Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Email Offers Laughs, Wisdom

WAYS OF LOVE -- Clay Aiken's sophomore CD, "A Thousand Different Ways," is the perfect accompaniment for this Valentine season. Graphic design by Claystruck.

Clay 'Smiles' in Postscript

Email Offers Laughs, Wisdom

Occasionally I share the link to my journal with family members, and one in particular delights in sending me cartoons related to this part-time avocation of blogging. Many of these email gifts could be assigned to the trials and tribulations of the OFC/Blogspot communities, but some will just make you grin and roll your eyes.

Thanks to all this email diligence, today's space will provide a respite from my computer's normally long-winded prose. Hope you enjoy!

Sounds like the OFC in "wonky times"!

Tan Kian Ann is a professional blogger based in Singapore. Though parts of his Professional Blogger's Poem do not apply to fan club journals, other points -- choosing your niche or style ... writing from your heart ... using your own voice ... publishing good content -- are definitely food for thought.

The Professional Blogger's Poem

Hate your job? Start a blog.
Pick a good niche, whichever one you wish.
Learn how to write, with all your might.
Use your own voice, blogs give you that choice.
Write from your heart, and it’ll be an art.
Post everyday, posts build your pay.
It may not be now, but it’ll happen somehow.
Publish good content, your readers will comment.
Avoid link farms, they’ll only cause harm.
Feed the spiders, treat them as insiders.
Spend some time on SEO, top rankings boost your ego.
Make some pingbacks, they’ll raise your paychecks.
Don’t you ever fear, you can be a Blogopreneur!

Bloggers Inspire Cartoon Laughs

A variety of topics are covered in these visuals -- from comments, or lack thereof, and the new vlogosphere to the fact that everyone, no matter what age, seems to be blogging. And if not, apparently there is a "home" for them.

Philosophy 101: Words of Wisdom

A few months ago, I saved this thought-provoking gem from the blog of AikenPrincess and promptly shared it throughout Cyberspace. I think each of these points could be a unit in Philosophy 101.


1. Faith is the ability to not panic.
2. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you pray, don't worry.
3. As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home every day.
4. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
5. When we get tangled up in our problems, be still. God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.
6. Do the math. Count your blessings.
7. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
8. Dear God: I have a problem. It's me.
9. Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.
10. Laugh every day; it's like inner jogging.

PHOTO POSTCRIPT: Featured in this clickable "postlude" are some smiles from Clay Aiken's Joyful Not a Tour 06 and fall CD launch. Visual artists represented include Amazing_CA, photos by Karen Eh, 1; West Point concert photo by Scrpkym, 2; Grand Rapids concert photo by Fivegoldens, 3; West Point concert photo by Denise Bernadette, 4; and Clayquebec1, 's 'When I See You Smile' graphic, 5.

Hopefully, the cartoons, philosophy, and photo postscript kept the promise for plenty of chuckles and even some inner jogging. Here is a clickable of the lead design by Claystruck:

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER: UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken will appear on ABC's Good Morning America Thursday, Feb. 1, to speak about the world-wide relief organization.

According to Yahoo Answers, Yahoo and UNICEF have joined forces to save children's lives. At the Yahoo site, you can view three short videos of Clay and answer his question: What can we do to get more Americans committed to supporting programs that help children?

Graphic designers Artz11 and MNmeesh honor Special Ambassador Aiken and the week's events in their latest UNICEF blends, both of which are clickable:

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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Friday, January 26, 2007

Fans Mark Fourth Anniversary

A THOUSAND DAYS -- The second single from Clay Aiken's album, A Thousand Different Ways, is picking up spins as his fans prepare for the Atlanta audition anniversary. Graphic by Katt45, photos by Karen Eh.

'Always and Forever' Audition

Fans Mark Fourth Anniversary

For Clay Aiken fans, January 28 -- a date that represents the founding of the Carnegie Institute (1902), the shocking destruction of the space shuttle Challenger (the "Teacher in Space" mission) 73 seconds after liftoff (1986), and the unveiling of producer Clive Davis's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1997) -- marks the fourth anniversary since the singer's Atlanta audition was first aired on American Idol.

Who could have predicted the musical journey we on the Clay Train would take with this amazing man as he sang those first few notes for the AI judges, the difference this positive role model would make in the lives of people around the globe, the close Internet friendships that would form all because of a skinny, speckled red-headed guy with big feet, floppy ears, and a magnificent singing voice?

Fan celebrations of the Atlanta anniversary -- long ago tagged "He Had Me at Take" -- will soon be in full swing with the donning of CA tee/sweat shirts for the day, watching AI2 CLACK, sharing initial memories of the VOX four years ago as well as thoughts about how lives have changed since Clay Aiken became a part of our world.

This is Pixieglitter's YouTube video of the Atlanta audition as televised on 1/28/03. She also has included special clips compiled by Hosaa:

The Atlanta Audition

Fans Recall Jan. 28, 2003

I missed the audition we commemorate this weekend. A friend asked me what I thought of the skinny kid from North Carolina, so I promptly located a video clip online and tuned into AI from then on to cheer for this amazing singer from my home state. I'm sure I would have had the same initial reaction as the fans quoted below.

Where were you and what were your thoughts upon hearing Clay for the first time? Special thanks to these Clayversity members for allowing me to share their experience in this blog:

Txwriter: I was folding clothes in the bedroom, watching on the bedroom TV, and DH [Dear Husband] was watching in the living room. I didn't even glance at the TV until Clay started singing, but once I did, I was completely mesmerized. Like Randy, I couldn't believe that voice was coming out of that body. The minute his clip was done, I started down the hallway to find DH. Funny thing is he had gotten up to come and find me, so we met each other halfway. We were both completely blown away by his talent and rooted for him from then on.

Wildaboutclay: I still remember the moment vividly. I didn't plan to watch AI2, but it was a slow TV night, and I was channel surfing. By some stroke of fate, I turned AI on as Clay was being introduced. Because I love voices and am naturally curious, I kept it on as he began to sing. WOW! I still remember yelling to my husband in the other room that "this guy has a good voice." I was hooked after that because I wanted to see how he did. When it came to Open Arms night, I was convinced he had the best voice there.

Onemorefan: I can remember watching Clay walk into the room. When he put his arms out and said, "I am the next American Idol," I thought he was cute but sort of expected him to not have a good voice. Then he started singing, and I was actually shocked that someone with that good a voice wasn't already a recording star.

Vjm: I wasn't really watching AI. It was on the television by chance, just as background noise. I was doing some serious cleaning in my bedroom, moving books, cleaning the glass of picture frames, rearranging closets. I wasn't even facing the television. I didn't see Clay walk into the audition and didn't tune in to his talk about being the next American Idol. I didn't see what he looked like. But then he sang that first phrase, I was immediately captivated, turned around, and sat on the edge of the bed to watch the rest. That's all it took. He's had my attention ever since.

Nette: The night of the Atlanta audition I had been sleeping on the couch, woke up, picked up the remote and started channel surfing. When I came to Fox, I recognized the show as the one my son had liked the year before. I watched it for a while, but was disgusted at the bad auditions. I picked up the remote to change the channel just as Clay walked in. He caught my attention before he even started to sing. There was the brightest aura around him even on TV. When he sang, I just froze. This was the best voice I had ever heard, and I could not understand why they were haggling about his looks. He looked beautiful, and with his voice why did they care. He took the darkness out of my life that night, and I knew I would beat cancer because there was just no way I was going to leave Clay.

Roseviolet: Like a lot of other people, I only saw the last couple of episodes of AI1 and found it intriguing. When AI2 started, I was determined to watch it from the beginning. When Clay first stepped up for his audition, I thought, "Oh dear, he's going to be one of the bad ones" and then was totally blown away by his voice. I felt that connection with him from that point on. It has only been further cemented in place over the years. I don't know why. I have never felt this way about any singer before, not even when I really was 12.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This clickable interlude features graphics highlighting the past four years. Visual artists represented include Amazing_CA, photos by Tasapio, 1; A Beautiful Mind, 2; Ambassador of Love, 3; Cindilu2, photos by Tasapio, 4; and CLAYPERFECT, 5.

Season 2 Memories Still Vivid

Dylan: When he returned for the Wildcard Show and sang DLTSGDOM, that's when I noticed the singing voice for the first time. I was thinking "who is this guy who swallows the last note in each phrase?" I had never heard anyone sing like that before. From that time on, I was and still am a complete goner.

Rcknrllmom: I believe I was where I needed to be four years ago. Just coming out of a life altering situation being diagnosed with cancer and going through all the emotions and treatments. I had faith, for sure; I had to. But life was just starting to go on. We were all watching the night Clay sang for the judges for the first time. I think my mouth dropped open at the voice that came out. I was amazed; I was hooked. My heart opened that night, too. The joy was back. It started with a simple word -- "Take" -- and has grown a thousand-fold since.

Claylee: The beginning of my love affair with Clay began with DLTSGDOM in the Wildcard Show but really blossomed when, during an interview, he was talking about Simon's remarks to him about not looking like a pop star. Clay said he would always have these (flipping his ears out) and that he was okay with that. There was no vanity, no embarrassment, just pure honesty. He got me with that, and the rest is history.

Saltwaterdog: I remember Clay well. I remember his confidence. I remember thinking how beautiful his skin and cheekbones were. And the voice! Mr. Salt and I just looked at each other and went, "WOW!" We laughed at the comments, agreeing that Clay did not look like a pop star, and cheered when Clay went on to the next step. We still tease the neighbors about how they got us started watching AI, blaming them for how we travel cross-country to see Clay in concert.

Mguffey5, also a Clay Dawg: I wasn't into the whole American Idol thing and wasn't going to watch, but I had a friend who called me and told me all about this guy who blew the competition away. He told me I had to see/hear him sing. That was the day after the Atlanta audition, so I had to go online and find a download of him -- and that was it; I was hooked. The friend who put me on this journey has since passed away. I not only stay for myself but a part of me stays because of the man who started me on this path.

Irishbookgal: During the Atlanta audition show I was listening while I was in the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies. I was just about to take a batch out of the oven when Clay began to sing. His voice just did something to me; and I jerked, burning my hand on the oven as I ran to see just who that was. My cookies burned to a crisp, and I still have a little "Clay scar" on my my hand. He had me hook, line, and sinker from "take"!

Bumpy Road to Final 12

As longtime CA fans know, Clay lost to Quiana Parler, now one of his backup singers, in the finals of his Charlotte audition. Thankfully, he was determined enough to drive to Atlanta and try again. That stubbornness served him well as he was eventually bumped again in Hollywood, returning for the Wildcard Show and blowing everyone away with his rendition of Don't Let the Sun Go Down. The American public responded by voting the North Carolinian into the final field of 12.

Though Clay finished second to winner Ruben Studdard in the spring finale, he has attracted countless fans from multiple generations with his golden voice, entertaining shows, and a profound dedication to use his celebrity to make a difference. Co-founder of The Bubel/Aiken Foundation with a mission of inclusion for all children, Clay serves as a special ambassador for UNICEF and has traveled throughout the world promoting these causes. He was recently appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Aspiegirl's montage of If You Don't Know Me By Now, a bonus cut from ATDW, provides an overview of Clay's career as an entertainer, as well as his philanthropic endeavors:

If You Don't Know Me By Now

ATD Video, Single In the News

Yahoo Music is currently premiering the concert video for the A Thousand Days single. Most fans are streaming the video, and those registered with Yahoo may also rate it.

The video is also featured on Yahoo's daily online show, The 9. The host gushes that ATD has "all the elements of a hit." Fans can also vote for the video at The 9's web site.

According to Fred Bronson's 1/25/07 "Chart Beat" Billboard column, ATD is Clay's 14th chart entry:

Opening at No. 25 is "Change" (Curb/Reprise), the sixth chart entry for Kimberley Locke, third place finalist on season two of "American Idol." Her former roommate and former rival on the TV series, Clay Aiken, bows at No. 29 with his 14th chart entry, "A Thousand Days" (RCA).

Message boards are enjoying ATD's gradual climb in spins, often streaming stations far and near. Thursday at Clayversity we just happened to catch the premiere spin on Toledo 101.5 The River shortly after noon. Stay tuned as we follow this single up the charts!

Below is a clickable of Katt45's ATD graphic from the top:

Idol Found, Game Over! Have a great weekend, Clay Nation!


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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Family Driving Adventures Run the Gamut

WHEN I SEE YOU SMILE -- There is nothing like Clay Aiken's smile, and Amazing_CA captures several in her graphic of photos by Invisible926.

Humorous 'Road Stories'

Family Driving Adventures Run the Gamut

As I wished a friend luck traversing the wintry mix on the mountainous West Virginia roads she travels daily, I thought back on some of our family's daffy driving episodes. We have had a little of everything -- from a collegian's solo cross-country trip home to my unscheduled conclave with a city bus in an unmarked intersection.

Our daughter was driving cross-country from UN-Las Vegas to Nashville when a red light signaled overheating somewhere in East Texas. Gleefully rubbing their hands together at the thought of a helpless college student, the service station attendants promptly informed her the only solution was a brand new radiator.

However, wise ole Daddy had instructed his daughter to call him the minute she encountered any kind of problem. He quizzed a suddenly sheepish attendant, asked how far the next service station was, and instructed our daughter to lock her car and head to the next station for the necessary water and checkup.

Star Pupil Fails Driving Test

Even though I took drivers education during high school in Wilmington, NC, I didn't obtain my license until I was married and teaching school in Lubbock, TX. The "star" of the class according to our instructor, I was very excited to test for a drivers license on my 16th birthday. I aced the written part and should have easily passed the driving test. However, after ramming the rear pole during the parallel parking portion, I wasn't even allowed to demonstrate my terrific driving skills.

We didn't have a spare car anyway, so I walked, bummed rides, and caught the city bus for my job at the local newspaper. Somehow, I made it through college and into my first band directing job without a license.
The roads in West Texas are wide open stretches and make for great driver training grounds.

One of the funniest episodes in my renewed drivers training came when my husband and I were headed back to El Paso from Cloudcroft, NM, with the unlicensed novice at the wheel. As we approached another automobile, Mr. Caro instructed his student to put on the turn signal and blink the headlights while passing.

I misunderstood and kept the signal and flashing headlights going all the whole way around the other car. Tears streaming down his face from laughing so hard, my husband quickly sobered as we realized I had just driven around a highway patrolman blinking like Christmas lights. Fortunately for us, he wasn't bothered by my sparkling passing technique.

New Pickers Learn the Road

The email about the West Virginia terrain joggled a couple of adventures from my husband's years as drummer-road manager for Sonny James, Nashville country entertainer. Mr. Caro always returned from those trips with wacky stories due to windy roads and the succession of new band members he was constantly training to drive a bus shift.

It never failed that just when he finally fell asleep in his bunk, a new picker/driver would come wake him up to help maneuver the bus through some hilly country or unexpected maze. He would then take his pillow and blanket forward to sleep on the couch at the front of the bus so he would be more accessible.

I wish we had pictures of the time he was awakened from a deep sleep by a young driver who had decided to stop for coffee at a McDonalds on the side of a West Virginia mountain. The parking lot was tiny; and when the drummer was beckoned for help, he noted that the bus was sitting at a 45-degree angle with only inches to spare in the front and back.

Wearing his usual sleeping apparel, briefs and an undershirt, the drummer began the tedious process of bailing out his young driver, inch by inch. Tour buses draw a crowd anywhere, even on the side of a West Virginia mountain in the middle of the night. It's a good thing the fans couldn't see the whole picture and too bad no one snapped that shot for posterity!

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Anticipating Valentine's Day and recalling Clay's most recent tour, this clickable interlude features the work of five graphic artists and three photographers. They include Katt45, photo by PermaSwooned, 1; MNmeesh, OFC wallpaper contest entry, 2; Claystruck, photo by ClayCounty, 3; Amazing_CA, photos by KarenEh, 4; and Ambassador of Love, 5.

Rondezvous With a City Bus

I previously shared this driving incident as part of a June 2006 'Father Lions' tribute to three special men, one of whom was my late father-in-law, Jack. During my second year teaching band and orchestra in Lubbock, I decided to search for a quicker route to the middle school. At an unmarked intersection, I looked both ways, but -- KAPOW!!! -- the next thing I knew I was slammed into the steering wheel and my head hurt where I had struck the windshield. Our red station wagon had been mauled by a city bus.

Fortunately, there was nothing in the passenger seat but my teaching violin, which miraculously survived with a couple of dents on its hard case. The car, however, looked like a crushed beer can.

Lying on a blanket on the ground, I remember a kind little woman giving me last rights -- "Oh, Lord, forgive her of her sins and deliver her into heaven ... " -- and thinking that my head hurt, my tongue was bleeding, but I wasn't that bad off. I had told a policeman my husband's name and phone number; and when he arrived on the scene, he recalls his knees practically went out from under him.

Buckling your seat belt was just coming into vogue; so when asked if mine was fastened, I crossed my fingers and answered in the affirmative. After receiving minor treatment from my physician, I was sent home to rest from the concussion. In Odessa, my in-laws had immediately packed their car and were driving to Lubbock.

FIL a Very Sly Detective

The next day, Jack went with me to look at the remains of our car in a local junkyard. I remember him walking around the vehicle several times, arms crossed, rubbing his chin and carefully studying the driver's seat, which on impact had drastically been thrust in opposite directions.

He looked at me and grinned slyly, "You really didn't have on your seat belt, did you, DIL?" Blushing, I told him the truth. He said that was very fortunate because from what he could tell, I would have been cut in half if I had buckled up that day.

A few weeks later, my in-laws made the same trip back to Lubbock for my court date. I had been given the ticket, but Jack thought I had a justifiable argument since my car was more than halfway through the intersection. He was right, and the judge threw the case out.

Anyone else have a crazy road story? I'm sure there's one happening somewhere right now.

Clay Makes News During Drought

Even during his down time, Clay Aiken continues to make news. In last week's Yahoo! Music Dig It or Dis It poll, Clay Aiken's Without You won with 32% of the votes. Way to go, Clay and Clay Nation

Yahoo! will also premiere a video for A Thousand Days on Thursday, Jan. 25.

'Web's Most Wanted Male'

Clay was named "the Web's Most Wanted Man" as Lycos 50 released its most searched listings for 2006: Clay has been on the Lycos 50 for 180 weeks due to the ardent admiration of the Claymates. Their loyalty will persist through all of his hairstyles.

As of Jan. 20, Clay's current position in the Top 50 is #9 with the caption "Best Makeover." Fans can search for all things CA at the Lycos site.

Mark Your Calendar!

Jan. 24: Megan Mullally Show (Repeat)
Jan. 25: ATD Video Premiere, Yahoo Music
Feb. 1: Good Morning America (for UNICEF), ABC
Feb. 14: Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC

This is a clickable of Amazing_CA 's lead WISYS graphic:

Here's to safe driving and a memorable week, Clay Nation!


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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Aiken-Kimmel Plans Underway

Ambassador of Love appropriately titled her beautiful entry in the Official Fan Club's Wallpaper Contest "Clay Aiken, Touching One Heart at a Time."

Valentine's Day Fest 2007

Aiken-Kimmel Reunion Planned

The 2007 edition of the Valentine's Day Aiken-Kimmel Fest promptly roared into high gear when news of Clay's upcoming 2/14 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live hit the message boards late Friday afternoon. Fans from every nook and cranny immediately applied for JKL tickets and began checking flight schedules, hotel accommodations, and the like.

In keeping with Clay's past appearances on JKL, more than three weeks' worth of discussions leading into, during, and following the show were in full swing within the hour. Of utmost importance, debates RE Valentine's Day gifts for the North Carolina singer were immediately instigated and the information superhighway frequently employed as clickable images of various suggestions filled the threads.

With over three weeks to go, there is no telling what conclusions the CA fandom will eventually reach; but the possibilities from just one day's debate are nothing short of amazing. Some ideas bantered around, all of which have a "Clay-Claymate" connection, are favored foods, boxer shorts and cufflinks of interesting varieties, a new "unrecognizable" bucket hat, striped anything (even dog collars and leads), donations to UNICEF and The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, to name a few.

As evidenced by these two clickable screen caps, Claymates gladly took charge of the stage decor for Valentine's Day 2005 with balloons, flowers, stuffed animals, and enough pizza for the crew and half the audience. In three weeks, a similar procedure promises to repeat.

Last time the Aiken-Kimmel chemistry was unleashed was 9/26/06 for Clay's A Thousand Different Ways promo and Outdoor Mini Concert.

It's for sure Jimmy Kimmel really knows how to throw a party for the Clay Nation. Feb. 14, 2007, is bound to be another Aiken-Kimmel reunion to remember.

Faye Parker Plays Role in Makeover

Ty Pennington and the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team of ABC's hit reality show airing Sunday night will demonstrate how they rebuilt and made safe the home of a Raleigh, NC, family who help hundreds of people in their community despite their own health problems.

Linda Riggins works for Building Together Ministries, housed in a structure across the street, where she has helped disadvantaged families in the neighborhood for years. That building also was renovated as part of the show. William Riggins, who is blind, works as an assembler at Lions Club Industries, a national group that provides career services and training for the blind.

The couple has three young children -- William Jr., 6; Christa Marie, 4; and Earlene, 3. The family was sent to Disney World while their new home was built.

According to An Extreme Peek, a story in the News&Observer, Faye Parker played a role in this weekend's makeover edition by helping the design team with the interior decoration for several rooms in the Raleigh home:

Clay: 'Go For It, Mom'

Some walls in the large master bedroom are papered with a black paisley design. The draperies are white satin with a 21-inch black border around the bottom, said Faye Parker, who helped with the home's window dressings. (Yes, Clay Aiken fans, Parker is the "American Idol" runner-up's mom, and no, Parker says, he will not be featured on the show. "He was excited I was doing it," she said. "He said, 'Go for it, Mom.' ")

White silk drapes with inverted pleats cover the windows in the living and dining rooms, she said.

And, in William Jr.'s room, Parker worked on the duvet cover, designed to look like a football field. It covers a bed made of Lego. Most of her work followed the recommendations of the show's designers. But they did like one of her suggestions: football pillows for the room, she said.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This clickable interlude features several talented graphic artists and photographers. They are MNmeesh graphic with photos by PermaSwooned and Scrpkym, (1); Amazing_CA, photo by KarenEh, (2) and (4); Claysmelody/Ashes2, OFC wallpaper contest entry, (3); and Lisa1068 graphic (5).

Friendly Postal Clerk Entertains

Whenever possible, this southern gal takes the safety of others into great consideration and stays far away from slippery surfaces. I am fortunate that music students drive to my house for lessons. Certain days this past week were too dangerous for many of us fair-weather drivers, and some parents opted for a makeup lesson later. Friday, as sunshine and warmer temps again reigned supreme, my cabin fever got the best of me; and I lit out with a string of errands to complete.

Much to the enjoyment of all in the Friendly Shopping Center Post Office line, our resident postal clerk-comedian was in rare form. On the receiving end of his gentle jabs was a college-aged private assistant to a local "institution" in her 80's. Apparently, her boss, Mrs. "F," had forgotten to pay her mailbox dues; and the post office was issuing a final reminder.

PCC (postal clerk comedian) pleasantly told the PA to remind her boss that in order to retrieve her mail, she must pay a month's rent ... WITH INTEREST!!! "Or something from her oven!" he quickly added.

Culinary Art Secures Mail

In fact, if the PA could promise that Mrs. "F" would be baking the staff something very soon, the PCC would send her mail home one last time. All of us standing in line thoroughly enjoyed the repartee between the two.

When my turn came, I handed the PCC a box of reeds I had been planning to return since late December. He asked if there was anything liquid in the box, and I replied, "Oh, no, just some oboe reeds."

In mock puzzlement, no doubt thinking of his next joke, PCC said he hadn't heard of "hobo reeds" and asked what kind of hobo could fit into that tiny box. To explain, I pinched my nose and warbled the snake charmer song I generally use to demonstrate my instrument. He laughed and asked if I weren't mailing a snake instead.

Who needs TV? Just drop by the Friendly Post Office any time of the day -- a comedy act is generally on duty.

Here is a clickable of Ambassador of Love's graphic up top:

ONE MORE NOTE: Clay's sophomore CD, ATDW, is #19 in the Top 100 Customers' Favorites of 2006 at Amazon.com.

Congratulations, Clay! Have a great week, Clay Nation!


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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

ATDW Celebrates Love Songs

LOVE SONG COLLECTION -- A Beautiful Mind's graphic design captures the essence of Clay Aiken's album, A Thousand Different Ways. Photos by Karen Eh.

Valentine's Day Memento

ATDW Celebrates Love Songs

While the incredibly beautiful vocals and innovative interpretations of love songs make Clay Aiken's A Thousand Different Ways an exceptional Valentine's Day memento, the album recently received kudos from a music web site in several Best of 2006 Awards categories.

Shipwreck Island Studios is a four-year-old web site run by two 20-something guys, Tony and Jere, who enjoy writing about music. The industry-respected site honored ATDW for the year's tops in a variety of divisions. Clay's Christmas EP, All Is Well, was also recognized in two areas. Below is a listing of the nominations and winners in the categories for both Clay's CDs. To view the winners and all finalists, see 2006 Music Awards.

Shipwreck Island Studios: Best of 2006

Pop Album of the Year: ATDW was in the top five on both lists, #2 on Tony's Picks, #4 on Jere's Picks.
Winner: Nick Lachey -- What's Left of Me

Holiday Album of the Year: AIW was #3 on Tony's Picks.
Winner: Twisted Sister -- A Twisted Christmas

Solo Album of the Year: ATDW was #2 on Tony's Picks and #8 on Jere's Picks.
Winner: Holly Brook -- Like Blood Like Honey

Producer of the Year: Jaymes Foster/ATDW was #2 on Tony's Picks.
Winner: John L.Cooper & Brian Howes -- Skillet

Vocalist of the Year: Clay was #4 on Tony's Picks.
Winner: John Cooper -- Skillet -- Comatose

Cover Song of the Year: ATDW nominations included When I See You Smile, Because You Love Me, Broken Wings, Everything I Do (I Do It for You), I Want To Know What Love Is, Right Here Waiting
WINNER: When I See You Smile -- Clay Aiken

Song of the Year: ATD was #7 on Tony's Picks. AIW also received a nomination.
Winner: Rebirthing -- Skillet

Pop/Country Song of the Year: ATD was #4 on Tony's Picks and #7 on Jere's Picks.
Winner: I Can Not Ignore -- Janeen

Ballad of the Year: TOA was #8 on Tony's Picks.
Winner: Without You Here -- Goo Goo Dolls

To view the complete agenda of 500-plus nominated songs, artists, producers, vocalists, instrumentalists, albums, album covers, TV and movie performances, see Best of 06 Intro and Best of 06 List.

Shipwreck's ATDW Review Recalled

Readers may remember Shipwreck Island's spectacular initial reaction and complete album critique for ATDW written by Tony in September (9/5/06 and 9/15/06 blogs).

Tony's review of ATDW is well worth a second read. Here are a few paragraphs of his memorable critique:

This is a career setting album for Clay but not his best, as his best is still to come. You could hear throughout this release how completely in love he is with the classic material and as a listener it's nice to hear an artist actually appreciate the material being put forth.

Personally I find these songs to be a real breath of fresh air because there's been a ton of cover discs that have been released in the past two years and, frankly, there's only been two or three that have really been done well. This album is in fact one of the better cover discs because of how Clay was able to reinvent the original songs.

Overall this is a brilliantly done album that one can sit back, listen to and just drift away. Clay is much more then just some kid from a realty show, he's a musician in every sense of the word. The best is still to come and what is scary is that this disc is so good how can he possibly top it?

New Original Songs: 3.95/4; Release Overall: 4.95/5

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This clickable intermission features ATDW and Christmas tour graphics by four visual artists, including Katt45, photos by Shamrock Pat, 1; Amazing_CA, photos by Fairfield2002, 2; Cindilu2, 3; Amazing_CA, photos by Scrpkym, 4; and Ambassador of Love, photos by PinkCocoa/Ztilb, 5.

Clay Interview Posted at 'She Knows'

Coinciding with this week's launch of American Idol 6, an interesting interview with the Season 2 runner-up appeared on the She Knows web site: 10 Questions with Clay Aiken. The into to the story by Joel D. Amos begins like this:

In the ever-crowded field of American Idol alumnus there are two that have towered over the rest -- first season winner Kelly Clarkson and second season runner-up Clay Aiken. Between record sales and concert tickets, those two performers shadow over the music industry, courtesy of a little television program, has been immense. Now that a few years have passed since Aiken proved nice guys finish second, he takes a few moments to reflect with SheKnows.

For "10 Questions," Clay spoke freely about a variety of topics -- from "backstage" information about ATDW, Clive Davis, AI 2, media focus, etc. For the entire interview, see She Knows. Here are a couple of Q/A samples:

SK: The idea this record is brilliant, popular music is littered with incredible vocal songs made famous by singers who didn't quite squeeze everything out of the song. Have you spoken with any of the songwriters before crafting your own versions?

CA: I have had the privilege of hearing from Diane Warren and Richard Page. Both wrote songs we recorded. There were quite complimentary.

SK: In the last year the focus, in terms of the public eye, for Clay Aiken seemed to be about his hair, his latest suit, the floored American Idol fan (and, recently, Kelly Ripa) -- how thrilled are you to have the Clay Aiken focus on your music again?

CA: (Laughs) I think that part of the focus on "Clay Aiken" is always going to be on how weird he looks! Part of the phenomenon is that this skinny, dorky looking white kid could be transformed into something moderately presentable! (Laughs) I hope that people have always been able to look past the exterior and hear me sing. Or, at least, be able to say "He may look weird, but he can sing well!"

'A Thousand Days' on the Radio!

This week ATD went for "adds" with mainstream Adult Contemporary radio and is receiving praise and spins on various stations throughout the country. In addition, CA fans are also enjoying many of his album cuts via Internet radio.

A search of Live 365 yields a varied listing of stations programming Clay's music. As I typed this paragraph I was thrilled to hear Lover All Alone on Rose Radio. CA fan Roseviolet has programmed quite an eclectic mix, including Clay, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Carole Bayer Sager, Queen, Albert Hammond, Al Green, Kimberly Locke, to name a few.

Popular with fans around the globe, Big R Radio also is programming numerous songs from Clay's mainstream albums under the station's "Warm Hits" category.

According to Sorkid78 at Clayversity, the latest CA playlist on Big R Radio includes the following songs:

From ATDW: A Thousand Days, Broken Wings, These Open Arms, Every Time You Go Away, Everything I Have, Here You Come Again, Everything I Do (I Do It for You), I Want To Know What Love Is, and Lover All Alone.

From MOAM: Shine, I Will Cary You, Measure of a Man, and Touch.

Catch you on the radio, Clay Nation!


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Country Honors Legacy of MLK

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presents the "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Aug. 28, 1963. -- AP Photo

'I Have a Dream'

Country Honors Legacy of MLK

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today! -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, Jan. 15, this nation commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of the nonviolent civil rights movement in the 1960's and, 39 years after his death, still a symbolic force in the ongoing struggles toward fulfillment of his famous I Have a Dream speech -- freedom, equality, justice, dignity, respect for human beings of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans will memorialize Dr. King on Monday, the first since the death of his widow, Coretta Scott King, by participating in service projects in their communities. They will honor his legacy of tolerance, peace, and equality by serving community needs and making the holiday “A day ON, not a day OFF.” Citizens in every state will join together to tutor children, build homes, clean parks, paint classrooms, deliver meals, and perform countless other acts of service.

Participation in the day of service has grown steadily since 1994 when Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to celebrate the King Holiday as a day of service reflecting Dr. King’s life and teachings.

There are countless Internet links on the Life and Teachings of Dr. King, who would have been 78 years old Monday, Jan. 15, had he lived. In 1968, his plans for a Poor People's March to Washington were interrupted for a trip to Memphis, TN, in support of striking sanitation workers.

On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray, a career criminal, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Five years earlier in a speech in Detroit, Dr. King spoke these often quoted words:

I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

Just Four Blocks Away

As my junior year at New Hanover High School in Wilmington, NC, came to a close in May 1960, I was elected editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, was already writing a teen column for the Star-News Newspapers, and had just been awarded a scholarship to Northwestern University's National High School Institute in Journalism.

My parents allowed me to ride a bus from Wilmington to Evanston, IL, which is another blog altogether. Upon arriving on the Northwestern campus, I located my dorm room and began meeting new friends from throughout the country. When I told a girl my hometown, she said, "Hmmm, that's interesting; there's another girl on this hall from Wilmington, too.

"That's how I met Phyllis Brown, also a high school senior and editor-in-chief elect of her newspaper. Phyllis attended all-black Williston High School just four blocks over from NHHS, which at the time was all-white.

That summer Phyllis and I became fast friends. Like all southerners at the summer institute, we were asked to demonstrate our accents time and again. With other young journalists, we participated in and wrote about a variety of events, some concocted by the faculty and some real. We toured the Chicago Tribune offices and attended the Democratic National Convention where John F. Kennedy was nominated for the presidency.

When we returned home from the six-week institute, Phyllis and I stayed in touch throughout our senior year and even during college breaks. My teen column highlighted NHHS happenings, featured stories about various students, and included a brief gossip section in which I often inserted special shout-outs of "hello" or "congratulations" to Phyllis along with those from my school. That December my mother and I attended a beautiful ceremony during which my friend and several girls her age were inducted into a special sorority.

Phyllis attended Howard University, and I left in the fall for St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg. A few years later our high schools merged, but not without ugly racial riots and demonstrations. We lost contact when I married and moved to Texas.

How could two 17-year-old girls who lived within five miles of each other and attended school four blocks apart not meet until they traveled to a university campus 600 miles away from home? Separate schools were the norm throughout the South; but change was in the air, as the timeline below indicates.

Harsh Lesson in Segregation

Mr. Caro, a drummer in the 82nd Airborne Division Band at Fort Bragg during 1963-64, also played in one of the most popular combos in eastern NC -- The House Rockers or The Components, depending on the type gig booked. The band played the hottest music of the day -- Green Onions, Walking the Dog, Puff the Magic Dragon, Twist and Shout -- for redneck armories, black and white high school proms, country club debutante balls, you name it.

When the white Texas drummer joined the all-black combo, he was slapped with a harsh education in segregation just about the same time that Dr. King was delivering the now famous I Have a Dream speech. At this link, you can read the complete text, as well as view Dr. King delivering the speech.

One night on the way to a gig, the guys decided to stop for hamburgers. The drummer didn't believe his musician friends when they told him he would have to place their order and why. Not only would the belligerent owner not serve his fellow band members, but Mr. Caro was told in no uncertain, unprintable terms where he could go, too. This was his first personal experience with the despicable manner African Americans were treated. He remembers being extremely furious and that his fellow band members having to calm him down.

During a debutante ball in a local country club, Mr. Caro noticed a chaperone gradually inching her way around the room towards the band. She had been staring at the drummer throughout the 45-minute set. When the band took a break, she snuck up to him and asked, "How can you stand to play with this, this ... all black group?"

Never at a loss for snark, Mr. Caro looked her in the eye and drawled, "Well, 'mam, I'm only passing for white."

Changes In the Air

As shown in the partial Civil Rights Timeline printed below, during these same years (1960 - 64), history was being made with the Sit-In Movement, which originated in Greensboro; the Freedom Rides; Dr. King's speeches, projects, nonviolent marches; and subsequent civil rights legislation.

The battles for equality led by Dr. King -- and the legions of other men, women, and children before and since -- are to be celebrated and remembered on this special day.

Civil Rights Timeline

1865: 13th Amendment outlaws slavery.

1870: 15th Amendment establishes the right of black males to vote.

1920: 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote.

5-17-54: The Supreme Court rules on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS., unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

12-1-55: Rosa Parks refuses to change seats on a Montgomery, AL, bus.

Greensboro Woolworth's 1960 Sit-In

2-1-60: Four A&T students launch the Greensboro Sit-Ins at the Elm Street Woolworth's. After purchasing school supplies, they approach the lunch counter and order coffee at 4:30 p.m. Though refused service, they remain in their seats until closing. The next day 25 participate in the sit-in, the following day 63.

Within two months, the Sit-In Movement spreads to 54 cities in nine states. Student sit-ins would be effective throughout the Deep South in integrating parks, swimming pools, theaters, libraries, and other public facilities.

Greensboro Museum's Woolworth Exhibit in the Smithsonian

7-25-60: The first black ate a meal, sitting down, at Woolworth's in Greensboro. After one week, 300 blacks have been customers. The Woolworth's counter is on display at the Smithsonian Institute as a reminder that we never forget from where we have come as a country.

1961: Integrated groups of protesters join Freedom Rides on buses across the South to protest segregation.

1963: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

1964: Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in education and employment. Dr. King receives Nobel Peace Prize.

1965: Congress passes Voting Rights Act of 1965. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1968: Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, TN, at the age of 39.

1983: Congress passes and President Reagan signs legislation creating Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be celebrated on the third Monday of January.

1986: Federal Martin Luther King holiday is first celebrated.

Teachers for many years, my husband and I saw students, not colors. In 1991, a guidance counselor asked me the racial breakdown of an orchestra class of sixth graders. I literally had to go around the room counting in my mind.

Our society is changing with younger generations on a much faster track toward a new social order than their parents and grandparents. Excerpts from middle school student essays honoring Dr. King's legacy -- "United for the Common Good" -- can be read in this Seattle Times article.

January 15 is a reminder that we never forget from whence this country has come.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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