Sunday, July 30, 2006

MOAM Interview Tops Charts

AI5 FINALE APPEARANCE -- Graphic of Clay Aiken by Cindilu2

Most Popular at Billboard

MOAM Interview Tops Charts

As Clay Aiken fans prepare for the upcoming promotional campaign that will accompany the singer's sophomore CD, A Thousand Different Ways, it is interesting to note that the 10/4/03 interview about his first mainstream album, Measure of a Man, is still in the "headlines."

At the top of any news article or column on the Billboard site, is a row of links like this:

By clicking on the "Most Popular" tab, the reader is taken to another window with these options: Most SAVED, Most EMAILED, and Most PRINTED.

Currently, Fred Bronson's interview -- Clay Aiken 'Measures' Up on RCA Debut -- is ranked #1 in all three categories for TODAY and is in several top slots on Billboard's Most Popular Charts for THIS WEEK and THIS MONTH.

Though the listings change constantly, here is a cap of the Most Popular EMAILED links when this blog went to press:

No doubt, it is highly unusual for a three-year-old article to be in the current Top 10. However, there is no cap in sight on the fandom's excitement level surrounding the proposed Sept. 19 release of ATDW. In fact, one could say the anticipation gage is already off the charts.

Interview Merits a Look Back

The three-year-old Billboard article is quite interesting as Clay and Fred discussed every song on MOAM -- how they were chosen; when, where, and how they were recorded -- as well as his huge, devoted fan base even then. For CA fans, especially newcomers, the 2003 MOAM interview is well worth the read.

Here is an excerpt from the discussion about the title song, MOAM:

BRONSON: Some people think that the album's title song, "Measure of a Man," is a cover of a song recorded by the group 4Him.

CLAY: Right. I thought that first. There's a little bit of a funny story that goes with "Measure of a Man." No one else will laugh but me and Vanessa, my manager. She sent me the copy of "Measure of a Man" to the hotel in L.A. I picked up the CD. It said "Measure of a Man" on it and the first thing I thought was, "Oh, I wonder if it's that 4Him song?" because I kind of liked that song. So I put it in the CD player and people had been telling me, "Oh, it's a beautiful song. You're going to like it. It's your type of song," because apparently some other people had listened to it before.

I put it in the CD player and I cannot describe to you what came out of the speakers on that CD but it was not something I'm going to sing. It was "boom boom shoomp boom"! It was so loud and it was like this rap-heavy metal mix. It was rough, and I of course had the CD player turned up pretty loud so I could feel the song and it blew me away. I shut it down and I tried to skip to track two and there was no track two and I called Vanessa. I said, "I didn't really listen to it at all. I turned it off pretty quickly, but I can't imagine that you guys would give me this song to sing." And I played it to her through the phone and she said, "Ooh, that's not it at all."

I finally got the [real song] and it was definitely a stark contrast and definitely pleasing to my ear. The lyrics are great. They talk about someone telling you that they love you, it's not about material things, it's not about anything other than the confirmation of love. Can that be enough? And the title of the song was really perfect. We all got excited about that being the album title really quickly.

I think I might have mentioned it to a friend or two. I cannot imagine that I mentioned it to too many people, but had it up as "Measure of a Man" way before we had ever decided that that would be it. We were really still thinking of some other things. We went through a number of different possibilities before we decided on it just a week or two ago. And had it up as "Measure of a Man," then they had it up as "Clay Aiken" and then they had it up as "Untitled" and "TBD" and I think finally they've got it up as "Measure of a Man" again, so I'm sure the programmers at Amazon are very frustrated with us.

Among the questions about Clay's huge fan base in 2003 was this exchange:

BRONSON: Some of your fans have written to me, saying the next time we do an interview, I should tell you to eat more.

CLAY: They tell me I'm getting skinny, and I love that. There are a lot of generous, selfless people out there and I appreciate that. I wish everybody were more like that.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Featured in today's clickable interlude are graphics/blends by Amazing_CA (1, 4, 5); Katt45 (2); and Cindilu2 (3). Photo credit for Clay's Camp Gonzo appearance in #4: Karebear65.

Claymates a Powerful Force

At the end of last week, Clay, a UNICEF Ambassador for Education since 2004, asked his fans to send donations to help alleviate the crisis of innocent children caught in the horror of the current Middle East conflict. In less than two days, the CA Internet fans knocked the socks off UNICEF's New York office with record-breaking donations. [See 7/28/06 blog: Aiken Fans Make a Difference.]

Informed of Friday afternoon's closing $47K tally, entertainer Rosie O'Donnell made known via her website that she will match last week's Claymate donations for the Lebanon crisis.

Shortly after 2 p.m. Monday (July 31), our UNICEF ambassador reported a new Claymate total: $66,723.12, a whopping $19K add to Friday's gifts. In UNICEF lingo, that is the equivalent of 357 school-in-a-box kits serving 28,534 children or 273 emergency health kits for 273,455 people for 3 months.

Clay also confirmed that Sept. 19 is the official release date of his new CD -- A Thousand Different Ways.

We are a powerful, loyal force who believe strongly in what our singing ambassador is about. Billboard and UNICEF "ain't" seen nothin' yet!


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Friday, July 28, 2006

Aiken Fans Make a Difference

IN ALL THINGS, LOVE -- Clay's UNICEF work is portrayed in Cindilu2's graphic.

UNICEF Requests Assistance

Aiken Fans Make a Difference

Clay Aiken fans have been making a difference since the day they signed onto the CA Train during American Idol 2. No project, benefit, or need has been out of the realm of possibility for Claymates, who have followed the lead of this multiplatinum singer from North Carolina with the golden voice and a huge humanitarian heart for children's causes.

In the past three years, generosity with monetary donations and time volunteered have become cornerstones of the CA fandom. Wherever Clay lends a hand, so do his fans. Since 2003, the fandom's charitable endeavors have centered around the Bubel Aiken Foundation, the organization he and Diane Bubel co-founded "to provide opportunities for individuals with autism and other physical and mental disabilities to participate in programs that are typically only available to those without disabilities.”

During the Christmas season, fans "wrap for inclusion" to help fund various programs and awards within TBAF umbrella. Volunteers augment staff and support for the Camp Gonzo-YMCA Summer Camps, which are currently in progress.

Clay Cares ... And So Do We

Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon performer, Ronald McDonald House Charities Ambassador, UNICEF National Ambassador, national spokesman for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF -- wherever Clay lends his heart, so do his fans.

His UNICEF trips to tsunami-devastated Banda Aceh and war-torn northern Uganda in 2005, as well as his testimony before the subcommittee on foreign operations of the US House of Representatives afterwards, have centered around the educational and safety needs of children is distressed situations. Here is a summary of Clay's activities as a UNICEF Ambassador.

CA fans often recognize an inadequacy and organize assistance on their own. An excellent example is the project by which extra concert tickets are donated and distributed to individuals with and without disabilities through the fan-based initiative, The Way We Make a Difference.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: These clickables represent the humanitarian heart of Clay Aiken in various activities for organizations and telethons outined in this blog.. Featured are graphics/blends by Clayquebec1 (1); Amazing_CA (2, 3); Invisible926 (4); and Cindilu2 (5). Photo credits include Invisible926 (1) and Tasapio (3).

Special Appeal From UNICEF

Thursday Clay penned three blogs issuing an appeal to his fans to support UNICEF efforts to help innocent children in the midst of the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. He relayed information from Charles J. Lyons, president, U.S. Fund for UNICEF: More than a third of those already killed and injured have been children. Approximately 350,000 children were forced to flee their homes.

The UNICEF staff has been working around the clock to deliver emergency aid to the conflict in Lebanon -- essential medicines, as well as water and sanitation kits for children and families isolated by the destruction of roads and bridges. UNICEF still needs $23.8 million to save and protect the children caught in this crisis.

With the history of our three-year partnership in similar situations, Clay urged his fans to direct their thoughts to the children of the Middle East, first by studying the UNICEF website and, secondly, by making a donation to help assuage the emergency.

Claymate Donation Reports

Three hours later, Clay announced that a specific link for Claymate Donations had been created by UNICEF. In a blog at 2 p.m. Friday, our ambassador reported that to date Claymates have donated $47,556.96, which is the equivalent of 254 school-in-a-box kits serving 20,338 children or 195 emergency health kits for 194,906 people for 3 months.

Ninety minutes earlier, he wrote that staff members of the UNICEF office in New York City were literally jumping out of their skin with excitement about the speed and generosity of the Clay Nation, a feat that is apparently unprecedented. At that point, Claymate contributions comprised approximately 17% of the total monies raised for the current Middle East crisis.

Clay's reply: "That's just how amazing my fans are!" And then as a thank you, he gave us a lyric clue for one of the songs on his upcoming CD. It took all of 10 seconds for Internet fans to ID the song, When I See You Smile, originally performed by Bad English (John Waite).

Focus on Disadvantaged Countries

A non-partisan organization, UNICEF does not take sides during world conflicts, but seeks to aid children in peril in disadvantaged countries. Unlike Lebanon, Israel, which has had the capactiy to care for its own since 1966, no longer qualifies as a disadvantaged country. Here is a listing of charities responding to needs in both countries: U.S. Charities.

In a single afternoon, Clay used his voice and changed the Internet fandom's focus on A Thousand Different Ways from the pending release of his sophomore CD by that title to the perception of lending a helping hand to those in need in ... a thousand different ways.


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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Email Trash Reveals Treasure

ALBUM DESIGN -- This beautiful blend by Amazing_CA is one of many CD covers
created by the fandom's talented graphic artists for Clay Aiken's greatly anticipated
album, A Thousand Different Ways.

'The Positive Side of Life'

Email Trash Reveals Treasure

Hidden within a quagmire of forwarded messages on a beeline to my email trash bin, this gem just happened to catch my eye. It has nothing to do with photo shoots, indoor waterfalls, elaborate sunsets, funky striped socks, or the prospects of when Clay Aiken's VOX will be warbling beautiful love songs to us from a new disc, the radio, or a concert stage.

Many of these sentiments merit a stand-alone entry, which may be realized if the watch and wait for A Thousand Different Ways becomes too prolonged. In fact, one already has.

I discovered this piece in mid-July when I was writing about the one-year anniversary of my mother's death. Since her life represented the exact opposite, I used "Many of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us" as a recurring thematic motif, a technique found in music as well as other aspects of life.

There may be more elaborations forthcoming; but for now, here is the syllabus outline.

The Positive Side of Life

Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on.

Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.

Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.

Ever notice that the people who are late are often much jollier than the people who have to wait for them?

Many of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Today's clickalbe visual interlude features beautiful blends and graphics by Amazing_CA (1, 4, 5); ClaysTouch (2); and Cindilu2 (3).

If Wal-Mart is lowering prices every day, how come nothing is free yet?

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.

We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors....but they all exist very nicely in the same box.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Working for God on earth does not pay much, but His Retirement plan is out of this world.

Have a great week, all!


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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Parade Requests 'Do' Opinions

FINALE CELEBRATED -- Weeks later Clay Aiken fans are still celebrating
the AI5 Finale performance portrayed in this blend by Amazing_CA.

AI5 Finale Buzz Continues

Parade Requests 'Do' Opinions

Clay Aiken fans, as well as everyone reading Sunday's Parade Magazine newspaper supplement, have an opportunity to impart their opinions about our singer's new hairdo as revealed during his American Idol 5 Finale appearance.

Thnx to a magazine scan on Friday, the Clay Nation had a head start on responding to the query in
Walter Scott's Personality Parade:

Q: What do you think of Clay Aiken's new hairstyle? -- Chris V., Spokane, WA.

A: We think he should lose the bangs. At 27, the 2003 American Idol runner-up has lost his boyish charm and allowed himself to be overstyled. Readers: What do you think? Go to for our pop culture poll and sweepstakes.

Clickable (2x)

According to one of the responders, there were well over 120 responses by 10:17 p.m. Saturday night; and the replies continue to roll in. A few of my favorites include:

CLAY'S NEW 'DO' -- So this is the guy I've been hearing so much about! No wonder women are swooning over him! He looks HOT!

CLAY AIKEN'S HAIR -- Clay Aiken is 27? Oh my gosh, he is ancient. The hair cut is a "MAN-SHAG." I guess you better tell Keith Urban, Jim Carey, Hugh Jackman and several other male celebrities in their 30's and 40's that they are way too old for this hair style.

HAIR SCHMAIR -- Why don't I know that there is a new CD coming out? The hair is great, but that voice is the bestest!

CLAY'S HAIR AND MORE -- Yes! I love Clay's new hair! I love Clay's voice and I love the man. Can't wait for the new CD. Bring on the tour. Please, tell the world what a great human being Clay is.

SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL -- It is silly talking about Clay's hair when we could be talking about his beautiful VOICE. Or we could be talking how he's working with UNICEF. Did you know that 1 out of every 166 children born, are born with Autism? He started the Buble/Aiken Foundation to try to help these children. I would rather read about his new CD that's being release in September. Or I'd rather read about his work as a humanitarian but you want to know about his hair? Well, Clay's hair looks GREAT! Everything included with all that hair looks GREAT! His voice, heart, sense humor, they all look great to me!


To win a Panasonic 42" plasma HDTV, readers must answer 15 questions of the Pop Culture Sweepstakes Questionaire, including "Which of the following was the best celebrity transformation?" Before/after photos are shown of Clay, Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, Janet Jackson, and Ashlee Simpson in the clickable above.

In May, visual artists on CA message boards immediately began creating amazing graphics from the screen caps of the two-minute AI5 performance plus a handful of photos from the singer's attendance at a Carolina Hurricanes game a few weeks later. Not surpisingly, Clay's quote about appearance and image, as shown below, lends much more weight to personality, actions, and beliefs than to physical looks.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Adorning today's clickable interlude are the following graphics created from the AI5 and Canes game shots: Cindilu2 (1); Clayquebec1 (2); Amazing_CA (3, 4); and Claystruck (5).

AI5 Finale Receives Rave Reviews

It's been two months since the world was introduced to Clay's new look and same glorious voice. As tremendous as the media buzz surrounding his rumored appearance was prior to May 24, it was nothing compared to the avalanche that followed.

The AI5 performance at the Kodak Theater served notice to the world and the AI family of a new, "hipper" Clay Aiken, adding legs to the media current that was well underway. Just as exciting was the fact that Clay received rave reviews from young fans and previously non-fans.

This paragraph is from an AP story appearing on MSNBC, CNN, and a host of online news sites: Second-season runner-up Clay Aiken, with a slick new look, performed a “duet” on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” with his alter ego, a wannabe “American Idol” contestant who evoked the originally geeky Aiken.

Media Gives Appearance Thumbs Up!

From Topix.Net came a more thorough description: While in general the comedy skits on American Idol 5 lacked in comparison to American Idol 4’s roast of Corey Clark, there was one shining moment that will likely go down as one of the funniest moments in American Idol history. In a re-occurring segment called the Golden Idol Awards, Ryan Seacrest presented candidates for “Best Impersonation.” The nominees were Kenneth Maccarone as Cher, Seth Strickland as Michael Jackson, and Michael Sandecki as Clay Aiken.

As Michael warbled through “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” the stage doors opened up to reveal Clay Aiken. Surprised by the sudden loud cheering, Michael turned to see Clay Aiken and appeared to nearly go into shock on the stage. As Clay Aiken joined Michael in song, Michael excitedly jumped around the stage. Seacrest eventually re-appeared and sat Michael down, while asking him if he was OK.

Reporting live from the Kodak, the local reporter for the FOX station in Houston summarized the evening with this quote: Hands-down, the favorite reaction from 33 media crews watching the live show -- Clay Aiken!

Clickable by Amazing_CA

Spin Inspires Fans, Montage Makers

For days, the buzz was spun by TV entertainment shows, talk radio, mainstream TV, print media, online bloggers, as well as in workday water cooler converstaions. In the midst of a five-month drought during the recording of Clay's sophomore CD, A Thousand Different Ways, message boards suddenly were infused with exhilarating romps, thuds, and much pent-up releasing of some long overdue EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE's!

The AI5 Finale also inspired the fandom's montage makers, and many new videos were shared across message boards and at YouTube.

In What a Feeling, as sung by Irene Cara, Aspiegirl captured the magic of May 24's confetti moment, artistically transitioning to it with memorable highlights from the beginning of Clay's Idol journey, the Atlanta audition. You can watch it here, or click on the YouTube symbol in the right corner and link to the site.

WHAT A FEELING and what an awesome time to be a Clay Aiken fan!!!



Saturday, July 22, 2006

Musical Heritage Passed Down

PIANO MAN -- Clay Aiken is all over the grand piano in Amazing_CA's blend
of these Jukebox Tour photos by Tasapio.

Grand Old Upright Piano

Musical Heritage Passed Down

Some of my most memorable moments as a young girl were twirling around on a piano stool and learning to play the grand old upright whose tradition in our family dated back to my mother's childhood, as well as the previous generation of my grandmother and her six siblings. Oh, the stories that piano could tell!

Until the Chapman clan moved into town, the children were educated at their home in Pitt County by a teacher their Papa hired. Not only did this person instruct them in the three "R's," but she also taught them piano. My Great Aunt Lill informed Papa she knew more than the teacher, so he promptly sent her to Atlantic Christian College (now Barton) to study.

The family eventually moved into Grifton where there were public schools, but lessons continued on our family's grand old upright, producing several outstanding musicians -- including my grandmother, Aunt Lill, my mother, and her sister, Aunt Gladys.

Upon graduation at age 20, Aunt Lill began instructing piano at ACC and eventually taught multiple generations of students in her home studio in Wilson for the next 69 years. Later, when I started my own piano class, she was an exceptionally helpful source. We exchanged several informative letters, teaching techniques, and methods.

In our home in Wilmington, money was tight; so I only received about one year's worth of piano lessons. My sister was only interested in the flute, and my brother chose other instruments, too. Prior to the year of lessons, I had utilized my treble clef knowledge from clarinet studies in the school band and quizzed my mother enough to figure out the bass clef on my own. Hymnals and a stack of her old Etude magazines were my training ground; so when I actually took piano, I didn't fit the beginner mold. The teacher finally started me somewhere in Book 2.

From Day 1, I loved sight-reading new music more than the repetitive practice required to polish pieces for lessons and recitals. Even after the instruction stopped, I kept reading through those Etude books of classics and anything I could get my hands on. A side benefit was that I was often relieved of evening dishwashing duties because I was "practicing." I, of course, have passed this hint on to my students.

Sightreading Every Sunday

My knack for sightreading came in very handy when, during my high school years, I accompanied the Sanctuary Men's Sunday School Class at our church. The song leader, who just happened to be the mayor of Wilmington, picked any hymn in the book and took a number of requests from the class every Sunday. I became really adept at transposing hymns with too many sharps to their parallel flat key (i.e., E with four sharps to Eb with three flats). Those dear men sent me to college with a portable typewriter that I used for years.

I started college planning to emphasize English and journalism, but instead "lived" in the music department performing in various ensembles. As a sophomore, I changed my major to instrumental music and was thrilled to learn this included a piano requirement. Once again, the professors had a time fitting me into the curriculum because my abilities and deficiencies did not match their mold. I was soon making up for lost time in the scale and arpeggio department while playing the same literature as many of the piano majors.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This clickable interlude incorporates current blends from the AI5 Finale, the Canes game, and NANA, as well as photo memories from the Jukebox Tour. Featured are blends by Amazing_CA (1, 2, 4, 5) and A Beautiful Mind (3). Photos for the Jukebox blend were taken by Tasapio.

Piano Teaching and Motherhood

Mr. Caro and I taught band and orchestra in Texas prior to our move to Nashville in 1973. The stork located us almost immediately in Teneessee, and I turned to piano teaching as a means to supplement our income while raising our young daughter.

With neither keyboard lit nor pedagogy courses in my background, my sources were my experience plus Aunt Lill and several piano teaching friends who shared tips and techniques. I also spent several days at a local music store studying methods and devising my studio's course of study.

Like my Aunt Lill, I taught approximately 50 students a week -- some before school and some the minute they could get to my studio after the dismissal bell. Our house became a school bus stop for many.

By the time our daughter was 10, my afternoon teaching "assistant" was Button, her precocious poodle mix who loved nothing better than to hop up on the bench beside students in hopes that between passages she would receive a back rub. She often got her wish.

Through the years, my students have won lots of awards and top ratings. Almost all presented 10-piece programs for an adjudicator each spring. In an agreement between the Nashville Area Music Teachers and Davidson County, several also received high school credit for their lessons.

Daughter Finds Own Niche

The only student I never got anywhere with was my own daughter. We tried everything -- from having her walk out the front door and enter via the studio door just like other students to calling me "Mrs. B" instead of Mom. Fortunately, she later found her musical niche with the cello.

Regarding the dreaded word "practice," I have had some very ingenious students. "The dog ate my music ... My mom accidentally put my Mozart through the washing machine ... You'll never believe what happened this week ... " And on and on!

The manager of a music store when he wasn't drumming, Mr. Caro said not a day went by that he didn't hear these words: "I wish my mother had made me keep taking lessons." These regrets were usually expressed by a parent hoping to interest his/her own child in learning to play.

Following much light-hearted banter about his shortcomings with piano studies, Clay was presented a Piano Lesson Dropout shirt by Clayversity at an Atlanta Joyful Noise Concert in December 2004. The shirt, as well as the front and inside pages of a card designed by Sally888, are shown below. Reckon this t-shirt inspired Clay to perform "Love Me Tender" on the Jukebox Tour? I wonder what his encore will be!

One of the cutest little girls ever to sit on my piano bench had a habit that caught her teacher by surprise every single time. Invariably, when she made a mistake, her immediate response was, "Oh, SHHHHHHHHHHHH .... ugar!!!" I never did break her of that habit.

This blog no doubt was inspired by the week's continuing reflections about my mother. I am grateful for the musical heritage of my family and have enjoyed passing the joy on to my own child, as well as to many others.