The #1 Clay Aiken News Website
BurberryAiken's CDD | Home & News
Saturday, December 24, 2005
On this Christmas eve, everyone at CDD wishes you and your loved ones a safe and 'joyful' Christmas and New Year's.
CDD will remain updated daily throughout the holiday season. CDD Clay News Weekly and the new CDD Clay Today newsletters will still be sent at their usual dates. (Clay Today has only been made available to subscribers of CDD Clay News Weekly, but it will be made public in the first week of January).
As Clay readies a new sophomore album, we hope to see you back here in 2006 for another Clay Aiken year.
PS. Don't forget Sunday's Good Morning America appearance, 8 AM in most time zones.
Entertainment Tonight aired a 2 minute piece about the Joyful Noise Tour last night. The footage was taken from the footage shot by ET's sister show, The Insider, on November 22 at the Chicago Theatre.
"Attention ET Shoppers: 2 more days before Christmas", Clay told ET viewers last night. He also talked about his striped socks which change daily to complement the 'boring' angel-white suit he wears during parts of the concert. Raleigh snooped around the camera a bit and Clay said that he really likes showcasing the different local actors, choirs on the tour. ET also showed some backstage footage of Clay having dinner with the cast. ET's anchor, Jane Carl noted that the album, Merry Christmas With Love, has gone platinum and is now available - sure to boost sales today.
CDD's TV Reporter Romy wrote this recap:
For those of you familiar with ET and Insider, you'll recognize the
pattern of the rapid previews of upcoming interviews and quick news
items. On December 23, 2005, most of the news on Entertainment Tonight
was about what celebrities are buying, where they were going, and what
they wanted for Christmas. After being teased several times about the
private back stage look at Clay Aiken's Christmas concert. it finally
arrived at the end of the show and lasted only a few minutes.
The show must have been filmed over several days because the
segment was interspersed with glimpses of Clay during his Joyful Noise
Tour, during rehearsals, and scenes of him backstage wearing different
clothes. Clay said, "There is an electric energy when you're on the
road during the holidays." Clay's high school choir teacher, who has
a major part in the show, spoke of having had to keep him in line in
high school and now he is directing her. Clay mentioned having local
actors and singers in each city. He said this allowed the cast to have
a little fun with new people around.
A cute scene was Clay rehearsing "Celebrate Me Home" with Angela and
they were both playfully kicking each other in the back of their legs.
Clay also revealed the only change of clothing he has on stage since he
is dressed as an angel all in white. "Angels have to have a little
style" he said, as he showed his colorful striped socks. The socks are
different every night.
Raleigh, the border terrier, was introduced as the only family member
traveling with Clay. He tried to get Raleigh to lick the camera, "you
know you want to."
When asked what Santa could bring him, Clay said, "I really don't need
anything. I'm pretty happy with what I have now." The segment ended
with the announcement that Clay's platinum selling CD, Merry Christmas
With Love, is now in the stores.
Video is now available at the Clayboard thread and will be up soon at the usual clack sites.
This article about CDD's Renee Fitzgerald's work with the Bubel Aiken foundation's Wrapping For Inclusion program appeared in the Arizona Republic today. Shorter versions of this article ("Gift wrappers aid disabled kids", Dec. 19) which appeared in smaller newspapers in Arizona were posted earlier this week.
Wrapped up in helping
Special to The Republic
Dec. 24, 2005 12:00 AM
While the rest of us were braving the malls and checking off our gift lists, Renee Fitzgerald of Tempe spent the holiday season helping children with disabilities.
Fitzgerald, Arizona coordinator for the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, and her group of 20 volunteers have been wrapping gifts and collecting donations. The foundation's mission is to provide grants and services to young people with disabilities while facilitating inclusion in the community.
"I love to support this foundation because it is opening doors for kids with disabilities and giving them a chance to experience things that were not open to them before," Fitzgerald, 53, said.
This is the second year Fitzgerald has organized a statewide holiday gift-wrapping effort for the Bubel/Aiken Foundation. The foundation, based in Raleigh, N.C., was founded in 2003 by singer Clay Aiken.
Fitzgerald's volunteers are of all ages, from teens donating community-service hours to retirees. Since mid-November, they have spent four-hour shifts in front of various storefronts, armed with plenty of holiday paper and tape. Fitzgerald travels between Phoenix and Tucson, scheduling wrapping events and organizing volunteers.
"Wrapping Christmas presents with others who support this cause is very fulfilling. Besides enjoying each others' company, we feel like we are helping to make a difference," Fitzgerald said.
Recently, a group of students with mental disabilities at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe spent their lunch break wrapping their teachers' gifts for Fitzgerald's cause. In exchange for having their gifts wrapped and labeled, the teachers donated money to the foundation.
"It's a neat activity. The bonus is that they're helping others," teacher Julie Albers said.
"Seeing these kids wrapping gifts for us has been the best part," Fitzgerald said.
With nine gift-wrapping locations statewide, wrappers have raised nearly $2,000.
"This has been a really big job but very fulfilling. I may not have all my gifts wrapped for my kids or my house clean, but I have memories that will last forever," Fitzgerald said.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Clay was mentioned on last night's Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
NBC -- Late Night With Conan O'Brien
WNBC 12/23/2005 - 12:48 AM... [ laughter and applause ] [ cheers ] oh, this is great. vice president dick cheney sent me a card. it says ""from my home, to yours."" yeah, and he sent me a card, and let's take a look at it here -- [ laughter and applause ] clayclayaiken, isn't this great? why do assume it's gonna be mean? maybe it's just nice. look at this -- it says ""all i want this year is a white christmas -- and a black bodybuilder."" [ laughter and applause ] oh, and this is nice. finally, this is the last card. snoop dogg -- can you believe it? snoop dogg sent me a card. look at this, right here. isn't this nice. look at that, right there. it says ""happy hizzle days,"" right there.
Don't forget Clay will be appearing on Entertainment Tonight tonight. The show is syndicated, so the station varies by region. Check local listings. ETonline.com posted this, with a video. ET announced yesterday that they had a suprise from Clay on tonight's show.
Tonight on ET (includes video preview)
December 23, 2005
Clay Aiken gets in the holiday spirit!
Pop star CLAY AIKEN is getting into the holiday spirit as he wows New York with his "Joyful Noise 2005 Tour." We go backstage for his big holiday concert!
Christmas With Clay!
December 23, 2005
CLAY AIKEN is caroling for Christmas and wowing his fans on his second consecutive holiday tour, "Joyful Noise 2005." And with just two days left until the big day, the pop star gets into the holiday spirit as he dazzles New York City!
"This is a lot more difficult, a lot more complex than anything we've done before," he says of the tour. "We try to get each tour to be bigger and better than the last one and we have outdone ourselves this time."
The former "American Idol" contestant headed to the Big Apple for a three day stop on his megapopular show, which began in Vancouver on November 2. He is criss-crossing the country, hitting a total of 36 cities for 40 concerts.
For the first time this year, the show features a series of vignettes with a running storyline that Clay wrote himself. "It's not something that I had ever tried to do before," he says. "But I sat down and wanted to make sure the show flowed together, the songs in the first half had some type of meaning and purpose."
The supporting roles are cast by locals from each city and one of the two main characters is actually one of Clay's former high school teachers! "It is risky," he says of hiring actors from community theaters. "We've been extremely lucky. We thought that this year if we tried to do something and involve the community and allow each show to have a local flavor, it makes it new for us every day, it makes it fresh."
The show features songs from his platinum-selling album Merry Christmas with Love CD as well as songs that don't appear on the CD and new arrangements for some of the singer's list of favorite songs.
So what does Clay have planned for the holiday? "As a family we all get together on Christmas day and our immediate household family gets together on Christmas Eve," he says. "And we go to my grandparents on Christmas day and that's our tradition. It's nothing out of the ordinary but it's a special time of the year because it's often times the only time of the year where the entire family gets together."
For more Christmas with Clay, watch tonight's ET!
As part of his role as a UNICEF ambassador, Clay visited a local Raleigh school yesterday, according to WRAL-TV. The tour is taking an extended hometown break in Raleigh this week. Clay also visited a school in New York, and Boston earlier this month. Clay performed to a packed RBC Center in Raleigh last night.
Clay Aiken Visits Raleigh School
POSTED: 8:04 pm EST December 22, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Some Raleigh elementary school students received an early Christmas treat on Thursday morning, when Clay Aiken paid a visit to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at Hilburn Elementary.
The students raised the most money for tsunami victims through UNICEF. They brought in more than $3,700. Clay is a UNICEF ambassador and recently toured Uganda and areas hit by the tsunami.
Copyright 2005 by WRAL.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Clay was mentioned on yesterday (12/22)'s edition of Showbiz Tonight on the CNN Headline News Channel.
From the CB's LuvClay26:
I just happen to be watching the CNN HN Showbiz Tonight and they did a story on AI. They just showed a small clip of Clay singing MDYK in the studio.
It was basically your "is AI good for music" kind of report, but they mentioned him for better or worse. Just wanted y'all to know.
Clay also appeared in a taped holiday message on FOX News Channel this morning. The anchors commented on Clay's successful career.
From the CB's Missy222:
I heard Clay on Fox and Friends this morning! It went something like this - "Hey, I'm Clay Aiken. I want to wish you a Happy Holiday's from Fox News." Then Steve and Brian (the anchors) said that's Clay Aiken from A.I. His career has really taken off (that's close anyway). It was all short and sweet! And his little accent was sooo cute! What a nice surprise so early in the morning.
Clay was interviewed today by Raleigh's WRAL-TV.
Video is now available in our CDD Video-On-Demand video player.
This transcript was transcribed by CDD. You may repost this, but you must give credit to www.cdd.blogspot.com.
WRAL Anchor: Clay Aiken returned home to put on a show for all his Triangle fans.
(rolls footage of Clay singing Merry Christmas With Love at Raleigh concert)
WRAL Anchor: His Joyful Noise holiday tour rocked the RBC Center. Thousands of people packed the arena to hear Raleigh's own American Idol. Before the show, our own Linda Loveland caught up with Clay.
WRAL Linda Loveland: So everyone wants to know what's the status of your move back to Raleigh and your house.
Clay Aiken: That's what I want to know too. Building a house is a lot tougher than you thought it would be. We thought it'd be done by the beginning of January, then the end of January, and now it's being pushed back into February. But it's on the way and it should be the first month or 2.
WRAL LL: Oh, that's exciting!
CA: It is, it is. And I'm thrilled about coming back. I just kind of want that calm. Driving even here today, was nice... I knew where everything was, and people drive a lot better here than they do in LA. So there's a whole sense of emotion and mood that's different.
WRAL LL: But what's the main reason you wanted to come back? What drove you from LA?
CA: Um, I'm not sure if it so much drove me from LA. LA's not necessarily a place I want to base myself. I mean it's a great place to work - I've had friends who have said it's a great place to live, but I wouldn't want to live there. But I didn't really believe them until I really lived there. And you know what, it's not a bad place to live, but if you're going to put down roots, there's no place to do that like home, you know?
WRAL LL: People can't wait for you to come home. Certainly.
CA: Ah, well... my mom, my family are thrilled about it. My mom's helping out with the house and trying to get it done as fast as she can so I can hurry up and get back.
WRAL LL: Well, you've got such a busy schedule, the tour and what not. What's up for next year?
CA: Um, well, we're working on another album, which we hope to have out by May. Um, that's the goal, but like houses, it could be September. Hopefully not. So that's the first project. And again, kind of the same old same old. I'm sure I'll do another trip with UNICEF. I really want to get back to Uganda and continue the work we were doing there. I'd like to find out more about it. And then as far as music goes, after the album, we're trying to explore different options, just to see what's available. I don't want to be doing the same thing over and over.
WRAL LL: And ideas you could give us?
CA: Um, I wish. The kind of whole thing is that I'm going to leave it open. I mean I love doing TV. I kind of enjoyed that. Whether we go with that or not, um, I don't know. Whether we try to do a different type of tour or base a show somewhere, I'm not sure either. Um, but the goal is to try to look at different options instead of doing the same things every artist does and doing something so formulae. I want to do our own thing.
WRAL LL: Kind of broaden your horizons.
CA: Well, I'll try.
WRAL Anchor: Well, Clay is now headed to Florida. He'll spend the next week performing throughout the sunshine state. And I bet his mom is going to do the interior decorating. She's very talented.
The Raleigh News & Observer published this post-concert article today. Clay performed at Raleigh's RBC Center last night. The News & Observer also published an extensive pre-concert article earlier this week. Warning: This article has a slight negative slant.
COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE JOYFUL NOISE TOUR 2005 AVAILABLE HERE.
Locals bask in Clay Aiken's limelight
Raleigh native and American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken performs "Sleigh Ride" before 9,000 fans at the RBC Center on Thursday evening, Dec. 22, during his Joyful Noise Tour 2005.
Orla Swift, Staff Writer
Clay Aiken's fans didn't need much prompting to believe his stage persona Thursday as a good spirit casting magical spells upon a host of fictional characters.
The Raleigh-raised pop star already had cast countless spells on audience members gathered at RBC Center for his "Joyful Noise Tour 2005."
Many boasted of having attended Aiken's concerts five times, 10 times, or, in middle school teacher Danielle Parker's case, 22 times.
And most are quick to point out that they've never been so, well, Parker doesn't like to call it "obsessive," but, OK, obsessive about a celebrity before.
"He's just so energetic," says Parker, 25, of Raleigh, who sat spitting distance from the stage for the RBC show and also drove to Charlotte to see him Wednesday.
"He engages the crowd," she says. "You feel like you're part of the show."
Aiken engaged Raleigh in more ways than one with this tour. He hired local actress Alison Lawrence, his former voice teacher, to star in the show and to coordinate community theater actors who would join them at each stop -- including several Thursday from Raleigh Little Theatre. Lawrence plays a lonely widow who has lost her passion for Christmas.
And Gregory Ellis, a sixth-grader from Magellan Charter School, played Lawrence's sidekick, a boisterous neighborhood kid who stops by to pester her and ends up lifting her spirits.
The Raleigh audience cheered wildly for the local actors, yelling out "Gregory!" and laughing hard at their kooky punch lines.
Larry Paisley, 66, of Columbus, Ohio, also got struck by Aiken's magic wand. The retiree drives around the country catching his shows -- seven so far for this tour, 12 on his "Jukebox" tour, a few more last Christmas.
"He has a great voice, and he has the highest morals of anybody I've ever thought about," says Paisley, who wore a T-shirt Thursday with a photo of him and Clay on it from a meeting in Michigan, and a cap with Clay pins.
"He does so many good things, helping children out in every way. He's just a great -- well, I think of him as a kid."
Aiken returned to his theatrical roots for this holiday show, writing a story that incorporated traditional Christmas songs and tunes from his Christmas CD. He spent little time in the spotlight, instead letting the actors and dancers perform scenes as he sang.
Parker liked the sentimental tale, though she admitted "it's kind of cheesy. But it's good cheesy, not roll-your-eyes cheesy."
Paisley Cookson didn't care for the cheese. The Raleigh 12-year-old and her mother, Shirley Register, left at intermission, bored with Aiken's show.
"When I go to a concert, I like when the singer takes time to talk to you, like, 'Hey, it's good to be back in Raleigh,' " said Cookson, who loved Aiken's past concert tours.
"It turned from a good, personal, heart-to-heart audience-to-Clay Aiken show to a boring opera play."
- Clay sings a new Christmas song called 'Beautiful Star of Bethlehem'
- According the ncsupack88, the RBC Center put the words "We Celebrate You Home, Clay Aiken. Merry Christmas With Love from your fans" on it's arena marquee.
- Attendance was strong. About 8000 of the 10,000 seats were filled.
- Most of Clay's family and friends were in attendance. Clay sang the new song (see above) to his Grandpapa Aiken who has Alzheimers.
- A few of Clay's music teachers were spotted.
- Jumbotrons were used.
- 11 year-old JNT actor Gregory Ellis returned to the show (he fell ill last week) and got a extended round of applause from the Raleigh crowd.
- During 'Don't Save It All For Christmas Day', when Clay asks the audience to hug Clay, Gregory goes and hugs Clay. The CB's Rainlover notes that no one has ever hugged Clay before during the song.
A few mentions in articles about Kelly Clarkson. Both are negative.
The Juice's Top 10 Albums of 2005
Scott's 8. Kelly Clarkson- Breakaway
Each year I do one of these lists and I put one release that I know all the kids too-cool-for-school will make fun of me for. Well, I've never given anyone more ammunition than to put Kelly Clarkson on my Top 10 list, but damn if she doesn't belong here. Very few people can perform stunning ballads and still manage to rock out like Pat Benatar. As long-time readers of The Juice are aware, I'm not exactly a fan of American Idol, as any show that has thrust Clay Aikeure she makes music with a bubble-gum sheen, but there's not a clunker on "Breakaway"n on us, should be hung. (Or well-hung, as Claymaniacs would declare) Kelly Clarkson is a major talent. S and while the music is solid and the lyrics are not completely banal, it's Clarkson voice which makes it one of the best of 2005.
Kelly Clarkson moves way above and beyond 'American Idol'
By Jim Harrington, STAFF WRITER
IT'S LOOKING increasingly like Kelly Clarkson might be the only "American Idol" who will still matter five years down the road.
Ruben Studdard, the winner of the second season of the reality TV show, came and went. Clay Aiken, runner-up on season two, is apparently lost in "Winter Wonderland," banking on his annual holiday show and headed for a premature career on the county fair circuit.
CDD's editior's note: Where has this guy been? 6 successful tours, almost 5.5 millions records sold, a New York Times bestselling book! Anyone with a sanity would call that success.
Mention in review of new movie 'The Ringer'. Says this 'clean' character makes Clay Aiken look 'dirty' like Robery Downy Jr.
Fast-Paised review: 'The Ringer'
Has potential to offend, but underdog story keeps jokes clean
Skip it if: You prefer Johnny Knoxville in horrifying, what's-he-doing-to-that-cow mode. His character is so pure of heart he makes Clay Aiken look like Robert Downey, Jr.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Clay will appear on tomorrow's (12/23) edition of Entertainment Tonight for a 'suprise'. No other details was available. ET is syndicated in most major markets, check local listings.
Clay will also be interviewed by Raleigh TV Station WRAL during tomorrow's noon newscast (12/23). Clay is currently on stage at the RBC Center in Raleigh.
Update 12/23: The interview was broadcast during the morning newscast. It may be shown again at noon.
From the CB's HappyClayDay:
WRAL's Lynda Loveland mentioned this morning on the early news that she would be talking to Clay this morning and they would air it during the 12:00 news hour. Just a heads up for those who live in the viewing area and hopefully someone can cap it for others - I would if I could!! Be thinking of me tonight when I am in the presence of OMC!!
From the CB's hippoga:
Just got back from the Charlotte show and don't see this online yet. Please delete if a duplicate!
Today's Charlotte Observer does not have a "review" of the concert but there is a very, very nice color picture of Clay in the local section with the header "Arena full of Joyful Noise".
"American Idol runner-up and Raleigh native Clay Aiken dazzled fans Wednesday during his Joyful Noise" holiday show at Charlotte Bobcats Arena. The show, written by UNC Charlotte graduate Aiken, tells the story of a woman rediscovering the meaning of Christmas through flashbacks and song."
Nice to see! North Carolinians may want to pick up a copy.
We're trying to find a scan for you.
Clay was mentioned on today's episode of MTV's popular music video show TRL. Clay's Invisible and The Way videos were highly popular on TRL in 2003 and 2004, due to the 'clayzy' voting by Clay fans.
From the CB's intoxiCLAYted:
A friend just told me that her son saw/heard a Clay mention on TRL. I don't know what it was about, but they showed Clay's Christmas album.
I don't know if this show is repeated in another time zone or not...since it's LIVE.
Clay was mentioned in December 17's Safe Havens comic strip. Personally, I have no clue what it means.
The CB's cirrus02 posted her interpretation:
I took the comic to mean that in 60 years Clay may have passed and Grandma will see him in heaven.
From the CH:
CAP just told me that [producer of the sophomore album] Jaymes [Foster-Levy] is talking on the CV cellcert.
She said this is her first time back since she left the tour and only her second time hearing Emmanuel....She is spending Christmas in Raleigh... and then going back to LA on "Boxing Day", Monday, Dec. 26.
She just said their hope is to have the album out in the first six months, which isn't too far off. She said she promised that there would be an album out this year. Cellcerter asked for more specifics and she gave the HOPE six months, then said, but it will be good. (there seems to be a difference of opinion on what she said here)
Dream Big Media, Inc. issued this press release about its 2005 Celebrity Naughty or Nice list, which we reported first yesterday. Clay was #2 on the nice list yesterday, but that is changing as Clay votes pour in. Barry Manilow still holds a commanding lead over Clay, so be sure to cast your vote for Clay at www.jinglevoteblog.com.
FANS SCRAMBLE TO MAKE SURE FAVORITE CELEBS LAND TOP SPOTS ON SANTA'S CELEBRITY NICE LIST
Press Release by: Dream Big Media, Inc.
Published on openPR 12-22-2005 08:17 am - CET
(openPR) - THE NORTH POLE, December 21, 2005 -- This year, for the first time in history, instead of checking his List, Santa Claus is checking his BLOG to see which celebs were naughty and nice -- as he prepares to go public with his 2nd ANNUAL TOP 10 CELEBRITY NAUGHTY & NICE LIST on Christmas Eve.
CLAY AIKEN'S fans have also been makin' a whole lotta noise in support of their favorite fella! This CLAY-Crazy community has cast more than 540 votes to make sure he gets a prime spot on the Nice List!
Clay's version of O Holy Night's radio airplay on Adult Contempory radio stations increased by 26 spins over last week, landing it on Radio&Records.com's AC Most Added list at #3.
Clay is featured in a new documentary about autism called "Normal People Scare Me" according to TownOnline.com. Taylor Cross was a recepient of a Bubel Aiken Foundation award in 2004.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
North Cambridge Catholic High School students learned respect, tolerance and acceptance from a young man who shared his life story during a visit to the school Dec. 2.
Taylor Cross and his mother, Keri Bowers, came to the school from California to share with students his feature film "Normal People Scare Me." Cross, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 6, created the film with the help of his mother and producer Joey Travolta. The film features celebrities including Clay Aiken, Paula Zahn and surfer Izzy Paskowitz, as well as more than 65 interviews with autistic individuals.
Charlotte Observer's Dec. 21 Charlotte concert photo gallery
More American Idol mentions
American Idols Top Charts
Written by: Jennifer O'Reilly
American Idols are dominating the charts this week and finding something perhaps just as satisfying than just high financial yields -- pop credibility. Season Four winner Carrie Underwood's debut album Some Hearts rings in at number two this week, just missing the top spot to Eminem's Curtain Call. Bo Bice placed at number four with The Real Thing and pop chart mainstay and original American Idol Kelly Clarkson's album placed at number eight.
In the 2005 series of American Idol, Simon Cowell predicted that Carrie Underwood would not only win American Idol but that she would be the bestseller idol ever. With her new country album, Underwood certainly seems to be on that path. Some Hearts has already sold 1.1 million albums.
Bo Bice's album comes with an attempt to parlay his second place finish into pop success. Clay Aiken is the only idol so far to accomplish this feat.
Another one about American Idol.
American Idols Dominate Billboard Holiday Album Chart
As Idol Clay Aiken works on a brand new album expected this spring, his Christmas album Merry Christmas With Love recently soared past the million unit mark. Clay recently completed a very successful holiday tour.
Article about boxing
The Boxing Channel
By Michael Swann
After seven foot, 323 pound Russian, Nikolay Valuev, defeated John Ruiz by a disputed majority decision for the WBA heavyweight belt in Berlin, Germany, Ruiz' promoter, Don King, pulled himself back together quite quickly.
Before we end, some pertinent questions remain unanswered. Will Nikolay Valuev come to America for fame and riches? Will he face any competition tougher than Clay Aiken? Will state commissions allow xanax in the corner for Norman Stone? If Stone continues to lose control, should he just be put to sleep?
Clay mention in caption of a figure skating picture at SportsIllustrated.com.
Caption This: Reader Responses
Clay Aiken decides to remain a singer.
--Rick, Tampa, Fla.
Mention in TVSquad.com blog about Kelly Clarkson.
The most successful American Idol
Dec 22nd 2005 4:37PM by Annie Wu
This morning, I was watching some VH1 countdown show (apparently, they don't play music videos unless they're accompanied by some number nowadays), when I saw Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" video. It got me thinking... Where's Ruben Studdard? Fantasia Barrino? Carrie Underwood?
Granted, Underwood has had less time to get moving, but there isn't much of an excuse for Studdard and Barrino. Clarkson has come out with hit after hit, cementing her place in mainstream music (and she won in 2002, remember?). I think I saw Studdard's video once on BET (no idea why I was on that channel). Same with Barrino. Once. Clarkson, however, has been repeatedly pounded into my brain. Even Clay Aiken has managed to get on my musical nerves once or twice and he was a flippin' runner-up!
New article about Clay from the United Press International
Caregiving: Clay Aiken urges reaching out
By ALEX CUKAN
Clay Aiken's most recent tour, Joyful Noise Tour 2, used the theme from the title track of his 2004 platinum Christmas album "Merry Christmas With Love" -- a theme that family is more than people with whom you are related.
At the end of the show, Aiken introduces the cast and says that when he was a child in Raleigh N.C., he spent the holidays with parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, but since going on tour, the cast and musicians have become family as well.
"You don't have to be around people you are related to be with family," Aiken told the audience at the end of the show in Boston recently.
Aiken wove the theme of "Merry Christmas With Love," about an older woman who has no reason to celebrate until carolers appear outside her home and she joins them singing and recaptures her Christmas sprit.
In the show, an older woman, played by Aiken's former high school choir director, Alison Lawrence of Raleigh, finds no reason to celebrate Christmas after her husband died and her married son moved away.
But a single mother with several children and holiday problems of her own takes the trouble to get her a gift and sends her 9-year-old son Thomas to deliver it for her.
Thomas is a talkative child who gets the older woman to open up and recall her fond memories of past holidays.
The boy, whose mother had her hands full and didn't have a lot of time for him, discovered a friendship with the older woman and invites her to his Christmas pageant at his church on Christmas Day. The boy and the older woman agree it's important to spend the holiday with people you care about, whether related or not.
"We're not very good at building community," Patrick F. Fagan, Heritage Foundation research fellow in family and cultural issues, told UPI's Caregiving.
"Families have moved apart physically and emotionally and in their absence, we have not been as inclusive as we could -- the culture of the American family is changing and the family provides the main infrastructure of care."
About 27 percent of U.S. families provide caregiving to an elderly parent, but while this is a large number, three-quarters of the population may have no idea of the amount of sacrifice it takes to provide caregiving to an elderly parent.
Christmas gives a handy excuse to reach out to not only the elderly who may be alone, but their caregivers as well who are often as isolated.
One suggestion: Encourage the elderly to talk about holidays in the past -- it's something they enjoy, and it can be informative to others. A grandchild of a friend of Caregiving was intrigued by his grandmother's account on Thanksgiving of life before the automobile.
Families that provide caregiving -- especially those in the latter stages --very rarely get a break and get very little in support from either the government or society; they could use some attention and support, not only on Christmas, but the rest of the year as well. They carry a very large burden, and they often carry it alone.
"What caregivers do is a very generous gift to society, and they make life better for everybody -- except themselves. They pay a price," said Fagan.
This Christmas Aiken's extended family will get a bit larger. His family gathers at his grandparents' home -- his grandfather has Alzheimer's disease -- and he will mix his North Carolina family with members of his musical family who can't make it home while the tour stops for four days in Raleigh during Christmas. In addition, some of the buddies of his younger brother, Brett, who joined the U.S. Marines after high school and is currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, will also join the celebration.
The 36-city tour ends Dec. 29-30 in Clearwater, Fla.
Alex Cukan is an award-winning journalist, but she always has considered caregiving her primary job. UPI welcomes comments and questions about this column. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to tune in for live webcam shots from the concert tonight! Raleigh's RBC Center is equipped with a live webcam which is updated every minute even during tonight during the concert. Older Claymates will remember this feature fondly from the summer 2003 American Idol 2 concert at the RBC Center. Click here to see the webcam.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Clay Aiken and a team of performers get into the spirit of the holiday season during his Joyful Noise 2005 concert at the Atlanta Civic Center recently. Following the final leg of the tour, the American Idol star will return to his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.
About this week's record sales.
Eminem Holds Billboard #1 As Carrie Beats Bo Again
12.21.2005 11:00 AM EST
Bice's The Real Thing opens on Billboard's albums chart at #4, with 227,000 copies sold during its first week in stores. Underwood's Some Hearts debuted at #2 with sales of more than 314,000 when it was released last month. And Carrie isn't the only "Idol" veteran to top Bice's initial take. 2004's "American Idol" champ Fantasia sold more than 239,000 copies of her 2004 LP Free Yourself. 2003 winner Ruben Studdard's 2003 debut Soulful topped Billboard with 416,000 scans, while runner-up Clay Aiken's Measure of a Man, released that same year, also debuted at #1 with 613,000 copies sold. And Kelly Clarkson's inaugural LP, 2003's Thankful, opened at #3 with 297,000 sold.
Another one about Carrie and Bo with some other Idol stats stuck in.
"Idol" Rerun: Bo Battles Carrie on Charts
by David Jenison
Dec 21, 2005, 1:00 PM PT
Nothing quite captures the holiday spirit like American Idol stars fighting for stocking-stuffer supremacy.
And once again Bo Bice's strong showing was no match for the force that is Carrie Underwood. The country songbird, who beat the country rocker on the fourth American Idol last spring, proved her supremacy in record sales.
Moreover, Clarkson's quadruple-platinum smash has now spent 55 consecutive weeks in the Top 20, a feat not accomplished in more than five years, and Clay Aiken's holiday-themed Merry Christmas with Love just passed the million-copy mark. The new American Idol season premieres Jan. 17 on Fox.
Our Critics Picks
KIMBERLEY LOCKE The second most popular iTunes download for this American Idol alum-after her smash debut single "8th World Wonder"--is a boisterous version of "Up on the Housetop," one of the least hip tunes in the canon of beloved Christmas carols. That Locke, a gifted R&B vocalist who probably should have bested both Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard on AI2, pulls it off so skillfully is a testament to her versatility. Her debut album, 2004's One Love, included dreamy, soul-soaked ballads and high-energy dance pop (some of which has been remixed for the club scene), as well as a handful of classic covers like "I Can’t Make You Love Me" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," another borderline cheesy pick she manages to carry off with her magnificent voice. The local gal-she graduated from Gallatin High and Belmont University-comes home for the holidays to perform a mix of seasonal favorites, lustrous ballads and upbeat grooves that will be right at home at one of Nashville's trendy clubs. Play Dance Bar --KATIE DODD
Apprentice runner-up is the 'new Clay Aiken'
The Apprentice Finale: Randalgate Continues
Although I'm on vacation, I've been unable to escape Randalgate. How could I? I caught NBA Tall Man Randal, Evil Eye Rebecca and The Trumpster on Larry King Live last night. If you've read my blog on The Apprentice's controversial finale, you already I know I believe Randal made the right call by refusing to share his hard-earned victorious moment with Rebecca.
I thought I got past Randalgate and my angry feelings about it until I watched the butt-kissing King interviewing all parties involved. Randal won. Fair and square. Move on, people. But there he was, basically being put on the defensive by The Suspendered One. You would've thought Rebecca won instead of Randal. Which, in a way, she did. Even The Suspendered One gushed and fawned all over Evil Eye Rebecca, saying being runner-up would turn out to be best thing that ever happened to her.
"Your name is up in lights," King raved.
It's official: Evil Eye Rebecca is the new Clay Aiken.
Meanwhile, The Donald gushed just as much, even going as far as saying how he was "staring right at her very beautiful face" when he asked NBA Tall Man Randal that "little question" about whether Rebecca should be hired.
Let's let him do that, people. He's earned it.
New Finnish Idol looks like Clay Aiken?
Finland, meet your new Finnish Idol!
So the other day at Brogue's, my friend Meri, who knows more about music than anyone I have ever met, asked me if I knew anything about Finnish Idol, the singing sensation that's sweeping that nation. I, of course, did not, because I am an ignorant American and don't always know about that stuff. (I am ashamed of me.)
Meri, who, we have already established, knows this stuff, so she sent me some stuff about the new winner, Illka Jaaskelainen (I am missing some accents and puncuation and things that would make his name make sense in Finnish. But you get the idea.)
I assume the story is saying how awesome and talented he is, and how much he looks like a less Howdy Doody Clay Aiken. (Hi, Claymates! Please keep your hate mail to a festive holiday minimum, 'kay?)
New York Times article on the Miss America pagent. Clay appeared on the pagent broadcast in 2003 and 2004.
Miss America as She Used to Be
By JACQUES STEINBERG
Published: December 22, 2005
NASHVILLE, Dec. 15 - When the Miss America Organization announced this year that its next pageant would be broadcast on Country Music Television - a basic cable channel where, heretofore, the standard of poise and elegance was probably set by Daisy Duke strutting past the General Lee in popular reruns of "The Dukes of Hazzard" - die-hard followers of the competition worried that an American icon was about to get chicken-fried.
Also gone in January will be a head-to-head talent contest between the two remaining finalists that had been added last year and was meant to channel "American Idol."
In case anyone missed that hint, Clay Aiken, the runner-up in the second season of "Idol," was on hand last year to sing, "There she is ..." - imagine Bert Parks's hair restyled with gel and spikes - as was Chris Harrison, the host of "The Bachelor," who acted as master of ceremonies and gentle executioner. Neither will be back in January.
Help Clay win the top honours for JingleJamBlog's 2005 Celebrity Naughty or Nice list. Clay currently is #2 on the nice list, with Barry Manilow leading in first place. Paris Hilton and President George Bush are leading the naughty list currently. Cast your vote for Clay here.
Clay mention in new RCA Record press release about sales of Idol CD's.
RCA Music Group's American Idols Dominate Holiday Album Chart
Wednesday December 21, 1:19 pm ET
Carrie Underwood, Bo Bice, Kelly Clarkson All Top Ten This Week
Fantasia, Sees Sales Boosted by Four Grammy Nominations, Clay Aiken Christmas Album Soars Past Platinum
NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Three "American Idols" -- exclusive recording artists of the RCA Music Group -- dominate the Billboard Top 200 this week, taking three places in the Top Ten on the last chart before Christmas.
As Idol Clay Aiken works on a brand new album expected this spring, his Christmas album Merry Christmas With Love recently soared past the million unit mark. Clay recently completed a very successful holiday tour.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
IF YOU ARE GOING TO THE RALEIGH CONCERT
PROJECT PHONE HOME
The Raleigh Claymates wanted to do something special and unique for Clay at the concert that would include as many people as possible! Because we would only be able to purchase a limited supply of lights or glow sticks to distribute to pre-party guests and fans at the concert, we thought more people could participate if we used an item that many of them already have, their cell phone. We are encouraging everyone to turn on their cell and allow the LCD display to light up the arena during Don't Save It All For Christmas Day. If you have another kind of light or glow stick, feel free to bring that as well. It has been suggested that we do this during Celebrate Me Home. Although this song has great significance for Clay's hometown concert, we don't want to interrupt the flow of his production. Please help us spread the word to everyone attending the concert! Thank you!
This caused some laughter and commotion on the Clayboard. An eBay user today tried to sell Clay Aiken! It has since been discovered that the seller was trying to sell a Clay Aiken concert ticket.
Starting bid: US $95.00
Buy It Now price: US $95.00
Time left: 3 days 14 hours
7-day listing, Ends Dec-23-05 09:03:27 PST
Start time: Dec-16-05 09:03:27 PST
History: 0 bids
Item location: East Coast
Ships to: United States
Shipping costs: US $7.95 -- Standard Flat Rate Shipping Service
Shipping, payment details and return policy
Seller information (edited out - but seller has 'clay' in their seller name !!! hmmmmm - wonder if they're on this board....)
Item Specifics - Tickets
Event Type: Concerts Number of Tickets: 1
Venue State/Province: Florida Row: --
Venue City: --
Venue Name: -- Month: --
FoxesOnIdol.com has posted some new stats from this year's Billboard year-end chart.
Idol Chartwatch, Special Edition: Billboard Year-End Results
Every year, Billboard magazine publishes a list of the top-selling artists and albums in each category that they chart. In 2005, Idols really made their mark. Here's a complete rundown of this year's results.
Top Billboard 200 Artist: Kelly #6, Fantasia #30, Clay Aiken #55
Top Billboard 200 Albums for 2005: Breakaway (Kelly) #5, Free Yourself (Fantasia) #27, Merry Christmas With Love (Clay) #52, I Need an Angel (Ruben Studdard) #172
Top Selling Artist for 2005: Kelly #6, Fantasia #30, Clay #55
Top Internet Album Sales: Breakaway (Kelly) #13, Merry Christmas With Love (Clay) #14
Sandi Patty mentions Clay in the liner notes of her new Christmas album, Yuletide Joy. Patty was on the first artists to record Merry Christmas With Love in 1983. Clay recorded the song last year as the title track of Merry Christmas With Love.
From the CB's pattipandaluvsclay:
Ever since I recorded this song in 1983 I have always wanted to put it on another Christmas project. When Clay Aiken recorded this song last year on his cd, I thought, now is the time. We didn't re-record anything so this is the recording from over 20 years ago.
I still sound like me (I think), but there are places I sound very young. I love this story and have always thought it captures the spirit of Christmas.
It was this song that inspired the book I wrote with the same title, Merry Christmas With Love.
Looks like Clay had a little fun in his day off yesterday. The Associated Press reports that "pop star and North Carolina native Clay Aiken defied a security guard by signing an autograph for a little girl" while attending yesterday's Charlotte Bobcats NBA game at the Charlotte New Arena. Incidentally, Clay is scheduled to perform at the same arena later this week.
The Charlotte Observer also mentioned this today:
Observations Rick Bonnell
Clay Aiken was popular, signing autographs at halftime. That hat he wore was ... uh ... different.
FoxesOnIdol.com's review of Bo Bice's album
Is "The Real Thing" the Real Thing? A Review of Bo Bice's Album
Historically, an Idol's first CD is a complete departure from the music that we heard them perform on the show. It is supposed to be an opportunity for newly hatched artists to express their own style and to sing songs that really reflect their personalities. But fans do not always welcome this change up in style, and first CDs often disappoint even the most ardent of supporters. Some of Ruben's fans were disappointed when Soulful took on a more urban edge and some of Kelly’s fans wanted more ballads on Thankful. Even Clay's Measure of a Man met some resistance when it was first released. Fans thought they knew their Idols and were not always pleased when they discovered they did not.
Mention in article about John Mayer taking part in CBS Early Show's Toy Drive. Clay also donated toy trucks to the drive when he appeared on the Early Show earlier this month.
John Mayer Fulfills Wishes
NEW YORK, Nov. and Dec., 2005
On Monday, Dec. 5, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Clay Aiken took part. Both also appeared in their own segments on the show.
A tribute to Clay's JNT socks from the Leacheous Broads for Clay Aiken.
MSNBC.com article on first season AI contestants refers to Clay indirectly
First season 'Idols': Where are they now?
From Justin to Kelly, singers have found varying degrees of success
As if it wasn't embarrassing enough that other top-10 finalists have done better than Justin, the next season's runner-up quickly proved that winning the competition isn't necessary for success. Coming in second place can, we learned after "American Idol 2," make for a wildly successful career.
Merry Christmas With Love success mention.
'Idol' power evident in Christian and gospel music charts
Clay Aiken's 'Merry Christmas With Love' (RCA Contemporary/Provident-Integrity Distribution) claims the No. 1 title on the Top Christian Albums chart. Aiken also took the No. 2 spot on the Top Christian Artists list.
Monday, December 19, 2005
The Raleigh News & Observer's blog yesterday mentioned the great responses to the article the N&O published yesterday.
Much ado about Clay
Around the Web, people have a lot to say about today's story and photo gallery (with audio) on Clay Aiken. Just a few of the threads:
- Claysweetea on The Clayboard writes: "Thanks so much for a really very interesting article. Nothing like hearing it from the man himself. That's why I pay no attention to what anyone else says anymore."
- Over at The Clack House, Savonnette comments: "I am really glad he decided to return to Raleigh. He knows he will need to spend a lot of time in LA and New York, but he needs to create as normal a life as he can where his family and friends are. This will assure a sane and happier Clay Aiken in the future; we will all benefit from it, and he won't be tempted to quit anymore because he feels so lonely in LA."
- Pamforclay on the Clayboard: "This is the kind of article I love to read about Clay. Meatier than most and very interesting. Clay is in charge these days. YES!"
- Over at Hearful House, Perfect 10523C: "I went through so many emotions reading this article. I laughed, I giggled, I got tears it is a wonderful article."
There's no question Clay's fanbase is still going strong. So far, this is the most-popular story today on newsobserver.com.
As we reported yesterday, there was speculation that a member of the JNT cast, Gregory Ellis (11 year-old Clay hired to be the character Tommy) was sick. Clay responded to this last night via the fanclub. In a rare move, Clay has allowed this fanclub blog to be quoted on fansites, such as this site.
Clay's blog @ the Clay Aiken fanclub
09:09 PM: Big G.
(feel free to copy and paste verbatim to other sites)
Well.. you folks sure know how to speculate! It's been quite funny for all of us to read the different "knowledge" that so many have with regard to our little star, Gregory, and his "condition".
You should know by now that you can't believe what you read on the internet.
Allow me to assure you... Gregory is simply not feeling well. He's 11 years old and this is a grueling schedule that takes its toll on all of us. He is an AMAZINGLY professional young man, who shows all of us up on stage every night with his talent and energy. His "condition" is not a "condition" at all. It is nothing serious and we expect fully for him to be back on stage showing us all up again very soon.
Your prayers and words of encouragement for him and his family are still appreciated, as they are for us all.
The Ahwatukee Republic spotlighted Clay's Daily Double's renee4clay's work with this years Bubel Aiken Foundation Wrapping For Inclusion campaign. Renee also posted this heart warming story last week.
Gift wrappers aid disabled kids
Special for The Republic
Dec. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
While the rest of us may be completing our gift shopping, Renee Fitzgerald of Tempe is helping children with disabilities.
Fitzgerald, Arizona coordinator for the Bubel Aiken Foundation, and her group of 20 volunteers are wrapping gifts and collecting donations. The foundation's mission is to provide grants and services to young people with disabilities while facilitating greater inclusion. "I love to support this foundation because it is opening doors for kids with disabilities and giving them a chance to experience things that were not open to them before," said Fitzgerald, 53.
This is the second year Fitzgerald has organized a gift-wrapping effort for Bubel Aiken, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., and was founded in 2003 by singer Clay Aiken.
Her volunteers are of all ages, from teens donating community-service hours to retirees. They spend four-hour shifts in front of stores, armed with holiday paper and tape.
Recently, a group of students with mental disabilities at Marcos de Niza High in Tempe spent their lunch break wrapping their teachers' gifts for Fitzgerald's cause. The teachers donated money to the Bubel Aiken foundation.
With nine gift-wrapping locations statewide, Fitzgerald and her volunteers have raised nearly $1,000 so far. Southeast Valley locations include Changing Hands Bookstore, Borders and Barnes & Noble. The volunteers will continue wrapping gifts until Christmas Eve.
To volunteer or donate, please contact Renee Fitzgerald at email@example.com. Some locations and times:
-Today: , 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., Borders on North Alma School Road in Mesa, across from Fiesta Mall
-Tuesday, 3-7 p.m., Borders, 870 N. 54th St., Tempe.
-Friday, 3-5 p.m., Barnes & Noble, 3807 S. Gilbert Road in Gilbert.
A small mention about Clay's *extensive* food allergies of the Dec. 27th issue of Women's World magazine. Thanks to pattipandaluvsclay for the scan.
The CB's ap1959 says AI2 winner Ruben Studdard defended Clay on an Atlanta radio station earlier this month. A download of the interview is available here.
Please don't throw tomatoes at me...because I know what many members think of Bham Alabama based talk radio hosts RICK and BUBBA.....butttttttt they had Ruben as a phone-in guest on Dec 9th. I taped it and just getting time to listen to the interview. Of course I was waiting for any Clay mention.
They finally asked if he keeps in touch with other Idols "like Clay". Ruben said he talked with Clay about a week ago (prior to 12/9). He said "Clay will be in Atlanta soon so everybody to go check out "Mr. Clay Aiken".
A comedian was also on the show and in the background was making some jokes about Clay (not favorable I don't think)...Ruben couldn't hear them but said "what did he say"...then the banter started about ClayMates will get you.
I will have to play it again to get the exact words but Ruben said yeah he has the "craziest fan club"...they will come after you I guarantee that...Ruben "chackles" to Rick and Bubba talking about ClayNation getting after them. It was a cute interview and Ruben was in a more outgoing mood than normal seemed-like.
Ruben is definitely a Class-Act as is CLAY when it comes to giving Kudos to others. I think he and Clay will remain life-long friends.
Today, Clay's brother Brett turns 20. From all the Claymates, Happy Birthday Brett!
Brett recently returned from his Marine duties in Iraq and will be celebrating in Raleigh with the rest of the family.
Another one about holiday music/albums.
Up on the Chart Top: A Seasonal Music Avalanche
Of Evergreen Chestnuts and Party Mix
The Washington Post
By J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 19, 2005; Page A01
Nothing says Christmas quite like a summer day in Hollywood.
There is still room each season for a new hit holiday album or two, which is why labels keep releasing them. (It doesn't hurt that holiday-music releases also help artists remain visible between regular studio projects.)
Last year, Clay Aiken was the seasonal sweepstakes winner, as his "Merry Christmas With Love" collection entered the Billboard chart at No. 4 and eventually sold 1.1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Clay on KOST-FM's website. It says 'Photo Gallery' with Clay's photo on it, but ironically there is no Clay in the actual photo album. ???
Sunday, December 18, 2005
ClayAikenKids.com recently got a chance to talk to 6th-grader Gregory Ellis who was hired by Clay to be part of the JNT concerts' storyline.
Gregory Ellis is a sixth grader from Raleigh, NC. Gregory answered a few questions for my children to help us get to know him better. We thank he and his mother for allowing us this opportunity.
1. What is your full name?
Gregory Ravary Ellis
2. Where do you live?
Raleigh, North Carolina
3. Where were you born?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Cookie Dough & Strawberry
6. What is your favorite Holiday memory?
Last year in Raleigh with my family and aunt and uncle and cousins,
and grandparents all together.
7. How big is your family?
My mom, dad, Brother Justin and sister Juliette.
8. What's your favorite kind of animal?
9. What is your favorite Holiday song?
Christmastime and Songs for a winter night
10. Do you have a favorite holiday gift?
Ping pong table set
11. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I like acting and singing, but if I can't do what I am doing now,
maybe a professional tennis player.
12. Do you have any pets?
Not anymore. I used to have a bunny, but I gave it away when I left for
the tour because it wasn't fair to the animal.
13. Do you play any sports?
Tennis, and soccer
14. What is your favorite school subject?
15. Of all the places you have ever been, what is your favorite place?
Corsica and Switzerland
16. What is your favorite movie?
Chronicles of Narnia, Lord Of The Rings
17. Do you play any musical instruments?
Not any more, I do not have the time, but I used to play the trumpet,
clarinet, piano and guitar.
18. What is your favorite book?
19. What is your favorite T.V. show?
I do not watch T.V., but once in a while I like to watch The Simpsons
20. What is your favorite Holiday?
21. What is your favorite food?
My mom's cuisine! All types!
22. How many plays have you starred in?
Camelot " Tom of Warwick", Annie "Drake" and School House Rock " Joe", among others.
23. How many times have you rehearsed Joyful Noise?
During the two weeks before the tour started.
24. Do you have any allergies?
Not that I know of.
25. How many times have you messed up your lines?
I have never missed a line, but I have stumbled on them once in awhile.
26. What is your favorite hobby?
Listening to music.
27. Who are your best friends?
Classmates from school, but also my Big Bro!
Gregory, the 11 year old actor Clay hired for the tour was absent last night in Atlanta. CTLover1 reports:
Gregory, the boy that plays the main part in the vignettes in the concert, isn't in the show tonight due to illness. Rumors are flying but no matter what's going on with him, I'm sure he could use prayer. I don't think he would miss performing if he really didn't have to.
You can leave your thoughts for him by posting a comment (click on the 'comments' link right under this text)
Gregory Ellis- the
9 year-old actor who plays "Tommy" in the JNT vignettes, is ill and will be temporarily replaced by a child from Georgia. Young Garner (no last name available) was called upon to fill in for Gregory ony a few hoursbefore the Saturday night performance, and the script was modified to accomodate the changes. Audience members reported that the show "went surprisingly smoothly" with few glitches, even with the last minute changes. Garner and lead performer Allison Lawrence both received standing ovations when introduced by Clay at the end of the show.
On the topic of Christmas music.
Pop stars give props to 'joyful' music
By George Varga
UNION-TRIBUNE POP MUSIC CRITIC
December 18, 2005
It wasn't so long ago that listening to Christmas albums was the aural equivalent of drowning in a giant vat of supermarket egg nog - overprocessed and oh-so-sweet.
But no more.
Christmas albums have undergone a remarkable transformation, growing increasingly hipper, diverse and far more lucrative than in years past.
Christmas albums can also make a big difference in an artist's career.
Last year, pap-pop vocalists Clay Aiken and Jessica Simpson both soared to the upper reaches of Billboard's national Top Holiday Album charts, while Mannheim Steamroller's four New Age-flavored Christmas albums have sold an astounding 25 million copies over the past 15 years. More recently, Krall's "Christmas Songs" has been No. 1 on Billboard's Top Jazz charts for the past month.
The CB's Wolfpack is back in this satirical post on the CB. Clay appeared with supermodel Giesel Bundchen on the CBS Early Show earlier this month.
Aiken to wed Bundchen?
Clay Aiken is said to be proposing to lover Gisele Bundchen. The heartthrob singer is allegedly desperate to tie the knot - but he doesn't want to hurry to the altar. A friend claimed: "Clay is addicted to his independence. He's happy with Gisele and doesn't want to jinx the relationship"
A relative says Gisele wants to make sure her romance with Clay is right before she ties the knot. The two met during a guest appearance on the Early Show and hit it off right away. Gisele was reportedly spotted in Victoria Secrets in Clay's hometown of Raleigh and the two have been spotted numerous times on Clay's current tour.
A clue of a possible problem in the relationship surfaced recently when in a recent interview Clay stated "Any woman who wants me must get along with my dog Raleigh. I don't care if she is a supermodel with great legs, beautiful hips, full breast and a gorgeous face, Raleigh comes first."
About American Idol
Aural Fixations - 'American Idol' alums produce a bland mixed bag
By Chris Hansen Orf, Tribune
December 18, 2005
The Fox network's cash cow reality show "American Idol," which -- ready or not -- starts up again in January, seeks to give Americans some new clean-cut and freshly scrubbed musical stars to worship.
The program has given us Kelly Clarkson, who has thus far had a successful pop career; Clay Aiken, who didn't win but has a career as a crooner off the ground; and Ruben Studdard, who has proved to be a soulful one-trick-pony flop.
2nd Tomsriver Festival planned for 2006; Clay kicked off the Jukebox tour this past summer at the festival.
Second Toms RiverFest planned
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 12/18/05
BY JEAN MIKLE
TOMS RIVER BUREAU
DOVER TOWNSHIP -- Toms RiverFest will return for a second year.
The Toms River Regional school district, the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce and Dover Township officials announced that the four-day arts-and-music festival will be held on July 27, 28, 29 and 30 on the grounds of Toms River High School North, 1245 Old Freehold Road.
"After careful consideration of all the suggestions and positive comments we received after last year's festival, it was an easy decision to start planning a second Toms RiverFest," said Toms River Schools Superintendent Michael J. Ritacco.
The four-day festival, held for the first time in late July this year, drew about 70,000 people to the High School North campus to see acts like Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Maroon 5, Keith Urban, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Jesse McCartney.
The festival grossed about $2.5 million, with expenses of $1.9 million, earning about $600,000.
The concert schedule for the main stage will be announced in January, Ritacco said. At that time, a sale date for tickets will be announced.
Kids' letters to Santa - Seth mentions Clay. - Cute!
Kids' letters to Santa
WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A BIG RAILROAD CROSSING WITH LIGHTS AND A GATE AND ALSO A LITTLE SCHOOL BUS.
I WOULD ALSO LIKE A TOY SHOT GUN AND A MATH BLASTER COMPUTER GAME. I LOVE TRAINS SO I WOULD LIKE SOME TRAIN MOVIES AND TRAIN BOOKS. I WOULD ALSO LIKE SOME BULLDOZER MOVIES AND BOOKS ABOUT BULLDOZERS.
I AM LEARNING TO PLAY THE GUITAR SO I WOULD LIKE A NEW GUITAR SO I CAN PLAY MUSIC AT CHURCH AND FOR MY FAMILY. YOU BROUGHT ME A NEW COMPUTER LAST YEAR SO I WOULD LIKE SOME TRAIN COMPUTER GAMES...I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO HAVE SOME NEW MOVIES.SINCE I HAVE A SWEET TOOTH, WOULD YOU PLEASE BRING ME A BIG FAT HERSHEY BAR.....IF IT NOT ASKING TOO MUCH WOULD YOU PLEASE BRING MY DAD A NEW PICK-UP TRUCK (NOT A TOY ONE) AND FOR MY MOM, A VISIT TO SEE CLAY AIKEN....MY PARENTS HAVE BEEN VERY GOOD THIS YEAR ALSO....THANK YOU SANTA AND HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!
About independently released Christmas CD's and how they are stacking up with ones released by the major record labels.
Cheryl Hall: Dallas exec matches up retailers and big-time recording artists
11:38 AM CST on Sunday, December 18, 2005
Chris Christian has already experienced his Christmas miracle.
His fledgling company, Dallas-based WDMG, managed to sign, seal and deliver six holiday CDs featuring nearly two dozen major recording artists to 7,000 stores nationwide. It pulled off this feat in less than three months.
We're talking Willie Nelson, Amy Grant, the Pointer Sisters, Jesse McCartney, Al Jarreau, Natalie Cole, Jim Brickman and Vanessa Williams, among others. Many of the 76 tracks are brand-new carols or updated renditions. They're all owned or licensed by this small company across from the Quadrangle.
Last Christmas, Hallmark Cards Inc. sold 1.5 million special James Taylor CDs in its 4,000 Gold Crown stores. By comparison, the hottest holiday CD produced by a major record label last year was Clay Aiken's, which sold 753,000 copies.
CDD Editor's note: Although the article claims 1.5 million James Taylor CDs were sold, in fact that is the number that was shipped. Since Hallmark does not have any precise tracking instrument such as SoundScan, the actual number of CD's sold may be significantly lower. RCA shipped 1.2 million copies of Merry Christmas With Love.
As promised, the Raleigh News & Observer published a very long article about Clay today in anticipation for his return to Raleigh (for good) next week. The article covers lots of topics, including how he spends his time while on tour, why he moved back to Raleigh, his decision to drop Simon Fuller and 19E as well as his dedication to working with kids. A fantastic read.
Th News & Observer also has 17 fantastic back stage photos from the New York concert earlier this month which is 'narrated' by Clay. The photo gallery is available here. We have a few photos from the slideshow posted below.
The December 22 edition of the N&O will contain a limited edition JNT poster. Ordering information for both today's and next week's paper is available here.
Clay Aiken: A new measure
Matt Ehlers, Staff Writer
A Nicolas Cage adventure flick plays on the pair of flat-screen televisions in the lounge of Clay Aiken's tour bus. No one watches. This Monday afternoon, on a stretch of highway between New York and Boston, four of the five people aboard count sheep instead of mileposts.
Aiken, his bodyguard and his tour manager are sacked out in the back. A reporter along for the ride naps up front with the singer's dog, a border terrier named Raleigh, snoozing in his lap. Only Sarge, the all-business man at the wheel, remains alert, talking endlessly on a cell phone as he steers the bus to its next stop.
Raleigh's most famous pop star is tired. Tired of living in Los Angeles, a city full of suck-ups. Tired of having other people make decisions for him. And, at the moment, tired from having stayed out all night at a nightclub.
After Boston come Rhode Island, Tennessee and Florida, then Raleigh for Thursday's show at the RBC Center. A few more dates on his "Joyful Noise" tour, a few more weeks waiting for his new house in the Triangle to be completed, then Aiken heads home for good.
He's taking charge of his life and career, and one of his major decisions is to return to North Carolina. It's where he belongs.
Aiken started his journey as an "American Idol" wannabe, equipped with a booming voice that belies his lanky frame. He lost in the show's final sing-off in 2003, but the zealous fans he won assured the kind of success that makes you think of a latter-day Tom Jones without the innuendo.
All of it -- the record contract, the money, the panty-tossing fans -- could have gone to his head. Instead, as two days on the road with him reveal, the Clay Aiken who left North Carolina three years ago as a purposeful young man on a mission has returned that same man, only with better hair and more mettle.
On the road
Backstage at New York's Beacon Theatre, backup singers Angela Fisher and Quiana Parler are bugging Aiken about going to an open-mike performance at a club after the show. In the last couple of years, he has only hit the town with them once, in Charleston, S.C., two summers ago.
He leans against the door jamb of their dressing room,
"Do you know what time we have to be at CBS? 5:30!" Aiken asks and answers before adjourning to his own dressing room for makeup and a pre-show drink of white milk.
Sometimes, Aiken has a hard time saying no. Tonight, he'll go out with the singers.
Far from home
After "American Idol," everything happened so fast that it was hard to keep up with the changes, much less control them.
Aiken moved to California, far from his home turf, and bought a a 7,800-square-foot mansion. That's what new celebrities do. Los Angeles is the be-seen capital of the universe, as anyone who reads People magazine knows. Stars need to be there to take meetings and walk the red carpets.
But since the first time he had the chance, Aiken has spoken on TV and in magazine interviews about his hometown, about singing in church and working at the YMCA. He has said enough good things about the area that people have moved to the Triangle because of his praise. Others come to his hometown concerts and make a pilgrimage to important life spots.
The decision to sell his California house and move back was easy.
"I want a home base," he says during a long backstage interview before the Boston show. "I'm tired of people asking me where I'm from and having to say 'L.A.' or saying 'North Carolina, but I don't live there anymore.'
"When people ask me where I'm from, I want to say 'I'm from Raleigh, and I live there.' And mean it."
Los Angeles, with its maps to celebrities' mansions, isn't home. And the entertainment business, with its egos and grandstanding, left Aiken with questions about life in California and his place in it.
He asks: "Who wants to be around me because they want something from me? Who wants to be around me because they feel obligated to? Who wants to be around me because they feel sorry for me? And who wants to be around me because they really want to?"
Then he answers: "Raleigh is the only place right now that I believe there are more people who want to be around me because they want to be around me than there are people who want to be around me because they want something."
The location of the house he's building remains a secret. His mother, Faye Parker, who is helping to guide the completion and decoration, will say only that it's in a gated community in the Raleigh area.
Eventually, people will find out where he lives. By then, she hopes, locals will be used to the Triangle's most famous resident hanging around and won't pay much mind.
In the green room
Just after 4 a.m., Aiken and crew arrive back at the hotel, stone-cold sober. This isn't a drinking crowd, which bodes well for them this morning.
Barely an hour later, he and his cohorts are camped out in "The Early Show" green room with juice and Danishes, waiting to rehearse "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
Parler and Fisher scrunch up in their chairs and doze. Aiken, in a green-hooded UNC-Charlotte sweat shirt, laughs and jokes with the network staff and scans USA Today.
He's tired, he says. But he doesn't act like it. Unlike the others, Aiken didn't take a turn at singing after the concert. He let his friends take the spotlight instead.
"I had open mike all night," he says, smiling.
Aiken is ready to call his own tunes.
As part of the deal with "American Idol," Aiken signed with the label owned by series mastermind Simon Fuller and with Fuller's management company. The label essentially chose the songs for his first album, "Measure of a Man."
Aiken uses Raleigh radio parlance to describe his disappointment with the marketing of the first album, which didn't get as much airplay as he thought it could have, but sold millions anyway. The songs appealed to people who like the adult-contemporary sound and listen to Sunny 93.9. The record company marketed it to the G105s of the world, stations that spin a Top 40 playlist filled with Usher and Justin Timberlake.
After hiring an attorney, Aiken freed himself from Fuller's management company. The move puts him more in line with industry norms, in which the records are put out by different people from those who do the managing. Now, he's managed by Simon Renshaw, who also handles the Dixie Chicks.
"I've got people falling into the right places, where at one time, everybody just wanted to have their hands everywhere," he says. "And since that's happening, I'm feeling a little more empowered to make decisions for myself."
He's still signed to Fuller's label. But he's determined to release an album different from the first. Aiken wants it to fall in the middle, something that would appeal to stations that sound like WRAL-FM. He's still going around with the record company about it, but he's firm.
"Nothing's going to happen on this album that I'm not happy with, and that's where I've gotten more businesslike," he says. "I think, after a while, if you get kicked enough, you learn not to kick back necessarily but at least wear shinguards."
Before the camera
After "The Early Show," Aiken and his entourage hop into an SUV and ride to ABC to tape performances of "Mary Did You Know?" and "My Grown Up Christmas List" for future episodes of "Good Morning America."
He greets Diane Sawyer in the hallway, and the pair duck into an empty room as Aiken's bodyguard shuts the door after them. When they emerge, Aiken pokes his head into the office of co-anchor Charles Gibson.
"I've always wanted your job," he says to the veteran journalist in a kind of non-joking-but-joking way.
Grace under pressure
What Aiken wants appears everywhere in the "Joyful Noise" show. It's more musical production, with actors and a plotline, than standard pop concert. Aiken came up with the idea and the story and wrote a script to tie the songs together. His core fans have responded to the show's blend of sweetness and sentiment.
He also makes the rules for the cast and crew. They're allowed to leave the tour on an off day, but they have to be back in town the night before the next show. He recently fired someone for failing to do so. He won't risk having someone stranded at an airport at the wrong time, letting down the rest of the company as well as the fans.
It was tough to let someone go, especially someone he cared about.
Alison Lawrence, who has a leading role in the show, saw the way Aiken responded to adversity when he was a boy.
As his ninth-grade choir teacher at Leesville Road High School, Lawrence watched other kids tease the student then known as Clayton Grissom about his geekified nature. Some kids would retreat in the face of adolescent cruelty. But Aiken, who had survived a rough childhood with an abusive father, was more resilient and resourceful. He learned to deflect the teasing with his own humor.
"All those things are now coming to fruition and are really paying off," Lawrence says.
Aiken embraces his sense of humor. "I keep it as light as I can all the time," he says, although he worries occasionally that people who work with him aren't sure when he's being serious.
"I do get upset about things. Things will piss me off, just like they will anybody else," he says, his voice turning to a whisper at the minor vulgarity. "And I'll let you know it, too. But I'll be done with it. Once I've told you, it's over."
He knows how to handle pressure.
Aiken hasn't had to face many professional failures, other than last year's NBC Christmas special, which was trounced in the ratings by an episode of "Lost." But the more he takes charge, the more the pressure builds -- much of it self-induced -- to make sure his career doesn't falter.
The new album, which he hopes will be released in April, is a prime example. He wants it to be a hit and says so with a mix of earnestness and self-deprecation.
"A lot of it has to do with not really wanting to face the reality -- my life changed so much in 16 weeks -- not really wanting to go back and have it change again," he says. "And then, of course, nobody wants to be a punchline."
Surrounded by kids
Aiken spends Tuesday morning at the Learning Project Elementary School in Boston. Sitting on the floor among 45 or so kids, he's clearly in his element, having worked with children at the YMCA in Raleigh and while working toward a degree in special education at UNC-Charlotte. He was living in Charlotte when he first tried out for "Idol" in 2002.
Songs may bring him fame, but Aiken loves working with kids. Teaching fits him.
He's appearing at Learning Project to thank the students for raising more than $6,000 for UNICEF. He recently traveled to Uganda and Indonesia on behalf of the relief organization in his position as a celebrity ambassador.
The group watches a short video highlighting his work with UNICEF, and Aiken talks about how the money the students raised could help immunize children in far-off countries or develop supplies of clean drinking water.
The kids, led by a teacher on an acoustic guitar, serenade him with "What a Wonderful World."
Making his own way
Hours later, Aiken will do the serenading at Boston's Orpheum Theater. Talking backstage before the show, he considers the question of whose respect -- if anyone's -- he'd like to earn. He quickly dismisses the critics' approval. He doesn't need it.
"I'd like to have the respect of the people I work with," he says, specifically management and record-label types. "I'm not saying I don't. But I don't know that I do."
He's getting there, though. He feels more confident.
When the executive producer of his next album, Jaymes Foster-Levy, asked him if he had any ideas for song titles for his new album, he gave her the phrase "Where I Belong." The writers can take that in any direction they please, he says.
"I think that would be a great title track for this next album because it will come out about the time I'm getting back to Raleigh, which is where I want to be," he says. "People in my life are falling into the place they need to be, and I don't know if my career is necessarily, but at least how I control my life is finally getting to the place where I'm comfortable with it."
"Where I Belong" fits.
"I kind of feel that's what the next Diane Sawyer interview would end up being -- that I'm finally figuring things out," he says. "After two and a half years, I'm finally getting my footing."
Staff writer Matt Ehlers can be reached at 829-4889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.