Sunday, January 28, 2007

Clay Aiken...Do you want to know a secret?

By RockysMom:

Anyone else remember that old Beatles song that goes... you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?
Closer...let me whisper in your ear....

A little while ago, on Clay's birthday,the night before the start of the JNaT... I was eating dinner and my computer went to screen-saver...the first picture that came up was of Clay during his Atlanta audition. That day when his life....and so many of ours as well...changed forever. And I thought that if I could go back in time to that day and somehow manage to whisper in the ear of that innocent, hopeful, unsuspecting young man and tell him of some of the things the future held for him....what secrets would I share? What would I whisper in Clay's ear?

Would I whisper that even though you've just been told that you don't look like a pop star (and you'll hear that line again...and again) you will become one. You will set records of some type with virtually every recording you release. Your latest CD will see your first efforts as a lyricist and you're Executive producer on your new Christmas EP. You'll be a sought after guest on TV shows, both for your singing ability and your humor, charm, and quick-wit. Just the fact that you've changed your hairstyle will have the entertainment shows buzzing for weeks.

You will tour seven times in the next four years. No one from the show....even those with more CD sales or more radio airplay will match your gross ticket sales....well over 28 million dollars before you've been in the business for even 4 years. And that's not the only traveling you'll be'll fly everywhere from London to Slovenia to Malaysia to Uganda. You'll even get to spend some time in Santa Monica.

Now,about this American Idol're going to see women in the audience when you do these TV shows....they'll be holding signs with silly sayings and wearing T-shirts with your name and face on them and screaming when you look in their direction. Try to get used to them because they're not going to go away. Not a chance (even when you're wishing they would because they just ripped the grass out of your mama's lawn again).They are going to drive themselves crazy trying to get tickets to every single television show you appear on. And you're going to be on a lot of them. Not just singing,either. Your quick wit and sense of humor is going to make you a favorite guest because not only do you "bring" every live singing performance,but you're funny and entertaining "on the couch" as well. Just one word of advice here careful where you put your don't know where some people's mouths have been.

Do you remember that girl that beat you at the audition in Charlotte? That girl named Quiana Parler? You'll get to know her better in Hollywood. Not only will she become your back-up singer (yes, you heard me right) but she will become one of your closest friends. You'll even become Godfather to her first-born child, a beautiful little boy. And the friends you take with you to Hollywood....Nick and Kristy? Nick will become your personal assistant for a while when you try to adjust to living in LA and the pressures of stardom. And Kristy will be in charge of your foundation for the inclusion of special-needs children. heard that right too. YOUR foundation, started with contributions from those craz....enthusiastic women you'll see in the audience. And that won't be the only way you'll get to make a'll be a UNICEF ambassador and serve on a Presidential committee for people with disabilities. You'll publish a book and set up summer camps. If you're concerned that following your dream to Hollywood might mean losing your chance to help those children you care so deeply about...don't be. You'll be doing wonderful things that will help children all over the world. Why,just by writing a post in your blog, asking your fans to help, you will be able to raise over $70,000 in a few days for children in a war-torn nation(And by the way....those two little words "He Blogged" will be a cause for celebration in your nation....the word "soon"-not so much).

And you'll be able to help your mom the end of 2003 you'll have paid off her mortgage. And you'll buy Brett another Firebird to replace the one you had sell. What's that? won't be living at home with your mom. You'll have a brand-new custom built 2 million dollar, 9,000 square foot home of your own not too far away though. You'll be taking WRAL and ET on tours of it. It will hold the many awards you've received and include mementos of your trips for UNICEF. You'll share it with friends and family and your beloved four-legged "kids".

But those won't be the only lives you change. Those obsess..craz..enthusiastic fans of yours....their lives will forever be changed by you as well. They'll form their own message boards and have vaults where they'll keep their "Clack" don't know what that word means now, but you will. You'll learn all their words and habits and you'll tease them about them endlessly and they'll love you even more for doing it. Those vaults will hold every bit of audio or video of you that they can get their hands on. Remember when you sang GBoF when you were in the Raleigh's Boy Choir? They'll have that. And your high school production of "Oklahoma". And that little bit of song you just sang in there a few minutes ago? That will be there as well. They'll proudly tell you that you had them at that first word "Take" and the title of that song...."Always and Forever" won't be just a song title. It will become their promise and their pledge to you.

They'll develop computer skills they never would have dreamed of...they'll become incredible photographers and become able to take videos under some pretty unusual circumstances. They'll discover a new way to share your shows with each other using their cell-phones. They'll find that they have the talent to write funny skits about you and your friends and your dogs and themselves. But most importantly...they'll develop friendships they never would have been blessed with if you hadn't come into their lives.They'll fly across the country just to see you perform live and meet and travel with people that they only know by name on the Internet. They'll wait for hours in the cold or the rain or blistering heat just for the touch of your hand. Even though many of them will be old enough to be your mother (and don't let that fool you) you'll make them feel as though they're 12 years old again with their very first crush. You'll bring smiles to their faces,joy to their souls, love to their hearts, and tears to their eyes.

Why tears,you ask? Because they want the best for you, always and in all things and they won't always be able to give that to you. Because you hate to disappoint them and they'll be times when they'll watch you sing to them when you shouldn't even be out of'll be barely able to stand,much less perform a show. But perform for them you will...and sing flawlessly and be hysterically funny to boot. And then there will be times when they'll be forced to read and watch and listen to all manner of vile lies being told about you and not be able to stop them. But those lies and that hatred will only draw them closer together....they'll become more than just a fandom, they'll be a family. And those dark days are when their love for you will shine the brightest and they'll reach out to let you know that they are there for you "unconditionally". And you will feel that love and they'll pray that it's helped you cope, if only for a little while.

So go get ready for your drive back home to North Carolina now, Atlanta Clay. Take off that piece of paper that has the number "5230" emblazoned on it and tuck it safely away somewhere.

And prepare for the ride of your life....while we do the same.

Take care mean the world to me and so many others. Always are so very dearly loved.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

American Idol...Will you be watching this year?

Next week, Tuesday and Wednesday, to be exact, marks the beginning the sixth season of American Idol, a show that has grown in popularity every year since its inception. In fact, its popularity is at an all time high and it doesn’t look as if it’s ending any time soon.

The first few weeks will be filled with the bad auditions, with a good one or two thrown in. Seemingly, most of America loves the bad auditions. Myself? They get very boring very quickly. Perhaps if they’d show a few of the good auditions, especially the good ones who DON’T make it. I think it would be interesting to see why some of the better contestants don’t advance to Hollywood.

According to a press release from FOX, Season Six will start off with four weeks of ‘bad’ auditions. February 14th will reveal the top 24 people chosen to advance, and February 20th and 21st, will have the Top 12 males and Top 12 females, respectively, singing live. Thursday the 22nd will be the first ‘live results’ show, which lets America decide who stays and who goes. The Top 12 Finalists perform for the first time on Tuesday, March 13th. Let the games begin……

While the television audience is looking ahead to the show, let’s take a look behind and see what has happened with some of the former contestants.

Season One’s Kelly Clarkson has released her second album, Breakaway, to critical and commercial success. She’s the darling of radio, with that album spawning at least five major hits for her. In 2006, Clarkson won two Grammies, ‘Best Female Pop Vocalist’ for ‘Since U Been Gone’, and ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’ for ‘Breakaway’. In addition, she’s sold over 13 million CD’s world-wide. Her first CD, Thankful, which went double platinum, included the monster radio hit, Miss Independence.

Ruben Studdard won American Idol’s Season Two, in a tightly held contest with Clay Aiken. Studdard won by 130,000 votes, out of a record 24 million votes cast that year, making it, perhaps, the most controversial season of the series, with many people saying the phone lines weren’t adequate enough to handle all the traffic. Studdard released his first CD, ‘Soulful’, to both critical and commercial success, selling around 1.7 million. His second CD, ‘I Need an Angel’ was a Gospel record selling 437,000 units, and he just released a third CD, ‘The Return’ in October, selling, through the end of the year, 187,000 copies. Studdard was nominated for a Grammy Award in December, 2003, for ‘Best Male R&B Vocal Performance’ for ‘Superstar’, losing to Luther Vandross.

Clay Aiken is, arguably, the star that emerged from American Idol, Season Two. His debut single, ‘This is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water’, and first CD, ‘Measure of a Man’ both went straight to Number One, selling 1.3 million and 2.8 million, respectively. His holiday album, ‘Merry Christmas, with Love, the fastest selling holiday album in the Soundscan era, sold over 1 million copies in six weeks, and debuted at #4, the highest debut for a holiday album by a new artist. His newest album, ‘A Thousand Different Ways’, debuted at #2, in September, 2006, selling 489,000 copies through the end of the year. His 4th album, an EP consisting of four songs, was released as an exclusive to Wal-Mart. No sales figures are available, but there are reports of it having sold out across the country.

Aiken also wrote a book, ‘Learning to Sing, Hearing the Music in Your Life’, that went to #2 on the New York Times best-seller list. In 2004, he starred and executive-produced his first TV Special, ‘A Clay Aiken Christmas’. Aiken has won both an American Music award, for ‘Fan Favorite’ and a Billboard award for ‘Best-Selling Single of 2003’.

Aiken has toured eight times since 2003, co-headlining with Clarkson for the ‘Independent Tour’ in 2004. He’s sold out many of his concert appearances since then.

As important to him as his music career, Aiken is well-known for his charitable works. He co-founded The Bubel/Aiken Foundation with Diane Bubel in 2003, which supports the integration of children with disabilities into the life environment of their non-disabled peers. With the support of his fans and many corporate sponsors, the BAF has been very successful in spreading their mission of inclusion around the country.

Aiken has also been appointed a United States Fund for UNICEF National Ambassador in 2004 and has been to both Banda Aceh and Uganda in support of UNICEF. He was the ‘Toys for Tots’ spokesperson in 2004 and an ambassador for Ronald McDonald charities. He has testified before Congress on behalf of UNICEF, and was the 2005 spokesperson for ‘Trick or Treat for UNICEF’. In September of 2006, Aiken was appointed by President Bush to to the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Two other notable Season Two contestants have been successful since 2003. Josh Gracin, a former Lance Corporal in the Marines, released a country album, self-titled ‘Josh Gracin’ that sold over 750,000 CD’s with a single that went to #1 on the country charts. Kimberely Locke released a successful CD, ‘One Love’ which included the hit song, ‘8th World Wonder’, selling around 211,000 copies.

Season Three of American Idol had Fantasia Barrino taking the top honor. Now known simply as Fantasia, her first CD, ‘Free Yourself’ has sold over 2 million copies. In September, 2005, Fantasia released a book, ‘Life is not a Fairy Tale’, reaching #7 on the NYT Best seller list, and played herself in the Lifetime Television version of her story. In 2006, Fantasia was nominated for three Grammy Awards and has won three Billboard Awards. Fantasia released her sophomore CD, ‘Fantasia’ in December, 2006. She’s currently touring with Jamie Foxx.

Diana DeGarmo, the third season’s runner-up who was a junior in High School during the show’s run, released her debut CD, ‘Blue Skies’ in late 2004, selling 165,000 copies, but she has found her strength and success on Broadway, playing Penny Pingleton in the musical ‘Hairspray’ garnering rave reviews. She has also played the lead character in ‘Brooklyn, the Musical’ to more critical reviews.

However, sixth-place finisher Jennifer Hudson seems to be on the verge of surpassing both Fantasia and Diana. After beating out over 720 auditioners, including Fantasia, Hudson was chosen for the movie, ‘Dreamgirls’, playing Effie, the part made famous by another Jennifer, Jennifer Holiday, on Broadway. Her show-stopping rendition of ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ garners applause in movie theaters and after the credits roll, sometimes standing ovations. In a movie theater! That roll has brought her more than a dozen awards and nominations, including a nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ from both the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, better know as The Golden Globes, and the Screen Actors Guild.

American Idol’s Season Four brought the showdown between Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice, the country singer vs. the rocker. Winner Underwood’s debut album, ‘Some Hearts’, was released in November, 2005, and, just anounced by Carrie on her website, has been certified 5 times platinum, selling over 4,691,000 CDs through the end of this year. She’s won numerous awards including CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year, two Billboard awards, two Country Music Televeision awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, Teen Choice, American Music awards, People’s Choice, and has been nominated for 4 Grammy awards.

Bo Bice was one of the first ‘rockers’ to appear on American Idol. Coming in second, Bo was signed to RCA and released his first CD, ‘The Real Thing’ in December, 2005, opening at #4 and eventually selling over 630,000 units. Bice is considered only the third ‘non-winner’ to meet with decent chart success, alongside with Clay Aiken and Josh Gracin. Plagued by intestinal problems, Bice has undergone several surgeries in recent years.

Which brings us to Season Five of American Idol, with last season’s winner Taylor Hicks, the unconventional soul/blues/jazz singer with an original way of performing. After signing a recording contract with Arista, Hicks released his first post-Idol CD, ‘Taylor Hicks. Released on December 12th, it has sold over 200,000 so far. Hicks independently released two CD’s prior to competing in American Idol, ‘In Your Time’, and ‘Under the Radar’.

Second place finisher, Katherine McPhee attended Boston Conservatory before auditioning for Idol. As the second place finisher, she released her single, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ in June of 2006, reaching #12 on the Billboard charts. McPhee’s debut album is slated to be released in January of 2007.

Fourth place finisher Chris Daughtry first auditioned for Rock Star: INXS before successfully appearing on American Idol. During the show’s run, Daughtry was offered the lead singer spot for the band ‘Fuel’ which he declined. He signed a record deal with RCA in June of 2006 and recorded his first CD, self-titled ‘Daughtry’. To date, ‘Daughtry’ has sold over 1 million copies.

Kellie Pickler has also seen success after finishing in sixth place, signing a recording contract with 19 Recording/BNA Records, owned by RCA/Sony BMG Music. Her debut album, ‘Small Town girl’ was released in October, 2006 and to date, has sold over 360,000 units, topping the country charts as #1. Currently she will be starring in her own sitcom, maybe next TV season.

So……….in a few days, American Idol, Season 6 will be starting, and thousands of hopefuls have already auditioned to be raked over the coals by the judges and perhaps, to catch that elusive brass ring that the above-mentioned singers have. Love it or hate, it, American Idol is a juggernaut that is steamrolling past all other TV shows in terms of popularity and advertising dollars. Will you be watching this year?

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Clay Aiken: 2006...The Year in Review

Every year I wander the internet and get opinions from all the posters on Clay happenings during the year. At the end of the year, I put 'our' thoughts in a post. We all know that there is never a 'we' on the boards, that everyone doesn't agree, but I really try to get a general consensus of opinion.

For those of you who hate when posters use the 'we' or 'us' word, well, you can't please everyone all the time.

Any and all timeline and/or spelling errors are solely the fault of the author. And I'll probably edit these for those mistakes over and over.

2006….the Year in Review

Hey, Clay, how are ya? Once again, I’m compiling your yearly activities, at least the ones that we know about. I consider this a labor of love and it gives us all a time to reflect back on what we accomplished this year, what our thoughts were, and who we touched in our lives. It’s also hella fun. So here goes….

This is what the first half of the year SEEMED liked from our perspective:

May: AI appearance (eeeeeeeeeeee!)

And we thought the drought of Aught ‘05 was bad, but this one was the Granddaddy of droughts.

Here’s what actually happened:

January: Well, Clay, I know you were probably resting from the 2005 Christmas JNT05, but we were restless. As always, at the end of a tour, our thoughts turn to ‘When will we see you again?’ With all the Clack from the JNT05, we certainly had things to keep us busy, but it’s like visiting with your cousins or loved ones that you only see a few times a year. You end up really missing them after the holidays are over. You know that you’ll see them again, but it’s sort of a bittersweet feeling. That’s how we feel about you. When you’re around, we’re happy. When you’re not around, we miss you and we want to see you again and we get restless. And we tend to talk a lot. About you. Other things, too, but mostly you. Weird, huh?

We had a re-run of the Rose Bowl parade from 2005, courtesy of KTLA. ETV re-ran your SNL show, and on January 28th, we celebrated our third anniversary. January 28th, 2003 was the first time any of us ever saw you. In essence, we ‘met’ for the first time. You know, usually guys don’t remember anniversaries, but we know that YOU would never forget an anniversary. So……what did you get us? *g*

We also got this in your ofc blog: Do not fear the reproach of others, and do not be dismayed when they revile you. Isaiah 51:7
At first, we didn’t know what you meant. Speculation ran rampant. We’d soon find out.

On January 23nd, an amazing thing happened. We found out why you posted that scripture, and Rockysmom, from Clayversity, posted this simple message on the ofc:

No explanations,discussions ,or debates. No board-wars or one-up-manship or agendas.Just to let Clay know...

I love him unconditionally. I have his back now,always, and forever. Nothing and no one will ever change that. Period.

Please take care,Clay. You mean the world to me.

I'm circling my wagon.Anyone care to join me?

The next 24 hours amazed everyone. Poster after poster after poster after poster came to the ofc to show their love and support for you. The fandom had never seen anything like it before and we probably won’t again. The feelings of community, support, love, and togetherness that we had, not only for you, but for each other, still simply blows our mind. Quite a few tears were shed that night. Good tears.

Then you had to go and tease us that album news was coming……*soon, quite soon* I don’t know, Clay. Your definition of soon and our definition of soon certainly differs. You told us to open our minds and expect something different. Then you went on to tease us. Brat!

February brought the very first word of your new CD through Entertainment Weekly in the form of a blurb that read, in part, “Well, according to an RCA spokesman, he'll be hitting the studio in March -- with an eye toward a May release date -- and is sorting through potential material now, which includes both original tunes and "lots of covers.”

Do you have ANY idea of the turmoil that caused on the boards? Covers! No covers! Album! New Clay songs! Maybe in May! Summer Tour! Yes!

We knew you were looking at songs, we heard that you had already recorded songs, we thought you had recorded enough for four albums, as long as you didn’t add any Mongolian Polkas, but we didn’t expect a cover album. Most of us didn’t believe it, especially after reading the Matt Ehlers interview, so the boards were a bit tense for a while.

On February 28th, you called in to Sunny lite’s DJ Madison to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her. We asked and they said yes to putting the clip on their website. Madison told us, “Can you believe he did that for me? He is the epitome of CLASS. I just love him dearly. His mother raised a great young man. That really made my Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” How does that song go, Clay? Killing Me Softly With His Song? You’re killing us, kid!

You blogged that you were taking each and every one of us as your valentine. OK by us! Then you gave us another hint about the CD, something about all your favorite songs are love songs.

March brought a first for the Boards. We held our very first Block Party. Hey, you weren’t around and we had to do something to keep us occupied! The Clackhouse, Clayversity, the ofc, and The ClayBoard all banded together to par-tay! And party we did! It was a block party for the community with games and activities for everyone. We had a blast. We unscrambled that tune, we did cluzzles, we guessed how many pins were in the pin jar, we played guessing games, we posted pictures and parts of pictures, never mind what parts we posted. We had door prizes and lots of other sh…stuff.

Scrubs partook in repeating the cast member’s favorite episodes, ‘My Life in Four Cameras’ was chosen and the cast members did short video blurbs about it.

In March, you blogged: “Let’s talk about something that REALLY happened…” Heh. You have such a way with words to get across multiple meanings. You told us about your vacation in Eastern Europe and how you were sick as a dog, about Croatia, Ljubljana, Budapest, and among your words, you gave us a short history lesson. Teacher!Clay! We would have liked to see pictures of your sick bed. Actually, we would have liked to see pictures of Kristy after taking care of you for days. Heh. Glad she survived *g* You told us about your photo shoot and how much you LOVED doing it (/snerk) and you teased us with parts of pictures. And you told us….”NO news on a release date yet.”

In April, you were included in a program on Discovery Health about the Dilley sextuplets who are now 12 years old and one of them is a huge Clay fan. E! News had a short mention about fashion icons and used you as an example. Guess you never thought you’d be considered a fashion icon, did ya? ETV repeated SNL again and ET gave you a very quick mention.

In May, you visited Middlesex Middle School in Connecticut as part of your UNICEF duties. The Middle School kids raised $14,209.34 for the Kids Helping Kids Challenge and you presented a check from Proctor and Gamble to UNICEF for $150,000. Good job, Middlesex Middle School! And good job to you, too, Clay. We’re so very happy that you still get to interact with kids because it’s so close to your heart. And yet another repeat of SNL.

So, you don’t like Mexican food? Well, to each their own. Some of us do and some of us don’t.

Well, what in the world did you do on May 24, 2006? We know what we did. We were glued in front of our TV sets, watching American Idol, waiting for your appearance. You know, that surprise appearance? I don’t think we knew whether to laugh hysterically or what, because when you walked out, I think you shocked the entire Clay Nation. I don’t know what we expected, but it certainly wasn’t a totally new hair style that was radically different from anything we’ve ever seen you in before. There you were, the same guy, the same body, the same voice, the same smile, but that hair! I don’t think that a hair style has been talked about as much since Farah Fawcett’s ‘do in the early 70’s. How’s THAT for fashion icon?

My God, Clay, you could have knocked us over with a feather, we were that surprised. Some of us loved it immediately, some of us took a few seconds, some, a few weeks, yet others still prefer the spikes. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter because no matter how you wear your hair, you’re still you. Long, short, hanging in your eyes, bald, it doesn’t matter. Not to us. Never to us because we love and appreciate you, the man that you are. But, by the way, we really, really, really like it, especially longer, although some miss the bangs.

That two minute AI appearance garnered WEEKS of intense media attention. At that time, we couldn’t understand why RCA didn’t capitalize on the attention, I mean, we always second guess everything you do, but we really second-guessed that one.

After that appearance, you were on ALL the entertainment shows, in the entertainment magazines, in the mainstream press (more about that later)

June was like a vast wasteland with nothing more than a repeat of Stranded with the Stars and a mention on Jeopardy. However, you did tell us that Quiana had a baby. Let me repeat that: QUIANA HAD A BABY!!! How cool is that? Welcome Chamberlain Malik Moore. May your life be a blessing to your loved ones.

July was like another vast wasteland with only a repeat of A Capitol Fourth and an Oprah ‘Wildest Dreams’ repeat, but you did challenge us to come up with the acronym for the album title.

You know, Clay, we think we know you very well, but we’ve got nothing on you! You know how we think, don’t you? How we parse your blogs for any little hint of, well, anything. And telling us not to snoop around through our ‘channels’ ‘cos even your mother doesn’t know. We don’t need to snoop, Clay, because we got it on our own! We extrapolated using Excel spreadsheets, working from the beginning of the alphabet to the end and vice versa. Bet you thought you could pull one over on us? Think again, freckle-boy. Oh, and a phone call to the winner? Now THAT’S a nice prize, Clay. Then Jaymes blogged about the CD and got us even more excited.

At the end of July, you challenged us to donate to UNICEF. Well, we’re nothing if not predictable. I think, in the end, we raised about $70,000. Look what love has done.

August: Bless the Baby Jesus for now we had some news! CD Release date! CD Release Party planning! Travel planning! Ticket procuring! Venues announced! Tour news! And what was this we heard? A date? A CD Release Date?? Fer sure? A real, live, freaking CD? We had a l-o-n-g three year wait for this news that we were beside ourselves. The eee’ing and pee’ing and squeee’ing that went on the boards was a beauteous sight.

Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, E! News, Parade, Regis & Kelly, E! Top Ten Countdown, another SNL repeat, you were all over the place in August. Thank you, Baby Jesus.

Hee! You were afraid that we would break the Amazon website. How sweet. It was nice of you to let us know that you would NOT be on GMA on the first of September. Saved us all a bit of money. OH, and thanks for telling us about the Christmas Tour, but if a sixteen date run is not considered a ‘tour’, well…….. In your blog, you told us:

Album is finished and mixed and mastered and DELIVERED

More wonderful words were never spoken. Did you ever get to drive around the country?

September: Ummm, what happened in September that was so exciting? *thinks* I know there was something, what was it? It’s coming to me….wait….wait…. *snaps fingers* I got it! You released your freaking second mainstream CD on September 19th!!!!!!! Insert a MILLION dancing bananas! OMG! A new CD! Talk about stoked, we were crazed with excitement! The buildup to September 19th was filled with all sorts of feelings from euphoria to wonderment to questioning the validity of a covers CD.

There were several on-line websites who streamed the CD early so we listened. We listened and we talked and we discussed and we argued and we fell in love with you and your voice all over again. Some people loved the CD, some of us liked it, a few did not like it. Although it’s hard to find a general consensus in this fractured fandom, most people loved the voice, the production, the arrangements, but some were not happy with the song choices. Unfortunately, that’s what one gets when choosing cover songs, they come with baggage.

We were so excited to hear that you got a writer’s credit for ‘Lonely No More’. We always knew that you had it in you to write songs, whether it’s the music or the lyrics, and we weren’t disappointed, but once we downloaded ‘Lover All Alone', we were blown away. That song is a wonderful mix of words and music that perfectly invokes the feeling the lyrics are meant to convey. Wow, just, wow. Dare we hope that there’s more where that came from?

You were a judge at the David Foster Star Search Finals and you know what? You were good! Really, really good in that you gave good criticism, something that the contestants could take back with them and work on. That’s what a judge ought to do, not just give ridiculous sound bites with nasty comments, like another ‘judge’ we know.

You appeared on The Tonight Show and made us roll in the aisles. From the McDonald’s mozzarella balls, to the live chickens running around, to passing out on the floor, to Kristy having to put the tray down before going to your rescue, to planning your funeral and having Ruben sing at it, to struggling with the twisty ties, you had us rolling, Clay, rolling! And you sang beautifully, too. Gah! Intelligent, funny, and a gorgeous voice to boot. What more could a fandom ask for?

Monday, September 19th, the CD release parties. Held all over the country, organized by an army of volunteers and attended by thousands and thousands of your fans, buying the CD at midnight. What fun. What camaraderie, what an amazing time we had. In NYC, the fans lucky enough to be at BB Kings trudged over to Virgin to buy our CD’s, then camped out overnight at the GMA studios, waiting for you to appear. Some of us were lucky enough to see the warm up and we waited through Condoleeza Rice, various other news and people, Patrick Dempsey, Rachel Ray, then, finally, you. We were a bit upset at thee extremely poor editing job by GMA and a lot of us wondered how you could be so strong in the face of all the gossip to just say, ‘Enough! I’m not answering the question any longer’. You go, Clay! It’s nobody’s business unless they’re sleeping with you so the media can just take a freaking hike.

By the way, we’d be remiss in stating that if you and Patrick Dempsey were in the Green Room at the same time, well, that’s just w-a-y too much pretty in one room.

You were on the Morning Show on KTLA where you hair looked freaking fantastic and you were really spot on with the political references. You appeared on The View, you cutie-patootie, you, talking about your anxiety attacks so we’ll make this vow, Clay. If we see you in a restaurant, we promise not to stare, we’ll just walk up and say hello *g* No, hopefully, we’ll just leave you alone to enjoy your private time.

You made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel where you shaved your leg for him!! OMG, that was so funny! And your reaction to the tattoo girls? Priceless. Kimmel mentioned your appointment to the President’s Council for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, good job, by the way. Oh, this? ‘THEY WILL BE LOCKED’? Cracked us the freak up! And again, ‘Lawd Jesus’. God, Clay, you are so funny! Then came the tattoo girls. The look on your face was priceless and then you bared your leg to show us your tattoo of Jimmy. That was a terrific appearance, Clay. We really enjoyed it. Thanks. A few of your fans flew from the four corners of the country to see you on Kimmel, including the mini-concert you gave. How do those lyrics go again, Clay? Heh.

That day, you spent hours signing autographs for your fans at Virgin Megastore. What a nice thing to do. The fans were in a bit of a conundrum that day: stand in line for Jimmy or go to the CD signing? Stand in line or go to the signing? Luckily everything turned out OK and the fans got to do both, but believe me, there was some angsting going on for a while.

Then we read this:
The President intends to appoint the following individuals to be Members of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Wowza, wowza, wowza, Clay. What an honor for you. We are so proud of you. We know you’ll do a good job, as usual.

Here’s the link to the Dept. of Health and Human Services for anyone who wants to read about the Committee:

President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Anyway, back to you. The rest of September had you on all the TV entertainment shows and media, including E! news, CNN Headline news, ET, The Insider, Access Hollywood, MTV, Inside Edition, ET on-line and many more.

You appeared on the Larry King Live show for almost the entire hour. *sigh* We guess Larry’s a nice guy but really, some of his questions, where’d they come from? Anyway, Clay, you held your own with him and came across as an intelligent and witty man who knows his own convictions. Good job.

October brought us the Martha Stewart Show and the Hot Pineapple Salad, which, by the way, according to many fans, is a hit! You looked terrific and sounded even better and we really liked the cameraman for that performance. Lots of yummy close-ups.

TV Guide channel brought us ‘Close-up’, an hour retrospective hosted by two former American Idol contestants. It was mostly rehashed news, and we watched anyway, but the big news in October was the taping of the Tyra Banks show. Now. Clay, we don’t know if it was professional courtesy or ‘show-biz’ sh…stuff, but man alive, you two sizzled together! Talk about chemistry. We loved the reports from the fans who attended and we especially loved the fact that as the show progressed, more and more of the backstage crew came out to watch the taping. That’s’ a perfect example of the respect and genuine liking that we have for you. When a backstage crew comes out like that, they’re giving you your props.

November was pretty busy for you and for us. You taped the Megan Mullally Show, we heard a word that you may be appearing on ‘Days of Our Lives’, and you were presenting on The American Music Awards. There were three things that were notable in November:

You were honored with the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from UNC charlotte. What an honor that must have been for you, Clay, and just think, you dressed for the occasion *g* Ok, We’ll stop teasing, but it’s so much FUN to tease you!

On November 18th, you had the honor to light the UNICEF Snowflake to kick off the holiday season in NYC, and………..

Friday, November 17, 2006, co-hosting on the Regis and Kelly show. Ahem. Did you ever think that an appearance on the R&K Show could generate so much freaking publicity? The first 20 minutes of the monologue was so funny, you out-funnied Kelly (which we think is the REAL reason she was so pissed off). You did a fine job on the show. Then came the Emmitt incident, or ‘the hand over the mouth’ incident. Some of us were in the audience and it was a five second incident and the show went on, but when Kelly went on National TV the next Monday and started spewing her vitriol, well, you could have knocked us over with a feather! The consensus across American pop culture ran from ‘It’s about time that somebody shut her up ‘ to ‘He shouldn’t have done it’ and all opinions in between. We’re sure you know how we feel about it. By the way, your appearance at the AMA's treated the whole incident perfectly; a bit of snark and gentle laughter.

You blogged about the Christmas Tour and let us know that Jesse Vargas would be with you this year, you told us about the BAF’s Beta Alpha way of organizing us, and best of all, you jumped into the ofc chat one night and chatted to a few lucky fans. What a surprise that was!! And of course, because nothing can go smoothly in this fandom, the chatroom got hacked, and someone who thought they were being funny started to post odd things. We caught on pretty much in the first several minutes that it wasn’t you and thank you for looking into it so promptly and caring about us so much.

You also blogged about Thanksgiving at your new house and who was there. You thanked us for being so supportive and you teased us about a ‘surprise’. We love surprises. You hinted that Linda Loveland from WRAL was involved, but we had to wait until December to get it.

Oh, by the way, in case you missed it on the boards, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLAY!!!!

December saw the debut of the Clay Aiken Holiday Tour. You know how we always make acronyms out of things? We couldn’t decide what to call it so someone suggested the Not-a-Joyful Noise Tour, or NaJT, but we thought the using the words ‘not a’ and Joyful’ in the same sentence was not good, so we ended up using NaCT, or ‘Not a Christmas Tour’. We thought it apropro.

Can we talk about the Tour for a moment? Many of us thought that it’s your best tour to date because you’re finally opening up to us. Some of us have been saying, ‘just give me Clay, a piano, and an audience’ and you know what? That’s basically what we got, except the piano turned into an entire orchestra. You seemed so relaxed on stage with all your banter, teasing us as if we’re old friends, which, I guess, is true. We loved it, Clay. We had such a good time attending the Christmas concerts, listening to you sing, laughing at your jokes and your ‘schtick’, we were entertained, we laughed, we listened, and some songs made us cry.

That you walked the bus line in almost every single city after the show was over tells us of your character and your heart, and the fact that you were gracious enough to do that tells us of your respect for us, your fans. Thank you.

Waukegan. The first night. The first unveiling of ‘All is Well’. That song, live, is almost beyond description. The emotion you infuse in it, the low notes, the key change, then the next key change. The glory note. You had a bit of trouble with it that first night, Clay. You tried so hard but in the end, it just didn’t come out. Happens to the best of us, Clay. We were on pins and needles that next night, finger and toes crossed, cyber-support from all the message boards, community at its best, all in support of that note. And you didn’t disappoint. Not disappoint in the fact that you did or didn’t hit the note, that was immaterial to us, you didn’t disappoint in the fact that no matter what, you were going to give us your best shot, whether you hit that note or not. Ripa, are you listening? THAT’S character.

The four concerts where you experienced vertigo. We don't ever want you to have to go through that again, Clay, ever. That you were struggling with just standing upright, yet you gave us perhaps the best four concerts of the Tour, speaks volumes about your character and professionalism.

We could go on and on about how much we loved and enjoyed you on this tour. The zipper clack, the crotch jokes, the binoculars, the cellcerters stealing your show, the show of hands to see who attended a Clay Aiken concert before, the Ripacrite jokes, and so on. We just loved it. :::LOVE:::

Days of Our Lives: General concensus? We loved it! We didn't get enough of you, but overall, we loved it. The DOOL fans also liked it a lot.

What a great second half of the year, Clay, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the tabloid sh…crap that they spewed. We’re not going to give them much of the time of day, but we have to say that we think you’re a strong man to handle the accusations and insults as you did. It wasn’t easy for us, those first few weeks when it hit us upside the head. There was a lot of angsting going on, anger, too. We were furious that some scum tried to blacken your good name, but we soon realized that when one is in the spotlight, sometimes unpleasant things can happen, through no fault of yours or ours. We learned to roll with the punches and take the bad with an attitude of ‘Here’s to not caring” (tm some cute guy during the AI Tour). We love you and we support you. Always and forever.

So, Clay, it’s the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Looking back, 2006 was not what we expected, in so many ways (dare I say A Thousnad Different Ways?), yet you proved once again that you always give us your very best. You set a really high bar, Clay, and you keep exceeding your own expectations. Some of us often think, ‘how can he top himself?’. Looking ahead to 2007, we haven’t a clue. We have your New Years audio message and blog but nothing else, so 2007 really is a blank slate. We have our hopes and dreams but they’re fantasy, we’re looking forward to watching the reality unfold.

Take care, Clay. Keep healthy and happy and work hard to achieve your dreams. We’re there with you. Every step of the way.

Your Internet Fans

From Shadylil: On Larry King Live this year you said that you don’t remember or think about what it was like before the fame and money. Here’s my advice to you, Clay. Don’t ever forget. Don’t forget what it was like to be a regular person. I’m not going to lecture or even say why I feel that way; I’ll just leave you to ponder.

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