Saturday, December 31, 2011

Clay Aiken: 2011 The Year in Review

Dear Clay,

Hey Clay! How ya been? It's been a year since we've talked, well OK, since we've talked and you listened (humor us here). In Clay Nation, things started off wack! We've had some wacky times with all kinds of wacky people. 2010 ended a bit wacky, too, didn't it? We can take a little wack, we're the Clay Nation.

Some fans don't like being lumped into a 'we' situation (and I so want to say, too bad, so sad...scroll, but I'll refrain) but in trolling the internetz, 'we' took the general pulse of the fandom, The Clay Nation, as is were, and amalgamated the thoughts, feeling, and prose of your very prolific fans. What were you up to this year? Turns out, all sorts of things......


We were gearing up for the Tried & True Tour and were very excited when the meet & greets started showing up on the ofc. Your PBS Special played in various markets across the USA and you got to sing the National Anthem at the NHL All-Star Game. You spoke with Bill & Linda about it on WRAL on the 28th. You said you were prepared to be boo'ed because hockey fans aren't there to see you. Silly hockey fans.


On February 7th, you performed on BROADWAY BACKWARDS 6 to benefit BCF/EFA and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City. You sang 'Home' from 'The Wiz' and you sounded fantastic. And yes, there's Clack of that. You were on the Matt & Ramona Show and gave various interviews about the Tried and True Tour.

Opening night of the Tried and True Tour, or TnT, began on February 10th in Miami and rolled across the country. And may we say that you looked marvelous on the Tour? 'Cos you did. Even your hair looked good....for the most part *g* OK, some didn't like your hair, some did, some didn't care at all what your hair looked like, they were just happy to see you in person again. The sweater-shirt-tie combo really worked well on-stage, we mean, Really. Worked. Well. One of your fans described it as 'casual grace'. The band was great! The theme from 'Love Story' was a wonderful song to open the set with (somewhere in there, a grammatically incorrect head-thumping can be heard). Lush, dramatic, building to a fantastic finish. Good choice!

The various musical styles for 'Who's Sorry Now' were hysterical. Country, disco, rock 'n roll, Bollywood, Mummers. Wait. Mummers? You never heard of them? Heh. Boom-bah music by the fancy dress brigade :-) Philly, New Years' Day...check it out. The audience really enjoyed that part of the concert.

The auto-tune segment was a lot of fun between the banter and the song choices and, of course, you play off the audience like very few current, contemporary performers do any more. The medley of your songs in a 50's/big band style was....interesting. We loved the shirt tug during 'Invisible', This is the Night, The Way, Measure of a Man, On My Way here, A Thousand Days, some sounded OK as a big band/50's style song, others? Not so much.

The PBS Meet & Greets were really a cattle call but we thank you for doing individual pictures in most of the venues, even the ones where there were 100 people in line. And you did that on top of the fan club M&G, and who-know-what other M&G's you do each day. So....thanks, Clay!

As we were skimming through the recaps, a few songs stood out as the ones the fans mentioned affected them the most. 'Theme from Love Story', 'Mack the Knife', 'In My Life', 'Both Sides Now' and 'Solitaire', Unchained Melody, Crying, some mentioned that they think your hands sing, too, that they are so expressive during your songs, almost a part of the song. You got great hands, Clay.

You ended most of the shows with a bit of banter that turned serious as you thanked us for being there from the beginning, then you sang 'In My Life' written by the late, great John Lennon. The lyrics of that song especially got us in the gut...'some are dead and some are living' made us think of our Clay friends that have passed. The song was poignant, you sang it to perfection and left us feeling sad that the show was over.

The general consensus is that although Clack is wonderful, it doesn't convey your voice in all its glory. Seeing and hearing you sing live is an experience like no other. Your voice fills the venue back to the rafters and that's why, no matter how much Clack there is, we'll still try our best to get to a concert or two. Or seven. Or all of them *g*


As the tour wound down, VIP tickets went on sale for the 2011 Champions Gala being held in October.


General admission tickets went on sale for the 2011 Champions Gala.


You sang the National Anthem at the Durham Bulls game on May 9th.


Geez, Clay, give us something to work with here! April, May, and June were pretty boring on the Clay news front. We actually had time to clean our houses! Stop that!


Finally! Some Clay-doings! We got the news that you would appear on the Outfest 2011: The 29th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival panel. Outfest is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing, showcasing and protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media.

On the 17th, you guest-starred on an episode of Drop Dead Diva as a scam artist in a mail order bride scheme. A lot of your fans think that you could play a 'bad' guy very believably. This wasn't so much a 'bad' guy but you were VERY good in your scenes.

On the 18th, you made an appearance on The Talk and discussed........retiring from performing? It seems like the message board discussions went from eeeeee! to WTF? in a matter of minutes. We think heads exploded all over the Clay cyber world. Speculation about why you said that you wanted to eventually stop performing to teach was from self-preservation (yours) to boredom (yours, again). Of course, you've said those words before so after a small melt-down, the fandom returned to normal.


Your very first video chat! We loved it! The chat portion flew fast and furious but you managed to do a good job threading through all the OMGS! and Hi Clays! to get to the questions. And thank God you did that because that one chat was all we had of you that month.


Nuttin' honey!

October and into November

Thank the heavens that you did another chat in October because we lived in a vast Clay desert in September. September was rough Clay!

You were also spotted in NYC on quite a few occasions in October. Why? We had about as much of a clue as a red stallion would. While in NYC, some people went to a cafe to eat sandwiches, others attended a beach party, but wonder of one got lost because they bought these guide books that were for sale on a street corner from a bunch of good-looking guys.

Also in November, The National Inclusion Project was named as a finalist for $50K to increase awareness of the benefits of inclusion for ALL. Pepsi will confirm later in December. You had some awesome partners - SWOOP, St. Anthony's, & North Central Troy - and many other friends whose voting efforts kept you at #2 for the entire month!


Cyndi Lauper said: "When I first learned that up to 40 percent of all homeless youth in this country identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender I was shocked and saddened. For far too long homeless youth have not received the attention, resources and funding necessary to bring an end to this epidemic. My hope is that through this inspiring evening of music and comedy we can raise awareness and much needed funds to help these young people."

You made an appearance for Cyndi's True Colors Fund at a benefit in NYC on December 4th and sang 'My Grown-Up Christmas List', one of your best Christmas songs. The fans also really enjoyed Alan Cumming's performance mash-up of Lady Gaga and Adele. The entire show was so very entertaining from beginning to end. We hope you had fun, too.

December 8th: An independent Hot AC radio station based in LaSalle, Illinois, pits a NEW Clay song, "Bring Back My Love" against another song as part of their "Two Song Battle." It wins easily and does so for the next five days. December 9th saw the first listing for the song on Amazon.

December 9th was also the Adam Corolla video/podcast. We loved it, even though we knew most of what you talked about, there were some gems let loose that we didn't know. It's kind of hard to do that Clay. Good job! We loved Brett's response when you told him you were gay, "I'm straight enough for the both of us". Bwah! Good for Brett! Please pass him our thanks for a little glimpse into your relationship with your brother.

Friday the 9th saw the start of the National Inclusion Project's 2011 Champions Gala. From their website (some transposed):

Over 500 attendees enjoyed the many festivities planned by the staff, board, and numerous volunteers of the National Inclusion Project. From silent auctions, to a carnival, a luncheon, and a wonderful evening of recognition and entertainment, this year’s Gala event was a rousing success.

Friday evening's event was a dessert reception for sponsors hosted by Executive Director Jerry Aiken. Attendees previewed silent auction items, photos were taken with co-founders Clay Aiken and Diane Bubel. Clay and Diane hosted a question and answer session about the work and direction of the Project. The evening was capped off by an engaging performance by The Chris Burke Band who performed some favorites including the theme song from Chris’ television series, "Life Goes On." They had the whole audience upon their feet singing, signing, dancing, and clapping.

Saturday morning brought the "Through A Child’s Eyes" Carnival. Volunteers set up booths in the Marbles Children’s Museum and welcomed over 50 children and their parents to join in the fun. Face painting, games, crafts, fun with music, trains and a clown university kept the kids busy. Without a doubt the volunteers had as much fun as the families in attendance.

The Champions Awards ceremony took place Saturday night at Fletcher Auditorium. The evening was a success from beginning to end. Guests were led into the auditorium venue for an evening of recognition, music, and raising some money! Clay Aiken opened the evening with a triumphant rendition of "All Is Well." Linda Lovelace was the evening's emcee, Jerry Aiken re-capped all the accomplishments of the Project.

The Champion Award Winners:
Walgreens who received the honor for their commitment to providing the opportunity for people of ALL abilities to work together, side by side. Angela Mackey accepted the award on behalf of Walgreens.

The recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement Award was Chris Burke. Chris was born with Downs Syndrome. His parents...treated him just the same as his siblings and he went on to star in films and television, most notably as Corky in "Life Goes On." Chris now works for the National Down Syndrome Society as the Editor of their quarterly newsletter "Upbeat". Chris reminded everyone, "We all have disabilities, it’s what we do with our abilities that counts."

The third Champions honoree of the night was Kevin Connolly. Kevin told stories about growing up in rural Montana and how his family challenged him. He taught the crowd a little about living life to the fullest. Kevin was born without legs and his terrific humor, his outlook on life, and his adventurous spirit is something to aspire to. His recent memoir, "Double Take, A Memoir," challenges people to explore how they view themselves and what it is to truly see another person.

The Bubel/Aiken Founder’s Award for outstanding volunteer commitment was awarded to the late Margi Deluca. Her passion and enthusiasm for the work of the National Inclusion Project and the mission of inclusion was remembered by Clay and Diane. Her friend, Irene Williams, accepted the award on behalf of Margi’s family.

After intermission, Jonathan Bunzey, a former attendee at the AE Finley YMCA Let’s All Play camp program and 2009 Champions Honoree, took the stage not as a camper, but as a counselor at that very same camp. He told the audience of the impact the camp had on him and how his dream came true when he became a counselor.

The Awards and Recognition program was followed by a very lively Live Auction as competition got fierce and bids kept going up and up! Congratulations to all the winners! The Live Auction was followed by the exciting "Send A Kid to Camp" auction which has become a favorite of the evening’s activities. Once again supporters came through and a LOT of kids will be going to camp in 2012!

Way to go, National Inclusion Project, way to go!

Clay took the stage to thunderous applause for a much anticipated concert of Christmas favorites and some of his own fan favorite songs. Thanks to Clay, Quiana Parler, Ben Cohn, Sean McDaniel, and the entire band for a wonderful night of music and fun.

'Bring Back My Love' was debuted to wonderful reviews. Made us all want to be there but alas, not all of us could travel due to work or health issues, previous plans, families, whatever, we missed a good mini-concert and your new song. We can't wait to hear it on the radio *prays to the Baby Jesus*

Through the generous support of all of the attendees, the National Inclusion Project was able to raise over $500,000 to support the advancement of inclusion across the country. The 8th Champions Gala was an outstanding weekend filled with many special moments where everyone was reminded that Inclusion means ALL participate and ALL belong!

Read the entire account of the Gala at

'Hallelujah'. Really Clay? Really? Really??? The one song that a vast majority of your fans wanted to hear you sing and there was no Clack. NO CLACK! ACK!

The 20th saw the release of 'Bring Back My Love'. Geezus, Clay, you done killed us once again. Most everyone loves the song and agrees that you sound spectacular singing it. The production is first-rate and arrangement is first-class.

Well, bet you're glad this long diatribe is almost over. For the New Year, we wish you the same thing we wish for you every, peace, and love. Take pride in your family and friends, Clay, for you have assembled a 'family' outside the norm that includes your bandmates, your friends, and yes, your fans. Love you!

Your Internet Fans

*All factual errors are solely the fault of the author

**Many thanks to the Clack House Calendar thread, to Finding Clay Aiken for the yearly timeline, and to all in Clay Nation for your unwavering enthusiasm, support, and for posting your thoughts and feelings so prolifically...and often *g*

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clay Aiken: Gives good interview

Tonight is Clay Aiken's first stop on his Tried & True Tour. Recently he's been in the press a lot and the interviews are surprisingly good. Respectful, yet interesting. Here are a few snippets:


Clay Aiken is the sort of artist who gets a gut reaction. Some fans love him. Others, especially those who hate "American Idol," seem to despise him. Talking with Aiken, though, it would be hard not to like the guy. He laughs easily and seems comfortable. He answers questions without hesitation. When Aiken competed in "American Idol," he was a 25-year-old finishing up his degree in special education. He says he wasn't prepared for the negative aspects of becoming an instant celebrity.

"At the very beginning I, literally, was scared to death of it - hated it," says Aiken. "Then it became a major annoyance. Then it became a chronic annoyance!" Aiken laughs. "Slowly it's just kind of become, 'That's just how things are.' People say, 'Oh, you knew what you were getting when you got into this.' No, I really didn't. I went on a reality show. I wanted to be in a competition and by the time this started happening it was kind of too late to drop out of 'Idol.' I didn't ask for it."

He says it took a little while to find his groove in the business.

"I imagine it's like any job," says Aiken. "The first few months of doing a job are a learning curve. ... You get past that anxiety of not knowing what you're doing, of not knowing how you're doing, of not knowing if you're going to get fired by their bosses if they screw something up. At some point you just get comfortable with it. It's been eight years since 'Idol' now, which makes me cry to think about how old I am! But I know the audience a little bit more, myself a little bit more, the business a little bit more."

And from

And therein lies Aiken’s genius — he’s a song aficionado. He plays to his strengths, and he has a keen ear for what songs will serve his sound the best. It’s a skill that made him runner-up on Season 2 of “American Idol” and gave him a career that’s eclipsed that of the man that beat him, his close friend Ruben Studdard.

He’s accepted the public fascination with his personal life. He doesn’t like it, but he’s stopped fighting it, he said.

“It frustrates me, but I’ve figured out that’s how it happens,” he said. “It’s something that, eight years ago I hated and wanted it to stop, and four years ago I hated it and wished it would stop, and now I hate it and realize I’m not going to be able to. Do I wish the focus was on the music? Yes. Do I understand this morbid fascination with what I do outside of music allows me to continue doing things in music? Yes.

“Now, looking back in this rearview mirror, while I don’t like this attention being on it, I do understand that the morbid fascination with what I do outside of work has allowed me to work, more so than I know of some people who have boring lives, or even the great musicians who don’t have the fascination of them as people. But it’s a Catch 22, because I’d love for it to go away.

“That’s one of the reasons I moved to North Carolina, because I couldn’t leave my house in LA without being followed or getting my picture taken,” he added. “I hate that when I go there to visit my son, it’s like that — but I also have to wonder: If it did go away, would my ability to continue to tour and sing and perform also go away?”

Is he an artist? Some say yes; Aiken himself shies away from making such a claim. He doesn’t, however, downplay his ability to take a song and turn it into something that sounds amazing. After all, he’s earned the right to be proud of what he can do, and some would say he’s entitled to that pride. But don’t mistake pride for arrogance — hearing Aiken talk, you get the idea that it has nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with confidence.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2010: Clay Aiken, the Year in Review

2010: Clay Aiken, the Year in Review

Hey Clay,

How ya been? It's us, your internet fans, looking back on 2010 and seeing what you were up to this past year. Now, some fans don't like being lumped into a 'we' situation but in trolling the internetz, we took the general pulse of the fandom, The Clay Nation, as is were, and amalgamated the thoughts, feeling, and prose of your very prolific fans. What were you up to this year? Turns out, all sorts of things......

January: You attended the National Inclusion Project's Golfing for Inclusion pre-party and sang a few songs for the patrons of Mirasol Country Club. *cries for Lost Clack* On January 28th we celebrated the 7th anniversary of 'Take', as we affectionately call it. We first saw you seven years ago, striding into the American Idol audition room and being asked, 'Why are you here'? You answered, rather cockily, 'I'm the next American Idol'. I guess on top of being one of the premiere vocalists of this generation, you're also clairvoyant! Because yes, you were the next America Idol, at least in our eyes. But I digress.

February: The Third Annual Golfing for Inclusion at Mirasol Country Club, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida happened on the 1st. You and the National Inclusion Project raised over $150,000 to provide children with disabilities the opportunity to play, learn and grow side-by-side with their typical peers. Allianz Life was this years sponsor and the American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. was a platinum sponsor. Good job, NIP, good job!

You also gave a very powerful, to-the-point speech at the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala Dinner on the 27th. This year we watched as you became more active in the LGBT Community by fighting for rights that all Americans should be afforded but sadly aren't....and it's about damn time those rights were granted to each individual. Repealing DADT is a start, but only a start. There's still so much more to do.

March: You taped the PBS "Tried and True" Special in Raleigh NC on the 13th. A ton of your fans flew, drove, trained, bused, hitched, crawled, and rolled to get to the theater for that performance. From all reports, once again, you hit it out of the ballpark. Most of the discussion after the concert was about the 'jet plane' note in 'Unchained Melody'. Try as they might, the concert attendees couldn't do it justice; they said that you just had to be there. You were, most of us weren't, so we missed out and had to wait until the Special was shown on TV because there was no Clack of that taping. Yes, we behaved ourselves, as you requested, but man, it was hard, Clay, not seeing what the attendees were talking about. We got over it....eventually *g*

April: You released the cover art for the Tried and True CD. Amazon got flooded with pre-orders.

May: Taps foot, drums fingers

June: Whoa! You were a busy guy in June which makes US a busy fandom. "Tried and True" was released! Finally, a new recording from you. Appearances on various TV shows followed the release such as:

Good Morning America
The View
The Joy Behar Show
The Early Show
Chelsea handler
Canada AM
AOL Popeater

and various Satellite news media appearances and radio station interviews which were spread far and wide. We seriously loved "Feel the Spin with Larry Flick" on Sirius Radio. A lot of us feel that he really brought out things in a different way than previous interviewers and that you were more candid than ever before. We also love the fact that you are slowly opening up, just a bit, on subjects that you'd never talk about before coming out.

Also in June, the "Clay Aiken, Tried & True" PBS Concert Special first premiered on Chicago's WTTW. You appeared live in the WTTW studio with a cadre of volunteers taking the pledge calls. Recognize any of them? We did! Heh.

Geez, did you get any sleep in June? On the 21st, you appeared at the North Carolina Theater in 'Bringing Broadway Home'. That was a wonderful appearance, Clay. You know, the fandom usually finds one song in either your tours or appearances that is loved above all others. Most of the fans loved, loved, loved 'Those Magic Changes'. It was something different and something we could sort of rock out to. We also loved getting a clear, uncut version of 'This is the Moment'. We kind of got tired of listening to the spliced together one from back in the 90's, with the bad video and the two different versions in a different key. Thanks for the update.

July and August:

You gave a UNICEF speech in Memphis for their Keyclub and accepted generous Keyclub donation for $700,000 for UNICEF. You were a guest host on The View and managed to not cover anyone's mouth! Who knew?!? Seriously Clay, you did a good job on the show. We think Joy has a teeny soft spot for you.

We got very excited when the PBS Special started popping up on various PBS stations all across the country and some stations offered meet & greet tickets along with our pledges. How are you going to handle the over-sold M&Gs, like the one in the Philly market. Something tells us that a 72 person M&G ain't gonna happen. Heh.

What else happened in July, what else? Oh! We know! The start of the 'Timeless Tour' starring Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard! We waited in anticipation for this tour. Most of us hadn't seen you on a stage since Spamalot and we were jonesing for a glimpse of Concert!Clay! on stage doing what you do best...entertaining an audience. We always knew that you were funny, really funny, but who knew that Ruben was so funny as well? Of course, not all fans enjoyed the same thing about the tour, some loved the medleys, others wanted at least a few more complete songs. As we said above, there is usually a song or two that most fans clop (yes, clop's a word. Is too!) onto and this tour was not different. 'More Than a Feeling' and 'Footloose' were the two songs most talked about. We also remember some of the 'characters' in the audience. One of our favorites was 'Alan' from Hammond who "broke it the hell down" during 'Footloose' and of course, who could forget Arlene, the older lady who got to molest you right on stage (lucky lady)? Where was Jerome? Standing on the side, laughing his ass off, that's where he was. How was that staff meeting afterwards? Oh, wait, that was at the special Chicago concert in October. Forget we said anything.

We also got to hear you sing in the Phineas and Ferb episode with Chaka Khan.

The tour ran through mid-August and we didn't see you again until......

September: ...when you made some appearances for the PBS Special in various TV studios.


Two big things happened in October. The intimate concert at the West Park Theater on the 14th and the National Inclusion Project's Annual Gala on the 15th. At the West Park concert, who could forget Arlene, the older lady who got to molest you right on stage (lucky lady)? Where was Jerome? Standing on the side, laughing his ass off, that's where he was. How was that staff meeting afterwards? Yes, we copied and cheated, so what, who cares (tm Joy Behar via SNL)

The Champions Gala raised quite a bit of money for the NIP with the most successful auction of sending 5 kids to camp, the 4, then 3 until it got down to one. The total raised was over $370,000. In these tough economic times, that's a goodly number, Clay. You and the supporters should be proud. This year, the honorees were:

PepsiCo EnAble
EnAble seeks to promote physical, technological, and cultural opportunities to “EnAble” their people to realize their fullest potential.

I Am Norm: Twenty young people, with and without disabilities, from various locations across the United States designed a campaign in hopes of bringing about change. Through this campaign, they hope to raise awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share their ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. They want to encourage the acceptance, respect, and full inclusion of all youth, in schools and communities through an initiative designed by young people.

The documentary, 'Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life'
A group of friends took 15 year old Darius Weems across America to raise awareness of Duchene muscular dystrophy (DMD), the disease Darius has, to test wheelchair accessibility across the country, and to convince MTV's popular show "Pimp My Ride" to customize Darius' wheelchair.

What a wonderful group of honorees, Clay. Again, good job, NIP, good job!
You also spoke out against bullying on the Joy Behar Show quite effectively.


November was a bit sparse but you did get to address Members of Congress, along with Senators Bob Casey and Al Franken and Representatives Jared Polis and Linda Sanchez about the Safe Schools Improvement Act, sponsored by GLSEN, advocating for anti-bullying legislation in the wake of the recent teen suicides as a result of bullying. "I never had someone who told me that it was ok to be different...that it was okay to be me. What I did hear was that it would get better once I was out of high school...that things would get better. But from where I sat, I could not possibly believe that to be true. We need federal leadership from Congress to encourage all states and districts and each and every school to create safe learning environments where all students can learn and succeed." Excellent speech Clay and so close to home for many children and adults. Good job.

You also turned 32 on November 30th. Just think, we 'met' you at age 24 when you were still a youngin' and now you're an old man. Heh.

December, you were quiet, except for a few blogs that we loved. Keep it up, Clay. Your fans love it when you blog. Oh, and you could play with the devil once in a while and tweet something *g*

To wrap up this long-ass...ah, winded discourse, we hope you, your family and loved ones had a wonderful Christmas holiday and for the New Year, we wish you joy, peace, and love.

Your Internet Fans

*All factual errors are soley the fault of the author

**Many thanks to the Clack House message board Calendar thread, to 'Finding Clay Aiken' messageboard for the yearly timeline, and to all in Clay Nation for your unwavering enthusiasm, support, and for posting your thoughts and feelings.