Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gala a Reunion for Aiken, Fans

USING YOUR VOICE -- Clay Aiken, co-founder of The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, honored the 2008 Champions of Change, participated in a very successful fund-raising auction, and entertained supporters at Saturday's TBAF Gala in Raleigh. Photo by SmartyPantsSuz.

A Memorable Evening in Raleigh

Gala a Reunion for Aiken, Fans

In addition to raising record funds ($207,000 before the silent auction) that support The Bubel/Aiken Foundation's projects of inclusion, the 2008 Champions of Change Gala was a glorious reunion for Clay Aiken and fans both at Raleigh's Marriott City Center, as well as those who participated via cellstream around the globe.

During the past five years, close friendships have developed among CA fan community, and the weekend's love fest included an opportunity for many to be together again.

In their joint recap, Flyingstarship and GrandmaJoan summarized a popular sentiment:

This was our first Gala, but it won't be our last! So many friends we have made this weekend, so many folks we have been wanting to meet!

The evening included dinner, a VIP reception, silent and live auctions, and entertainment by Clay, about which fans have posted excellent recaps, videos, and audio files. Adhering to the no-flash rule in average lighting, fan photographers have provided visual capsules of the special evening. This report will include examples of all.

Speeches by emcee Linda Loveland of WRAL, as well as TBAF co-founders Diane Bubel and Clay, celebrated the foundation's achievements of the past five years. The 2008 Champions of Change award recipients -- Rich Donovan, CVS Caremark, Dan Habib and Betsy McNamara -- were honored.

What an incredible, incredible experience. I am so thrilled that there is audio and video. Since Clay joked that this was being broadcast all over the message boards, I'm sure he doesn't mind us sharing. I was so proud to be a BAF supporter tonight. What amazing work they have been able to accomplish in just a short five years! -- PermaSwooned

These clickables by SmartyPantsSuz provide snapshots from the opening ceremonies.

Clay in Tune with Message Boards

Even those listening via cellstream picked up on the fact that their favorite singer has been reading the message boards more than anyone knew.

He brought out the green Wango Tango shirt, saying, "I know y'all call this ugly. Well -- not ugly -- but something that rhymes with ugly."

Actually, a certain green sweater inspires the "fugly" adjective, not the Wango Tango shirt. [grin]

Recaps by those in attendance describe the auction segment best. These are from posts by Hippoga and Brightstar:

The auction was a hoot! Clay did everything he could to raise the bids. He tried on the leather jacket and even got it zipped up! He made the Sir Robin bear dance.

He wore the blue "Someone Else's Star" shirt and serenaded the winning bidder. That rendition was so amazing, such a pure, powerful voice. He put an extra autograph on the stool. So much fun! --

Clay is exactly the same. The same funny, snarky, beautiful, compassionate, bossy, loving, take-charge, talented guy. His references to cell phones and message boards and videos that would be up in 30 minutes were hilarious and showed that he is quite tuned in to his fans on the boards. -- Brightstar

Photos from the lively "live auction" show Clay with the Wango Tango shirt, Broadway Bear, Jimmy Kimmel bust, Jukebox Tour jacket, and the "Someone Else's Star" shirt he wore during American Idol. Clickable photos are by Irishbookgal, 1, 2, and 5; and SmartyPantsSuz, 3 and 4.

A silent auction paralled the live event on Saturday. No doubt GrandmomJoan spoke for many in her post:

Some of us are going home with some really great things from the silent auction. I'm thinking about how darn happy my hubby is going to be when he sees the 2 foot by 3 foot framed and signed poster of Clay holding the "all done darlin" baby from Afghanistan, LOL!

Clay Delights Fans with Mini-Concert

Fan recaps, which provide wonderful insight into the entertainment segment, will be interspersed with concert videos taped by
LonelyNoMore44 -- Everything I Don't Need and Where I Draw the Line -- also posted at YouTube.

Special thanks to CA fans for the many audio files. This sampling can be downloaded via Sendspace at these links: Where I Draw the Line and Right Here Waiting, Farouche; and You Won't Succeed on Broadway and Where I See You Smile, Toni7babe.

Clay performs at Champions of Change Gala.
Photo by SmartyPantsSuz

His British accent easily in tow, Clay opened with a bit of "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" from Spamalot and a geography lesson. The mini-concert then proceeded through several fan favorites.

HIPPOGA: Clay killed time while the musicians got ready by finding out which fan had come the farthest. [Azerbaijan or The Philippines] After singing "You Won't Succeed On Broadway" to us -- in accent! -- he segued into "When I See You Smile." [I hope he could see the smiles on our faces] and "Where I Draw the Line."

Hearing On My Way Here songs in person! Clay is always so much better in person than his albums. "Everything I Don't Need" just about did us in. "On My Way Here" was so poignant with recent events. The crowd clapped a bit for "faith has conquered fear," and he had us sing that to him at the end.

Everything I Don't Need

CLANIAC24: Clay's singing was overwhelmingly phenomenal. Gorgeous! And he was so adorable all night. Every face in the room was smiling throughout his time on the stage until the last song, "Right Here Waiting." Then quite a few gals wound up crying.

It was such a touching version of the song. He told us that Jaymes suggested he add it. I felt strongly that he was talking to the fans who have left, that he was right here waiting for them to return. If they could have been there tonight, they couldn't have resisted returning.

FLYINGSTARSHIP/GRANDMAJOAN: The mini-concert was moving, exciting and a perfect way to end the evening. "Right Here Waiting" seemed like a lullaby to "us," so gentle and so emotional. You could feel the love in the audience and the feeling of "old times" again. I hope Clay misses being in concert as much as we miss him.

The Gala was well organized, and it reminded you of a ClayMate convention. We are so blessed to have Clay in our lives. We are so blessed to have each other, too.

Where I Draw the Line

BRIGHTSTAR: It felt so good to hear Clay sing again. Singing “his” songs live. His voice, after all these years, still blows me away. And what a perfectly perfect choice of songs to end the night, "Right Here Waiting."

It was very softly and intimately sung, so personal, so beautiful. It seemed as if he were singing to each of us individually—his heart wide open, singing to many whose hearts were also wide open, but also to those who may have closed themselves off to him just lately.

He was not only telling us how much he loved and appreciated us, but also seemed to be sending the reassurance that he would be there waiting for those who had “left” if they ever wanted to come back. I honestly don’t know of another man so generous and so loving. What an honor to be there! What a joy to be his fan!

Final word goes to my good friend xxx4clay:

This has been one of the best days of my life. I will never forget it. Ever. It will always make me smile. Big time.

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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SueReu said...


What a successful evening!! I'm so glad that those who were able to attend had a great time!!!

Thanks Caro!!!

Anonymous said...

Great blog and summary of the gala. The Gala and seeing Clay was like a shot in the arm for fans! It's time to put the past behind.

Truth Rules said...

You write the best blogs.

One of the great things about Clay Aiken and the Clay Nation is that not only does Clay allow those of us who can't attend to follow along on the message boards but the fans who can attend these events are so willing to share and include all of us stuck at home.

A very successful evening for TBAF indeed.

dee said...

Wow ! You covered everything about the evening . It is the next best thing to being there . What a great night for the Foundation , for Clay and for all of us .

gerra said...

I was not at the gala but I sure feel like I was. What a great night for a great cause.

Ashes said...

Thank you Caro. Reading this summary of the magical Gala evening got me misty eyed...again!
Having this ability to share in the excitement and love surrounding Clay events such as this is everything I DO need ♥

claniac24 said...

Carolina, you did a beautiful job recreating this most magical evening. This was my first Gala and I SO enjoyed the evening that I've vowed to never miss another one. The fun and excitement of the live auction was beyond imagination. And Clay singing live! Nothing beats that!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Caro !


MissSally said...

I was not able to attend the Gala, but your blog made me feel as if I had.
Thank you so much for this amazing blog!

katy said...

I loved hearing/seeing the videos of Clay singing live at the Gala. How wonderful for all in attendance. He's still the same wonderful guy!

Sandy said...

All I can say is that I wish I was there!

I have been glued to the boards for the past three days and am still not caught up!

The outpouring of love for Clay last weekend was overwhelming and so well deserved. He has worked hard the last five years to bring this foundation to where it is today and I love a man who walks the talk!

Great blog Caro!


stargazer said...

Thanks for a great recap. For those of us who couldn't attend, it's so great to get the inside flavor of it all.

SueReu said...

I'm gonna say it again!!!