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Saturday, April 14, 2007

UNICEF Elated, Shocked at Overwhelming Response To Clay's Appeal



These two new photos (above, below), released in high quality onto UNICEF's Flickr page truly underscore the meaning of a picture is worth a thousand words.

UNICEF officials are both elated and shocked that in less than 24 hours, Clay's appeal for donations to help the children of Afghanistan have raised over $70,000 for this noble cause. UNICEF officials had initially set a goal of $100,000 over a period of 10 days. WOW!

UNICEF shared their gratitude to everyone through this post on their UNICEF blog:

As of now (4:41 p.m.), Clay fans have helped UNICEF raise $69,638 for this program. Amazing, right? On behalf of the children of Afghanistan and my UNICEF colleagues, thanks for your amazing response to this program.

We also wanted to let you know that Clay will be blogging from our Fieldnotes blog next week, sharing more details of his trip. Thanks for your interest in UNICEF's lifesaving work for kids!

Tidbits 4/14


  • Raleigh Chronicle has a very nice write up about Clay's UNICEF visit to Afghanistan:
    United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and singer Clay Aiken just returned to his hometown of Raleigh from his first visit to Afghanistan, where he aimed to raise awareness about the hope and promise he has seen in the young people of the war-torn country.

    "The people here are very strong and they are very proud of their country," Mr. Aiken told reporters in Kabul on Wednesday, praising the "strength and conviction of the Afghan people and their ability to make sure that this country returns to its glory after such a long darkness."
  • Hollywood Scoop - another mention of the Afghan visit. Not too bad an article, but I can't believe how stupid some of the comments are... like this one: "A Real Teacher didn't do his homework. Clay Aiken is licensed to teach in North Carolina, and was a substitute teacher between high school and college."... huh?!??!!! One commenter retorts back: "The comments here only point out the insanity of this world. A young man is doing good work, bringing awareness to many, raising money and there are those who are obsessed with whether he has a right to call himself a teacher? As a father and a teacher I am amazed that there are those who consider the Clay fans obsessed. What I'm seeing is some very unhappy and unfortunate people who need to find something in their lives to enjoy and some good work to do."
    Singer/ American Idol star Clay Aiken is on the quest to save the world. Unfortunately he left his bat suit at home and opted for a loose fit look in order to fit in with the natives. All jokes aside, Aiken is out in Afghanistan as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador to raise awareness about the hope and promise he has seen in the young people of the war-torn country.
  • Taunton Gazette - AI article ...
    And don't forget about the hitmakers who didn't win on the show, but have successful careers nonetheless.

    You know these names too: Clay Aiken, "Dreamgirl" Jennifer Hudson, Bo Bice, Justin Guarini, Katharine McPhee and the current leader of this pack, No. 1 album topper Chris Daughtry.
  • Some new blogs updating us on the $100,000 in 10 days challenge Clay issued to us earlier this week.
    • Hobbies
    • Southern Girl -
      Wow, wasn't it just yesterday that word came UNICEF ambassador Clay Aiken had launched a campaign to raise money for education in Afghanistan called Appeal for Afghanistan? Yes. Yes, it was! Clay and UNICEF's goal was to raise $100,000 in 10 days. Well, just 24 hours later, look at where the campaign stands now! Already 75% of that goal has come in!
    • ClaySpots
    • ConCLAYve - Clay Aiken on being a UNICEF ambassador -
      They work in education, and one of their biggest areas of concentration is making education accessible for all kids throughout the world, and as a teacher there was a natural synergy for me to possibly do that. So they called me up and asked me to participate and be their ambassador for education, which I thought "Sure, why not, I'm happy to help UNICEF.” I’d heard about UNICEF and knew about it, and never really anticipated exactly what that would entail.
    • Something That Really Happened

Team Clay Comments On Dallas/Tulsa Situation

The Dallas/Tulsa concert saga will be coming to an end soon according to the official fanclub. Initially, it was announced that Clay would be in Dallas on July 7. However, it was announced by the Brady Theater in Tulsa last week that Clay would actually playing there on July 7. Team Clay says neither of these 2 concerts have been confirmed and that a statement will be issued in the coming days to clarify the issue:

04/13/07 : Tour Changes
By Team Clay

There has been conflicting information on the Internet about the Clay Aiken performance in the Dallas area as well as a possible added date in Tulsa. The contracts for these shows have not been issued at this time nor can either be officially confirmed, but to help the confusion, please know that management is hopeful to be able to officially announce confirmation on updated details for each of these events in the next few days.

Friday, April 13, 2007

$100,000 in 10 Days - Watching The Thermometer Rise


Since yesterday afternoon when Clay put out his appeal to raise $100,000 in 10 days, Clay's fans, as well as other people around the globe, have been donating money to UNICEF's Afghanistan cause. The donations seemed to trickle in at first. But since this morning, we have seen the funds grow from maybe $10,000 yesterday to over $70,000 today! All in less than 24 hours!

On Thursday, April 12, at 6:00 p.m. EST, the total stood at maybe around $10,000. Note the red in the thermometer at that time yesterday. The word was slowly getting out about Clay's $100,000/10 day appeal.

Sometime on the morning of Friday, April 13, the thermometer showed that people had been donating and donating and donating! It was up over 50%, or to $50,000! This in a matter of maybe 12-15 hours!!

Then, two or maybe three hours later, we almost could not believe our eyes, those of us watching the thermometer rise! It was up to 60%!! Clay said in his appeal, "I've just returned from Afghanistan and see that the need is urgent. Let's aim high and work together to raise $100,000 in 10 days. Join me in standing with UNICEF to help these kids." Clay aimed high, but nothing is too high for Clay's fans and others who are trying to meet this challenge, and succeeding!!

Finally, as of this writing, the thermometer is up to around 75%. That is $75,000! We are 3/4 of the way to Clay's goal!! I fully expect to see it up to $100,000 by morning! Maybe higher!! Just sit back and think a minute what can be done with $100,000 for those children and their education in Afghanistan. All it took was one amazing man with a vision of hope, someone who sees the good and the positive in everything, to encourage us to reach out and help. God bless Clay Aiken and those who support his work.

Tidbits 4/13

  • Families.com - wonderful review of Clay's book "Learning to Sing". This was just published today:
    I admit it freely - I'm a huge American Idol fan. I didn't watch it the first year, but the second year, when Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken were vying for the title, I was a religious watcher. There was just something about Clay that made me genuinely like him. I was disappointed when he didn't win, but knowing that he's been tremendously successful helped me to get over it.

    "Learning to Sing" is Clay's story, told in his own words. Surprisingly, it's not a blow-by-blow of everything that happened at American Idol; that chapter of his life only takes a chapter of the book. The rest of the story talks about his growing-up years and the lessons he learned from his mother. I went into it with a little trepidation - I didn't want to find out that he's not as nice as I thought he was. Well, guess what - he's nicer.

    This book is an excellent example of a mother's love, a child's listening, and the power that comes from living with integrity. I always liked Clay before; he's got a lifelong supporter in me now that I know he's as genuine as he seems.
  • Clay will be mentioned on today's The Insider. Make sure you check local listings. The CB's strollynn63 says: "Whooo Hooo, saw him in the wrap.....asking ...Who wants to be a Teacher....Real Fast shot!!!! Love him."
  • Raleigh News & Observer - mention of the BAF in this article about a bright young man who is making a difference ...
    Two weeks ago, his fundraising efforts, which totaled $6,400 last year, earned him a Champion of Change award from the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, the North Raleigh group that helps children with disabilities. The group, which provides Jonathan with an interpreter at summer camp, was co-founded by singer and North Raleigh native Clay Aiken of "American Idol" fame.
  • A few mentions of the Summer Tour:
  • Salisbury Post - North Carolina an Idol hub -
    Whatever it is, North Carolina has given the world more than its fair share of singing idols, including Clay Aiken of Raleigh, Fantasia Barrino of High Point and Kellie Pickler of Albemarle.
  • Chart Attack - small Clay mention in article about a rock band - "Rooney worked with producer John Fields (Clay Aiken, Mandy Moore) on the LP and reportedly recorded about 60 songs before deciding on those they liked most."
  • The Hook - Chris Daughtry a unique Idol?
    Apparently, Slash wasn't the only one who understood that deferring to Daughtry was in the best interest of the album. Daughtry has writing credits on almost every track, a feat unprecedented in the meticulously manufactured world of post-Idol pop. If the names Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Bo Bice, and Kelly Clarkson ring any bells, these artists can thank American Idol, this generation's version of Star Search. Yet Daughtry is unique among them.

Good Morning America Spotlights Afghanistan Visit


Clay's recent UNICEF visit to Afghanistan was featured this morning in Diane Sawyer's report from Afghanistan. You can download a clip of the segment at SendSpace. In the meantime, enjoy these caps from gerwhisp and this snippet posted on ABCNews.com:

The landscape is forbidding and inescapable. Blinding, terrifying sandstorms come without warning, turning something so peaceful into a sudden, pummeling black night.

And a small thing that tells you what it is to be female in Saudi Arabia — we couldn't find a ladies' room when we needed it. Our guides went to the men's room and cleared them out for us.

In Afghanistan, schools that were once forbidden by the Taliban are now rebuilt, but there's still so much work to be done.

And guess who was in Afghanistan with UNICEF at the same time we were? "American Idol" Clay Aiken.

Teachers and students told him how much they need books for their libraries and computers for their science labs.

Aiken asked the class if anyone wanted to be a teacher, and several students raised their hands.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Clay's E-Mail Appeal For Donations


Clay has sent an email to UNICEF supporters to plea for donations in the $100,000 in 10 days campaign for UNICEF & the children of Afghanistan. Thanks to gerwhisp for the cap.

His email reads:

Let's raise $100,000 in 10 days for the kids of Afghanistan—click here to give!

"We can do this. I've just returned from Afghanistan. The children there need our help today. Let's give UNICEF our support."

- Clay Aiken

Hello Friend,

I've been visiting UNICEF field locations in Afghanistan for the past week. Today, I'm writing to tell you what I've seen and ask for your help.

On my trip, I met Fwazia (we’re in the picture on the right). She is 11 years old. Fwazia attends a unique school where boys and girls from grades 1-9 share classes and study in the open. The school is in urgent need of funds to buy tents and materials for a new building. This will give more children the opportunity to get an education.

Let's aim high and work together to raise $100,000 in 10 days to support UNICEF's work in Afghanistan. Join me in standing with UNICEF to support the kids of Afghanistan.

Give online with confidence. If you contribute $50 or more by April 22nd, UNICEF will e-mail you my exclusive field report, in a PDF file format, with some of my own photos from the trip that won't appear anywhere else. As my personal thanks to those of you who are able to donate $1,000 or more, we'll mail an autographed copy of my report.

The children in Afghanistan need help now. Please join me in making a donation today.

Sincerely,

Clay Aiken
UNICEF Ambassador

P.S. I'm so inspired by the change we can make together. Please pass this message on to your friends and family asking them to support UNICEF's work.

Tidbits 4/12

  • Salisbury Post - Article entitled "First Salisbury Idol contest offers $1,000 grand prize" says: "Maybe it's something in the water. Maybe it's the Carolina sunshine. Maybe it's the barbeque. Whatever it is, North Carolina has given the world more than its fair share of singing idols, including Clay Aiken of Raleigh, Fantasia Barrino of High Point and Kellie Pickler of Albemarle."
  • The Hook In an article about Chris Daughtry, "If the names Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Bo Bice, and Kelly Clarkson ring any bells, these artists can thank American Idol, this generation's version of Star Search."
  • Lycos 50 - Clay dropped down one spot to #16 for the week ending 3/31/07. What does it say about Clay? "No longer watches Idol." He has been on the Lycos 50 for 197 weeks.
  • As if there wasn't enough confusion surrounding Clay's canceled Dallas concert ... the Dallas Morning News seems to think it's still happening:
    CLAY AIKEN July 7 at 8 at Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie. On sale Mon at 10. $39.50-$59.50. Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000 or 972-647-5700 or www.ticketmaster.com
  • Azle News (India) - not sure when American Idol changed its name to "Dallas American Idol" -
    People in the U.S. can’t get enough of the TV show DALLAS AMERICAN IDOL which has unleashed Larry Hagman Clay Aiken on the world. DALLAS American Idol has become a national obsession with everyone wondering “Who Shot J.R?” “What’s up with Sanjaya’s hair?”
  • Globe & Mail (major newspaper in Canada... Canadian equivalent of the New York Times) - review of a new musical being staged in Toronto called "We Will Rock You". The musical is loosely based on the career & music of rock band Queen ...
    The targets of his satire include not just the absurdities of mindless rigidity, but pop music itself -- icons like Madonna, Britney Spears and American Idol winner Clay Aiken, even Queen itself -- and, by extension, the mesmerized audiences who carry the flame for their overpaid, undertalented idols.
  • Toronto Star - another Idol releated article -
    Former runner-up Jennifer Hudson just won an Oscar for Dreamgirls. Clay Aiken curiously remains on the public radar. Chris Daughtry, namesake of the lame rock outfit Daughtry, has already outsold the three competitors who finished above him during his Idol tenure.
  • Newswire Today - new record label launched with artists who have appeared at "Clay Aiken release party" -
    Thompson, an eighteen-year old pop rocker/singer-songwriter has recently appeared in shows with Teddy Geiger, Brian Littrel of The Backstreet Boys and the Clay Aiken release party and is among the Nashville-based label's debut artists.
  • ABC 4 - article about a AI2 semi-finalist- "She performed last on March 3, 2003, singing 'Because You Loved Me' made popular by Celine Dion, but lost out to a field that included Ruben Studdard, Corey Clark and Clay Aiken." Press release here.

We've got a whole bunch of blogs about Clay's trip to Afghanistan... I just love it when the Clay Aiken blogosphere comes alive like this:

Press Release Concerning Clay's Afghanistan Trip Appearing At Various Websites

In just a matter of hours, the press release about Clay's trip to Afghanistan is beginning to show up all over the web. Here are a few of the sites were we have found the story thus far:

Yahoo News

Earthtimes.org

PR-inside.com

Peacejournalism.com

Scoop.co.nz

UN News Centre

The Student Operated Press

Relief Web

Yahoo News

Clay's UNICEF Page Updated To Include Afghanistan Trip


We've all been to Clay's UNICEF webpage many times. The next time you head over there, you'll be able to see his new updated page. Check out the new information that has been added over the past few months:

In April 2007, Clay visited Afghanistan and launched the "$100,000 in 10 Days" campaign to support UNICEF's lifesaving programs in the country.

In early 2007, Clay participated in UNICEF UpClose, an awareness-building campaign powered by Yahoo! Answers. The UpClose program is a new forum for discussing the challenges facing the world's most vulnerable children. He asked: "UNICEF is working for the survival of children worldwide. What can we do to get more Americans committed to the cause?"

In November 2006, Clay lit the UNICEF Snowflake for the 2006 holiday season. The UNICEF Snowflake is a dazzling crystal ornament which graces the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City during the holiday season as a beacon of hope, peace and compassion for vulnerable children around the world.
Note that this page has a link to the "$100,000 in 10 Days" campaign for Afghanistan.

You can also scroll down a little further and see the "claymate" name mentioned concerning our successful efforts in raising $70,000 for the work in Lebanon. Can we be this successful in the current challenge to raise money for the children of Afghanistan? Clay fans have always risen to the occasion.

Check out Clay's web page and maybe send him a note letting him know how proud we are of him and that he has our full support in this endeavor.

Clay's Appeal For Afghanistan - $100,000 in 10 Days


Clay has just returned from Afghanistan, and is making an appeal to raise $100,000 in 10 days for the children there. Here is an exciting opportunity for us to help Clay make a difference in the lives of children. Many of you read our articles in yesterday's CDD about the Afghanistan press release and the press conference held with Clay while he was in Afghanistan. From his time spent there, he feels very confident and positive about the good that can be done in Afghanistan and the hope that there is for the children's education and well being.

At UNICEF's website is a picture of two children from Afghanistan with the words, "Clay Aiken's Appeal: $100,000 in 10 Days". Under these words is a DONATE NOW button which will take you to the donation page where you can make your donation (see picture above).


Clay's words on this page are:

"I've just returned from Afghanistan and see that the need is urgent. Let's aim high and work together to raise $100,000 in 10 days. Join me in standing with UNICEF to help these kids."
Just fill out the requested information and you will be helping Clay be on his way to meeting his goal of $100,000. As always, no amount given is too small. Its all about making a difference in whatever way we can.

We are all so glad to have Clay back safely. Now, let's use our voices to help make a difference in the lives of these children, for them and for Clay.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Recent UNICEF Trip By Clay - Thinking Back On Clay's Beliefs


Today, as I read both the UNICEF Press Release about Clay's trip to Afghanistan and the Press Conference that Clay was a part of, I began to think of comments Clay made early on when he was still on American Idol. I wonder if we really had any idea from some of the things he said back then just how strong his convictions about his role as a celebrity example really was. Oh, I knew that he was a great role model and had strong moral convictions. I felt strongly about supporting him because of that.

But as I look at some of the things Clay said that were released today and couple that with what he has said in the past, I realize how strongly he stands for what he truly believes in and then acts upon it. Think back to some of the things he has said in the past:

On being a role model:
"You can be a good one or a bad one. I got to this point and it’s a high profile job and on top of that, there are the rigors and pressures of being in the public eye all the time. And my absolute priority, more than having a good song, is to set a good example. I accept it as a responsibility."

"It's important that I make a difference in some way. It's not necessarily how I make a difference, but I want to make sure that I do."

Clay's on his definition of an Americal Idol: "American celebrities have an amazing amount of influence on the way America thinks, feels, and acts. I think that such an influence should be used in the most positive way possible."
And: "Someone with a talent that leaves a mark on American society and inspires people to think, feel, love, act."

"It's not the money. It's not the fame. It's the influence."
Now, look back at some of the things he said in these press releases:
It is our goal in UNICEF to raise awareness and money. I think probably the most important thing I will be able to do is to talk about some of the positive things I have seen. Because very few people in the US have the opportunity to learn about the positive things that are taking place in Afghanistan. And that is the kind of thing that encourages people to get out of their seats...So I am looking forward to be able to go back there and say not only do we need your help but here is why because here are the great things that are happening here and these are the positive outcomes of your support...

...As you fly in or as we flew into Bamiyan and when we were flying to Kabul it is dark, rough and dusty. And as we were approaching Bamiyan on the plane I was told of the promise of the grass and the promise of green. When the summer comes there would be grass over the hills and that it is so beautiful and lush in the summer yet I didn’t see that and some were skeptical that any grass grew in Bamiyan. When we flew out today and I looked out of the window and I saw a little grass peeking through. And I think that has been a kind of capstone experience for me here in Afghanistan that there is so much promise and it has been a long winter for Afghanistan and it is spring time finally. I think that is what UNICEF is excited about doing and being a part of the rebirth and re-growth and part of the spring time here in the country and I am thrilled to be associated with them for that reason.
What I see in Clay is someone who has so much to give, who sees the positive in the situation around him, who sees hope and promise. And not only does he see these things, but he is reaching out to do all he can to see that these things happen, that news of these things are spread to others so they can also take part.

He said early on that he wanted to make a difference, to be a positive influence, to inspire others. And not only did he mean this in word, he has shown it very strongly in his actions. We should strive to see that a little bit of Clay Aiken shines in all of us.

UNICEF Press Release Issued Concerning Clay's Trip to Afghanistan

A press release by UNICEF (PDF) today made public Clay's recent trip to Afghanistan to bring attention to the critical needs of children there. The release, entitled "UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken Draws Attention To The Critical Needs of Children in Afghanistan", states:

NEW YORK/KABUL (April 12, 2007)—UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Clay Aiken concluded a recent trip to Afghanistan today by heralding the progress being made in children’s education.

“As a former teacher I recognize that spark of hope and excitement all children possess when given the opportunity to learn,” said Aiken, who spent five days traveling between Kabul and Bamyan in the central region of Afghanistan. “Rebuilding schools, training teachers, providing essential supplies and teaching materials are just some of the advances UNICEF and its partners have made to keep that hope flourishing.”

Last month marked a significant moment in the country’s recent history when more than six million children headed back to school to resume their education. Education in Afghanistan has witnessed a tremendous boost over the past few years.

While in the capital city of Kabul, Aiken, who was appointed a UNICEF Ambassador in 2004, visited schools that have implemented programs meant to ensure all children receive an education. While in Bamyan, Aiken met with former child soldiers who were re-integrated, and visited a health clinic and women’s literacy center where many women for the first time learn how to read and write. The literacy programme is one UNICEF’s main projects for the empowerment of women in Afghanistan.

Aiken also visited health clinics, water and sanitation programs as well as a program that reintegrates former child soldiers in to mainstream society.

“UNICEF is committed to reach out to all the children in Afghanistan and provide quality education,” said Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan “There is progress, however there are still over one million children, particularly girls, who are not going to school, we have to do more”.

Some of the recent UNICEF-supported initiatives for education in the country include:

• Distribution of Teaching and learning materials to 2.71 million children and 61,780
teachers
• Enrollment of 195,878 out-of school children mainly girls who now have access to
primary education through community-based schools in 29 provinces in Afghanistan
• Supporting Mobile School Protection Teams in 34 provinces
• Training of 614 teacher trainers as well as 8,110 newly recruited female teachers
• Over 48,009 women enrolled in 1,782 adult Literacy Centres in 17 provinces
***
About UNICEF:
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Richard Alleyne, US Fund for UNICEF in New York, + 1 212 880-9177, RAlleyne@unicefusa.org
Roshan Khadivi, UNICEF Afghanistan, +93 798 50 7110, rkhadivi@unicef.org
Katey Grusovin, UNICEF South Asia Media Hub, + 91810530715, kgrusovin@unicef.org

Clay Holds UNICEF Press Conference In Afghanistan

UPDATED 4/11 11 PM EDT - UPDATED WITH 2 MORE PRESS RELEASES... SCROLL DOWN

Clay has gone on his 2007 UNICEF trip. It was disclosed today that the destination was Afghanistan. Details surrounding the date and destination of the trip were kept private due to ongoing security issues in the war-torn country. ReliefWeb brings us this UNICEF press conference transcript:

Afghanistan: Press conference - Clay Aiken, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador; Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative for Afghanistan; Aleem Siddique, UNAMA Spokesperson's Office


Talking Points

Aleem Siddique, Senior Public Information Officer (SIO):

Good morning and welcome to UNAMA, my name is Aleem Siddique from UNAMA Spokesperson's office. Before we begin I have a few brief announcements to make.

Firstly, the spokesperson for the Secretary General in New York issued a statement last night condemning the acts of violence we have seen in Afghanistan over the last few weeks, full copies of this statement are available on the side table for you.

Secondly, we will be holding our next press conference with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR this Saturday 15 April at 11am to mark the end of the grace period for Afghan refugees currently unregistered and living in Pakistan. We will be joined by UNHCR's representative in Afghanistan, Salvatore Lombardo, to update you on repatriation of Afghan refugees from Iran and Pakistan as well as plans for refugee camp closures in Pakistan amongst other key issues.

Moving on, we are joined today by a very special guest, Clay Aiken who is a singer from America and a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, accompanying Clay is Catherine Mbengue, Country representative for UNICEF in Afghanistan and Mary Props, Clay's former teacher also from the US. Clay was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2004 has been a strong advocate for the rights of children around the world on behalf of UNICEF. We welcome him to Afghanistan, since he arrived in Afghanistan I know Clay has had a chance to see for himself some of the grass roots health and education projects that UNICEF is delivering in Afghanistan in order to raise awareness and vital funds for UNICEF's ongoing work.

Without further ado I will hand over to Clay for him to make a few remarks after which we will of course be happy to take your questions.

Clay Aiken, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador:

It is a pleasure to be here, we have had an amazing time observing the programmes and the people of Afghanistan over the past week. I've traveled with Catherine, UNICEF's country representative here in Afghanistan, and my high school teacher, Mary Props, two people who individually who have in different ways had a major impact in the way that I look at world affairs and the needs of children all around the world but especially here in Afghanistan.

There's a very distinct impression that those of us in America have been given about Afghanistan, the people and the children and the situation here in Afghanistan. Because of major media in the US unfortunately only had the opportunity to see the more negative aspects, the more painful images of what's going on here in Afghanistan. For that reason I didn't really know exactly what to expect when I found out I was traveling here and was not really anticipating such an amazing and positive welcome from the people both in the city of Kabul and in Bamiyan where we have just returned from. The people of Afghanistan are without question it's greatest natural resource because we have been greeted by nothing but wonderful hospitality since we've been here and it's been really amazing to see not only the generosity but also the strength of the people. Some of the most impressive people without question, I would think are the national staff in the office at UNICEF. Not to negate or take away from the international staff, like Catherine [UNICEF representative] and those who have come from other countries. But there's an amazing number of [national] staff from right here in Afghanistan who are working with UNICEF to make sure the children of this country are given every opportunity to survive be that through education, through health and nutrition, through sanitation and water access. There's a lot of work going on here by UNICEF through not just the people who have come from outside Afghanistan but also lots of Afghans too.

Thanks to Catherine and her colleagues we had an opportunity to visit a high school here in Kabul [Macfee High School] where we met a number of young women who have an amazing positive outlook on their future now in post conflict Afghanistan and it really provides a backdrop of hope, there's an amazing sense of hope and promise not only in the country but in the young people here too.

In Bamiyan, which is some the most beautiful country that I have ever seen in my life. We had an opportunity to visit other schools and one very interesting school where boys and girls are learning together in the same classroom which is extremely promising and very exciting for me to see. We visited clinics I actually got an opportunity to give polio vaccine to a new born [baby] that was exciting for me and risky for the mother and the new born! But it's indicative of the type of work UNICEF is doing in every area of the country but in Bamiyan they are having a lot of success with polio vaccines, with healthcare in general, prenatal and postnatal healthcare in Bamiyan.

I could speak on and on about the different activities and programmes that we saw taking place, we did see a literacy centre for both young and old women who are learning to read now in post Taliban Bamiyan. Instead of pin pointing each and every experience that we had I think it's more important to give you a sense of the overall feeling that we got. I have never in my life, and I've traveled with UNICEF to a number of countries and of course have seen all parts of my own [country], I have never in my life seen such a thirst and an excitement for learning, seeing children, women, men, boys and girls to be so excited about learning, to be so excited about being in school it's actually something I know makes my former teacher [Mary Props] quite jealous! That kid's are so excited about being in school and really being on the forefront of making sure that they have the best education possible and that's exactly how and why I know that Afghanistan is such a powerful force to be reckoned with because the natural resource in its humans and the people who are thirsty for knowledge is just so evident.

That idea that education is so important is why I asked my high school teacher to join me. A lot of the children in the US don't really have access to or the desire to learn about issues that are facing our world outside of our own country which I find to be a horrible situation, that kids don't have that desire so I asked my teacher to come along and she'll be able to provide some different perspective on education here in Afghanistan from an educator in the United States perspective and Catherine will be able to provide more insight into exactly what UNICEF is doing.

I really appreciate you giving us the opportunity to be here and talk with you.

Thank you.

Questions and Answers

GMA: You have spoken about visiting Bamiyan and a high school in Kabul where there is peace. Have you visited or have any information from southern provinces where the people live in fear and horror?

Clay: Unfortunately I didn't have an opportunity during this trip to visit south. We visited the areas which are a little bit secure and where we can visit children. I will let Catherine speak about the south because she has been to Kandahar. Before she starts I would imagine just by seeing the amount of enthusiasm from kids here in this area that there is still that thirst [for education]. Because I think just in general children in this country have been oppressed for so long that they may have not had access to education, access to such an opportunity so I can imagine that there in the south where children continue to live in the darkness they still must have the thirst for education. And Catherine can speak about it more specifically.

Catherine: You remember a few weeks ago when children started going to school some six million children are now back to schools, including children from the south. Of course there are concerns. But ladies and gentlemen from the media we count on you to continue to help us mobilize and talk about education in this country and that children want to be educated and that children have nothing to do with conflict and that they are thirsty to go to school. Look at areas which are not secure, the communities come together with all partners to take care of their community schools. Even though there are security problems, they are taking steps, they make demands, they go to the government and local authorities to say they need schools and we are ready to pay for that. Of course we are concerned about that but we are working with communities to make sure that even in those places, there should be schools.

IRIN: I would like to know your personal commitment to children of Afghanistan. What would you do to change the situation of children here in Afghanistan when you return the US? In the meantime I would like to know Mary's opinion about the education system in Afghanistan?

Mary: First I am glad to be an invited guest as part of the UNICEF delegation. I was excited and interested to learn about Afghanistan's schools and have chance to talk with teachers and students. I think my first impression was on commonalities that educators across our two countries face and particularly despite some of the challenges that the teachers and students face with resources, facilities, meeting the needs of all students, the learning styles the list could go on. We do in fact have a lot to share. I would like to echo the fact that Catherine and Clay have already made is that the most impressive thing that I saw was the desire. While there are steep roads ahead there is a desire for these students. I saw them learning Dari, English, math and in the high school in Kabul they were studying other subjects particularly in social sciences which interested me, and economics and geography. So overall I have a positive impression of the educational system.

Clay: It is our goal in UNICEF to raise awareness and money. I think probably the most important thing I will be able to do is to talk about some of the positive things I have seen. Because very few people in the US have the opportunity to learn about the positive things that are taking place in Afghanistan. And that is the kind of thing that encourages people to get out of their seats. I think the most positive and exciting thing about this trip for me is that I have been with UNICEF to Indonesia and Uganda and what is the different about this country and what helps us in some ways is that Afghanistan is in the forefront of Americans minds right now unlike Indonesia or Uganda unfortunately. People in America do care about what is going on here in Afghanistan. They want to learn more about Afghanistan and know what exactly is happening here. And there is a distinct desire and drive amongst the American people to do what they can to help out here. So I am looking forward to be able to go back there and say not only do we need your help but here is why because here are the great things that are happening here and these are the positive outcomes of your support.

RFE: You said that media reports very grim picture about Afghanistan. How do you find Afghanistan?

Clay: I would like to restate my earlier comment. We do see a lot of negative in the US. Most of it is associated with conflicts, troops, military activities in Afghanistan and unfortunately we see reports of insurgent attacks or suicide bombings and there is not much stories at all about children in Afghanistan. And the reason there is so much negative is because there has not been much about children. There is a lot positive things going on with children and if we did see more about the kids we will see more positive support and help. Obviously there are needs as Catherine said there are needs for every conflict situation, there are needs for kids to have access to safety, to be safe in their schools and have access to clean water. There are the needs that would be there even if there was not a conflict in Afghanistan at all. My major impression was a population of kids who really want to learn and a group of communities and a group of international aid workers and NGOs who are working together as much as they can to make sure that this is possible.

Radio Farda: My question is for Ms Mary, the teacher. What will you specifically do for children in Afghanistan after you return to the US?

Mary: In the US I think we have a strong curriculum in all subjects. In history we tend to concentrate on history a lot and not on current world issues. My message in going back is that we need to do more in our curriculum to make sure that our students not only understand the past but they can also relate it to today and what today's problems, issues and concerns are.

BBC: There are reports that the Italian Emergency Hospital is going to leave Afghanistan. Do you have information on this? If they do leave what will be the impacts on Afghanistan?

SIO: I am only aware of this from media reports, about the Emergency Hospital that may or may not be leaving Afghanistan. Whenever an organization comes to Afghanistan to help the people of Afghanistan we have always welcomed and encouraged this. If we hear of an organization leaving Afghanistan not only does this sadden us all here in the United Nations but it is also a loss for the Afghan people. We want organisations that come to help to stay here and work hard on behalf of the Afghan people because as you all know there is much for all of us to be doing to deliver the progress that people want to see and so richly deserve.

Pajhwok: My first question is for the UNICEF representative. Is there any change in the 26% children who are earning bread for their families? And my second question is for Clay. You have seen some other post-conflict countries. How do you compare the condition of Afghan children with that of those countries?

Catherine: A very good question. Today in the afternoon we are going to visit an organization called Ashiana which is doing a very good job in Afghanistan particularly in Kabul. We are going there to learn from them. We have concerns about street children in Kabul and we really want to make sure that we benefit from all organisations who have experience in dealing with these vital issues. In other countries we have good lessons learnt and we want to share them with organizations here in Afghanistan so that we can pull our resources together to make a better impact for these children. So this afternoon we have an education trip to Ashiana and there are some other organizations that are doing a lot for street children and we are looking forward to work more closely with them.

Clay: With regard to the question about my other travels and comparison, I have been to Indonesia in Banda Aceh right after the tsunami in 2004 and I was in northern Uganda in 2005 to visit the children in the northern part of the country who have been victims of a 20 year long conflict. Probably the biggest or the most striking contrast, I guess in the US we call it hardiness, the hardiness of the Afghan people, it has been a long dark three decades here in Afghanistan and it has been extremely trying unlike other situations like Indonesia it was a natural disaster. The people here are very strong and they are very proud of their country, their homeland and themselves and it seems to be for that reason or because of those things they seem to be poised in a wonderful position to really pick the country up and move it forward in the way it needs to be moved forward. It is not that I have not seen this elsewhere but I believe that I have seen it more here in Afghanistan, just the strength and conviction of the Afghan people and their ability to make sure that this country returns to its glory after such a long darkness.

SIO: If I could just pick up on the question that was addressed to Catherine earlier about street children, I know that the World Food Programme runs an extensive school feeding programme. One of the main issues that we are faced with here is why are children not able to go to schools? And why are they on the streets? One of the key factors is poverty. So if we can encourage school children to go to school and at the same time provide food for their families and themselves then this can be a real motivating tool to encourage parents to send their children to school and keep them off the streets. Great efforts have been made on this vital area of work by the WFP and UNICEF and these efforts are continuing.

GMA: You said the UN Secretary General has issued a statement condemning violence. I just wanted to know whether he means by violence the beheading of Ajmal Naqshbandi or some other violence since there is a lot of violence in the country.

SIO: The Secretary General's concern is the safety of everybody living and working in Afghanistan. Over the last few weeks we have seen not only innocent civilians being targeted we have seen journalists being targeted and we have seen international and Afghan forces targeted. This is of course a mater of great concern for the Secretary General and that is why we saw the statement from the Secretary General. It is indication of the closeness with which the Secretary General is following events here and the commitment that the Secretary General and the United Nations has here in Afghanistan. If you pick up a copy of his statement from the side table you will see that it makes a specific reference to Ajmal Naqshbani's case, Canadian soldiers that perished in Helmand over the weekend and also the horrific attack we saw in Laghman province on April 1 in which nine civilians were killed including five children. Like all of us, the Secretary General wants to see peace and stability in Afghanistan and that is what we remain focused on achieving.

Clay: I just want to go back to your question about comparisons of the countries I have visited. Afghanistan's terrain is very tough and is also full of so much promise. It has been such a key part of travel, dating centuries back. It is such a valuable country in so many ways. As you fly in or as we flew into Bamiyan and when we were flying to Kabul it is dark, rough and dusty. And as we were approaching Bamiyan on the plane I was told of the promise of the grass and the promise of green. When the summer comes there would be grass over the hills and that it is so beautiful and lush in the summer yet I didn't see that and some were skeptical that any grass grew in Bamiyan. When we flew out today and I looked out of the window and I saw a little grass peeking through. And I think that has been a kind of capstone experience for me here in Afghanistan that there is so much promise and it has been a long winter for Afghanistan and it is spring time finally. I think that is what UNICEF is excited about doing and being a part of the rebirth and re-growth and part of the spring time here in the country and I am thrilled to be associated with them for that reason.

Catherine: Ladies and Gentlemen of the media. You have such a great role to play. Today we talked a lot about children and I would like you to remember too that anything we have to do in this country has been for children. We talked about poverty reduction, conflict resolution please remember that poverty reduction starts with children. Conflict resolution begins with children. More children are going to schools, more children are going for vaccinations, more women go to literacy courses and we have recognise that. We have to tell that story and tell the world that the children of this country are the beginning of this country. If we invest in them, lots of problems are going to be solved.

SIO: I would like to thank our UNICEF delegation and particularly Clay Aiken for joining us here today and sharing their experiences with us.

Thank you.

Update 4/11 11 PM: We got 2 more press releases from UNICEF and the UN. The first one is from UNICEF and can be seen here in PDF format.
UNICEF AMBASSADOR CLAY AIKEN DRAWS ATTENTION TO THE
CRITICAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN IN AFGHANISTAN

NEW YORK/KABUL (April 12, 2007)—UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Clay Aiken concluded a
recent trip to Afghanistan today by heralding the progress being made in children’s education.

“As a former teacher I recognize that spark of hope and excitement all children possess when
given the opportunity to learn,” said Aiken, who spent five days traveling between Kabul and
Bamyan in the central region of Afghanistan. “Rebuilding schools, training teachers, providing
essential supplies and teaching materials are just some of the advances UNICEF and its
partners have made to keep that hope flourishing.”

Last month marked a significant moment in the country’s recent history when more than six
million children headed back to school to resume their education. Education in Afghanistan
has witnessed a tremendous boost over the past few years.

While in the capital city of Kabul, Aiken, who was appointed a UNICEF Ambassador in 2004,
visited schools that have implemented programs meant to ensure all children receive an
education. While in Bamyan, Aiken met with former child soldiers who were re-integrated,
and visited a health clinic and women’s literacy center where many women for the first time
learn how to read and write. The literacy programme is one UNICEF’s main projects for the
empowerment of women in Afghanistan.

Aiken also visited health clinics, water and sanitation programs as well as a program that
reintegrates former child soldiers in to mainstream society.

“UNICEF is committed to reach out to all the children in Afghanistan and provide quality
education,” said Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan “There is
progress, however there are still over one million children, particularly girls, who are not going
to school, we have to do more”.

Some of the recent UNICEF-supported initiatives for education in the country include:

• Distribution of Teaching and learning materials to 2.71 million children and 61,780
teachers

• Enrollment of 195,878 out-of school children mainly girls who now have access to
primary education through community-based schools in 29 provinces in Afghanistan

• Supporting Mobile School Protection Teams in 34 provinces

• Training of 614 teacher trainers as well as 8,110 newly recruited female teachers

• Over 48,009 women enrolled in 1,782 adult Literacy Centres in 17 provinces

***
About UNICEF:

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and
thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for
developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation,
quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence,
exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of
individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Richard Alleyne, US Fund for UNICEF in New York, + 1 212 880-9177, RAlleyne@unicefusa.org
Roshan Khadivi, UNICEF Afghanistan, +93 798 50 7110, rkhadivi@unicef.org
Katey Grusovin, UNICEF South Asia Media Hub, +
91810530715, kgrusovin@unicef.org
... and the second one from the UN (read at the UN News Center):
‘American Idol’ star and UNICEF ambassador Clay Aiken spotlights Afghanistan

11 April 2007 – United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and singer Clay Aiken is currently on his first visit to Afghanistan, aiming to raise awareness about the hope and promise he has seen in the young people of the war-torn country.

“The people here are very strong and they are very proud of their country,” Mr. Aiken told reporters in Kabul today, praising the “strength and conviction of the Afghan people and their ability to make sure that this country returns to its glory after such a long darkness.”

The singer, who gained a name on the televised talent competition ‘American Idol,’ has been a Goodwill Ambassador since 2004, has been in Afghanistan for the past week to see first-hand the grassroots health and education projects being delivered by UNICEF.

“It has been a long winter for Afghanistan and it is Spring time finally,” he said, adding that he is “thrilled” to be associated with UNICEF’s support for the country’s rebuilding efforts.

Traveling with UNICEF country representative for Afghanistan Catherine Mbengue and his high school teacher Mary Props, Mr. Aiken has visited schools in Kabul and in Bamiyan.

In Kabul, he met young women at Macfee High School who “have an amazing positive outlook on their future now,” he said.

Mr. Aiken called Bamiyan one of the most beautiful places he has ever seen, and mentioned one school he visited there in particular where boys and girls were being educated together. He also visited clinics where he had the opportunity to administer polio vaccine to a newborn baby.

“I have never in my life seen such a thirst and an excitement for learning,” he said, joking that his former teacher, Ms. Props, was very jealous of how eager students in Afghanistan are to attend school.

Calling the people of Afghanistan the country’s “greatest natural resource,” Mr. Aiken said that he also hopes to inform people in the United States, who he said too often associate Afghanistan with conflicts, troops and military activities, of the genuine desire on the part of children to learn.

“If we did see more about the kids [in the media], we will see more positive support and help,” noted Mr. Aiken.

Tidbits 4/11

  • Philippine News - In an article about Sanjaya voting conspiracy theories, Clay is mentioned as follows:
    The second consideration is the power of the prepubescent teenage girl/bored grandma vote. These two very different demographics tend to vote for the same contestants, on similar principles. Typically, the “Ohhh he is just tooo cuuuuuuuute. OooOOo! Look at the way he is shimmying across that stage – oh now he’s dancing with Paula! Isn’t that precious?” principle. This is the strongest theory, or the one that may account for most of his actual votes. Clay Aiken had the same voting block push him through to the top two of Season 2, except … well, Clay Aiken could sing. Never mind.
  • Entertainment Weekly - another Sanjaya article -
    I am loving the whole Sanjaya brouhaha. Maybe that's because I can't get all in a tizzy about the voting on a televised pop music competition. Think about it: Does it really even matter who wins? Clay Aiken has outsold Ruben Studdard, early exit victim Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar, and it is Chris Daughtry, not Taylor Hicks, who is currently burning up the charts. So taking home the actual title of American Idol is not necessarily all it's cracked up to be.
  • Albuquerque Tribune - article about TV announcer Don LaFontaine - "He cuts video, including a piece featuring Clay Aiken, Ben Vereen and other stars for the sweet 16 birthday party of his daughter, Skye."
  • Rochester Democrat & Chronicle - lists Clay's Canadaigua concert date - "Clay Aiken, backed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. July 19. Tickets ($23 through $45, with a lawn four-pack $72) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday."
  • Palm Beach Daily News - another tour mention ... West Palm Beach, FL concert - "American Idol heartthrob Clay Aiken with Orchestra, 8 p.m. Aug. 18, Dreyfoos Hall, $20-$100"
  • Chart Attack - update on Canadian rocker Suzie McNeil. McNeil recorded a duet with Clay for ATDW - "she's managed to tour North America as back-up singer for Pink, record a duet with Clay Aiken"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tidbits 4/10

Clay was mentioned on last night's Entertainment Tonight Canada in a segment about Rock Star INXS runner-up Suzie McNeil. McNeil recorded a duet of "I Want To Know What Love Is" with Clay last year for A Thousand Different Ways. Thanks, as usual, to gerwhisp for the cap. A video cap is available here.

  • A few American Idol articles -
    • Rutgers Observer - "Clay Aiken was runner-up to Season two winner Rubben Studdard and has a much better career (in terms of magazine covers, album sales and gossip) than his opponent."
    • Daily Herald -
      Even with its pop focus, "Idol" has managed to churn out a diverse roster of talent, ranging from pop crooners Clarkson and Clay Aiken, R&B belters Ruben Studdard and Fantasia, country queens Underwood and Kellie Pickler and rocker Daughtry.
    • Vancouver Province - is time up for AI6 hopeful Sanjaya Malakar?
      The judges, the media and, oh yeah, the rest of America with ears, know this guy has no place in the final grouping of a show that has turned out such talent as Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Carrie Underwood. So the question is, how much longer will Sanjaya get to sing?
    • Boston Herald -
      The winner is old news the day after the May finale. Taylor Hicks, Fantasia Barrino and Ruben Studdard haven’t lit the music world on fire. On the other hand, Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken (who finished second to Studdard) and Chris Daughtry (who placed fourth last year) recognized “Idol” as an opportunity - and ran with it.
    • FOX 16 - "Even Clay Aiken came in second and has blown by winner Ruben Studdard's record sales."
  • Rochester Democrat & Chronicle - mention of Clay's July 19 concert in Canadaigua, NY - "Clay Aiken, backed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. July 19. Tickets ($23 through $45, with a lawn four pack $72) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday."
  • MPNNow.com - another mention of the Canadaigua concert -
    Things turn more melodic when Clay Aiken rolls into town on Thursday, July 19, at 7:30 p.m. The former "American Idol" contestant will be joined by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for a symphonic touch. Tickets go on sale April 14 and range from $23 to $45.
  • George Washington University's The Daily Colonial - "After all, just as Clay Aiken lost in American Idol - as Kelsey Fly wishes to make abundantly clear - I’m guessing Spektor wouldn’t be GW’s top choice if every student had a direct vote on the matter."
  • BuddyTV - AI6 finalist Chris Richardson photographed with MTV "Laguna Beach" star ~ mention of Clay and rumors surrounding his private life.

  • ConCLAYve brings us a nice transcript of the new iTunes interview with Clay.

Monday, April 09, 2007

New Fanclub Presales Announced

The official fanclub has announced several new presales to begin later this week & into next week:

04/09/07 : CLAY AIKEN NEW PRE-SALES BEGIN THURSDAY, APRIL 12th!
By Team Clay

New pre-sales for Clay Aiken's upcoming symphony tour begin this coming Thursday, April 12. Fan club pre-sales are confirmed for the dates listed below. We will be holding fan club pre-sales for as many dates as allowed and will post all information regarding start dates and times as soon as it is available. Pre-sale passwords, links and detailed information will be posted on the "Tours" page of the ClayOnline.com website prior to pre-sale start times. You will need to login using your Clay Online fan club account to see the pre-sale links and codes. Information is updated frequently, so stay tuned to the TOURS section of ClayOnline.com for the latest on tour date information.
Date / Location & Venue / Pre-Sale

Clay Aiken Pre-Sale beginning Thursday, April 12:

July 19 – Canadaigua, NY – Constellation Performing Arts Center - Pre-Sale Begins 10 a.m. EDT


Clay Aiken Pre-Sale beginning Friday, April 13:

August 18 - West Palm Beach, FL - Kravis Center For The Arts - Pre-Sale Begins 10 a.m. EDT


Clay Aiken Pre-Sale beginning Saturday, April 14:

July 17 - Philadelphia, PA - Mann Center for the Performing Arts - Pre-Sale Begins 10 a.m. EDT


Clay Aiken Pre-Sale beginning Monday, April 16:

July 18 - Syracuse, NY - Crouse-Hinds Theater - Pre-Sale Begins 10 a.m. EDT

July 23 Michigan Date Announced

The official fanclub has announced that Clay will perform at the Freedom Hill Amphitheater in Sterling Heights, MI on July 23. Tickets go on sale on April 28 via Ticketmaster.

The fanclub also published a new tour calendar with the "cancelled" Dallas date noticeably absent.

Date Location Venue On-Sale Date
July 6 Houston, TX Jones Hall On-Sale Now
July 17 Philadelphia, PA Mann CenterOn-Sale 4/17
July 18 Syracuse, NY Constellation Performing Arts CenterOn-Sale 4/18
July 19 Canandaigua, NY Constellation Performing Arts CenterOn-Sale 4/14
July 20 Chautauqua, NY Chautauqua Institution AmphitheaterOn-Sale Now
July 21 Columbus, OH Chemical Abstract Service
July 23 Sterling Heights, MI Freedom Hill Amphitheater
July 25 Gilford, NH Meadowbrook FarmOn-Sale 4/14
August 2 San Diego, CA Embarcadero Marina Park SouthOn-Sale Now
August 3 Pala, CA Pala Casino StarlightOn-Sale Now
August 4 Los Angeles, CA Greek TheatreOn-Sale 6/2
August 10 Cary, NC Koka Booth AmphitheaterOn-Sale 5/5
August 11 Asheville, NC Biltmore EstatesOn-Sale 5/23
August 15 Atlanta, GA Chastain Park Amphitheater
August 17 Tampa, FL Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
August 18 West Palm Beach, FL Kravis Center for the Performing ArtsOn-Sale 4/14
August 19 Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live OrlandoOn-Sale Now

CDD Urges Fanclub To Issue Statement

Today's news that the Dallas concert is being canceled will be take a financial toll on many Claymates who have already booked & paid hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for airline tickets.

Clay's Daily Double urges the official fanclub and Team Clay to comment on this mess as quickly and professionally as possible.

More Confusion Over Texas, Oklahoma Concerts

We're hearing Clay's July 7 concert set for the Nokia Theatre in Dallas, TX is being canceled and a Tulsa, OK concert is being announced for that same day. Reps at the Nokia Theatre confirm that no Clay concert was ever 100% confirmed and the official fanclub and Ticketmaster "jumped the gun".

We are still awaiting an official statement from Team Clay - however, as a consolation to our Texas fans, the Nokia Theatre says Clay will be at Pizza Hut Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, TX on the "weekend" of July 4 (note: July 4 is a Wednesday) for their Independence Day celebrations. You can also choose to go to the Houston concert on July 6. Again, details of this concert are to be announced.

To recap:

  • The July 7 Dallas, TX concert previously scheduled for the Nokia Theatre is CANCELED.
  • A concert will occur at the Brady Theater in Tulsa, OK on July 7.
  • Clay is rumored to appear in the week of July 4 at Pizza Hut Stadium in Frisco, TX.
  • Details have not been confirmed for any of these concerts. Ticketing information for Tulsa and Frisco are TBA.

Tidbits 4/9

  • Lycos50 - Clay's #17 this week.
  • The Clayboard - Cstinia tells us that while her parents were in Vietnam recently visiting family, "that during the first days in their hotel, she (her mother) heard Clay's music on the intercom." How great to know he is being played in other countries!
  • Philadelphia Daily News - "Say anything - good or bad, doesn't matter - about Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Clay Aiken, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and you can count on your morning being spent replying to the angered."
  • Foxes on Idol In the article, "This Week in American Idol History: The Top Eight – A Fairly Predictable Round" by Donna Reynolds, Clay is mentioned from Season 2: "It was #1 Billboard Hits for season two’s top eight, and Lionel Richie was the guest host. Clay kicked off the night with “At This Moment,” and the judges loved it. “That song was perfect for you,” Simon said. “Absolutely on-the-money!”"
  • Cape Cod Today - singing is what Idol is really about - "I, for one, do not care if Clay Aiken or Ryan Seacrest are gay. I have no interest in learning if Reuben Studdard has lost any weight, and I have an annoying habit of repeating the name Bo Bice, the heartthrob from Alabama. I also resent the fact that Kellie Pickler did not make it all the way."
  • A few more Clay mentions of Clay ... this is a syndication of yesterday's Canadian Press wire story about Neil Sedaka:
    • Canada.com -
      That season, Sedaka was excited about Clay Aiken, who performed Sedaka's song, "Solitaire," on the show. This season, he's praising the talents of contestant Melinda Doolittle.
  • Syracuse.com - nice mention of Clay's upcoming Syracuse concert -
    July 18 - Clay Aiken will perform with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Tickets range from $35 to $100. Tickets for SSO subscribers and Clay Aiken Fan Club members will go on sale at 10 a.m. April 16 through 5 p.m. April 17. General public tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. April 18. To purchase tickets, call 424-8200 or 800-724-3810 or go to syracusesymphony.org.
  • Ask Men - very random Clay mention....
    It’s a rare day when you’d rather sit and listen to a young singer/songwriter than punch him in his whiny face -- but for a decade now, Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes) has been making us want to do just that. And while his previous disc helped him break through to America’s mainstream markets with some of his most somber, stripped music to date, his latest release reveals that the man has been hiding a refreshing level of swagger from his audience. Don’t believe us? Try throwing on the Cassadaga’s “Four Winds,” and if your foot isn’t tapping and your hand isn’t reaching for a cold one within a minute, you’re probably dead or your driver’s license says Clay Aiken.
  • Michigan Live - no Clay Aiken at Clio Amphitheater this year, but Clio Amphitheater has big plans for Summer '07 - "Clay Aiken and Travis Tritt aren't on this year's schedule, but officials of the Clio Area Amphitheater say this year they will branch out across the world."
  • AntiMusic has a list of 2007 summer tour dates.
  • Charlotte Observer - The Charlotte Observer asks of the AI6 Idols, "Which Idol has gone from slam to glam? You vote and tell us." And they include a famous idol makeover from the past. Who, you ask? Why our own Clay Aiken, of course, with a gorgous current picture as proof of that!!

  • Nothing here yet.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Save Jericho" Petition at Petition Spot


We all know how much Clay loves the show "Jericho" and that it is in danger of being cancelled.

At a site called Petition Spot, you can sign a "Save Jericho" petition to help keep it on the air. At the site it says:

Jericho is a new serial drama on CBS, before its first season is even over, CBS is looking to send this show packing. We, as the viewers and fans can not let this happen! Sign the petition now and send it to all of your friends so this amazing show can stay alive!
When you get to the site, just click on "Make Signatures" and fill out the "Sign the Petition" information at the top right of the screen. Then click "Sign Petition". That's it!

As of the writing of this article, there are less than 200 signatures. Let's give it some more signatures and see what we can do to save "Jericho" for Clay!

Generosity Stuns Pleasantly Surprised Clay Fan


I recently read a wonderful story at The Clayboard that warmed my heart. In a thread started by Grandmajane on The Clayboard, she tells of what happened to her when she went out shopping for supplies to make Clay bracelets for BAF fundraising purposes. Well, here, we'll let Grandmajane's own words tell you this great story:

My heart is overflowing and I am in shock with disbelief.

Today I went to my favorite bead store to get a clasp for a bracelet I was working on. While I was there I decided to stock up on beads, etc, for the Clay bracelets I make for our local fundraisers for the BAF.

Now this store knows Grandma and how crazy she is about Clay. Occasionally when our group goes to Tea nearby we stop in to pick up some supplies. The girls that work in the store like to tease me but they really like Clay too. There is very little publicity for Clay in the Bay Area and few people know when his new albums come out so I have given them some of Clay's latest CDs.

While I was picking out beads I talked to the girls about last Saturday's fund raisers and how much money was raised.

When I was finished the girls were in the back room helping a Girl Scout Troop with their projects and the owner's husband waited on me.

He scooped all the beads into bags without counting them or noting how much they cost and then just handed me the bags. I asked how he was going to calculate how much I should pay.

He said,"No charge. Just have fun. It's on the house...its for the kids."

I was stunned. I am constantly being amazed at the generosity of the human spirit.

I'm going to say some extra prayers for the owners of this store tonight. It you have a few seconds tonight perhaps you could join me.
We all know how kind and generous Clay fans can be, but when someone who is not normally quite so devoted a Clay fan as we are does something like this, it is especially great to hear about. Thanks for this great story, Grandmajane!!

Happy Easter!


A very Happy Easter from everyone here at CDD!

Tidbits 4/8

What a wonderful photo - I've never seen this before... check out the full sized HQ at Flickr.
  • Cute story about her insurance agent from the CB's edlwis:
    I called my insurance agent to ask him if I needed to take the insurance the rental car agencies try to sell. I told him I would be renting a car when I go to Florida in August. He asked me why I was going to Florida. I said, "You're either going to laugh or say 'huh', but I'm going to Florida to see Clay Aiken at three concerts." He said, "Oooooh, my wife is the biggest Clay fan! I completely understand! She's just crazy about the guy!" Well, that just made my day and I "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee'd" big time! I just LOVE when this sort of thing happens!!
  • Contra Costa Times is entitled to their opinions, but I think Clay's far from being "off the map":
    Thank God it doesn't always work. In six seasons, one could argue that only a handful of "Idol" singers -- Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry and, to a certain extent, Clay Aiken -- have gotten even close to real stardom. Aiken is off the map and would be smart to head to Broadway.
  • Myrtle Beach Sun News - uh... not sure what to make of this:
    "If I was invisible, then I could just watch you in your room," from "Invisible" by Clay Aiken. Creepiest lyrics since The Police promised to monitor "every breath you take." Tip: If Clay spies on you, just stomp your foot at him. He'll cry like a little girl.
  • 570 News / Canadian Press wire - Neil Sedaka celebrating 50 years in the industry...
    Among his celebrity friends, Sedaka counts Bette Midler, Neil Diamond, Keely Smith and Elton John - and he's keeping his eye on "American Idol," on which he was a guest judge in 2003.

    That season, Sedaka was excited about Clay Aiken, who performed Sedaka's song, "Solitaire," on the show. This season, he's praising the talents of contestant Melinda Doolittle.


CDD supports:

Bubel Aiken Foundation GoodSearch for TBAF UNICEF