Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aiken, Fans Celebrate New Year

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? - LovesClaysVoice

Rewinding a Memorable 2008

Clay Fans Fete 2009, Spamalot

As Times Square prepares for the annual New Year's Eve countdown and ball drop, Broadway is gearing up for a massive invasion of Clay Aiken fans planning to celebrate the singer's final week of performances in "Monty Python's Spamalot" at the Shubert Theatre.

A scroll through CA message boards nets travel and performance attendance plans, even an extended weather report leading into Clay's final curtain as Sir Robin on Jan. 4.

Featured above is a montage of What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? by LovesClaysVoice, who merged several Joyful Noise tour concerts in which Clay not only sang the Merry Christmas with Love song but also danced with a lucky lady in the audience at each performance.

LCV provided a Sendspace download for the WAYDNYE montage.

So how are you marking the week the old year greets the new? In less than 10 minutes, I scrolled through this blog's 2008 entries, month by month, and was amazed at all that has happened on the Clay Train.

2008 a Momentous Year

Among the memorable events of 2008 were Clay's Spamalot debut, the anticipation and arrival of the singer's On My Way Here CD, the TV promos that followed, American Idol 2 Rewind, "viral marketing" with fan montages of OMWH tracks, the UNICEF trip to Somalia and Kenya, the Ford Gala, a five-year anniversary for TBAF, the Champions of Change Gala, OMWH at the Olympics, Parker's birth, a father's responsibility, his return to Spamalot, the Sardi's caricature, "The Waiting List" special.

On a personal note, in May I finally met my grandson Kai, then eight months old. During his month-long visit, he became acquainted with several members of the Carolina clan, learned to crawl, rearranged at least one shelf of piano music daily, took over the blog a couple of times, and taught his grandmother all about "monkey mail."

Kai on Being 1
Clickable by Amazing_CA

Now at 15 months, Kai is walking, talking, turning on computers every chance he gets, and discovering something new everyday.

The complete Carolina On My Mind "virtual tour of 2008" includes an opening graphic, headline, lead, summary, and the link for scrolling through each month. That version follows.

For the abbreviated, morning coffee take, here are the links. Either route, for best results, right-click and open each month in a new tab or window. Happy Trails!

January 2008 Headlines

February 08 Headlines

March 2008 Headlines

April 08 Headlines

May 2008 Highlights

June 2008 Headlines

July 2008 Highlights

August 2008 Highlights

September 08 Headlines

October 08 Highlights

November 08 Headlines

December 08 Highlights

Graphic by Amazing_CA, photo by BigAppleforClay
Clickable follows 2008 Virtual Tour.

During 2008, readers from 99 countries dropped by this corner. Thank you for your visits and many wonderful comments. I look forward to your coming back for the 2009 editions, too.

Best wishes to you and yours for health, happiness, and success!


REFLECTIONS -- Clay Aiken fans this week commemorate the night they first heard his voice in the Jan. 28, 2003 telecast of American Idol Season 2 Atlanta Auditions. Graphic animation by Cindilu2.

From Atlanta to Broadway

Aiken Fans Mark Five Years

Every year at this time, Clay Aiken fans stop and commemorate the anniversary of The Vox. On Jan. 28, 2003, American Idol telecast Season 2's Atlanta Auditions in which the North Carolina singer's glorious pipes were first heard in homes throughout North America.

For countless fans, now known the world over as Claymates, the beautiful strains of "Always and Forever" were just the beginning. Many have been riding the Clay Train ever since. Recollections honoring the occasion appear throughout message boards and in CA-related blogs.

January 2008 Highlights

Textisms Huge Headache So Far / Clay Aiken, TBAF in the News
Talking-a-Lot About 'Spamalot' / $50,000 Goal for TBAF
Clay Aiken Debuts in 'Spamalot' / Ovations Rock Shubert Theatre
Clay Aiken Debuts as Sir Robin / New CD Slated for Spring
'Spamalot' Curtain Rises Jan. 18 / Aiken Fans Counting Down
'Spamalot' Rehearsals Resume / LAP & LACIE to the Rescue
Aiken Fans Set for 'Spamalot' / Countdown to Broadway Debut
Soup Recipes Ease Winter Chill / Fans Replay 2007

COOL BEANS -- Clay Aiken's hometown station, WRAL-TV of Raleigh, NC, helped him spill the news about his upcoming CD in a special report by Lynda Loveland. WRAL Photo by Geof Levine.

Thrills Fans with CD News

Clay Aiken Spills the Beans

Days later, it still feels like Christmastime in Clay Cyberspace with the extensive revelations about the singer's new CD and the backstage glimpses at the Shubert Theater provided in Lynda Loveland's special reports aired on WRAL-TV this week.

February 08 Headlines

Newsday Critic Lauds Sir Robin / More Praise for Clay on Broadway
AP Drama Critic Applauds Clay / New CD Makes Headlines, Too
Clay, Quiana Capture Broadway / A Mailbag of Treasures
Clay Fans Tuned into 'Spamalot' / LAP & LACIE in Charge
Spamalot's New Star Speaks Out / Broadway Article Tops with Fans
Valentine, 'Spamalot' on Tap / A Splash of Rewind
Clay Intros 'Spamalot' Dresser / At Shubert Stage Door
Kai Ready for UNC-Duke Game / Props for Clay's Performances
Fans Celebrate Wildcard Week / Clay Triumph on 'AI2 Rewind'

ON MY WAY HERE -- Amazing_CA's graphic spotlights an image from the photo shoot for Clay Aiken's upcoming CD.

'Sleuths' Share CD Finds

Aiken Fans Track Down Playlist

Clay Aiken often brags about the detective abilities of his fans, never more on display than this week's discoveries of the track list for his new CD, On My Way Here, as well as video and audio demos by songwriters.

Some fans choose to remain "CD virgins." Not me -- I listen to every little snippet and link that comes along because I know these songs will be brand new when Clay sings them.

March 2008 Headlines

Fans Embrace New CD Promos / OMWH on its Way!
Clay Nation Celebrates CD Cover / Album in the News
Clay Talks 'Tap' for UNICEF / 'Spamalot' Marks 3rd Year
'Spamalot' Green for St. Pat's Day / Happy St. Patrick's Week!
Clay Aiken's New CD Hits Home / Very Special Journey
Aiken's 'TBD' Album Tops Charts / Amazon Pre-Orders Roll
Clay Aiken's Musical Journey / A Star on His Way

ON MY WAY HERE - Four Eric Ogden photos from the CD shoot are featured in Amazing_CA's handsome graphic.

Fans Applaud OMWH Songs

Aiken Debuts New CD at QVC

"People smile when they walk by; there's too much magic to deny."

The "Something About Us" lyric from Clay Aiken's new On My Way Here CD capsulizes the sentiments of the singer's devoted fans. Following the QVC debut of five OMWH songs Monday night, the phenomenon known as "the Aiken Fog" has once again overtaken the Clay Nation in epidemic proportions.

Fortunately, there is a "recovery day" in Clay's CD promo rounds between Q Sessions Live and his next TV appearance, the Tyra Banks Show on Wednesday.

April 08 Headlines

CD Promos Fill Clay's Calendar / Here, There, and Everywhere
Clay Nation Celebrates CD Finds / 'AI Rewind' Spotlights Top 2
Recital, Visit View with Aiken Blog / Spring Calendar Overload
Savvy Aiken Fans Go 'Viral' / Sharing OMWH Excitement
OMWH To Feature Originals / Aiken Fans Plan Festivities
CD News Permeates Web / Clay On His Way Here!

Animated design by Cindilu2 spotlights OMWH webisode promos.

OMWH Songs Run Gamut

AOL Session Surprises Viewers

When Clay Aiken took a much-deserved "couple" of days' rest, he left his fans a very special parting gift to tide them over until the possible fall tour -- a five-song live performance from his new CD, On My Way Here, airing now on AOL Sessions and surprising many new viewers with its variety.

May 2008 Headlines

Grandson Meets Carolina Clan / 'Thumbs Up' for OMWH
Montages Feature OMWH Songs / LAP & LACIE Take Charge
Aiken Shines on Leno Show / OMWH Debuts with 94k!
A Mother's Day Remembrance / Sail On, Silver Girl, Sail on By
Aiken Fans Celebrate OMWH / May Promos Fill Calendar
Spamalot, OMWH in Spotlight / 'Clayapalooza Weekend'

ON MY WAY HERE - All 12 tracks of Clay Aiken's new CD, On My Way Here, have been ranked in AOL's Top 20 Songs this weekend. Graphic by Amazing_CA.

Montages Market CD Songs

All OMWH Tracks in AOL Top 20

Friday all 12 tracks from Clay Aiken's new CD, On My Way Here, lined up on the front page of AOL's Most Played Songs. The list changes constantly with the latest streams, but early Saturday morning the tracks were still there.

June 2008 Headlines

Clay Aiken Appeals for Somalia / Following UNICEF Mission
OMWH Songs Chug Up Charts / 'Little Engine That Could'
Kai Celebrates Nine Months / 'Our Kind of Love'
Celebrating Our 'Father Lions' / Three Very Special Dads
Clay Aiken's OMWH Hits Charts / #1 Track at AOL Music
TBAF Presents $500k in Grants / 30+ Let's All Play Camps
Clay Aiken Performs at Ford Gala / 'An American Celebration'

SPECIAL OCCASIONS - New York City skyline photo and graphic by Sally.

Bubel/Aiken Gala Sells Out

TBAF Celebrates Five Years

The Bubel/Aiken Foundation celebrated its fifth birthday with a bang Monday as individual tickets for the 2008 Champions of Change Gala sold out in little more than an hour.

July 2008 Highlights

In Place of a Summer Tour / Clean Houses + New Montages
Rewind: 'Listen' Duet & Bugs! / Field Notes Focus on Kenya
OMWH Songs, Olympics a Match / Aiken Fans Create Special Montages
Aiken Fans Recall 'Clayisms' / International Fans Finding Clay
Fans Link Others to OMWH / Share Somalia Mission Reports
Varied Trails Lead to Aiken Blog / Accidentally, On Purpose
UNICEF Special Hits Home / Somalia Field Notes Blog Now Up!
Fans Replay 2007 Tour Opener / 'The Survival Project' Sunday
Aiken Slated for UNICEF Special / 'The Survival Project' on CNN

TAKING FLIGHT -- Samuel Habib sits on his father's lap behind
the controls of his grandfather's sea plane, as the two
prepare for a flight. Photo by Dan Habib.

Spotlight on 'Including Samuel'

TBAF Champions of Change

Before his son Samuel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, photojournalist and 2008 Champion of Change honoree Dan Habib rarely thought about the inclusion of people with disabilities. Now he thinks about inclusion every day.

Shot and produced over four years, the 58-minute award-winning documentary film,
Including Samuel, honestly chronicles the Habib family's efforts to include Samuel in every facet of their lives.

Dan Habib and wife Betsy McNamara will be among four honorees presented The Bubel/Aiken Foundation Champions of Change Award at the organization's 2008 October gala in Raleigh.

August 2008 Highlights

Aiken Fans Order Spam 2 Pins / A Reprise Wardrobe Must
Montages Link Others to OMWH / In Olympic, Political, Social Arenas
Beijing Olympics Remembered / Festivities, Montages Celebrate Games
Pass the Popcorn, Please / Clay Aiken Goes to the Movies
SRHP Reprise a 'Favorite Thing' / TBAF Announces 'Change' Honorees
Recollections of Orlando Concert / 2007 Summer Tour Finale
Clay Fans Applaud 'FOURIDA' / Tampa, West Palm Revisited
OMWH Anchors Olympics Album / Rewind 2007: Atlanta, Ft. Myers
Proud Papa Takes Parker Home / 'Spamalot' Reprise, Knoxville Rewind
Clay Fans Share NC Concerts / Via Global Aiken Network
Aiken, Cheek Make a Difference / China Revokes Olympian's Visa
CA Concerts Capture New Fans / Spotlight on 2007 LA, Indio
West Yields Special Moments / Popular 'CA 4-fer' Remembered

AIKEN GREETS FANS -- Clay Aiken signs autographs and visits with fans following Spamalot performances. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photos by Butterflyshine.

Stage Door Photos Shared

Parker Stars in New Montage

The "queen of procrastination," I am knee deep in income tax preparation while keeping up with the American political scene, college and NFL football, as well as the latest Clay Aiken news. [snip]

SueRue's latest montage, A Thousand Days, features images from the Thursday-Friday GMA interviews during which Clay and Jaymes Foster introduced their son Parker.

September 08 Highlights

Aiken Tells His Story on GMA / Responsibilities of a Father
Aiken, Fans Conquer 'Spamalot' / Weekend Invasion of Broadway
Spamalot Crowd Crowns King Clay / Fun Begins Anew
Clay Aiken Returns to SPAMALOT / This Is the Knight!
Aiken To Take Manhatten Again / Clay Nation, Too!
Aiken Heads Back to Broadway / Ike Triggers F-5 Tornado Trials
Aiken Aids 'Gift of Growing Up' / Global Fight Against Malaria
OMWH Still Elates Aiken Fans / Love Song a Classic
SPAMTASTIC Reprise Nears / Counting Down to 9/19!

VINTAGE CLAY -- Bats and musical notation accompany "Count Clay" in this handsome Halloween graphic by ABeautifulMind.

Halloween Greetings

Goblins Invade Clay Cyberspace

A brief tour of Clay Aiken blogs and fan websites reveals that ghosts and goblins are this Halloween Weekend possessing the Internet landscape as well as real life terrains.

The same talented graphic artists who treat fans to handsome designs year round have taken the lead in decorating Clay Cyberspace for Halloween 2008. Seasonal decor in Clay Land features creative banners, avatars, as well as graphic designs.

October 08 Headlines

Clay Aiken, Politics Face Off / Campaign for Computer Space
Fan Boards Replay Aiken Gala / Lopez Pens Clay's Playbill Bio
Gala a Reunion for Aiken, Fans / A Memorable Evening in Raleigh
Aiken Site Awards 08 Claymmys / Interview Clay at Broadway.com
Aiken, Fans Celebrate Inclusion / Champions of Change Gala
Aiken Inspires Aid for Children / Fans Host Baby Showers
October Honors Clay, Parker / New Beginnings

What a Difference a Year Makes - Happy Birthday, Clay! -- Graphic by AmazingCA

Amidst Spamalot 'Extemporania'

Sir Robin Adds 30th Candle

For the past five seasons, holiday tour audiences of Clay Aiken fans have commemorated Nov. 30 waving glow sticks and serenading their favorite singer.

It's anyone's guess what will occur when the singer adds his 30th candle in the extemporaneous stratosphere of the Spamalot stage Sunday.

The birthday day montage by Luluaast -- What a Difference a Year Makes -- features "Seasons of Love" by the cast of Rent.

November 08 Headlines

Week Yields Aiken Appearances / Fans Celebrate, Set DVRs
Holiday Commemorations Merge / Merry Thanksgivoween!
An Unfortunate Friday the 14th / Everything I Don't Need!
Aiken Fans Wrap for Inclusion / Holiday TBAF Fundraiser
America Remembers Veterans / Ceremonies of Tribute
Clay Fans Creative Fundraiser / Spur Spamalot's BC/EFA Goal
US Chooses Obama, Change / Shared Destiny: Yes, We Can!
Americans Celebrate Democracy / Historical Election

Clay on 'The Waiting List' special. - Screen cap by Gerwhisp

Singer on Sardi's Wall, in People Yearbook

TBAF History, Goals Showcased

In an interview on this weekend's Geraldo At Large, Clay Aiken talked about his passion and projects for the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream America, as well as the story behind the creation of The Bubel/Aiken Foundation.

December 08 Highlights

Sardi's Caricature Honors Clay / UNICEF Inspired Gifts Blog
Clay Relishes Father-Son Time / Kai Discovers Christmas
Recitals Herald Holiday Season / No Clangs, No Clack!
Radio Spins Mesmerize Fans / An Unexpected Serenade
Clay Aiken #1 Man at Lycos / Celebrations in Shubert Alley
Christmas Music Fills the Air / CA Songs, Student Recitals
SueReu's Montage Places 1st / MOAM Connection Rewind

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Clickale graphic by ACA
Photo by BigAppleforClay

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Clay Aiken on 'The Waiting List'

Clay Aiken appears with Geraldo on 'The Waiting List' special.

Singer on Sardi's Wall, in People Yearbook

TBAF History, Goals Showcased

In an interview on this weekend's Geraldo At Large, Clay Aiken talked about his passion and projects for the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream America, as well as the story behind the creation of The Bubel/Aiken Foundation.

Speaking with Geraldo Rivera prior to a "Spamalot" performance, Clay described his initial work with special needs children, his subsequent goal to become a special education teacher, and the independent study that evolved into TBAF.

Rivera's interview with Clay was a part of an hour-long program on Fox Saturday night about the crisis that has gripped this country's disabled for years.

The Waiting List is scheduled for replay at 10 p.m. EST Sunday. Clay's segment can be viewed in the above player or at YouTube.

Clay talks about TBAF programs. - Gerwhisp screen cap

Passions for Music, Inclusion Collide

As all CA fans know, Diane Bubel, mother of Michael, a young boy with autism with whom Clay worked, encouraged the UNC-Charlotte student to audition for American Idol. "This was a moment the passions of my life, working with kids with special needs and singing, crossed paths," he said during the special.

As Clay progressed through Idol, it became clear he would not have enough weeks to complete the credit hours required for graduation. Enter the "independent study" that would eventually become TBAF, co-founded by Clay and Diane.

Goals of the independent study were to conceptualize, research, and plan a charitable foundation to help children with developmental disabilities. In 2003, Wade Paulsen posted an article at Reality TV World about the process. For more information, see Clay Aiken's Final College Course Led to Launch of Bubel/Aiken Foundation.

Clay's advisor Wendy Wood said that he had a clear vision of what changes he would like to see with regard to services for and acceptance of individuals with developmental disabilities in schools and communities.

But there was a great deal of work that he needed to do to determine if there was a niche for his idea for a foundation, to determine its mission, and to plan how the foundation would go about accomplishing its mission and objectives."

After the Idol finale in late May, Clay and his advisor communicated through phone and email several times to set up the independent study project, including its requirements and timetable for completion.

They also met once for Clay to sign the final independent study plan document. Successful completion of the project would give Clay enough hours to graduate ... and he not only completed it but also threw in an extra twist.

Clay, Geraldo discuss inclusion. - Cap by Gerwisp.

Donations Spur TBAF to Reality

Clay completed his college project and eventually turned it into the real-life Bubel/Aiken Foundation, a step that was not required under the terms of his independent study.

In the Fox special, Clay explained to Geraldo that during the summer of 2003, he began receiving donations from fans for the "fake" foundation. "I must have mentioned it in an interview somewhere, and I started getting checks. By the end of the summer, we had about $50,000; so instead of mailing them back, we decided to make it real."

Agreeing on their shared goal of integration, Rivera asked Clay if he wanted to "sing them out." Laughing, Clay declined saying that all he had in his head was Spamalot music, which might not be appropriate for the program.

"Yes, it may not play with this crowd," Rivera seconded.

Clay in Shubert Alley
Clickable by Dancerdad

11 Top Star Turns on Broadway

Continuing its "12 Days of Broadway" celebration, Broadway Magazine has included Clay in the song's "11 Stars A-Shining" verse.
Some stars shone more than others on Broadway this season, and here is our choice for 11 of the top.

For purposes of this list, only one person per show, and only celebrities without a long Broadway tenure are eligible. We are defining celebrity as those who are largely famous for work in medium other than the stage.

5. Clay Aiken in Spamalot. The new father may have made headlines with his outing, but he still is making audiences laugh with his sense of humor. Surely there are other musicals that would fit him like a glove.

Others stars honored include Diane Wiest in All My Sons, Kristin Scott Thoms in The Seagull, Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, Laurence Fishburne in Thurgood, Taylor Hicks in Grease, Cedric The Entertainer in American Buffalo, Marisa Tomei in Top Girls, Elisabeth Moss in Speed-The-Plow, and S. Epatha Merkerson from Come Back, Little Sheba.

Carricature Hangs at Sardi's
Clickable by BigAppleforClay

Spamalot Star Immortalized at Sardi's

Broadway.com is currently featuring a story and nine-photo Bruce Gilas slideshow on the recent unveiling of Clay's carricature at world-famous Sardi's Restaurant in New York City.

Looks like Christmas came early for Clay Aiken. After making his Broadway debut in Spamalot nearly a year ago, the pop star became the recipient of one of the New York theater world’s most beloved honors: a caricature at Sardi’s.

Aiken was joined at the ceremony on December 23 by many of Spamalot co-stars as he autographed and snapped a few personal pics of his new honor.

After all, anyone who has seen his skilled turn as Sir Robin is wondering what show the American Idol alum could take on next. So hats off to you, Clay Aiken! Broadway likes you, they really like you!

People Yearbook 2009
Double Clickable Scans

Have a fantastic final week of 2008, Clay Nation!


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sardi's Unveils Aiken Caricature


UNICEF Inspired Gifts Blog

Sardi's Caricature Honors Clay

Finally, I'm first at something! -- Clay Aiken

Joining an impressive circle of celebrities, Clay Aiken became the latest entertainer honored with a caricature to be hung at world-famous Sardi's Restaurant in New York City later this week.

Accompanied at Tuesday's unveiling by SPAMALOT cast members, Clay autographed his caricature "Finally, I'm first at something!" and mugged for photographers from various wire services.

Paul Hodgins of the OC Register's Arts Blog wrote:

Yet another sign that Clay Aiken has arrived as a serious Broadway star: yesterday he got his framed caricature installed at Sardi’s. That’s the Big Apple equivalent of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The story can also be read at Theater Mania. The post at Just Jared includes 15 pictures from the event. Additional photos can be viewed at Getty Images, WENN, and Wireimage.

Clay poses with Sardi's caricature. - Amy Sussman

According to Sardi's management, Clay's caricature will be hung on the right wall behind the desk of the maitre'd near the restaurant entrance -- no doubt the scene of many fan photos prior to Clay's final Spamalot performance on Jan. 4.

Celebrity listings at Wikipedia include the date or year each caricature was added to Sardi's and also mentions the production or play that included the performer's definitive role at the time of the unveiling.

Congratulations, Singerman!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable holiday interlude includes graphics by Amazing_CA, photos ClayIzzaQT, 1; cindilu2, 2; as well as ACA's opening design.

Clay Blogs on Christmas Day!

As part of the Inspired Gifts project, UNICEF ambassadors and supporters are posting messages at the Field Notes site during the final 12 days of 2008. On Christmas Day, Clay's blog topic was Help Kids in Emergencies Stay in School:

Every child has a right to an education.

Often times in emergency situations, it becomes harder than ever for children to go to school. Natural disasters and conflict often destroy schools and supplies, leaving children without a place or the tools to learn.

UNICEF works hard to make sure that children receive an education no matter what the obstacle. For just $186 you can send children in need a School-in-a-Box kit, offering an opportunity to an education that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

Just think—one kit provides a temporary school for up to 80 children at a time in an emergency!

The entire blog and information about Inspired Gifts can be read here.

With this special Christmas graphic by Auntie Ashes, grandson Kai and I wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons!

Santa and Kai
Clickable by Ashes

Thank you for visiting the Carolina and OFC corners throughout the year. Your comments especially make the process worthwhile.


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Monday, December 22, 2008

Clay Aiken Reflects on 2008

SEASON'S GREETINGS -- Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays! Graphic by Amazing_CA.

Kai Discovers Christmas

Clay Relishes Father-Son Time

As December draws to a close, people the world over tend to reflect upon changes in their life during the outgoing calendar year. Sunday Clay Aiken told People that, of the many major developments in 2008, becoming a father was the most memorable.

Upon completion of his run on Broadway as Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, Clay plans to return to full-time fatherhood, joining son Parker and his mother, Jaymes Foster, in North Carolina.

"At the end of the day, Parker is the most important thing of the year, and of my life, without question," Aiken, 30, tells PEOPLE. "Having a son and that type of responsibility is obviously going to be something that I remember forever."

Still, Aiken, is mindful of the widespread support he received after coming out. "We've been very impressed and my heart has been thoroughly warmed to find people very supportive," he says.

"I want to spend time with Parker. He's still uber-dependent," Aiken says, laughing. "I'm ready for him to start talking. I'm ready for a little action!"

But Claymates need not worry: Aiken will return to his singing roots: "We'll take a little bit of time, we're not quitting or anything, we're just gonna take it slow for a month or so and recollect once I get back," he says. "I may never have any free time once Parker starts walking and talking.

The article can also be read in its entirety at TV Guide, The Insider, Huffington Post, and several other sites.

Graphic by Fountaindawg

Fans have embraced news of Clay's return to his singing career, with celebrations taking form in prolific message board posts, graphic designs, and montages. Fountaindawg's clickable "Living the Dream" graphic highlights events from 2002 - 2008.

Filled with memorable photos, videos, and extensive creative techniques, Gerwhisp's latest montage traces the past six years.
On My Way Here can be viewed here and at YouTube.

On My Way Here - Montage by Gerwhisp

Nineteen Minutes

According to fhmmany2 ("Frankie") of the Aiken News Network on the Claymaniacs board, the three-part series about the beginning of the The Bubel/Aiken Foundation can be viewed in 19 minutes, start to finish.

Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate, cider, or java, and view the foundation's fledgling, momentous steps:

Look What Love Has Done, Part 1

Look What Love Has done, Part 2

Look What Love Has done, Part 3

Clay To Appear on Fox Special

On Dec. 27 at 10 p.m. EST, Clay will appear on "The Waiting List", hosted by Geraldo Rivera on the Fox News Channel. The show will be dedicated to the American heroes who live with and care for the 54 million people with developmental disabilities in the US.

According to Aaron Hall, Clay was included because of his work with children with special needs through TBAF and the inspiration it has brought and can bring to people around the country.

"We are excited about the opportunity to be a leading voice in what could turn out to be a groundbreaking program," he wrote to supporters in a newsletter.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Amazing_CA's holiday graphics extend season's greetings to all stopping by the Carolina corner. Photographers include PermaSwooned, 1, and Kareneh, 2.

Kai Enjoys Holiday Experience

This year Grandson Kai is enjoying Christmas every step of the way. Besides pulling the tree on his head and bouncing the glass balls on the kitchen floor, as reported in the 12/10 entry, he has also discovered the joys of shopping this time of year. So many colorful sights and interesting activities to explore ... and new friends to meet!

After trying to rearrange a holiday wrapping paper display, Kai moved on to a huge stuffed animal, not for himself but for a little girl also discovering the delights of the "playground" that is a superstore.

Man on a Mission

The fun was just beginning, as Kai took several turns on the store's merry-go-round. In addition to remote controls and computer keyboards, he is very much into steering wheels and vehicles of all types.

His mother captured some of the special moments with her camera. Special thnx to Sally for photo editing, 1, and ACA for the Christmas magic graphic, 2. Possible captions for the two clickable photos are "Wow, I wonder if this will fit under my bed!" (1) and "Reckon Grandma Caro's friends can see my new front teeth?" (3). Reader suggestions welcomed.

For this southerner, the snowflakes falling in the Carolina blog are my kind of winter storm. Clay's opening phrase of "Merry Christmas With Love" is coming from the greeting card posted in the 12/10 entry. I suspect he will sing to us all the way down the page.

Below is a clickable of the ACA's opening graphic:

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas Week to all this blog's visitors! Thank you for dropping by throughout the year. It's especially gratifying when you stop and say hello.

The happiest of holidays to you and yours!


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Aiken, Students Headline Week

STAGE DOOR FESTIVITIES -- Clay Aiken greets fans in Shubert Alley following a performance of SPAMALOT. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photo by Cloopy. (For clickable, see 12/7 blog entry.)

No Clangs, No Clack!

Recitals Herald Holiday Season

CLANG, CLANG, CLANG went my damper pedal ... almost!

Hours before my string ensemble's holiday performance, the temporary fix my piano technician had put on the pedal the day before just wouldn't hold; so he ended up taking the mechanism home to repair for 2009.

Curious to see what would happen if I forgot and depressed the damper during the concert, I gave it a whirl while practicing my accompaniments.

Sure enough, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG would have been the result. So, added to the intros, downbeats, cut-offs, and varied arrangements the students and I had planned for our program of 14 holiday tunes, I had to remember NOT to put my foot near this important pedal.

Priceless 'Silent Night' Clack

Life is never dull when presenting concerts with young people. For the most part, we were spot on through all 14 selections. However, there is one piece of video clack I wish were availabe. On the first verse of "Silent Night," six students performed consecutive eight-measure duos before the group repeated the carol in three-part harmony.

As the middle duo was concluding their section, I glanced toward the first stand where the inside player was poking her partner with her bow to let her know it was almost their turn. Pan back to the teacher's expression, and that would have been one hilarious piece of clack ... had Scarlett or SLC been in the vicinity, LOL!

With an audience of 15-plus parents and siblings, the seven-member string group played to a packed living room. All available seats -- and floor pillows -- were in use.

Even a stool that once belonged to my late mother was called into duty. A music teacher in her day, Mama Mac would have enjoyed the afternoon.

Piano Duets Rock the House

Wednesday eight of my younger piano students "concertized" in the same living room, sharing their holiday repertoire duet style. Most are in the same books, so we boldly programmed for our family-friendly audience "multiple verses" of such traditional favorites as "Good King Wenceslas," "We Three Kings," "Frosty the Snowman," and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Special renditions of the less familiar "The Coventry Carol," "The Snow Lay on the Ground," and the finale, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" completed our program. My duet partner for the latter showed amazing control, as for weeks we have awaited his audition results for an upcoming production of "The Music Man."

The final crescendo still filling the air, Joseph turned to me and mouthed, "I got the part." And his older brother will play the music man!

My tow-haired partner is going solo when he accompanies his own "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" vocals at a Christmas Eve service. Brothers Zach and Matt are on tap to perform violin and piano selections for their father's annual office party, and Lauren provided a violin obligato for her school choir program.

All, I hope, will share their Christmas repertoire with family and friends throughout the holiday season.

Blend of 'Mary, Did You Know?' -- Claysidney

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Clay Aiken's version of "Mary, Did You Know?" In this 2007 montage, Claysidney blended several performance videos by SecretlyLovesClay and Scarlett. You can also view MDYK at YouTube.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured in this clickable collection are graphics by Amazing_CA, photo by Claydreamer, 1; Artz11, photo by suzyque, 2; and ACA, photos by toni7babe, 3.

12 Days of UNICEF: 'Inspired Gifts'

In a 12/19 press release, UNICEF outlined "12 Days of UNICEF," a blogging campaign to encourage Americans to give back this holiday season with "inspired gifts" and their impace on children around the world.

Beginning today and running through 12/31, UNICEF celebrity ambassadors and supporters, including Lucy Liu and Clay Aiken, will post daily blogs at the site's
Field Notes about inspired gifts. The first blog by Marcus Samuelsson is entitled "Give the Gift of Nutrition."

From nutrient enriched food, medicines and immunizations, to wool blankets, tents and school supplies, UNICEF's Inspired Gifts can mean a world of difference to children living in harsh circumstances due to poverty, exploitation, armed conflicts and natural disasters.

Participants in the program choose an item from the collection of life-saving gifts to be shipped to children in need in one of over 150 countries and territories where UNICEF works. Recipients receive a UNICEF Acknowledgment Card identifying the item that was sent and how it will be used to save children's lives.

For more information, visit Inspired Gifts or call 1-866-237-2224.

Clay Named 'Best Humanitarian'

Between arranging furniture and music, I did take notes on some Clay Train stops this week. A couple of days ago, LALATE NEWS named Clay the Best Humanitarian Celebrity for 2008.

While several celebrities donated proceeds of profitable years to charities, Aiken physically did something, joining forces with UNICEF this summer. Aiken’s field visits, and subsequent blog posts, yielded an incredible $50,000 in donations for the impoverished region just after one report.

Aiken would join UNICEF for efforts battling problems in Kenya and Somalia. His efforts raised awareness, educated a nation, and used his status as a celebrity to improve the lives of others.

OMWH graphic by ABeautiful Mind

OMWH on Top 10 Album List

This week the editors of American Songwriter published their individual lists for Top Ten Albums of 2008, and On My Way Here was the #3 pick by Evan Schlansky:

The contributing editor's honorees include:

1. Miley Cyrus, Breakout
2. Wynton Marsalis, He and She
3. Clay Aiken, On My Way Here
4. Dem Franchize Boys, Our World, Our Way
5. Sixpence None the Richer, The Dawn of Grace
6. Boz Scaggs, Speak Low
7. Cyndi Lauper, Bring Ya To The Brink
8. Tom Jones, 24 Hours
9. Barenaked Ladies, Snacktime
10. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges

Clay on American Idol

Wild Card To Return to Idol

According to a TV Guide story by Matt Mitovich -- Can Blasts from the Past Amp Up Idol's Future -- AI is "plumbing its past to bolster its future."

Season 8, premiering Jan. 13, will reinstitute the Wild Card round, in which singers who don't make the Top 9 are afforded one last chance to improve their fortune and thus comprise the Top 12.

"We want to change things up a bit," exec producer Ken Warwick tells TVGuide.com. Though the exact process has yet to be cemented, he says, "The judges can pick anybody they like that they thought maybe was better but just off form and then decide on three" from that group. Such a "save" is what kept eventual second-placer Clay Aiken in the Season 2 mix.

Clickable from Tar Heel Blue

Hansbrough Breaks UNC Record

Icing on the cake to this busy week came Thursday night when senior Tar Heel forward Tyler Hansbrough eclipsed a 30-year record held by alumnus Phil Ford, now an assistant coach with the Charlotte Bobcats, to become the new leading scorer in Carolina basketball.

As soon as the record-setting shot went through the net, officials briefly stopped the game to allow Ford, coach Roy Williams and athletics director Dick Baddour to present Hansbrough with the game ball. Students who carried small signs saying "Phil Ford 2,290" on one side turned it around to reveal "Tyler 2,291+" on the other.

I wasn't the only Carolina fan applauding and cheering the events as they unfolded on my den TV. For more visuals, see photos by Jim Bounds and Jeffrey A. Camarati at Tar Heel Blue.

Congratulations, Tyler! Go, Heels!

Have an awesome, musical holiday weekend, Clay Nation!


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