for weddings at home. Being a married couple and trying to not argue when they were rehearsing, that didn't work out too great for them. So I would be my dad's rehearsal partner. So that's when I started singing.

CNN: The most common things we hear about you are: (1) somebody sign her already and (2) when is she putting out an album so I can buy it?

Q: Angela is the one that's signed. I'm in South Carolina, and it's hard, being here. I have so much work here. ... I'm still not signed to a record label, but I know that when the time is right God will bless me with one.

CNN: Tell us about that. You have a show that you do there. A 60's soul show?

Q: It's a Motown Tribute. We do everything from Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, to the Marvelettes. We try to do the most popular Motown artists. We've been doing it since February. (Eds note: the show ended June 10).

CNN: Is this a show you developed yourself?

Q: No, actually when they put it together I wasn't even thought of because they thought I was still going to be on the road. The other singer who was going to do the part I'm doing got sick and I ended up taking her place, so it was a fluke that I got it. I've always worked with this one guy, we've worked together for years. I would do a jazz series for him. Last year we did a tribute to Gershwin. Each year he tries to do a different tribute. When I was on the last tour they did an Andrew Lloyd Webber tribute. Now he's doing Motown.

CNN: Let's talk about a "mythical" CD. Because we know you're going to get signed. What kind of music do you see on there?

Q: Oh Lord. A little bit of everything. I sing jazz. Here, I'm a jazz singer -- in Charleston. That's my thing. I'm known as a jazz vocalist here. But I definitely want to mix the jazz with a little bit of an urban twist, so I can appeal to everybody. That's been my biggest problem. Trying to find music and a producer that can come up with the type of music that I want to put out, what I'm hearing in my head.

CNN: Maybe some R&B and Gospel too?

Q: Definitely, yeah.

I sing in Spanish, French and Portuguese, so I definitely would like to put out something with those three languages also. So, yeah, it's a work in progress.

CNN: Are you still teaching voice?

Q: I'm not anymore because I'm so busy doing the show. I've changed from doing vocal coaching to doing vocal analysis. That way fans from all over the U.S. can record a demo or send me their demo and I'll analyze it and send you my take on it and send you helpful information as far as vocal therapy. It's easier for me to do that than to have you spend more money to come here.

CNN: Who do you listen to?

Q: I listen to Diane Reeves, she's a jazz artist. Sarah Vaughn, she's deceased, also a jazz artist. Kim Burrell, she's a gospel artist. Queen Latifah. There's this kind of underground artist, his name is P.J. Mortin. His dad is a world renowned minister. I listen to so many different types of music. Diane Schuur, she's a jazz artist. I listen to everything and everyone. Anything I can get my hands on I try to listen to it and take from what they're doing and fuse it into my style of singing.

CNN: As a vocal coach, what kinds of things do you do to condition your voice and keep it in good shape?

Q: I try to get as much sleep as possible -- which was impossible on the Christmas tour. I drink lots of tea. I don't drink enough water. I'm working on that. You should always drink a lot of water as a singer. And stretching excercises. I mean a lot.

CNN: Do you ever give Clay tips on his vocal technique?

Q: We go back and forth. We have our moments. (laughs)

CNN: Who is your dream person to sing for?

Q: Oprah Winfrey! I love Oprah Winfrey. It's not so much "sing for" but I want to meet her. It was like "We're going to do The View so I finally get to meet Star Jones." So I've met Star Jones and I have one more person on my list and I want to meet Oprah Winfrey. She's a strong black woman and I love that about her. And the older she gets the better she looks.

CNN: Who's your dream to sing with?

Q: Well I've already sung with Clay... I don't know. I've never thought about that. Well, you know, I want to work with Jamie Foxx. He's an incredible musician. He's a writer, he's a pianist... Right now that's about it.
photo credit

On Touring

CNN: You toured a lot in 2004. Is that the most you've toured before? What did you take from that?

Q: That was my first tour ever, with Kelly and Clay. That was my first tour. You learn as you go. Like on my first tour, I packed too much stuff. I learned on the second, that I ... still packed too much stuff. And I shopped too much. And on my third tour, I didn't pack as much but I didn't pack enough.

CNN: But you can shop!

Q: Oh, God. I am a shopaholic. I spent more money sending stuff home than I did being on the road. I'm a big fan of decorating the house. If I see anything that I want for home, I'll buy it, I don't care where I'm at. On this tour, I will definitely try not to shop as much.

CNN: How do you stay grounded on tour -- emotionally, physically, spiritually. Do you have certain routines to keep yourself sane or is it "full speed ahead" until it's over?

Q: Everyone on the last tour were all Christians. And we pray constantly. That's the biggest thing right there. None of this would be possible without God. It's amazing because I never in a million years would have thought any of this would have happened to me. I think that's what kept us together. We're all Christians and believe in the power of prayer and know that without Christ none of this would be possible.

CNN: Are you able to stay in touch with Angela between tours?

Q: I talk to Angela and Jacob a whole lot.

CNN: When you're touring, do you prefer the smaller venues or do you like the big arenas? Both?

Q: Both. You guys show so much love, it doesn't matter where we are. Just to have the excitement and the hype from the crowd, it means so much to us. It pushes us even harder on stage.

CNN: Do you guys really have as much fun as you seem to on stage? It looks like you're having a blast.

Q: We are. And more.

The funniest thing to me is to see the same faces, night after night, in every single city. But it's a good thing to have the love. How do you afford to do that? Is there a secret we don't know about?

CNN: Do you have any venues or cities that you're becoming partial to after so many tours?

Q: Definitely Minnesota. They have the Mall of America! Angela and I, this is what we do. Everyone likes to go site seeing, our thing is if we can get to the mall you can tell a lot about a city by their mall. That's what we do. We go to the mall. If we can get to the mall we can tell you everything about the city.

CNN: Is Clay ever going to be able to get you on one of the thrill rides?

Q: Oh no. No. Never. You're talking to somebody who's afraid of the Scooby Doo rollercoaster, and that's for toddlers. He tried everything down to wanting to buy me a puppy, because I want a puppy so bad. But I passed.

CNN: When you guys toured and you started adding the duets, "Chain of Fools," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," "I Knew You Were Waiting" whose idea were those songs?

Q: I think all of us came up with those together, but it was Clay's idea to add the duets.

CNN: Is there someone you idolize that you've had a chance to meet through your touring who's shown appreciation for your voice?

Q: Just the fans. I don't get to meet many people other than the fans and the people I'm working with. If I'm not shopping, I'm in the dressing room on the internet or on the phone.

CNN: Or getting locked in your dressing room! Did they do a lot of pranks on tour?

Q: Oh gosh yes. It's Clay and Nick. It's always Clay and Nick. It was never anybody else. It's impossible to get them back. They're so smart. Even when we tried stuff on them, they figured it out. Yeah, it's Clay and Nick; they're very funny.

CNN: Are you going to be on tour with Clay this summer?

Q: Oh yeah. You guys are really going to enjoy this tour. Its going to be a lot of fun. Angela, Jacob and myself will be there in full force, ready to entertain you guys.
photo credit charlotteclayfan

On Clay

CNN: We all know you met Clay when you both auditioned [for American Idol]. Is that when your friendship started?

Q: It did. It started in L.A. We spent so much time together because we were both from the South and it was our first time in L.A. Southerners tend to gravitate to Southerners, you know? He had a very kind spirit, and, I don't know, we just clicked.

CNN: Is that you that we see in one of the second season episodes where the guys are going out? Are you the one telling them they ought to be going to bed?

Q: That was me! When I look back on it I think, "Did I take the audition part of this too serious?"

CNN: We still don't understand how you didn't make it farther, but obviously all worked out well.

Q: All things happen for a reason.

CNN: Is that how you ended up on tour with Clay? Because you and Clay knew each other and he knew your voice?

Q: Yeah, basically. He offered for me to come out and audition for his tour, he and Kelly. He set up an audition with me and Randy. Well, it wasn't really an audition; I was just thrown on stage and it was like "sing this." Everything just came together, just simple as that.

I think I'm still in shock. When I see him from where we were when we auditioned in Atlanta to where he is now. He's grown so much and I'm so proud of him. Because I know what we went through. He's an actual activist now. He's an activist and he's a performer. To be a singer and be able to sing and also a have a meaning and something you really believe in. I think it is the best thing in this world. And I'm so proud of him. He knows how I feel. He knows I'll cry in a heartbeat. He's like "Quiana, don't cry." I say, "You don't understand how blessed you are and how proud I am." To have a book and to be triple platinum. Who would have ever thought this would happen?

On The Fans

You guys do not understand how good it feels to me to have the acceptance from you. I just want everyone to know how grateful and thankful I am for their support, especially those who have traveled here to see me perform, because they didn't have to do that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Upcoming All My Children Appearance Mentioned on


Claymates, fire up your TiVos! Clay Aiken pops by All My Children to share his gift of song on Sept. 14. The popular American Idol 2 runner-up will be a musical guest on "New Beginnings," the fictional talk show hosted by Susan Lucci's signature diva character, Erica Kane.

Columbus Dispatch: "What's the best thing about the Ohio State Fair?"

-Clay Aiken
-deep-fried food
-animal odors
-only a few more weeks until Ohio State football!

Vote HERE.

A Heartwarming Story From Darien Lake

From the CB's iluvuclay:
My friend in Detroit was visiting with her daughter in Buffalo and they went to Darien Lake to the park, not to see Clay in concert, because they weren't great fans of his, well anyway, her daughter and husband were riding the roller coaster and my friend stayed behind with her grandson who has multiple sirosis and can just scream when happy, well Clay came off of the roller coaster and went straight to her grandson and knelt and held his hand and the boy just squeeled with delight, my friend said Clay spent at least 5 minutes with him, so now my friend and her family just love Clay and also bought tickets to his concert that night and loved him, so he has 4 new fans. Clay is the greatest as we all know.

Clay reigns again at House Of Blues Concerts Website

Clay regained #1 Most Searched Artist after briefly losing the crown and retreating to #1.

Keep searching "Clay Aiken" at to keep him up there!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Clay in "Atlanta Paper"

From the CB:
The Atlanta Paper has a section in it called "The Vent". You can call in and vent and they choose various ones to post in the paper. We have a Georgia Claymate and Clayboard Member (Clays Irish Lass) who is notorious for venting good things about Clay. The best part of it is she is 4 for 4 in getting her's published. Today in the Vent she said "After hearing Clay Aiken sing at Chastain Park, I KNOW the wrong person won American Idol". :lol That sounds like an excellent review to me.

MSNBC: Audience is clay in Aiken's Hands

Audience is clay in Aiken's hands
Singer won second place on 'Idol,' but first place with fans

By Andy Dehnart
MSNBC contributor
Updated: 6:23 p.m. ET Aug. 9, 2005

Less than a week after kicking off his 25-city "Jukebox Tour," Clay Aiken performed in Greenville, South Carolina. After performing an energetic review of hits from the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s, he concluded with a few original songs, including "When You Say You Love Me," which was on his first album, "Measure of a Man."

As he began to sing, he stumbled, arriving at the wrong words at the wrong time. The music kept playing but Clay turned to the singers on stage with him and said, "That's the third night in a row!" He laughed. "I don't know the words to this song!" Then Clay pretended to sulk off stage, letting one of his back-up singers take over, but he quickly came back to give it another try.

Then, in the front of the Peace Center's auditorium, near stage left, a fan held up a sign. But she wasn't proclaiming her love for Clay; instead, she was offering assistance. "Are those the cue cards for that song?" he asked, walking over toward her. In her hands were, in fact, homemade cue cards with the lyrics to "When You Say You Love Me." Having known of his tendency on this barely week-old tour to have trouble with the song, someone had constructed cue cards to help him out and passed them to the front of the auditorium. His fans knew he was going to mess up before he did.

"Although I feel completely, miserably embarrassed, I'm going to try to continue, if that's okay," Clay said. Then he asked, with mock incredulity, "How do you know I'm going to do the same ones I did last night?"

That's a good question, but there's an easy answer: Clay Aiken may have been the runner-up on "American Idol 2," but two years after he lost that competition, he has become the single most successful and popular reality TV show contestant ever. No other reality TV stars—and few stars of any other origin—have managed to build a fan base like that at the Peace Center last Wednesday. Other reality show participants have recognizable names (such as Omarosa, Richard Hatch), and others have gone on to successful careers (like Clay's "Idol" predecessor Kelly Clarkson, for example), but Clay has an audience like no other.

Even though Clay lost "Idol," he easily outsold winner Ruben Studdard in both singles and albums, and his debut record landed at number one upon its release. His fans are obsessively devoted to both Clay and his art, going online to discuss his music and his charity work (as a UNICEF ambassador, among other things).

There's even a Clay Aiken credit card, which can be used to buy everything from a Clay Aiken bucket hat to a Clay Aiken thong.

Play that not-so-funky music, skinny white boy
Why exactly is this "skinny white boy," as Clay described himself in Greenville, such a sensation? I went to Greenville to try to find out. What has inspired the rabid devotion that characterizes Claymates, as his fans are known? What sort of performance causes fans to attend concert after concert on the same tour?

Although a single concert just skims the surface of the phenomenon, from the moment Clay strutted out on-stage arm-in-arm with his back-up singers, the audience was, well, clay in Clay's hands.

Before the concert began, I asked a fan sitting in front of me to explain, in a sentence, why so many people loved Clay Aiken. "We came for the music, but we stayed for the man," she said.

This enthusiasm for both Clay and his art didn't subside the entire evening. Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour show, the audience stood up (during the fast songs) and sat down (when Clay was telling a story or singing a slower song). Waves of energy rippled throughout the auditorium as he performed medleys of well-known hits from the past half-century, more than capably tackling covers of songs by everyone from Elvis to Prince.

As Clay moved on stage, camera flashes strobed constantly, and tiny images of the stage were visible on dozens of video cameras' view screens. Some fans stood with cell phones open, broadcasting the concert to others around the country, who transcribed it online for the benefit of other fans. The audience cheered wildly when Clay accompanied himself on piano, because, someone quickly told me, he was just learning to play.

Everyone who's heard him knows that Clay can sing. But on stage, Clay is also energetic, humble, and awkward. He mixes self-depreciation with a dose of pretend, over-exaggerated ego, and genuinely appears to be having a great time interacting with his audience and his band. Far more experienced performers would have been thrown off after forgetting words to a song, but it didn't really phase Clay at all; in fact, he embraced it. His personality and persona are as much a part of his performance as his music.

During the performance, Angela Fisher and Quiana Parler sang back-up for him throughout the evening, but the phrase "back-up singer" doesn't really apply to either one. Clay literally shared the stage with them, as they performed their own solos as he stepped aside.

His gawkiness is especially endearing. Clay may be able to sing exceptionally well, but his on-stage talent drops off rapidly after that. Primarily, he dances like a wooden puppet on a stick.

But every time he'd awkwardly attempt a dance move, or just attempt to move a body part, screams would ripple through the crowd. And he played along, giving them more of what they wanted.

Watching Clay and his audience interact was revealing, but in many ways, the concert seems to be just the public side of his popularity. Fans gather online and in person, and have two and a half years of history with Clay; I don't know if I'll ever fully be able to see the Clay phenomenon in exactly the same way they do. But the performance made it clear that, in this era of manufactured pop, where top-40 music is constructed for the benefit of the audience by marketers and radio station conglomerates, Clay Aiken's fans believe they have found something real. That's ironic since Clay Aiken, the phenomenon, was born of "American Idol," which, with its narrow focus and snap judgments, is a televised look inside the machine that produces our entertainers.

At the same time, Clay's fans were introduced to him and his music and saw him work his way up throughout the competition. His talent and his personality are genuine, or at least appear to be, because we've watched him grow along the way. Clay Aiken may be a product of the "American Idol" factory, but to some degree, what went in is what came out, and that's just the way his fans like it.

Andy Dehnart is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of reality TV news.

© 2005 MSNBC Interactive

Clay's big heart: Visits cancer ill fan in Ambulance after Wolf Trap (Vienna) Concert

From the Clay Aiken Official Fanclub Message Board (posted here with permission):
Post subject: A heartwarming story from Wolftrap


Just wanted to share this tonight . .

A friend of mine who is on the LBFCA board attended Wolftrap tonight. (I wanted to wait until after the concert . . ) Here is her story . .

I work with her sister out here in Illinois, but Kathy lives out in Virginia. She has had cancer for the past year and is very ill. She has been put into hospice and miraculously was released. She remains bedridden at home, but she has said all summer that her goal was to make it to the Wolftrap concert. God's hand helped her make it to the concert tonight. Some of her friends arranged for an ambulance to take her to the concert and home again. She attended the concert on a gurney and loved every minute!

After the concert she was being loaded into the ambulance to go home and Clay got into the ambulance to chat with her. She had her picture taken with him and he just sat and chatted. This was beyond any expectation she ever had. I am so happy for her.

Clay if you ever read these boards: Thank you for making this happen for Kathy. You have an amazing heart.

Pre-Concert Article in Columbus Dispatch

Aiken Using Fame to Help People In Need

By Howard Cohen
Knight Ridder Newspapers

In the case of Clay Aiken, the measure of a man is defined by the deeds he does under the spotlight.

"I think celebrities have an obligation to the public to not just sing or act," Aiken, 26, said from his Los Angeles home - his real home, not a hotel, as he happily noted.

The most successful singer to emerge from American Idol - and he didn't even win - will perform tonight at the Ohio State Fair.

In the past two years, since his run on Idol ended, Aiken hasn't often basked in the luxury of home.

This year, he visited Indonesia and Malaysia - where, in his role as a UNICEF ambassador, he joined a field mission for tsunami relief, touring camps for displaced survivors.

"Not everybody gets a mike this big," he said. "I feel I should use it in as positive a way as I can."

Stripped of the shows, the million-selling albums and the magazine covers, Aiken wouldn't be far removed from his pre-Idol life as a special-education teacher in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C.

"I went to school for special education," he said. "I always assumed, when I had the opportunity, I would love to try and help kids with disabilities.

"There's a push in education programs to get kids involved but not too much of a push in the extra-curricular world. I worked with the YMCA in Raleigh and watched kids get turned away from after-school programs because there wasn't enough funding or training with the staff to work with the kids. That's how this idea was born to include or fund programs at organizations like the YMCA."

Other stories about Aiken persist - such as the Claygate incident reported by the Philadelphia inquirer in December and picked up by the tabloids.

Seems that a group of New Jersey high schoolers, invited to sing with him, were bullied, berated and stiffed for their services. When a New Jersey Teacher of the Year spoke out, Aiken reportedly went primadonna.

The singer laughed.

"I will leave it at the discretion of the readers how much they want to believe the columnist in Philadelphia. There were two conflicting stories, very conflicting stories. I don't like to talk about it to give it credence."

And then he did precisely that.

"It was not true," he continued. "It disappointed me. I spent so much time working with kids. I have nothing but respect for students and the teachers who do amazing work. Certain people overreact to certain things, and there were a number of extreme embellishments."

Aiken talked briskly and laughed a lot, basting it all in a cordial Southern drawl.

He gladly discussed his post-Idol life - especially the Bubel/Aiken foundation he founded in 2003 with disability activist Diane Bubel, who persuaded him to audition for American Idol when she heard him singing around her house as he cared for her autistic son.

Fans will have to wait awhile longer for the follow-up album to Measure of a Man: Aiken is recording it during his summer tour, which will be followed by a Christmas tour.

"It's coming along slowly - I mean slowly," he said. "It's something we'd love to have out by the end of the year or at least the beginning of the year.

"We don;t want to put this album out as quickly as the last one. I was happy with the last album, but I wanted it to be more me. The last time, the songs were all chosen for me; this time, I want to be involved.

Clay Aiken will perform at 7 tonight in the Celeste Center of the Ohio Expo Center, I-71 and E. 17th Avenue. Tickets cost $30 at the Ohio State Fair box office.

Great picture of OMC (gma outfit) :thumbsup

Gotta go, we're getting ready to leave for the OSF, I cannot wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Credits to clayneil for typing this up for us!

Clay on CNN Headline News This Morning and Tonight

From the CB:
I just woke up, turned the TV on, and CNN Headline News was showing a clip of the 2003 AMA video of Clay when he was talking about winning the Fan's Choice Award, and across the bottom of the screen were the words 'MOST LOVED REALITY STAR'.

The anchors (both women) were talking over the video, with no audio from the video.

I hit record and got the tail-end when one of the anchors said, "He seems to treat people very well." The other anchor said, "He does. Omarosa, though, I don't know. Thank you so much. PG-13 over there." I don't know what the PG-13 comment was about.

This seemed to be a very positive comment from what I saw.

This happened a few minutes before the top of the hour. Hopefully they'll show it again.

Update: Clay was also shown tonight (same story) on Showbiz Tonight which repeats at 11 PM EDT/8 PM PDT.

Update 2: You should be able to find some videos of this at the Clay Media Download forum @ the CB. Video now available at

Monday, August 08, 2005

Clay on NBC Special Aug. 10

From the CB:
Just a quick reminder about something I read in TV Guide:
Wed. Aug. 10, 8:30-10pm (EDT and PDT) - Unforgettable Moments in Television Entertainment on NBC -
"Also: Clay and Kelly on American Idol..."

Clay in Aug. 15 People Mag

From the CB:
In this week's People mag with Jennifer Aniston in the front, there is a Clay mention in the Picks and Pans TV, page 35. This is a critique of the Fox show, So You Think You Can Dance. A direct quote is..."Each season of American Idol produces a star, even if it's a singing nougat bar like Clay Aiken."

Aspen Photoshoot Photos

Thanks to the CH. Here are 4 new photos from the Aspen Photoshoot done earlier this year by photographer Mary Ellen Matthews (click on "Portfolio"). Click to Enlarge:

Clay Most Loved Reality Star: Bravo and TV Guide Magazine


NEW YORK - August 8, 2005 - In a recent poll commissioned by Bravo and TV Guide magazine to determine viewers' tastes regarding reality television, "American Idol's" Clay Aiken is number one in the hearts of reality fans, while "The Apprentice's" Omarosa is the most hated reality star. The Internet omnibus survey was conducted by TNS in conjunction with Bravo's premiere of "Battle of the Network Reality Stars," the cable channel's homage to the great 70's original "Battle of the Network Stars." The series will premiere on Bravo on Wednesday, August 17 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. In addition, the results from the poll will be printed in the August 14 issue of TV Guide magazine on newsstands on August 11.

"These are real people who allow the American public to experience their raw emotion and quirks as they embark on their own reality - taking us with them every step of the way," said Andrew Cohen, VP, Production & Programming for Bravo.

"Love it or hate it, reality television is here to stay. Reality stars have made their mark on the pop culture landscape, and they won't be leaving any time soon," says TV Guide Senior Editor Rich Sands. "This poll is a fun tribute to the best and worst of the genre---the villains, the heroes, the drama divas--and ultimately a celebration of the very reasons we all keep tuning in."

Following are highlights from the Bravo/TV Guide Poll results:

IN A POPULARITY CONTEST, CLAY COMES OUT ON TOP AND OMAROSA HAS VERY FEW FRIENDS: Clay Aiken (35%) barely edged out fellow "American Idol" contestant Kelly Clarkson (34%) as the most loved reality star of all-time, with half of those polled agreeing that Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth of "The Apprentice" is the most hated.

MOVE OVER WHITNEY AND BOBBY; OVER HALF OF AMERICA CHOSE NICK & JESSICA TO RAISE THEIR CHILD: Viewers and readers have officially spoken - when it comes to entrusting a reality star couple to raise their child, an overwhelming 54% trust Nick & Jessica, over more experienced parents Whitney & Bobby, Sharon & Ozzy, and the expectant couple Britney & Kevin!

"THE AMAZING RACE" TAKES FIRST PLACE: When asked to choose which reality series they would be a contestant on, 31% of respondents would sprint to get on "The Amazing Race," but only 17% feel rosy about "The Bachelor"/"The Bachelorette."

"SURVIVOR'S" RICHARD HATCH GETS SLAMMED BY AMERICA WITH DODGE BALL: Richard Hatch would have a tough time surviving in dodge ball, with 42% of people taking aim at him first. Wendy Pepper from "Project Runway" would remain fairly unscathed with just 13% pummeling her with the dodge ball.

WHO DESERVES MORE THAN 15 MINUTES OF FAME? "AMERICAN IDOL'S" WILLIAM HUNG CAME OUT #1: "American Idol's" William Hung is the most deserving of his own TV series according to 31% of respondents. But, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth of "The Apprentice" should simply stick to her day job.

IT'S THE BATTLE OF THE BEAUTIES IN A GAME OF TUG O' WAR: "America's Next Top Model" Brittany Brower and "The Swan's" Rachel Love-Fraser are favored 37% by respondents to drag each other through the mud in a tug o' war match-up. Only 18% want to see duo Charla Faddoul and Mirna Hindoyan from "The Amazing Race" duke it out.

The Bravo/TV Guide poll was conducted among 1,000 adults ages 18+ from July 14-15, 2005.

Update: This is in the latest issue (Aug 14-20) of TV Guide: "Page 12 of the TV Guide shows a picture of Clay and the "Who is the most loved reality star of all time" caption. "

Positive Mention in Aug 8's Indianapolis Star

From the CB:
In today's paper, in a big article about the kindof weird "sideshows" at fairs, article starts out:

The Indiana State Fair books a lot of big-time acts that grab headlines.But for every Clay Aiken, who is coming Aug. 18, there's a Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, a monkey that rides on a dog's back. Or a Dancin' Digger, a backhoe that performs a kind of wheelie.

Loved the way they put him in the category "big-time acts that grab headlines"!!

Read the full article HERE.

Flint Journal to Publish Clay Article August 11

From the CB's Andecar:
I talked with Doug Pullen of the Flint Journal last week (you'll remember that he wrote a great article on Clay and his Clio appearance last year.).

Pullen said his interviewed Clay who was "very personable, approachable and funny" and that the article should appear Aug. 11 in the Flint Journal. I'll check and post it.Pullen said he would be on vacation this year during the concert so I'm not sure who, if anyone, will be writing a follow-up review.

Clay In "Soap Opera Weekly"

From the CB:
Clay was mentioned along with Regis Philbin in the Soap Opera Weekly regarding his upcomng appearance on All My Children (on September 14). Here's hoping there will be more to come - maybe a bigger article...this was just a mention!

Cute Clay Mention at (CT Newspaper)

Why Men Turn Marriage Proposals Into Public Events

Public proposal prices vary. For $1,850, skywriting pilot Mort Arken will spell out an eight-mile-long proposal over the skies of New York. For under $100, you can just buy two tickets to see Clay Aiken. On the singer's current tour, people can text-message proposals from their cellphones onto giant screens near the stage. (At his show in Buffalo, N.Y., this week, there were several proposals -- but all were for Mr. Aiken.)

New Song Added at Valdosta Concert

Clay sang his American Idol classic, "I Can't Help Myself" during the Valdosta concert as a special request.

AD: Clio, MI (August 8, 2005)

Free Image Hosting at

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Happy Birthday to the Clackhouse

The Clackhouse turns 2 years old today! Congratulations and Happy Birthday from your friends at CDD Inc.

Clarification: Sophomore Album Name

We reported on Friday that the Sophomore Album will be titled "Thousand Days". This rumor came from the CB's Iseeme. The producer of the album posted on the Fanclub board saying that Clay was going to be performing a new song called "Thousand Days" in Cary, but due to her wording, it was understood as both

  • "The sophomore album will be called 'Thousand Days' and the song Clay will debut in Cary will be from that CD and might also be called 'Thousand Days'"


  • "The song will be called "Thousand Days".

New Pictures from Cary, Valdosta

We have added some fantastic pictures from Cary into our Cary Photo Album (accessible from the Tour News/Media Page). We have also added 21 pictures into the Valdosta gallery.

CDD supports:

Bubel Aiken Foundation GoodSearch for TBAF UNICEF