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Saturday, December 10, 2005
Matt Bronleewe, the co-writer of Clay's new song Compromise (which we first reported last week) sheds some insight into the tough competition song writers face to get onto Clay's sophomore album. Matt wrote this in his blog in May after attending a ASCAP songwriting conference.
I just got back from a big song meeting (ASCAP Pro Songwriter Conference in Nashville, TN) regarding Clay Aiken's next record. In the room were fifty (50!!!) of some of the biggest songwriters in music today, all vying for a spot on his record. Wild stuff. I think even those of us in the music industry didn't realize the level of competition on this record. The cool thing is that quite a few of us in the room are good friends, and right away we all talked about how we could help each other get some songs together for the project.
After the festivities had subsided, I got together with a couple other songwriters to discuss the spectacle we had just witnessed. One of the guys was completely bummed out. I asked him why. He said it was because he just found out, in front of everyone, that the song he had pitched for Clay's album had been rejected. Ouch. I consoled him with my story of once having a song of mine rejected by the Muppets - and let me tell you, when you are rejected by foam puppets, you've reached the bottom of the rejection pile. Oh well. You just have to dust off your boots and press forward, because right around the corner can be something AMAZING. Anyone in the creative industry has to quickly get used to rejection. For the creative professional, it's not just a common occurrence, it's a li
Clay's pre-empted Good Morning America appearance yesterday has been rescheduled to the following dates, as announced by the Official Fanclub.
- Dec. 18 - Good Morning America Sunday - Clay will sing Mary, Did You Know.
- Dec. 25 - Good Morning America Christmas Day Special Edition - Clay sings My Grown Up Christmas List.
Season 4 runner up has been working with Clif Magness, who also worked with Clay on Measure Of A Man, reports MTV.
Intestines, 'Idol,' Baby And Bon Jovi Helped Inspire Bo Bice's Debut
12.09.2005 5:07 PM EST
LOS ANGELES — Bo Bice is in denial. The credits on his debut album, The Real Thing, due Tuesday, include Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, former Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.
A year ago, maybe. But these days, Bo Bice is no regular cat. As the runner-up on "American Idol," he earned a chance to work with guys like Kroeger and top-notch producers and songwriters like Marti Frederikson, Kara Dioguardi, Clif Magness, Max Martin and John Shanks. And while he may be humbled, he's seizing the opportunity.
Bo did co-write two of the tracks, "It's My Life" with Magness and Dioguardi, and "Valley of Angels" with Magness, who also worked on Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken's albums.
Small mention - article about Fantasia opening for Kanye West in LA. Says Fantasia is following footsteps of Clay and Kelly.
Kanye keeps the dawgs in, focus on
It's all about the music at HP Pavilion as the king of hip-hop pounds out one hit after another
By Jim HarringtonCONTRIBUTOR
FANS IN San Jose witnessed what is arguably, and unfortunately, the rarest feat in all of pop music on Wednesday night: They saw a big-name hip-hop show that was completely void of cliches.
Megastar Kanye West didn't ask the folks at HP Pavilion to put their hands in the air and wave them like they just don't care. He didn't have us say "hey" or "ho," nor did he take the time to remember Tupac, Biggie or any other "fallen soldier."
The show opened with sets by soul singers Keyshia Cole and Fantasia, the 2004 "American Idol" champ. Following in the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken, Fantasia has done a good job parlaying her small-screen fame into a successful start in the pop music world. Her debut CD, "Free Yourself," entered the Billboard charts at No. 8 in November 2004, and her self-affirming R&B anthem "I Believe" was the best-selling single of last year.
Short blurb about Clay in this article asking why TV studios no longer produce animated Christmas specials anymore.
Where Are The New Holiday Classics?
The other day, I was sitting in my optometrist's chair, patiently waiting for my first eye exam in, well, five years. I know, I know. Five years is ridiculous. Really ridiculous. I agree. I'm gonna be better. I promise.
Are you reading this, mom?
Anyway, before checking out my painfully strained 42-year-old peepers, my eye doctor, as always, wanted to briefly chat about the boob tube.
"It must be real busy for you right now," he said.
"Not really," I replied while squinting to read an absurdly blurry line that looked like hieroglyphics scrawled by a toddler. "During this time of year, all you see are reruns and Christmas specials."
And that got me thinking on the short drive back to my office -- Why doesn't television make animated Christmas shows anymore?
That's why instead of seeing new animated specials, we're getting holidays shows featuring Clay Aiken, Nick and Jessica (no last names are needed, I'm sure) and sappy holiday movies starring the likes of Peter Falk, Joe Mantegna, Steven Weber and Tom Cavanagh.
Anika Jones never expected what she got last night. Airing on FOX last night, Dear Santa was a one-hour special where 'santa' granted the wishes of 4 special kids. Anika had hoped that her father would be back from Iraq and so that the family could spend their first Christmas together in years. Clay was on hand to help welcome her dad, and other Marines serving in Anika's dad's divison home after a 9 month tour in Iraq. Aiken felt that it was important because Brett (Clay's brother) had also just returned home from Iraq. To celebrate the occasion, Clay sang an abridged version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, while Clay's rendition of My Grown Up Christmas List was used as background music for a video montage about the family.
Clack should be up at hte usual places: Vivavoce, Allthingsclayaiken.com, Measureofafan.com and the Clayboard.
We would like to thank CDD Clay News Weekly subscriber Romy for this fantastic recap of the show.
The "Dear Santa" program, shown on Friday, Dec. 9. 2005, starred Santa
and four celebrities who helped present gifts to four specially chosen
children who wrote Santa Claus through US Postal Service.
The celebrities included Raven Symone, Hillary Duff, Tony Hawk and
Clay Aiken. Clay was featured in the last segment where a little six
year old girl wished for her daddy, Greg Jones, to come home for
Christmas. The family, including the mother, a younger sister and
Amika, hadn't spent Christmas with their father for the past four years
While Amika was doing gymnastics, getting ready for a meet, her daddy
walked into the gym and she leaped into his arms. Clay's voice was
heard in the background singing "My Grown Up Christmas List" . The
family was shown spending Christmas together, having dinner and
attending a special party at Fort Lewis for the families of soldiers
At the party, sponsored by the Moral, Welfare and Recreation
Association, Clay came on the stage and sang a short version of "Have
Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," with Andy on the guitar and William
Joseph on the piano. His rendition was quietly gentle and sincere.
His face just radiated with a sweet smile.
Sartorially dressed, Clay wore a dark gray suit with white stripes
and a red shirt, a shade I couldn't identify. This was completed with
a dark blue tie patterned with large white circles. He looked like a
Christmas present that any Claymate would love to find under the tree.
He presented the MWR with a Jeep, one of the sponsors of the show.
His part of the show was very short, but he did mention that his
brother had returned from Iraq and he could sympathize with these
families. Amika said, "he is a very good singer." We agree.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Clay appeared on the Discovery Health Channel's 'Sextuplets Turn 12', a special documentary about the Dilly family, who have not one, two or three - but 7 twins. One of the sextuplets, Clair Dilly is a huge Clay fan and finally met Clay this past summer at the Indiana State Fair. She loves Clay so much that she "sometimes she says good morning" to Clay's picture hanging, notes her sister. "Clair is like obsessed with Clay Aiken. She goes to his website like every single day", says her brother. Discovery cameras followed Clair to the Indiana state fair this past August.
Clay: Have a seat, have a seat. Did you guys have fun?
Clay: Only two girls, huh? Wow! Your brothers didn't want to come to the show?
Claire: No... (laughs)
Clay: What is that about?
(Clair is rendered speechless -- takes photo with Clay)
Videos are now available at Vivavoce and should be up at ATCA and MOAF soon.
Infotainment show, The Insider showed clips from the special last Thursday.
Clay was mentioned last night on Conan O'Brien's late night show.
From the CB's murah15:
So Im watching Conan....and he's doing a piece in FAO Schwarz. Well we were at the Early Show monday morning and we saw people filming inside the store. I was talking to a security guard and he was like "look its Clay" which I knew it wasnt....
In any case, now they are showing the clip and he says "look at those fans outside The Early Show *shows Claymates* they think I'm Clay Aiken" So it was apparently Conan O Brien filming his segment while we were all there for Clay.
Ummmmmmm, you WISH Conan! I think he's lucky that he was inside that building and no one realized it was him!!
Reference of ACAC DVD on this review of the Gilmore Girls DVD.
Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fourth Season
To be honest, Rory's storylines are often fairly week, especially early on. The writers don't much capture the feel of college life, nor do they really explore the angst a mama's girl like Rory would feel moving away from home. Instead, they offer, say, her annoying quest for the perfect study tree (who the hell studies under a tree? That's where you pretend to study, Rory), or her surprised reaction when the subject of a negative theater review she writes for the school paper strikes back (whatever, Rory, just don't insult Clay Aiken).
Who bunch of mentions about tonight's Dear Santa appearance. Source: ClayReport.com
Um. Clay Aiken and Jay-Z?
Mr. Steve knows all about entertaining kids
With upbeat songs, playful lyrics, balloon creations and a few tricks up his sleeve, Mr. Steve delights children with his musical comedy show.
Steve Lundquist, 51, of Rockford, IL uses music, magic, ballooning and even his audience as part of his performance.
I like the harmonies of the Beach Boys, Larry Gatlin, and today I like Rascal Flats, Garth Brooks, Clay Aiken and Bo Bice.
Looks like someone is got bored. For a good laugh, check out Salamander's Clay Aiken Christmas DVD-A-Thon. Who knew Clay Aiken could make Barney appealing. :0
Clay Aiken -- a goodwill ambassador for
UNICEF -- plays teacher at New York City's P.S. 3. The singer is juggling two
jobs this holiday season, visiting schools by day and crooning on tour by night.
Clay is in this week's People.com StarTracks. This photo of Clay visiting Learning Projects ES in Boston earlier this week was posted.
Don't forget Clay will be on tonight's FOX Christmas special Dear Santa. FOX seems to have moved the special into the 8 PM time slot, after initially announcing that it was to fill the 9 PM time slot. Be sure to check local listings. RealityTVMagazine.com posted this article which does a good job of summing the show up.
Clay Aiken To Perform On Dear Santa
"All I Want for Christmas" becomes a reality on the brand-new, original special DEAR SANTA, premiering Friday, Dec. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. The unscripted holiday hour features heartwarming stories of children whose letters to Santa will be answered.
The U.S. Postal Service teams up with Hilary Duff, Clay Aiken and Raven Symone to share the kids' dramatic stories and to fulfill their holiday wishes, including those of a girl who wants to make the holidays special for needy children, a young boy who dreams of a safe place to skate, a little girl who hopes her dad will come home for the holidays from his military duties abroad and a girl who wants to further her education.
The little girl that hopes that her father will come home from Iraq for Christmas is Anika Jones, and Clay Aiken performs for military families as part of answering her letter to Santa. An album is also being produced in conjunction with the special, which will include both original Christmas songs and four of the top ten most-played Christmas classics of all time. American Idol finalist Vonzell Solomon is among the stars featured on the CD.
Although this is not new (we posted scans this in October), Clay is in the November/December 2005 issue of Today's Christian. The magazine posted the article onto its website today.
Heart of Clay
Clay Aiken became a superstar on TV's American Idol, but this Christian kid from North Carolina insists he'll always stay true to himself and to God.
By Holly Vicente Robaina
Taping for the new season of Fox television's American Idol began this fall, with thousands of teens and 20-somethings heading for audition sites in metropolitan areas from San Francisco to Boston. Many traveled for hours, then slept on the streets for days, just to sing a few bars of one song--a few notes that could land them on the reality show, and, potentially, on the fast track to stardom.
Three years ago, one of those hopefuls was Clayton Aiken, a lanky, big-eared, 24-year-old redhead in Coke-bottle glasses. At the beginning of Idol's second season, he was introduced to millions of American viewers as "Clay." None of the judges seemed to expect anything special. But when the geeky-looking young man from Raleigh, North Carolina, opened his mouth to sing, jaws dropped in disbelief. You could almost feel every viewer across the country nodding in agreement when sharp-tongued Idol judge Simon Cowell told him, "You don't look like a pop star."
It was a curious moment: How could that big voice come out of a 145-pound beanpole? His appearance didn't meet Hollywood standards, and Idol viewers soon discovered his personality didn't, either. Clay spoke openly about his Christian beliefs. He didn't drink, smoke, swear, or ogle women. His every action went against the grain, from the clean songs he chose to perform on the show to wearing a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelet, which had gone out of style years before.
Rather than attempting to hide his oddness, Clay reveled in it. What's more, he brought his vocal A-game to Idol week after week. Soon, curiosity turned into national obsession.
In the American Idol final, Clay lost to soulful Alabama crooner Ruben Studdard (another singer who didn't fit the pop-star mold) by a margin believed to be less than 1 percent of the viewer vote. But Clay's runner-up status became a moot point: He went on to release double- and triple-platinum-selling albums, with his first, Measure of a Man, outselling both Ruben's and first-season winner Kelly Clarkson's debut efforts. In 2003, Clay was named Fan's Choice winner at the American Music Awards, selected as one of People magazine's Top Entertainers of the Year, and picked as TV Guide's Fan's Favorite Reality Star. He's become, arguably, the most beloved artist Idol has churned out to date.
But celebrity hasn't been all roses. He jokes that the paparazzi know his schedule better than he does. Details of his life regularly appear on newsstands and the Internet, from what he eats for breakfast (his favorite cereal is Cinnamon Toast Crunch) to his bad habits (he used to bite his toenails). Speculation swirled about his sexuality. (No, he's not gay.) And the story of Clay's strained relationship with his late biological father became fodder for the media as well, forcing him to address painful aspects of his personal life.
Such scrutiny would wear on anyone. But it's been particularly tough for a young man whose small-town, Southern Baptist upbringing sheltered him from much of the hype and excess of popular culture. After all, this is a guy who, when asked to name his own celebrity idols, struggled to name two: Reba McEntire … and Mister Rogers.
Faith in the spotlight
Under the Hollywood microscope, Clay's life has been magnified to metaphoric proportions. His appearance is caricatured as a cross between Alfred E. Neuman and Howdy Doody. His name itself became an acceptable way to describe a performer who lacks conventional good looks but can blow away an audience.
It's difficult to see the real Clay Aiken through the muddled mess of stereotypes that have been created in an effort to make sense of him. Perhaps that's why he's so measured on the topic of faith.
"Some people have argued that I'm too religious and that I talk about my faith too much," he writes in his best-selling book, Learning to Sing. "Other people have criticized me because I don't stand up for my beliefs enough. But my position is that there's a fine line that has to be walked. There are a lot of people who have given Christians a really bad name by being overly aggressive."
He won't sing about sex, or even use lyrics with innuendo. Yet he insists that he doesn't want to be an explicitly "Christian" singer, because he feels called to reach a wider audience. He told Today's Christian: "I grew up in a small Baptist church. Some of the most amazing and God-fearing people were a part of my church family. It seemed, however, that every time the church grew, it was because someone was 'transferring his letter'--and any real Southern Baptist knows exactly what that means. We almost never got new members who weren't already going to church somewhere else! We were just trading sheep."
He adds, "I sort of feel the same way about Christian radio. I know all of the songs and all of the artists, and it ministers to me, because it helps me learn more about myself and my walk with God. But the people I know who aren't Christians don't listen to Christian radio stations. So, if I can put a secular love song on an album, and someone can interpret it in a way that makes them think of God's love for them or the power of Jesus' sacrifice, then I think I've fulfilled my purpose."
Clay thinks there are great outreach opportunities for a secular artist, and he seems to find plenty. His charitable foundation and his work with UNICEF have allowed him to serve those in severe need (see p. 22). And last year he recorded a holiday album, Merry Christmas with Love, which included several songs about Christ's birth. During a tour for Disney, he even sang an explicitly Christian song, "You Were There," which references Abraham, David, and Jesus. He'd thought his sponsor might yank the song, and he was ready to fight for it--even willing to quit the tour. But Disney had no qualms about letting him sing it.
Freedom of expression
So far, expressing his faith in Hollywood hasn't been a problem for the star. From early on, there was no denying either the enthusiasm of his fans or his commercial success. So his handlers quickly adopted the policy of letting Clay be Clay.
"I think there is a predisposition among Christians that Hollywood is anti-Jesus or anti-Christianity. I was warned I'd have to fight to maintain the freedom to express my beliefs," Clay says. "It's an unfair stereotype, and so far that's been the farthest from the truth. While everyone I work with may not share my beliefs, I have been surrounded by nothing but support."
Sometimes, he's even encouraged to live out loud. His WWJD bracelet has been a regular accessory since one of his former YMCA campers sent it to him while he was competing on Idol. Clay put it on his right wrist and never took it off. As he was heading to a video shoot for his song "Invisible," he noticed it had fallen off. He mentioned it to his representative, and the shoot was immediately put on hold until someone could locate the bracelet. "It's just understood that [the bracelet] is important to me, not only as an outward expression, but also as a personal reminder," he says.
Clay's genuineness has struck a chord with a legion of fans, including many who aren't Christians. One, a 50-year-old Jewish woman named Susan, has already been to 11 Clay Aiken concerts. (The singer has a zealous fan base among middle-age women.) Says Susan: "Clay's not perfect, nor pretends to be, but he has a belief system that he's not afraid to live by. I may not have the same beliefs that he has, but I admire his resolve in maintaining his."
Perhaps the biggest concern for Clay isn't the pressures from without, but those from within. The singer's wild popularity has made his life lonelier. It's hard to maintain old friendships, and meeting new people requires caution, since there are plenty of "friends" who've come out of the woodwork from every which direction. Former classmates who never spoke to him in high school now ask him to sing at their weddings.
Some of his more ardent fans, or "Claymates," as some like to describe themselves, have even taken to tossing intimate apparel onstage at his shows. Many pop stars play along with such antics, even encourage them. But Clay has made it clear that he's not interested in indecent propositions.
Will he stay or will he go?
Between recording, concert tours, interviews, and charity work, Clay hasn't had much time lately to feel like the normal guy that he is. Not known for hitting the town or hanging out with other celebrities, he spends his rare free moments at home with his dog, Raleigh. He doesn't like large social functions--for him, six or more in a room is a crowd--and the Los Angeles lifestyle doesn't appeal to him at all. He told TV Guide, "L.A. is such a lonely city. … Everybody here is concerned with the wrong things, with their outsides. People are so concerned with their outsides, and everybody else's outsides, that their insides rot."
He even decided to sell the lavish six-bedroom home he had bought just last fall. He told TV Guide that he was considering moving back to his hometown. But would he be at home back in North Carolina--or anywhere else, for that matter? He can't go into a grocery store to buy a loaf of bread without having to sign a dozen autographs. When he stopped his car to take a call on his cell phone one day, some fans began beating on his windows. He was booed at his own college commencement. Whether it's being loved or hated for his nearly instant fame, he can't seem to escape it.
Still, Clay seems determined to ride out his celebrity--bumps and all--until its natural end. That, he believes, is his duty and call.
"If I were to say I was done with it, I think that would be selfish. God gave me my voice for a much higher purpose than just to sing. I'm here for a reason," he writes in Learning to Sing. "In church in Raleigh, the congregation used to say, 'Make sure you use your voice for the Lord.' I feel that is what I'm doing. And I will continue doing it until the Lord tells me to pipe down."
Holly Vicente Robaina is a writer living in California.
'Where God Wants Me'
Becoming a pop star was neither Clay Aiken's goal nor his dream. Prior to American Idol, he'd formed a life plan: he'd teach, get his master's in administration, then become a principal by age 50.
He'd found his passion in teaching children with developmental disabilities, and began working one-on-one with an autistic student, Mike Bubel. Mike's mom, Diane, had seen Idol and knew of Clay's talent. When she heard Idol was auditioning, she pestered Clay until he agreed to try out. Her persistence changed Clay's life.
But all the glamour of Hollywood couldn't sway Clay from his first calling. Immediately after Idol wrapped, he started The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, a nonprofit that assists children with special needs.
"I get excited about the work that I see being done through the foundation," Clay told Today's Christian. "We have an amazing group of my fans who have, in turn, become supporters of the foundation. Through them we have been able to do a great deal of work in spreading the word about the need for and the benefits of inclusion for children with disabilities."
In addition to work with his own charity, Clay also has signed on as an ambassador for both Ronald McDonald House Charities and UNICEF. This year he assisted with a UNICEF telethon to aid South Asia tsunami victims, then visited the most devastated area in Indonesia in March. A month after that visit, he testified before Congress on behalf of UNICEF, asking for increased U.S. funding to aid tsunami victims. He also visited war-torn Uganda with UNICEF to raise awareness about the plight of children there.
It's opportunities like these that keep the singer grounded and mindful of why God led him to American Idol. "My life has been guided by Provident direction more than anything else," he says. "I was really in the place God wanted me to be, at the time He wanted me to be there."
Short, positive Clay mention in this article about a former season 2 Idol contestant who is now making her debut on Broadway. Also mentioned at Philly.com.
'American Idol' loser to play Tarzan on Broadway
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former "American Idol" contestant who didn't make the finals of the television talent show will play Tarzan in a new musical of the classic jungle story on Broadway next year.
The producers of "Tarzan" said on Thursday Josh Strickland, who was a contestant on the second season of the hit show on the Fox television network, would play the lead in the musical which is due to open in May with music by Phil Collins.
Gospel singer Ruben Studdard was the 2003 "American Idol" winner but the most successful contestant from that season has been runner-up Clay Aiken, who has since had a string of hits.
WRAL is challenging Claymates in the Raleigh area! As part of its 2005 Coats For The Child drive, WRAL has given away an autographed copy of Merry Christmas With Love ($100 donation) and a pair of tickets to Clay's Raleigh concert Dec. 22 ($255 donation). Tune into WRAL tonight at 7 and 11:35, if you would get your chance to grab another pair of tickets, in exchange for a $255 donation. More information is available at WRAL.com.
Looks like the snow storm that dumped inches of snow on the East coast got Clay pre-empted on this morning Good Morning America. Clay had been scheduled to appear on the show this morning, as announced by Clay's official fanclub last week. In ther meantime, ATCA has wonderful videos by bigappleforclay from Monday, when Clay was at the GMA studios in New York to tape his segment. We'll keep you posted on developements.
The CB's dardar has spotted changes in the recently released paperback version of Learning To Sing.
I read the paperback edition of LTS yesterday & found several textual changes from the hardback edition.
I don't have the line-by-line info (didn't have time to jot down the verbatim changes), but I particularly noticed changes at the beginning of Chapter 14 where Clay describes Mike Bubel's life before Clay began working with him.
Remember after LTS was first issued, Clay was upset that he hadn't been clearer in stating that Mike had a full life BEFORE Clay came; Clay just expanded Mike's world.
Well, in the first several paragraphs of that chapter Clay states things in a much more detailed way.
And at the end of the chapter where he talks about his faith (Chapter 15 or 16), a new sentence has been added to end that chapter.
I expect there are other subtle changes. I've read the book in its entirity about 6-8 times (& listened to the abridged audiobook several times), & as I read the paperback the text sounded different to me at several points.
When I have more time I intend to do a line-by-line comparison.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Nice mention in this article about Donald Trump's show The Apprentice which is wrapping up a fourth season on NBC next week.
Black Rhodes Scholar Likely to Be Named Trump's 'Apprentice' in Finale
Date: Wednesday, December 07, 2005
By: Monica Lewis, BlackAmericaWeb.com
After four seasons, tonight could be the night leading to the moment in which a black candidate on "The Apprentice" finally hears those two coveted words -- "You’re hired!" -- from business mogul Donald Trump.
After a solid three-month "job interview" before millions of viewers, Randal Pinkett, Ph.D., a 34-year-old entrepreneur, appears to be the person Trump will bestow with a one-year contract and six-figure salary during the season finale. Pinkett is set to match wits against fellow finalist Rebecca Jarvis in the live, two-hour finale, which airs next Thursday at 9 p.m. (EST) on NBC.
Unlike American Idol, where even runners-up like Clay Aiken can establish a successful singing career, "The Apprentice" winner isn't guaranteed much, Thompson said echoing Edmond’s question on post-"Apprentice" success.
Mention about Clay lending his celebrity status to help the Toys For Tot toy drive. Clayfans have donated generously to the program since Claymates first took part in the 2003 Toy drive.
"Toys for Tots" kicks off in the NCR
by PH3 Jeff Blakley
Christmas is the time of year when Americans spend billions of dollars on gifts for friends and family. Waking up to a neat little pile of gifts under a tree with all the trimmings is one of the holiday treats that many excited children here look forward to. But there will always be less fortunate children that do not have any gifts under their tree, or even a tree at all.
The Marine Corps Reserve "Toys for Tots" campaign strives to provide a gift to children who wouldn't otherwise get one. Over 300 million toys have been handed out around the globe since the program was founded in Los Angeles in 1947.
Over the years, celebrities have lent their support to the program. Nat King Cole recorded a song in 1956 called "Toys for Tots." Rene Russo, Dennis Quaid, Clay Aiken and Dale Jarrett all made appearances in television ads for this year's Toys for Tots campaign. Clint Eastwood, Billy Ray Cyrus, Phyllis Diller and Ann-Margaret have all lent their services to the program.
The growth experienced by the Toys for Tots program has enabled the Marines to stop accepting used toys. Donated toys must only be new and unwrapped. The toys are distributed in party-like environments, so they ask for gifts valued at no less than $10--the children will see what everyone else recieves. Toy knives and guns cannot be accepted and the program will not accept food or clothing donations. The program gives out the gifts to all ages up to 17 years old, so the donation of toys intended for older teens is encouraged, including items like CD players, cosmetic kits and watches.
For more information on the Toys for Tots program including a list of drop-off sites, please call (202) 433-8487, (202) 433-2615 or (202) 685-1302. Additional information is online at www.toysfortots.org.
Clay's appearance on yesterday's The Insider (read this... it'll make more sense) was from footage of a TV special that will be shown tonight on the Discovery Health Channel. The special, about the Dilly family, who have sextuplets, will air tonight at 8 PM EST with repeats at 11 PM EST and on Dec. 10 at 1 PM EST.
The Hartford Courant interviewed Clay this week. Clay plays the Chevrolet Center in Wallingford, CT on Saturday night.
For Clay Aiken, Life After 'Idol' Has Been Joyful
December 8, 2005
By AMY ELLIS, Courant Staff Writer Your holiday wishes have come true. Clay Aiken, runner-up to Ruben Studdard in "American Idol 2," is back in town.
Aiken brings his "Joyful Noise 2005" tour to the Chevrolet Theatre in Wallingford Saturday night.
"Joyful Noise 2005" is the sequel to Aiken's first holiday tour and will feature songs from his "Merry Christmas with Love" CD. The concert includes several songs Clay recorded for the album that didn't appear on the CD as well as new arrangements for some traditional favorites.
We talked to Aiken by phone this week from Boston:
Q: You're doing something a little different this year on tour: a series of vignettes with a running storyline, which you wrote?
A: We actually played Wallingford last year and we had a show that was just music with an orchestra. The second half with the religious songs, we tried to connect them together with some local school children reading passages from the Christmas story. As I watched that part I thought, you know it would be great if we could figure out a way to link together the non-religious songs too, with the story, and try to make them have some purpose, some meaning, some story to them ... I was going to do an outline and hand it off to somebody else and let them write out a script and it turned out that if you want something done right you do it yourself.
Q: So how's it going? Are you happy with the way it's come out?
A: It's a lot of work but we've pulled it off. We had a really great director come in and really made it work really well; we've got some dancers who kind of provide flashbacks for us and really pulled it all together into a very, professionally done, produced show.
Q: I'm sure you've been asked this question a million times, but what's your favorite holiday song to sing?
A: I get it asked all the time, my favorite kind of changes. My favorite Christmas song of all has always been "O Come, O Come, Emanuel" and I didn't get to put that on the Christmas album; this year for the tour we decided to do it. And so I think that's probably my favorite. ... Since I didn't put it on the album I haven't worn it out for myself yet.
Q: Does your family have any special holiday traditions that you do every year?
A: You know, not really as far as strange, creative holiday traditions. We don't really do anything different. We always get together as a family, the whole extended family comes together at my grandparents' house and that's nice because often times it's the only time I get to see some cousins throughout the year. It will be a little different because my brother just got back from Iraq; he's stationed at Camp Lejeune. He'll be home for the holiday but a lot of his friends who are Marines with him probably won't be able to make it home, so he'll bring them home with him. And we'll have some people who are from the tour who aren't able to make it back home or who aren't going home for Christmas ...so we're going to have an extremely extended family for Christmas with us.
Q: You're working on a new album. Are you planning on doing any collaborations with anyone? Any duets?
A: We started before the tour, we stopped before the tour and we get back in the studio some time around January. ... I'd love to sing with somebody else. I'd love to put a duet on the album. We've just got to find the right person to do it with.
Q: Any artists come to mind?
A: Well there's definitely people who I think are talented and I would love to sing with. ... I think there are people like Faith Hill and Martina McBride who are extremely talented.
Q: Well you didn't win "American Idol" but you've had a lot of success since the show. What do you think your greatest accomplishment has been so far?
A: It's hard to say. I could say a few things like, you know, 'We had an album,' 'We had a Christmas tour' and so on and so forth. Honestly for me, I think probably the biggest accomplishment has been being able to go and do things working with the [Bubel/Aiken] foundation that I've set up.
Originally posted 12/7-- synopsis added.
Clay made an unannounced apperance on today's edition of The Insider, reports Clayboard members. Check local listings -- The show is syndicated. The segment comes on about 20 minutes into the show.
While switching channels, I spotted him....:thud
The sextuplets met him backstage at the Indiana state fair.
Didn't catch it, I was so shocked to see him.
4 boys and 2 girls and the girls loved him.
BIG AND LITTLE .............WE ALL LOVE HIM..........
Synopsis: Clay appears about 1/2 way through the segment about the Dilly family, who were (and still are) the only family to have sextuplets. A camera crew captured one of the girl's excitement as she met Clay at the Indiana state-fair this past summer during the Jukebox tour. Clay asked "Your brothers didn't want to come to the show?" Video should be up at the usual clack sites now.
NOTE: Footage of Clay and the family meeting (as shown on The Insider) was from a special Discovery Health Channel special on this family that airs tonight (12/8) and on Saturday. More info.
Q&A article with Clay from the Albany Times Union. Clay plays the Palace Theatre tonight in Albany.
Claymates in Clayland
'American Idol' star brings his holiday tour to the Palace tonight
By STEVE BARNES Senior writer
First published: Thursday, December 8, 2005
Clay Aiken, a big-voiced nerd from North Carolina and the most successful loser in "American Idol" history, is on his way to becoming the next Barry Manilow: adored by legions of fervent fan-addicts ("Claymates") who buy his albums by the millions, yet considered a punch line, or ignored altogether, by an even larger contingent of the population.
After finishing as runner-up to soul crooner Ruben Studdard in the second season of "AI" in 2003, Aiken, now 27, went on to release the smash-selling CD "Measure of a Man" and to tour solo, drawing screams and sighs from audiences comprised mostly of generations of women.
This holiday season, as he did last year, the proudly Christian Aiken is touring with a Christmas show. He, backup singers, dancers and a band provide the theatrical and musical accompaniment, including many songs from Aiken's multiplatium "Merry Christmas, With Love" CD, for a story performed by actors. Aiken wrote the script, which details how a grumpy lady finds her holiday happiness restored by the ebullient festiveness of an 11-year-old boy.
Aiken's "Joyful Noise" tour makes a stop tonight at the Palace Theatre in Albany.
Because the fervency of his fans plays an unusually large part in his career -- and because the Claymates know far more about him that we do -- we asked them what they wondered about him. The interview questions below were e-mailed to the Times Union and read to Aiken. When available, questioners' full names, ages and places of residence are given.
Q: (Judy Constantino, Capital Region): What do you want for Christmas (besides world peace)?
A: At this point I'm pretty happy, and I'm sure I'm a lot tougher to buy for than I used to be. I guarantee if I told somebody something I wanted, fans would go and spend their own money and I'd get 55 of them, so I'm a little hesistant to say anything. I'm pretty content right now. I do want my house I'm building (in North Carolina) to be finished.
Q: (Danielle Crandall, 35, South Lake, Texas; signs her e-mails "Clay 4 President!") If you had to choose one from the following, which would it be?
A. Unlimited peach ice cream
B. Perfect vision without contacts or glasses
C. Flip-flops for every occasion
A: Oh, gosh. If I had one wish, it wouldn't be any of those three; I don't think I care for any one of them. If I had to pick one I guess it would be the flip-flops.
Q: (Joyce M. Weber, 66, Troy) As a grandmother and mother, my question is: Because you are traveling for the tour, was your mom able to be with you for your Nov. 30 birthday?
A: No, but we'll see each other at Christmas, and we talk often. I'm getting, hopefully, old enough where I can have a birthday without my mom having to be there.
Q: (Karen Ketcham, 52, Rotterdam) Clay, you talk so much onstage it's clear you're a "born talker." How do you protect your voice from the strain of performing almost nightly shows?
A: Oh, my Lord, I don't even pay attention to it; I just kind of do it. My (former high school) choir director, who's on tour with us, says I've always been the very worst when it comes to warming up, protecting the voice and all that mess. I don't think I really do anything.
Q: (Debi Cionek, 51-year-old Claymate, South Glens Falls) When you're singing at a concert, which do you prefer singing: a slow ballad or an upbeat song?
A: Oh, my goodness, it kind of depends. It doesn't necessarily depend what the tempo is, but whether it says something and whether it's got a good melody. When it's live, sometimes ballads are more powerful, but when you're recording something, a faster song can be great.
Q: (Miranda Joly, 11, Clifton Park) If you could sing anywhere in the United States, where would it be, and why?:
A: I've done most every state, except I've never been to Louisiana or Mississippi, and I've never been to Montana and I think there's another one -- Wyoming. So I probably would go with those: Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana or Wyoming, for my fans there.
Q: (Marilyn Gerby, "over 21," Latham) I was chatting online with a couple of friends on The Clayboard, and we all had tickets for a rescheduled show you did in El Cajon, Calif., last Dec. 30, and I said to them on The Clayboard, "Remember, Christmas isn't over 'til the skinny kid sings." Imagine my surprise and delight when you said pretty much the same thing onstage at that show! Ever since then I've been wondering: Did you get that line from me or was it a case of great minds thinking alike?
A: I got it from my manager; he has a penchant for saying that. So I guess I'd say I got it from the manager.
Q: (Mary Shaver, 43, Ingleside, Ontario, Canada) I had to come all the way to Albany to see you last time and will this time, too. When organizing your tour dates, would it be possible to include a city on the eastern side of Canada? I'm sure that I am not the only Clay fan in my area.
A: I don't schedule my tours. I have to trust the agencies or tour operators. Sometimes we have trouble getting to all the places we'd like to.
Q: (Terri Thompson, 50, Niverville) When you were on "American Idol," I voted for you every time -- not once but many times during the evening. Now I'm disappointed to see the price of tickets. They are $47 to $127, and some online sites have them as high as $360! What do you say to fans who liked you because you seemed to be a real down-to-earth guy who is now commercialized?
A: That's something that's a concern of mine, too. But I have nothing to do with ticket prices. All I can do is show up. If you buy from a reputable source, tickets are never really higher than the official prices. It sounds like those tickets are being sold illegally. Ticket prices are a concern of mine, and I want to make sure that my shows are affordable for family, but I only have so much control.
Q: (Chris, 38) I know you don't like to talk about your personal life, but we Claymates have heard stories about you with girls in college, making out at parties and such. Tell us the truth: You're not as innocent as you want us to believe, are you?
A: Oh, my gosh! (Laughs) We're nice to you and give you time for one last question and you go for the dirt?
STEVE BARNES: Dirt? That's not dirt. You should see the fans' questions I didn't ask:
A: Oh, my! (Laughs) Well. OK, what was the question again, about making out with girls at parties?
SB: She asked, "We Claymates have heard stories about you with girls in college, making out at parties and such. Tell us the truth: You're not as innocent as you want us to believe, are you?"
A: Some things are best left to the imagination, Claymates.
Steve Barnes can be reached at 454-5489 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
As promised, Amazon.com's exclusive JNT tour footage was posted today! Clay is partnering with Amazon.com to raise funds for UNICEF's Hurricane Katrina and Rita fund. This behind the scenes footage is a little thank you.
Head on over to Amazon.com to see clips from exclusive footage from JNT - including TV interviews, Clay 'flirting' with mama Faye and Raleigh and meeting the fans. Clay left this message on Amazon.com:
"Hi, Amazon.com customers. We put together backstage footage of my Joyful
Noise 2005 Tour for you to check out. I hope you enjoy it. Please remember to
donate to UNICEF's hurricane relief fund. There are so many people in the Gulf
states that are in need of our help. Thanks for your support--and come see us on
Some more screencaps. Click to enlarge
This story about Clay's beautiful voice at a 1997 Raleigh Christmas concert, posted by the CH's Chancit:
OH, HOLY NIGHT (story about Clay, in 1996)
In 1996 I was living in another state. RL/Karma/Fate/Luck (choose your favorite) was kicking my butt. My husband had died 2 years before and the only family I had left in the area, my son and his crew, suddenly decided to move to Raleigh for a new job. Within 2 months of his move, the Department of Highways informed me that they were taking my house as right-of-way for a new freeway. And in case that wasn't enough, the company I worked for was purchased in a corporate takeover and the only place for my position was in Maryland. Maryland? So I did what any sane person would do under those circumstances- I quit my job, sold my house to the DOH and bought a one way ticket to Raleigh in February of 97.
I soon settled in, found a job and new friends. One of my new friends was a big fan of our local community college and kept begging me to go to one of the shows with her, have a little fun, etc. The tickets were a ridiculous $6 (Hah!) and I was able to put her off until finally I agreed to an outing in late November just to shut her up. (sound familiar?)
Of course we were late and had to sit in the far, dark corner. The people were about the size of action figures to us, but no matter. For the first hour or so we had fun snarking on the band and singers, especially a curly haired, skinny little kid. But even then, we could not find anything to snark on with his voice.
The show was pretty enjoyable, we laughed a little, gossiped a little and listened less. As the program neared the end, we decided our seats were convenient after all, and would allow for an early exit to avoid the parking lot rush.
Just as we quietly slid to the end of the aisle, the band picked that exact time to finish playing. All the lights in the building were cut except for a single stage spotlight on that skinny little kid. We hesitated (due to lack of light) and the singer in the spotlight began to sing this line, "Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining," acapella.
How can I describe it except to say that the voice just went through me like an electrical shock. We sank into the nearest empty seats and listened in awe for the duration of that song. I have never heard such silence in a building and it was the first time in my life that I was moved to tears with the power of a single voice.
When it was over, the cheering was so loud I feared for the building, but we certainly were doing our part to bring it down too. That performance was the topic of our conversation that night and for several months afterward. I promised my friend that we would return to see this guy again.
A busy new life and good intentions don't mesh well and I never did make good on that promise. But I thought about that performance many times, especially during the holiday season.
I had caught the last few episodes of AI1 and enjoyed it, and decided to watch the second season. I thought it extremely funny, and when I saw the NC schoolteacher contestant, I alternated between wanting to cover my head or turn off the tv. I thought how embarrassing is this going to be for the state as well as the contestant as I visualized a long barrage of Mayberry jokes. But then he started singing.
From the word,"Take", and after I picked my chin up off the floor, I realized exactly where I had heard this voice. It was like locating an old, dear friend. And that voice was as clear and breathtaking for me that audition night as it had been those years before in the college auditorium.
So pivotal moment, that first audition night on AI2, when I made a second promise to help make up for not keeping the first. I vowed to do everything I possibly could to keep that voice where I could hear it. I have kept that one and nothing I know of, will stop me from continuing to do so!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
As previously announced, Clay will be releasing special behind-the-scenes footage from the Joyful Noise Tour 2005 tomorrow on Amazon.com as part of Amazon.com's efforts to raise funds for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Clay posted this on the official fan club today:
12/07/05 / Clay Exclusive Tour Footage on Amazon.com to Benefit Hurricane Victims
I am excited to let you know that I have partnered with Amazon.com and will be involved in a very important effort to help the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As thanks for your support, I would like to give you exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from my Joyful Noise 2005 Tour. Please join me in helping the rebuilding process for those who have lost a place to call home during the holidays and make a donation to my charity of choice, UNICEF. For more information about Amazon.com's Holiday A-List for Hurricane Relief program, please take a look at the information below and be sure to check out my exclusive content on Amazon.com beginning December 8, 2005.
The Salvation Army has asked Claynadian fans to be generous and donate - again. Last year's 2004 Aiken's Elves campaign, run by Claynadian members of various Clay Aiken message boards was such a tremendous success, the Salvation Army is asking for its help again. To see what you can do to help, visit the Canadian Salvation Army's special Aiken's Elves webpage.
Yahoo TV made it one of their Friday night picks.
Click to enlarge screenshot
Today's Yahoo! Crossword featured Clay. The (erroneous) clue was 9. Down: "First American Idol runner up". The solution was Aiken.
Clay made Lycos' most searched terms of the year list. Although Clay was ranked #3 last year, Clay's 2005 ranking of 64 is still, impressive!
Although Clay was in the top 50 throughout the year, Lycos says overall traffic caused Clay to be at #64. This e-mail was sent to the CB's flynn5709.
I have been wondering when I would hear from you :) I too was surprised by the ranking when we initially put it together and definitely doubled checked our calculations. When we looked at the over all search traffic, that is where he landed. His traffic has been dropping as of late, but the other events while not all are Lycos 50 staples like your boy Clay, they had larger surges in activity on some weeks/months that put them above - Americas' Idol.
Thanks Jan for your continued interest, and support. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.
Enjoy the Joyful Noise!
Oh by the way I wanted to mention to your Aiken community that Lycos had created these 'planets' where you can build cool slideshows and features of your favorite things ie - Clay Aiken. So if you don't mind mentioning that in the posting that would be great...
There are some cool sweepstakes too.
Director of Content
Writer, Lycos 50
As we reported yesterday, Clay visited Learning Projects Elementary School in Boston yesterday to congratulate the school on its UNICEF fundraising efforts. The Boston Herald ran this article about the visit today in their print and online editions.
Aiken visits Back Bay school
Students at The Learning Project Elementary School raised $6,000 for UNICEF's tsunami relief efforts, so yesterday UNICEF spokesguy Clay Aiken -- the spikey haired dude from ''American Idol"-- stopped by the Back Bay school to thank the students. . . . The first Massachusetts Conference for Women takes place today at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center with first lady Ann Romney, former Texas Governor Ann Richards, and Martha Stewart Living's CEO Susan Lyne among the speakers.
Left: Thanks for caring: 'American Idol'izer Clay Aiken, in town to play the Orpheum last night, stepped into his role as UNICEF ambassador at the Learning Project Elementary School yesterday. Clay wanted to thank the kiddies for stepping up for UNICEF's relief efforts in tsunami-ravaged Indonesia. (Staff photo by Angela Rowlings)
CBS Boston has posted a video from the event which you can stream from their Entertainment section. This video is also available at pax-et-animo's Vivavoce clack site.
A few Clay mentions around the internet today.
Bad Clay Aiken TV Specials? What are they talking about?
The Grinch Who Wrote a TV ColumnMore reviews of the new AI DVD. Very good mention.
Todd Hyman 12/07/2005 2:04 pm
I hate December. But not for the reasons you'd think—cold weather, the stresses of coordinating holiday gift lists, mall crowds. I have very warm blood, I don't buy gifts for anyone, and the only reason I go to the mall is for the free samples of General's Chicken at the food court.
What I really hate about December is the terrible TV. That's right, I said it: December TV sucks. Sandwiched between November sweeps and the January midseason premieres of big shows like 24 and American Idol, December TV just gets lost in a cheery holiday frenzy, churning out terrible movies like The Three Wise Guys and bad Christmas specials starring Clay Aiken. Aside from the few classic films like Scrooged and A Christmas Story that are replayed about infinity times, there's pretty much nothing worth watching if you're over the age of 8. So, to spare me the headache of having to review CBS' original movie Pope John Paul II, we're just going to pretend that December doesn't exist. At least for the purposes of this column. So pack up the tree, return all your gifts, and say all of your Happy New Years and let's skip right to a few of January's midseason replacements.
On DVDConcert ticket website StubHub is including Clay on all its press releases now! YAY!
December 07, 2005
The Best and Worst of American Idol:
The appeal of American Idol is the game. Each week, millions of people tune in, pick their favorites and vote. Once the "best" are anointed, their albums are released. A few artists are genuinely loved (Clay Aiken comes to mind), but after a couple of spins, most winners' works are pushed aside. The end result on the record store shelf never seems to hold the same amount of fascination as the struggle it took to get there.
So, while you'll occasionally remember with fondness and occasionally revisit the rise of your favorites on Disc One (the "Best of" installment of this three-disc collection), you will most likely most often return to Disc Two (the "Worst of" installment), where futility, fragility and unrealistic expectations thrive in ever-humorous aplomb.
If you're like me, you have favorites here, too. Even bigger favorites than those on Disc One, probably. (Mary Roach comes to mind.) I mean, where else can you get two and a half glorious hours of failure and ridicule? And why is it so appealing, anyway? Who knows.
Cue it up again, though, will ya…
StubHub and Washington Capitals Make NHL Power Play; Online Ticket Marketplace Adds to NHL Team Partner Roster
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 7, 2005--StubHub, the leading open marketplace dedicated to tickets, today announced it has signed a sponsorship deal with the NHL's Washington Capitals. Under the terms of the agreement, StubHub is now the exclusive ticket resale marketplace of the organization and beneficiary to extensive online and offline promotional elements. The Capitals join the Dallas Stars as official NHL team ticketing partners of StubHub.
StubHub is the leading open marketplace dedicated to tickets. StubHub's open marketplace allows fans to buy and sell tickets to sporting, concert, theater and other live entertainment events. StubHub's goal is that fans always find a choice of select seats at fair market value, even for events that are "sold out." The company reinvented the ticket resale market and continues to lead through innovation, by connecting sellers and buyers via its FanNetwork (sm) system, the company's patent-pending, convenient, secure, and highly reliable ticket fulfillment service; StubHub supports all fan transactions with the StubHub FanProtect (sm) Guarantee. StubHub partners include sports teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL, leading collegiate athletic programs including USC, Alabama and Cal, and media companies including AOL. StubHub regularly partners with leading recording artists such as Britney Spears and Clay Aiken to offer tickets to exclusive events in support of their charities. The company is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information on StubHub, visit www.stubhub.com.
More coverage of Dear Santa, which Clay is guest appearing on Friday at 9 on FOX.
Letters to Santa make holidays special
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he writes letters.
In 1912, then Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow individuals or institutions to use letters addressed to Santa Claus for philanthropic purposes. This tradition is carried on today, with Post Offices across the country making "Letters to Santa" available to individuals and groups upon request.
While Santa receives most of his mail at the North Pole, AK, some are sent to Santa's helpers, charitable organizations, Postal Service employees and volunteers who help make a child's wishes come true. Interested organizations should contact their local Post Offices to receive and respond to Letters to Santa.
Some of the Santa letters will be featured during a one-hour special, "Dear Santa," airing on Friday, Dec. 9, 8:30 p.m., with special guest appearances by Clay Aiken and Raven Simone on the FOX Network.
"Dear Santa is a one-hour unscripted holiday special featuring the dramatic and heartwarming stories of children whose letters to Santa will be answered with the help of some very special guests. The U.S. Postal Service teams up with some of today's hottest stars to share some dramatic stories including a girl who wants to make the holidays special for needy children, a young boy who dreams of a safe place to skate, a little girl who hopes her dad will come home for the holidays from his military duties abroad and a girl who wants to further her education," according to www.fox.com.
Merry Christmas With Love on "Santa's Playlist"
Santa's holiday playlist
by Jennifer Lathan
UT Staff Writer
December 06, 2005
Most everyone -- from 10 to 92 -- enjoys music of the holiday season. Some lyrics fills listeners with the abounding hope and joy surrounding the upcoming season, while others are just fun to sing along with.
Each year, many artists release albums with renditions of their favorite Christmas songs. This Christmas is no exception.
Here is a guide to some of the newest Christmas albums currently available.
For some of the older favorites, there is Clay Aiken singing your favorite Christmas songs. The UNC Charlotte alumni, who stole America's hearts during his participation on American Idol, released a Christmas album titled "Merry Christmas With Love" in late 2004 and the album is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
He uses both traditional hymns and classic Christmas carols to create a diverse collection, sprinkling in some newer and sometimes less well know but still powerful songs.
As a child of the school chorus crowd, one of my favorite selections is "Merry Christmas With Love." The song tells the story of a woman who has lost her family and her Christmas spirit years before. This changes when a group of carolers come to visit her and renews the Christmas spirit in her heart.
Before Aiken recorded this song, I couldn't easily find it on any released Christmas collection. Hearing his strong voice sing these powerful words can easily bring you to tears. I was so thrilled to not only find this favorite but to also hear him powerfully belt these words.
A random mention:
THE TELEVISIONARYFollow up on Clay helping out the CBS Early Show's Toy Drive on Monday.
December 07, 2005
Name what these guys have in common: Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Vince Guaraldi.
Is it too obvious? They're all Christmas icons. Of course, if your holiday TV education is limited to claymation -- and I promise I'm not talking about Clay Aiken -- then you're probably only familiar with the first three characters. But Guaraldi is more important than you'd think: He wrote, arranged and performed (with the help of his trio) the backing score for my favorite Christmas special of all time, A Charlie Brown Christmas. If 40 years of adoration and TV exposure doesn't grant you some kind of icon status, I'm not sure what will.
Caroline Kennedy Fulfills Wishes
NEW YORK, Nov. and Dec., 2005
(CBS) This season, The Early Show, Walmart.com and United Way are teaming up in a unique effort to brighten the holidays of children whose lives were impacted by three recent hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
The Early Show is devoting weather segments twice a day to collecting Christmas toys for those youngsters.
On Monday, Dec. 5, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Clay Aiken took part. Both also appeared in their own segments on the show.
Bundchen donated a karaoke machine, revealing she's a big karaoke fan, though she doesn't sound as good as Aiken!
He gave an assortment of toy trucks.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Don't miss this cute story from the CB's minisoda.
I love this little girl... she wants to marry Clay!
Last night, I babysat 2 little girls: Monica, 4 yrs. old and Megan, 6 yrs. old. We made pizza and Christmas cookies, and of course, listened to MCWL! You can't bake Christmas cookies without Clay's music, right?
Later on, we were coloring... Megan showed me a picture of Clay that she did. She did a really good job too...I asked her why she drew Clay... "because he's cute and he's going to be my husband someday!"
They're such awesome kids though... their parents are real nit-picky about who babysits for them because Monica has Down's Syndrome... so it was really cool to be talking about special needs kids with the parents and of course, I had to bring up Clay.
Unfortunately, they missed the MN concert... they're hoping to go next year though! *hint, hint... Clay - if you're reading!*
Clay's work as a UNICEF Ambassador was highlighted in this UNICEF article, which was posted back in October, but surfaced only today.
UNICEF Ambassadors have something to say to Congress
By Martin S. Rendon, Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy, U.S. Fund for UNICEF
As advocates and public spokespersons, UNICEF Ambassadors play an important role in urging leaders in Washington to make children a top priority of U.S. foreign policy.
Ever since Danny Kaye became UNICEF's first Goodwill Ambassador in 1954, talented celebrities have lent their stature to the advancement of UNICEF's mission for children everywhere. In addition to raising funds and awareness, they have asked policymakers to reflect the compassion of the American people for the world's children in their legislative deliberations.
Recording artist Clay Aiken, newly appointed UNICEF Ambassador, recently testified before the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee in support of increased funding for UNICEF's core programs, such as health, nutrition, clean water and sanitation, and education.
Aiken had traveled to Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province in March. He saw firsthand how UNICEF was successfully addressing the physical and emotional needs of children affected by the disaster, and he brought this message of hope back to Congress. The new celebrity ambassador pointed out that the assistance Congress provides to UNICEF in the annual appropriations enables it to be an effective partner of the United States in responding to emergencies like the South Asian tsunami. He testified that the funding provided by Congress to UNICEF is an investment that yields returns for children in jeopardy around the world.
Clay Aiken is an example of an accomplished celebrity who is lending his talent and heart to bring UNICEF's work to the attention of the decision-makers in Washington. He is among those who truly serve as ambassadors to the legislative leaders who can help make this a world fit for children.
Short mention about Clay recording Mary Did You Know.
JACK WILLIAMS -- Readers, did you know ... the story behind his song?
The Herald Bulletin
Turn on the radio, attend a school holiday concert or slip into a pew during Advent and you're bound to hear a verse or two of the now-familiar song, "Mary, Did You Know?"
Composed by a guy named Mark Lowry, the song has translated successfully across a variety of musical genres.
Depending on where your musical tastes take you in the record store, you'll find covers of the song by American Idol performer Clay Aiken; pop and jazz artist Natalie Cole; opera singer Kathleen Battle; a who's who of country artists, including Reba McEntire, Kathy Mattea, Billy Dean and the duet of Wynonna Judd and Kenny Rogers; gospel music's Gaither Vocal Band and Michael English; and the artist formerly known for his puppy love, Donnie Osmond. Whenever the song is mentioned today, the words "modern classic" are usually close by.
As announced by UNICEF back in September, Clay will be visiting the Learning Project Elementary School in Boston today. The school raised the most funds for this year's 2005 UNICEF Trick or Treat campaign, which Clay spearheaded as its designated spokesman.
''American Idol" star Clay Aiken, who serves as an ambassador for the relief agency UNICEF, will be visiting kids at the Learning Project Elementary School in the Back Bay today to congratulate them for raising a whole lot of dough for the 2005 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program. (Aiken's the national spokesman for the program.) How much you want to bet that a bunch of Clay Maniacs -- as Aiken's fans call themselves -- will show up?
Shine, off Measure Of A Man was featured on a South Korean TV Show, reports Bloomingclay. Video is up at Vivavoce and YouSendIt.
It's a new TV show called 'Rainbow Romance' which started recently in Korea.Though I don't watch the show,many teenagers seem to watch the show.
Anyway,one of members of our club told us that she watched the show and heard Clay's music as background music! So we searched,downloaded 40 minute long video clip and extracted about 20 second clips(ain't that pitiful? )
It is really a short clip and the story is not relevant to the song at all(it was just used as background music),but it is still cool so I upload it.
As expected, Clay appeared on last night's Entertainment Tonight. The Clay segment, taped last Friday in New York, was only about 30 seconds long and appeared with the show's daily 'Newslink' section. Video is up at the usual places, including Vivavoce and MOAF's media gallery.
Transcript by CDD
Do not post anywhere without giving credit to cdd.blogspot.com and clayisouridol.
Entertainment Tonight Transcript Dec. 5
[Clay Aiken sings Sleigh Ride]
Mark Stenis (ET): What's the yuletide without Clay Aiken? The crooner took us backstage on his new tour where Santa-Clay shared some of his favourite holiday memories.
Clay: And the very first present I ever gave my mother after I got off of Idol was to pay her house off for her. Then I bought my brother a car. I don't know how to top that now. Every year, it feels like if I give her a shirt it'll be bad.
Good Morning America (GMA) taped Clay singing My Grown Up Christmas List and Mary Did You Know yesterday morning in their New York Time Square studios. According to reports, Clay did 2 'subtle' renditions of My Grown Up Christmas List. It was the first time Clay performed that song in public. Both, or one of these performances will be aired on Clay's scheduled appearance on the show on Friday. There is rumor that ABC is saving one of the performances for a special Christmas day, or pre-Christmas edition of GMA. Fan video (taped by bigapple from outside -- GMA didn't let anyone into the studios) is now up at ATCA.
From the CB's HopelessDevoted:
I just got off the phone with nky4clay, solitaire234 and hippoGA. They ran into a group of women from Virginia in the airport who happened to be at GMA this morning. After the show, the producer came out and asked the audience to stick around for a performance by Clay. They have pictures on their camera that they are supposedly going to E mail to the girls. Said he was wearing jeans, sweater and a grey blazer. Said that the girls, Andy and Daniel were there. He sang MDYK...and now get this...they claim he sang "My Grown Up Christmas List"!!!! nky4clay and the girls kept repeating are you sure that was the song he sang and they insisted yes! They said he sang it alone, without the girls as back up and that they were told it would air Christmas day.
Some other tidbits they told them were that the director told them "you can clap if you like" after the song and Clay said "even if you don't like it you can clap"....and then when they stopped clapping after the song he said "who told you to stop" (sounds like our snarky Clay)
I'm alittle disappointed for those who could have gone and didn't know about this but it would make sense for him to tape it today since he was already in the city.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Vocalist Michael Buble mentioned Clay in his PBS Special yesterday. From the CB's ncsupack88:
I just got home and was flipping channels and passed PBS (cuz I
usually don't watch) and saw this cute guy in a black suit so I came back and
realized it was Michael Buble. I had heard back in the summer that he mentioned
Clay during his show. He had apparently just finished the opening number and was
a little sweaty and somebody yelled out "I love You" and he said "I love you too
but tomorrow you'll be saying (in a fangirly high pitched voice) I love Clayyyyy
Oh and now he does this little number he made up about "they
said no flash photography" and he starts talking and all these flashes goes off
and he's making fun of them and then says "look at you, you're mocking me". Then
he goes over to the band andd says 1, 2, 3, and they all turn to pose for the
cameras. I thought it was kinda funny considering what Clay and his fans have
been going through. So for those that say Clay is the only one that allows
cameras, I guess not.
From the CB's OLmass:
I got in my car this morning and turned the radio on to WWSW (3WS) just in time to hear the tail end of Clay singing. I think it was God Rest You Merry Gentlemen although I've never heard it before. As the song ends, the DJ says to his partner, "This is your Clay station," and she agreed. He then said jokingly but not in a derogatory way at all, "We're going to have a Clay weekend."
It was a very positive mention and I'm glad to finally hear it out of the mouth of a male DJ.
Taking a 'Shine' to Christmas music
By MIKE JENKINSON, EDMONTON SUN
So when does it start to feel like Christmas for you? I heard some people talking recently that it wouldn't feel like Christmas until there was snow on the ground. Yeah, well, I hope those people are happy. Merry Christmas ... I'm going to the Caribbean, thanks.
Some people don't consider it to really be Christmas until the tree goes up in the living room and the Christmas lights are strung outside.
For me, though, the Christmas season kicked off in earnest last Thursday when my favourite radio station, Shine-FM, moved to its all-Christmas-music format, which will continue through the end of Christmas Day.
Yes, if you set your FM radio dial to 105.9 in Edmonton between now and present-opening time, it's nothing but classic Christmas carols, good old Christmas hymns, and contemporary Christmas music.
This year, I couldn't wait for the all-Christmas format to start. And I'm sure I'll been minorly depressed again when it's over.
But what do listeners think?
"You know what? There are always going to be a few people who will call up saying 'I can't believe you're playing Christmas music so early!' But if we didn't play it until the 15th (of December) we'd have more calls saying, 'How come you're not playing Christmas music non-stop?' " says Shine FM music director Hunt with a laugh. "But the majority of the reaction is positive."
Hunt says moving to an all-Christmas-music format for almost a month seemed like the natural thing to do for a radio station that plays only contemporary Christian music. "We like to think we have Christmas music 24/7 really," he says. "The majority of what we play is about Christ.
This Christmas season, Shine-FM has about 450 songs in rotation, which is about 160 more than last year. The station has also added a few artists that don't normally make the playlist, such as James Taylor and Clay Aiken, in addition to their regular roster of artists that ranges from Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant to Reliant K and Kutless.
But Hunt says the station is very selective when it comes to adding mainstream artists to their Christmas music roster, saying, "We make sure the song is what we consider to be a Christian Christmas song."
Needless to say, going to the all-Christmas format, even for a month, is quite the undertaking, says Hunt. "It's intense ... non-stop Christmas music," he says. I laugh, suggesting to him that might not the best way to sell listeners on the temporary format change - "intense non-stop Christmas music!" like it was some kind of monster truck show.
That said, he noted to me that there's a radio station in Detroit that's been playing nothing but Christmas music since November 1! "They're running TV spots - all Christmas, all the time," he says. "I don't think I could push myself to listen (to just Christmas music) for two straight months."
Maybe not. But I'll happily take 25 days of it on Shine-FM.
This was posted by the CB's ButterflyShine. Have your kleenex box handy.
I was talking to Moulka, William Joseph's security guard after the concert. He had returned from putting William into a car, William has to be at 5:00 for the Early Show.
After giving him many compliments on how great i and others think that William is and his telling us how genuinely nice William is, i asked him if he had a Clay story he could share with me.
He said that he had a wonderful story about Clay. The day before Thanksgiving Moulka's brother died. Moulka couldn't afford to fly home to Washington State. Clay found out and purchased Moulka a ticket. Moulka said that although he and Clay say hi and he tells Clay great show, he didn't think that Clay had much awareness about him and Clay proved him wrong. He said Clay is a genuinely nice guy. I asked Moulka if i could share this story and he told me i could.
I loved tonight's concert, Clay was snarky, and playful. The Aiken Random Lyric Generator was in full force and effect and Clay admitted during intros that he messed-up the lyrics to three songs. He sang some of DSIAFC looking right at me...thud...but this story, despite loving the concert to pieces, was the highlight of my evening. I hope it warms your heart as much as it did mine.
12/9 Update. William Joseph has confirmed this story with this post on his message board:
Hello my friends,
Yes the story is true. Clay did fly Maka home and has taken great care of us. It's great to work with great people!!
Clay appears on FOX's Christmas-reality special, Dear Santa, this Friday at 9 PM. FOX issued this press release today.
LET IT SNOW!! A BLIZZARD OF HOLIDAY TREATS HITS FOX THIS DECEMBER
Released by FOX
"All I Want for Christmas" becomes a reality on the brand-new, original special DEAR SANTA, premiering Friday, Dec. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). The unscripted holiday hour features heartwarming stories of children whose letters to Santa will be answered. The U.S. Postal Service teams up with Hilary Duff, Clay Aiken and Raven Symone to share the kids' dramatic stories and to fulfill their holiday wishes, including those of a girl who wants to make the holidays special for needy children, a young boy who dreams of a safe place to skate, a little girl who hopes her dad will come home for the holidays from his military duties abroad and a girl who wants to further her education.
New interview with the Boston Globe. Cute!
A very Aiken Christmas
December 5, 2005
Clay Aiken, guardian angel? The ''American Idol" runner-up has cast himself in a Michael Landon-esque role in his holiday tour, which arrives at the Orpheum tomorrow night. In between crooning ''O Holy Night" and ''Jingle Bells," he helps a widow find some Christmas spirit in the pageant-cum-pop-concert. If Aiken was a true angel, however, he would be helping Justin Guarini. Maybe next year. This year the infamously nice Aiken was happy to phone us from Pittsburgh and chat about the current production.
Q: I was reading a little bit about the show, and it sounds a little dark. There's a widow who's depressed on Christmas, and a neglected kid who wanders in on her. Am I getting this right?
A: You're getting it right, but you're looking at it in a dark way. I would not see it as dark at all. I think it's a very classic Christmas-type tale. If you think about it, most Christmas shows start with someone who doesn't have the Christmas spirit, and then they gain it by the end of the show. Are you coming to see it?
Q: I'm not sure. I think that's the night I'm mulling cider.
A: I think you should see it, because it's not very dark at all. It starts out gloomily. Hmm. That's interesting. I'm going to have to watch it tonight and see if it looks that way.
Q: You sound like a really nice, polite guy . . .
Q: . . . I'm wondering if you've ever been tempted to call Ruben Studdard and say, ''I may have come in second place, but I'm starring in TV specials with Barry Manilow and playing stadiums, and you're playing the grand opening of the Burger King in Anaheim"?
A: Ohhhh. Wait a minute. No, no, no. I'm proud of both of us. There's no way. If I said that, you know what would happen the next week? I'd start singing at grand openings for Burger King. We've each had our own successes in different ways. I think Ruben is thrilled with what he's doing. He's working on his next album. It's interesting -- a lot of times people assume that I've done better. But he's had better radio play than I have by far. It's all a matter of perception.
Q: You were on the cover of a Christian magazine last year talking about being a God-fearing pop star, but I was on your website and found that you're selling Clay Aiken thongs for 10 bucks a pop. Where does that fit into being a good Christian pop star?
A: First of all, do you think that Christians don't wear underwear? Of course they do!
Q: A thong is a bit more skimpy than underwear.
A: We started that because when I was on the ''American Idol" tour we had a lot of people that for some reason wanted to throw underwear at me on stage. So we decided as a joke a few tours back to sell underwear. They sold so well that we had to keep selling them. The religious right is very vocal in their opinions, and no one seems to have a problem with it. I have a very religious family, and they're not concerned about it at all. Because you know what? People who love God wear underwear also.
Clay helped the CBS Early Show collect toys for needy children earlier this morning as he dropped by for special performances on the morning show. Recaps, pictures, video links for the Early Show can be found here.
Bundchen, Aiken Fulfill Wishes
NEW YORK, Nov. and Dec., 2005
(CBS) This season, The Early Show, Walmart.com and United Way are teaming up in a unique effort to brighten the holidays of children whose lives were impacted by three recent hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
The Early Show is devoting weather segments twice a day to collecting Christmas toys for those youngsters.
On Monday, Dec. 5, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Clay Aiken took part. Both also appeared in their own segments on the show.
Bundchen donated a karaoke machine, revealing she's a big karaoke fan, though she doesn't sound as good as Aiken!
He gave an assortment of toy trucks.