Thursday, November 29, 2007

Aiken's Holiday Tour Gift to Fans

CITH Blend by ACA, photo by KarenEh

May the joy you share with your magnificent talent and caring heart be returned ten thousand fold in health, happiness, and love, seasoned always with goodly portions of snark, laughter, and magic! -- Caro

ANNUAL GIFT -- Clay Aiken's Christmas tours are a special gifts to his fans every holiday season. Graphic by ABeautifulMind, photo by SmartyPantsSuz.

Holiday Gift to Fans

Press Applauds Heartland Tour

As Clay Aiken's Christmas In the Heartland Tour rolls through the Midwest, the concerts are receiving excellent reviews from both fans and local press.

Previous blogs have concentrated on fan recaps. Today's edition features excerpts from two newspapers. The first, Aiken's Holiday Fare Doesn't Disappoint Faithful Fans by Jeremy D. Bonfiglio of the South Bend Tribune, is a thorough recap of Wednesday night's concert there.

The entire article bears reading. Here are some of the highlights:

SOUTH BEND — Julia Maish stood on the right side of the Morris Performing Arts Center stage recounting one of her most vivid Christmas memories.

It involved a borrowed black dress, a handsome, but intoxicated young stranger, an unfortunate fire to said dress, and a bowl of eggnog that doused the flames.

"That was the first time I ever really sizzled," she said as Clay Aiken smiled broadly at the center of the Morris stage.

Maish was one of four South Bend audience members invited to share their holiday tales Wednesday night during Aiken's "Christmas in the Heartland" tour stop.

Aiken Presents Polished Medleys

A relaxed and polished Aiken, dressed in all black, eased into a soft rendition of "O Come, O Come Emanuel," then, with the Bill Porter Orchestra, a Chicago jazz band, in tow, he launched into the first of the show's three holiday medleys.

It all led to the undeniable concert highlight, "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day." Whether they knew it or not, this was the moment the audience was waiting for. Reminiscent of his "American Idol" performances, Aiken pushed his vocals to hit the big notes, which he did to perfection.

Following the opening week's five concerts, the Heartland Tour heads to the East Coast and New England. Final performance of the midwestern leg will be at 8 p.m. CST Friday in the James W. Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo, MI.

SOUTH BEND PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured are clickables capturing scenes from Wednesday's Heartland concert in South Bend. Included are photos by KarenEh, 1, 2; Toni7babe, 3, 4; and FiveGoldens, 5.

WAUKEGAN PHOTOS: Among the scenes from Thursday night's performance in Waukegan were these captured by photographers ClayfaninMN, 1, 2, 5; Toni7babe, 3; and Shoryjill, 4.

Blog, Radio Interview Tout Tour

Publicity for the tour continues to appear in print, on the Internet, and on the airwaves.

Preparing for an interview with Clay in conjunction with New England tour stops, Sean McMann, a sportswriter from the Poughkeepsie Journal, requested questions from the singer's fans for his blog.

Was he ever surprised with the response! His inbox "runneth over," and you can read all about it at Sean's Space.

If you haven't heard the new Mix 107.3 radio interview from Washington, DC, you can download it here. The DJ was very effusive about Clay being "a singer's singer." Lots of gems in this piece!

Tour, Album, 'Spamalot' Discussed

An excellent article appearing online and in Thursday's "Live" section of the Baltimore Sun -- Aiken Molds His Own Way -- not only plugs Clay's Washington, DC, holiday concert, but also provides interesting information about the singer's next album and his upcoming "Spamalot" role on Broadway.

Below are excerpts from the Baltimore story. The art in the middle is from an email Lindylo received heralding the end of the Broadway strike. For more details on that, see Shows To Resume on Broadway; Strike Ends.

According to CravingClay, a full page picture of Clay leads the "Live" entertainment section. These are selected paragraphs:

Clay Aiken knows he isn't cool. He doesn't seem to mind.

He's been fighting to stay that way after being launched into the ranks of superstardom as the runner-up on 2003's American Idol.

The show's quintessential nice guy never wanted to sound like he's in his 60s or like he's trying too hard to be cutting-edge.

"If I tried to be cool," Aiken says, "it would be like your parents using slang and sounding weird."

He's fought with managers over his image and argued over song choices, saying that many of the songs that were proposed to him were great, but they were better suited for Justin Timberlake or Maroon 5.

But Aiken, who will perform a holiday concert Sunday at D.C.'s Warner Theatre with the Concert Artists of Baltimore, has stuck to what he knows he's good at - showcasing his vocal prowess rather than his dance moves or beats.

Singer Earns More Studio Control

Regardless of his success, Aiken is still trying to get where he wants to be musically.

His first album, he says, was sort of a "scrapbook" of different producers, which made every song sound different. But now, he says, his albums have some sort of continuity.

Aiken says he has gained more control in the studio. For his fourth full-length album, in pre-production, he has more of an influence when choosing songs and producers, which affects the direction of the album as a whole.

Aiken Anticipates 'Spamalot' Role

But Aiken is broadening more than his musical horizons by appearing on a different type of stage in January.

Aiken was recently cast in the role of the less-than-heroic Sir Robin in the Broadway production of Monty Python's Spamalot, a critically acclaimed, Tony Award-winning musical directed by Mike Nichols.

Aiken accepted his role in Spamalot after being offered a hefty number of roles over the year. He says that although his recording and touring schedule usually prevented him from taking any of the other offers, Spamalot was something special.

"It happens to be one of the stupidest shows on Broadway," he says. "Not in a bad way, though. It's just silly."

Aiken was really intrigued with the idea of doing something a little left of center, and Spamalot certainly fit the bill.

Surprisingly, it took Aiken awhile to warm up to the musical. He needed to see it twice to realize that there isn't much of a plot.

"It has a bunch of skits put together that are all hilarious and different," he says, "but if people are expecting Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray, or Les Miserables, they should probably go for something else."

Before Aiken hits Broadway, he will finish the rest of his Christmas tour.

SEASONAL INTERLUDE -- The Clay Aiken fandom is blessed with many talented visual artists. Featured in this clickable interlude are Cindilu2, December calendar with photos by Scrpkym, 1; Amazing_CA, photos by dc4clay, 2; Cindilu2, photo by KarenEh, 3; Artz11, photos by SmartyPantsSuz, 4; Ambassador of Love, photos by PermaSwooned, 5.

A Most Memorable Cyber Monday

I do some of my best thinking in the shower. Unfortunately, these amazing watershed revelations usually occur in hindsight after the fact. This past Cyber Monday was a perfect example.

After touting the benefits of the Internet version of Black Friday in the Nov. 24 edition of this blog, I was up bright and early completing lists, checking for coupons and/or free shipping, and clicking my way through some really good bargains to the end of my Christmas gift-buying.

Most sites require purchases of a certain amount to qualify for free shipping, so after much deliberation and price comparison, I moved the majority of my selections to my Amazon cart.

After a couple of hours, gifts for relatives and friends in four states were covered nicely. On Monday afternoons I teach lessons in an adjacent city, so the next order of business was a shower.

That's when the boulder of common sense hit me -- I could have sent five items straight to Texas with FREE SHIPPING!!!

Still dripping but spurred by the shower's money-saving epiphany, I made a beeline to my computer to undertake damage control. The major problem was that in two cases, I had selected the same gift for a Texan and a North Carolinian.

Customer Service To the Rescue

After attempting the changes online, I contacted Amazon. In an age when speaking to a live person is rare, I must give this site props. Phone calls are returned promptly. In fact, the minute you type in your number, the word "ringing" appears on your computer screen. Simultaneously, you realize your phone is indeed doing just that.

The only problem was this southern gal was speaking with a woman half way around the world in India. Intertwine her accent with my regional drawl, and you can imagine the time we had working toward a solution.

Actually, the Customer Service rep immediately knew what to do. Our problem was that we could only understand each other's conversation sparingly. After about 30 minutes, we somehow began speaking the same language. The gifts for Texas were removed from the list, and I was told to place that part of the order again with new mailing instructions.

Relieved that my shopping was finally complete, I was signing off when I noticed that in my exhilaration, I had reversed the billing and shipping addresses. Fortunately, I was able to tweak that with a couple of clicks. Otherwise, my daughter would have been sent the bill and all the gifts would have been shipped to me after all!

I think I will start taking showers before all major undertakings, including future Cyber Mondays!

Below is the clickable of ABeautifulMind's opening graphic:

Special thnx to Margarert5828 for the South Bend cellcert. Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Clay Aiken & Co. Perform in Midwest

OPENING NIGHT -- Clay Aiken performs during the Wichita, KS, opener of his traditional holiday tour. Photo by dc4clay.

Christmas in Wichita, St. Louis

Holiday Tour Opens in Heartland

From the opening downbeat of Clay Aiken's Heartland Tour in Wichita, KS, Monday night, those in the audience and fans listening via cellstream around the globe knew this season's traditional holiday concerts would be something special. Christmastime has finally arrived!!

Billed as a giant Christmas card, the concert was that and more as vocalists Clay, Quiana Parler, Angela Fisher and instrumentalists led by conductor-arranger Jesse Vargas took the audience on a journey through holiday fare both standard and new.

The always glorious voice, spectacular arrangements, and moving holiday memories showcased the Christmas spirit in a uniquely elegant setting.

Here are a few excerpts from fan recaps appearing on message boards late Monday night and early Tuesday morning:

TEXWRITER: Clay's voice was very nuanced, and he was hitting notes I'd never heard before. He changed up many of the songs we're familiar with and did an awesome job on the new ones.

The standing ovation before the encore was tremendous. Best I've seen in my 25 concerts. I was so glad he came back out, because people really wanted to hear him again.

JANFAN821: The concert was fantastic. I think this is the most professional production that Clay has done to this date. To me, it seemed like a TV special. The musical arrangements were brilliant. The medleys fit so well together.The stories added to the concert experience.

CLAYPHOTOGAL: I have just finished listening to a full recording of the Wichita concert, and I am overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. The singing was superb, and the stories affected me deeply. I hope that everyone gets a chance to at least listen to this entire concert and that the Christmas love reaches them whatever their religious leanings may be.

OKIE4CLAY: Three of us from Oklahoma sitting here reading the recaps. We totally agree that this was not a concert --- it was a beautiful, well-planned, performance by Clay and Co.

The stories were a plus and truly added to everyone's enjoyment. If you are going to the show, dress up -- this show deserves it. Nothing but high class! -- OKCclayfan, Nan4Clay, Okie4Clay

MYMOAM2: Did you notice that the set list for this show is a story, too? The spine of it is the Biblical Christmas story. "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"is the beginning where Israel is waiting for a king. Then God gives a baby in the manger ["Silent Night, Mary, Did You Know?"].

Then the baby is the King, and we welcome Him to our world. It was a "Holy Night," and the world rejoiced ["Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come, All Ye Faithful"].

I see the "secular" songs as just how this Biblical story affects us in our daily world, in terms of what our response should be -- "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day" and "My Grown Up Christmas List."

LEROY1704: I think Clay's Christmas concerts are a gift he freely shares with his audiences, whether they consist of NJU's or his loyal fans. Many times the gifts we give reflect more of whom we are than what the giver wants or expects. I'm glad Clay chose to give a gift close to his heart and one which reflects an important aspect of who he is.

CITH Set List

1. Emmanuel
2. Medley: Away In The Manger / O Little Town of Bethlehem /Silent Night
3. Mary, Did You Know?
4. Banter
5. Merry Christmas With Love
6. Fan Story 1
7. Medley: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year / Sleigh Bells / Jingle Bells / Winter Wonderland
8. Christmas Waltz
9. Fan Story 2
10. Angela: Who Would Imagine a King?
11. Welcome to Our World


12. O Holy Night
13. Hark The Herald Angels Sing / O Come All Ye Faithful
14. Fan Story 3
15. Medley: I'll Be Home For Christmas / The Christmas Song / Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
16. Fan Story 4
17. Quiana: Where Are You Christmas?
18. My Grown Up Christmas List
19. Don't Save It All For Christmas Day
20. Encore: All Is Well

WICHITA PHOTO INTERLUDE: Clickables by photographers SmartyPantsSuz (1 and 5) and dc4clay (2, 3, and 4) provide visuals from the Heartland Tour's opening concert in Wichita.

Heartland Concert a Hit in St. Louis

Second stop on the midwestern trail of the Heartland Tour was the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, MO., Tuesday night. From all reports, the performance was more relaxed, yet still professionally done.

CLAYTONITIS shared a synopsis of the St. Louis concert at Clayversity. Here are the highlights:

Clay and the gang just knocked it out of the park at the Fox. Very professional caliber concert across the board. Fantastic musical arrangements. The stories worked very well. Laughter and sniffles were heard around us during appropriate parts.

My husband, who is barely a casual fan, paid Clay the highest compliment when he said it was over too soon. Quiana's ["Where Are You, Christmas?"] song made him swoon; she got a WOW out loud from him!

Photo links to Farouche's DSIAFCD video on YouTube.

A busy gal, Farouche not only substituted as a story reader but also posted memorable photos, as well as the finale video, "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day."

Click on the photo to view the performance at YouTube, or download it with this Sendspace link: Don't Save It All for Christmas Day.

ST. LOUIS PHOTO INTERLUDE: Clickables by photographers SmartyPantsSuz (1, 2, 4, 5) and Farouche (3) recall Tuesday night's Heartland Tour concert at the Fox Theatre.

Concert Well-Received by NJU Fans

Traditionally, reactions to any tour's opening night are an important part of CA fandom lore. After recapping the concert, Texwriter was asked by Clayversity members how she thought casual or Not.Just.Us fans received the 2007 program, specifically the four Christmas memories shared.

In her reply, she quoted her husband, who attended the concert but was anxious to get back to Monday night football:

He noted that the audience reaction was very enthusiastic after the stories. He was very moved by all of them, especially the woman who lost her son. I would think his reaction is more typical of the non-Internet fan.

We were both very impressed with how composed the readers were and how well they interpreted their individual stories. They were all unique, but very well suited to the songs they introduced. I'm just as much a fan of Clay's mind as I am his voice. He is an endlessly fascinating man.

Sharing the Season a Holiday Tradition

Typically, fans willing to stay up an extra hour or two on concert nights are treated to audio and visual clack. On this opening night, Clay shared his thoughts about the production via his fan club blog. This is an excerpt:

Christmas has always been to me a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and cherish the moments with friends and loved ones. The stories that were told tonight reminded us of the fun that can come with the holiday, the power and importance of family and those we care about, and the spirit and strength that comes from believing in the true meaning of the season.

I'm really excited about the next several weeks. Seeing you all and hearing from you all is always a thrill for me this time of year. As we listen to some of the most memorable and powerful memories of some of your own holiday traditions, I can't help but realize and be grateful for the fact that sharing the season with you each year has become my holiday tradition.

Tour Continues Through Midwest

Criss-crossing the mid-western and northeastern parts of the United States, the 20-concert Christmas tour rolls into Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan for the remainder of the week:

11-28-07 South Bend, IN Morris Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., EST
11-29-07 Waukegan, IL Genesee Theatre, 7:30 p.m. CST
11-30-07 Kalamazoo, MI James W. Miller Auditorium, 8 p.m., EST

For those attending the live concerts, as well as the many experiencing Clay Aiken's holiday tradition via clack, Christmastime is finally here.

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Curtain Rises on Heartland Tour

CAPTIVATING -- Cindilu2 provides an exquisite vocabulary lesson with her latest graphic.

Three Cheers for Cyber Monday

Tour Bytes Numerous, Varied

As Clay Aiken's "Christmas in the Heartland Tour" prepares for Monday night's opening bow in Wichita, KS, media promos advertising the concert schedule have escalated in variety and number.

A southerner residing off the Heartland route, I am sitting out this year's holiday edition. Clack downloads and recaps by those present promise to convert my den into a concert hall as reports come in.

Below is a sampling of this week's Heartland Tour publicity.

Aiken To Play Holiday Show in Genesee

American Idol favorite Clay Aiken will be celebrating the holidays in style at the Genesee Theatre Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

The multi-platinum recording artist emerged from his 2003 American Idol experience with a recording contract, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly magazine covers, and legions of loyal fans.

Those fans voted him the Fan's Choice winner at the 2003 American Music Awards as well as TV Guide's Fan's Favorite Reality Star that same year.

His first single, "This is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water" won the Billboard Music Award for best-selling single of 2003, and that was just the beginning.

The article also covers Clay's recent appearances at Neil Sedaka's 50th year festivities at Lincoln Center, the "Capitol One Holiday Celebration on Ice," taping, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," the upcoming "Spamalot" role on Broadway, and area fan plans for Clay's birthday.

Each year on Aiken's birthday (Nov. 30), the group sends gift baskets to children in hospitals in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. This year, they anticipate sending about 520 baskets.

Clay Aiken Speaks About Upcoming Concert

Lisa Sokolowski of the Wilkes-BarreTimes Leader posted an excellent story Sunday. This is an excerpt:

In the past five years, he has released four albums and is embarking on his eighth tour, which makes a stop at the F. M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre at 7 p.m. Dec. 4. Last year, his appearance at the venue was sold out.

His day job is to sell as many albums as possible – and he has sold millions – but he doesn’t stop there. He is a philanthropist who has raised millions of dollars for various causes, begun the Bubel/Aiken Foundation and traveled with UNICEF.

“I could go out and just sing,” he said, adding, volunteering “is what I do with my downtime. … When you go out there (on stage), there’s only so much of that you can take with you.”

Clay Aiken To Carol 'With Love'

You know you've enjoyed molding young Clay since his first nervous nights on "American Idol." Backed by the 45-piece Chelsea Symphony Orchestra, Aiken will be crooning the holiday classics featuring selections from the best-selling "Merry Christmas with Love."

This show is one of the final chances to see him in concert before he makes his Broadway debut in January as Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot." -- State Theater, New Brunswick, NJ, Dec. 6.

CITH Schedule by Claystruck

At the Finish Line of Life, Sometimes Second Is Best

Libby Copeland, Washington Post staff writer, Friday penned an in-depth column about numerous examples of famous second-place finishers.

It's rarely a good thing to be someone's second choice. [snip]

All those '80s movies, like "Pretty in Pink," with all those Duckies chasing after all those Andies in pink prom dresses? We're all Duckie, a little needy and nerdy. Which brings us to Clay Aiken, as most good conversations should.

He came in second to Ruben Studdard on "American Idol," but he became more popular and successful in the long run. He loved his seconddom, and his seconddom loved him back.

"I think people like an underdog sometimes," Aiken once told Larry King.

Aiken and Kalamazoo Orchestra Present Holiday Concert

According to North Carolina native Aiken, there is a conscious attempt to deliver a fresh experience each tour.

"We have a tradition of involving people from the communities we visit in the show. This year, we're allowing fans who've submitted their own Christmas memories through our web site to tell those holiday stories along with the music. It's going to be kind of like a big Christmas card."

Kalmazoo Gazette,
Clickabe Scan

Books To Honor Clay Aiken's Birthday

Information regarding the manner Clay's fans will celebrate his 29th birthday Friday, Nov. 30, appears on the Kalamazoo Communities in Schools website. Instructions are provided for anyone who would like to participate in the donation of books.

Clay Aiken, the runner-up for the 2003 American Idol, is coming to Miller Auditorium to present a Clay Aiken Christmas with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. The concert is scheduled for Friday, November 30 – Clay Aiken’s 29th birthday.

To honor his birthday, fans are donating children’s books to Kalamazoo Communities In Schools. This gift combines Clay’s commitment to children with the resources of KCIS and its strong involvement in the Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Clay graduated with a degree in special education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and has created the Bubel/Aiken Foundation – “which supports the integration of children with disabilities into the life environment of their non-disabled peers.”

'Merry Christmas with Love' #1 in Asheville

Clay Aiken. North Carolina's "American Idol" superstar, dishes the holiday delights, including "O Holy Night" and "Winter Wonderland."

Did you know his concert this past summer at Biltmore Estate was a quick sell-out, pulling more than 3,000 fans?

Christmas Comes Early for Aiken Fans

Clay Aiken is driving to his doctor's office when he pauses to talk about his upcoming 20-city "Christmas in the Heartland" tour.

"All is well," he says by telephone from somewhere in Los Angeles. "Before I start a tour, I like to make sure everything is working.

"It's not a bad idea, considering how busy the 2003 "American Idol" runner-up has been lately.

All in all, this should be an exciting opening week of the Heartland Tour, first or second-hand

PHOTO INTERLUDE: The 2007 Christmas in the Heartland Tour promises a season of magical memories. This blog gets a head start with the graphic designs by Ambassador of Love, photos by PermaSwooned, 1; Amazing_CA, photos by Scrpkym, 2; Claysmelody, 3; Amazing_CA, photos by PermaSwooned, 4; and MNmeesh, photo by PermaSwooned, 5.

Cyber Monday Rings My Chimes

Just as our local morning shows ceased their features about Black Friday's 4 a.m. lines of shoppers wrapped around stores in frigid temperatures, they began talking about Cyber Monday and ways to save money with online purchases. Finally, they were singing my song.

I was already planning to sprint through my Christmas list via the Internet, so I was thrilled to learn that many retailers have designated the Monday after Thanksgiving for online sales promotions. Weekend deals are already in progress.

At the top of my list were practical and fun items for my grandson Kai, who apparently made friends with the "turkey" at his first Thanksgiving this week:

Several times Saturday I was juggling multiple tabs on four pages, comparing prices, shipping options (free or not), etc. It pays to shop around, and fellow online enthusiasts might like to check out these links:

Cyber Monday

For online coupon codes, see these sites:

Current Codes

Retail Me Not

Retail Me Not - Canada

Some coupons and deals will expire this weekend, while others will be in effect longer. The best part is you can shop in your warm home at a decent hour and take in the holiday football/basketball fare or listen to Clay serenade your Cyber buying.

With the Carolina Tar Heels playing in the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans (sound familiar, CA fans?) Arena, my shopping deadline was the 10:30 p.m. tip-off. No problem -- the Heels won, and my list is almost complete.

Below is a clickable of Cindilu2's opening graphic, my current desktop:

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Interviews Preview Aiken's Tour

THANKFULNESS -- Clay Aiken, family, friends, and a brand new grandson head my Thanksgiving list for 2007. Graphic design by ABeautifulMind.

Happy Thanksgiving, All!

Media Promotes Holiday Tour

In an early Thanksgiving gift, Clay Aiken fans were provided insight into the singer's current and future activities during an interview with Maureen McLain aired by WASH-FM Radio Tuesday.

A promo for the 12/2 Christmas in the Heartland Tour (CITH) concert at Warner Theatre in Washington, DC, the interview covers a wide range of topics:

* Fan stories for the CITH will be like a "big Christmas card," introducing various songs throughout the concerts. Clay has personally read 1,200-1,300 stories, ranging from holiday experiences in the 1950's to an observance in the Alaskan wilderness.

* Clay will celebrate Thanksgiving in Raleigh with relatives and extended family. In fact, Clay & Co. were rehearsing around the piano in his living room prior to the interview.

* In December, the special ambassador will take a trip for UNICEF to bring attention to children whose plight doesn't end with the Christmas holidays.

* Clay will go directly from the UNICEF trip to New York for his four-month stint in the Broadway musical "Spamalot."

If you haven't heard the interview, it's a must: Clay on WASH-FM. From all I have read, bonus replays have been the norm.

Fan Reactions Worth Noting

Aikim expressed these thoughts about the interview on the boards Tuesday afternoon. With her permission, they are shared here.

I listened to the interview and just got the total warm fuzzies thinking about Clay, Quiana, Angela and Jesse rehearsing in Clay's living room; maybe with the dogs harmonizing a bit...maybe doing some impromptu riffing...just seems so right.

And speaking of right; how appropriate that Clay will be with his kids (and some adults) on Christmas. While we are all opening Christmas gifts or having dinner or even watching him on TV, he may be comforting a baby or singing to a group of children.

And then he will come home to the lights of Broadway and start a new chapter in his life. It is almost whiplash-inducing, but it is also so Clay. And I am so happy that he is able to satisfy all parts of his soul and do what truly makes him happy.

In a lighter vein, Coopersgirl summed up concerns of many Thanksgiving travelers awaiting Christmas story selection news:

Will someone call Clay and tell him some of us are leaving town tomorrow, going to the homes of people that don't share our obsession/enthusiasm, and we have to know if we are going to get to meet him.

Can you imagine if we find this out around our families that don't share our obsession/enthusiasm? They will lock us up, and we will not get to go to our concerts. Please, for the love of Mikey, EMAIL US!

Here's hoping Team Clay gets Coop's message!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude of Thanksgiving graphics features the talents of six visual artists, including MNmeesh, photos by PermaSwooned, 1; Clayquebec1, 2; Amazing_CA, photos by PersmaSwooned, 3; ABeautifulMind, 4; and Ambassador of Love, 5.

CITH Tour Opens Next Week

The curtain goes up on Clay's traditional holiday tour -- Christmas in the Heartland -- at the Central Christian Church in Wichita, KS, Monday, Nov. 26. The 20-date schedule is printed below.

Like last year, local musicians will comprise the orchestras. New to this edition will be the fan holiday memories interwoven into the program.

In Famous 'Idol' Runner-Up Gets in the Christmas Spirit, an in-depth interview posted by Kevin Johnson, music critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Clay discusses the tour, "Spamalot," his upcoming CD, and "American Idol":

Claymates are on alert.

Big-voiced Clay Aiken, the object of their affection and the most famous runner-up in "American Idol" history, is on his way to St. Louis to celebrate "Christmas in the Heartland."

"Doing a Christmas tour is kind of my Christmas tradition at this point,'' Aiken says. "I don't even know if I can do a December without doing a Christmas tour.

All in all, an excellent read!

'Co-American Idol Winner'

In advertising the Waukegan concert, the Chicago Tribune has designated Clay the "Co-AI winner":

Talented in their respective arenas, three singers, Clay Aiken, Eddie Levert (of the O'Jays) and Trey Songz, in town this week—on separate bills—could be dangerous to the health of their fans. This trio of musical heartthrobs makes female palms sweat, knees weaken and hearts pulsate.

Clay Aiken

Rendezvous: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan; $68-$83; 312-559-1212,

Pulse: You know you are the stuff when a whole nation lends its support before you even have a hit. Aiken, the co-"American Idol" winner with Ruben Studdard, has a consortium of young and old voting him to stardom.

Cindilu2's animated graphic heads the complete list of concerts. A clickable version is also included below.

CITH Tour Schedule

11-26-07 Wichita, KS Central Christian Church
11-27-07 St Louis, MO US Fox Theatre
11-28-07 South Bend, IN Morris Center
11-29-07 Waukegan, IL Genesee Theatre
11-30-07 Kalamazoo, MI James W. Miller Auditorium

12-02-07 Washington, DC
Warner Theater
12-04-07 Willkes-Barre, PA The F. M. Kirby Center
12-06-07 New Brunswick, NJ State Theater
12-07-07 Albany, NY The Palace Theater
12-08-07 Poughkeepsie, NY Mid-Hudson Civic Center - Mair Hall

12-09-07 Uncasville, CT
Mohegan Sun

12-11-07 Red Bank, NJ
Count Basie Theatre
12-12-07 Easton, PA State Theatre

12-13-07 Morristown, NJ
Mayo Center for the Performing Arts
12-15-07 Williamsport, PA Community Arts Center
12-16-07 Erie, PA US Erie Civic Center Complex
12-17-07 Cleveland, OH State Theatre, Playhouse Square
12-19-07 Minneapolis, MN Orchestra Hall
12-20-07 Minneapolis, MN Orchestra Hall
12-21-07 Omaha, NE Slosburg Hall/Orpheum Theater
12-22-07 Merrillville, IN Star Plaza Theatre

Clickable by Cindilu2

Thankfulness 2007

As a new grandmother, you can imagine which little guy heads my Thanksgiving 2007 list. Only two months old, Kai has already entrenched himself into the hearts and lives of family and friends. Thnx to the OFC, his "fan club" is already global.

I am very thankful for the close relationships I have with family and friends, both in real life and in Clay Cyberspace.For health, wealth (I'm still counting on the Publishers Clearing House for this one!), and happiness, I am also grateful.

I appreciate the readers of this blog, many of whom leave thoughtful, interesting comments every time out. Thank you for all the visits this journal receives at the OFC and at Carolina On My Mind.

The fact that I am a working musician and "paying it forward" as a private music teacher with several very talented students brings me much joy.

An enthusiastic sports fan, I am truly thankful -- more like over the moon! -- that college basketball season for the Carolina Tar Heels is finally here!

I am very grateful for Clay Aiken, whose magnificent voice and caring heart affect lives throughout the planet and whose countless communities of fans create special friendships and share support for this man and for each other.

Below are clickables of the opening graphic and a special Thanksgiving card by ABeautifulMind:

Happy Thanksgiving to our favorite singer, his fans, and all families within this special Clay Nation network!

I wish everyone good health, happiness, hope -- and many more years' enjoying the glorious voice on loan from God!


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