Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Very Best of Clay Aiken

'The Very Best of Clay Aiken' CD will drop next month.

IT Anniversary, Playlist Update

Aiken Album Slated for March 31

On the heels of Sony Legacy's news about the March 31 release of remastered favorites for The Very Best of Clay Aiken, the singer's fans today are commemorating the anniversary of the opening concert of the very popular 2004 Independent Tour.

February 24 may be Fat Tuesday to Mardi Gras enthusiasts; but for the Clay Nation, it's an all-day rewind of the Charlotte, NC, IT show, accompanied by speculation about the TVBOCA.

The Sony Legacy label promises that each gem is given high quality treatment, "insuring as complete and compelling a package as possible."

By combining state-of-the-art remastering technology with comprehensive liner notes, track information and rare and historic photos, the Legacy name and moniker have become synonymous with musical excellence. Our work is recognized by critics and fans alike as top notch..

Not Just Reiussued ... Reimagined!

What fans know about the upcoming "very best" CD are pre-order sites, prices, and the fact that the tracks are remastered songs versus the compromised sound of MP3 files.

But what everyone wants to know is which songs will be included on the "very best" playlist!

UPDATE: Just one day after setting up the sidebar poll, we now have an official playlist. Still, it will be interesting to see how closely the Sony Legacy choices match those by fans. Our "very best" poll results will be posted following the March 3 end date.

Here is the TVBOCA track list released to Amazon:

A Thousand Days
The Way
Bridge Over Troubled Water
On My Way Here
This Is The Night
Here You Come Again
Measure Of A Man
The Real Me
Something About Us
On The Wings of Love
Mary, Did You Know

What are your 10 favorite tracks from Clay's mainstream albums -- Measure of a Man, A Thousand Different Ways, On My Way Here -- and singles? With the assistance of some CA friends, the Carolina blog created a sidebar poll to determine the 10 songs readers would most like to see on the TVBOCA playlist.

To start our very unscientific survey, friends Ashes, Barb55, and Amazing_CA shared their choices with very little duplication. Hopefully, your 10 songs are listed. Once polling begins, no additions to the list are allowed. However, I will keep tabs of songs listed in the comments and include them in the final tally on Tuesday, March 3.

You can pre-order the CD at Amazon for $9.99 (eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25; Target, $11.98; and CD Universe, $9.00. Also, if you need a reminder of the songs on Clay's previous CD's, see the titles on his Amazon page.

Here's to the "very best" of Singerman!

Double clickable IT
wallpapers by Fountaindawg

Looking Back: IT Opens in Charlotte

From Feb. 24 to April 16. 2004, Clay and Kelly Clarkson criss-crossed the country with their Independent Tour, kicking off in Charlotte, NC, and ended in St. Paul, MN.

Singing "Kyrie Eleison," Clay entered the arenas from a different point nightly. During the first concert in Charlotte, the audience could hear him; but only the backup singers were visible onstage. When fans finally spotted Clay singing and making his way to the stage, they cheered madly, reaching out to touch him as he walked by. "Rock Star Clay" had arrived!

After the first concert, the "surprise" entrance was expected with Clay and Kelly alternating as the show's opening act. However, with each venue, the exact entrance location was anyone's guess.

Making the media rounds, the co-headliners shared a bus, as well as backup band and singers. After performing their separate sets, the duo closed each concert with Journey's "Open Arms."

In addition to the popular opening and closing songs, Clay performed tracks from his Measure of a Man CD, an acoustic medley, "Without You" duet with Quiana Parler, and "When Doves Cry."

Clickable by Amazing_CA

Independent Tour Set List (Charlotte)

Kyrie Eleison
Perfect Day
I Will Carry You
All About Love
No More Sad Song
I Survived You (Atlanta, but not Charlotte)
When You Say You Love Me
Without You (duet w/Quiana Parler)
Run to Me
Measure of a Man
Fields of Gold
Carolina on My Mind
When I Need You
When Doves Cry
The Way
Open Arms (duet w/Kelly Clarkson)

For more information, see Independent Tour at the Clay Aiken Kids site.

Atlanta IT: Kyrie entrance and final bow.
(Clickable photos by Sally, 2/25/04)

Thank you for sharing your top 10 selections in "The Very Best of Clay Aiken" sidebar poll and/or in a blog comment.

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Clay Aiken Leaves RCA Label

ALL SMILES -- The Clay Nation is celebrating their singer's departure from RCA. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photo by PermaSwooned.

Fans Celebrate News

Clay Aiken Leaves RCA Behind

Clay Aiken fans have known for months that something was up as they detected the gradual disappearance of their singer's presence on the RCA website. Friday in an exclusive release to People Magazine, Clay officially confirmed a parting of the ways with his record label.

Clay Aiken is setting the record straight: the former American Idol has parted ways with RCA Records, Aiken's rep has confirmed exclusively to PEOPLE.

"We were unable to come to terms in a recent contract negotiation, and decided that it was best to move on," the rep, Cindi Berger, said Friday.

Upon the official announcement, Internet fan celebrations commenced immediately with the virtual uncorking of spirits; parades of favorite photos, memorable performances, montages; and elated expressions via posts and emoticons.

Saturday a similar story with a four-picture slide show appeared on the Access Hollywood site.

RCA Makes Critical Missteps

Most fans feel RCA has not supported Clay's recording career in several critical career steps from the lack of promotion and weak follow-up single selections to radio play that has been practically nil.

Despite the lack of backing, the man has sold almost six million albums -- three mainstream CD's debuting in Billboard's Top 5, plus a hugely successful Christmas CD and EP.

The follow-up to the double platinum Measure of a Man was A Thousand Different Ways, a beautifully sung collection of covers when "new" is what counts in today's music scene. Despite that strike, the CD went gold and is beloved by many.

Clay's third album, On My Way Here, contains an extraordinary variety of original songs with outstanding arrangements and exquisite interpretations. However, with very little follow-up promotion, the CD only sold 159,000 units in the US.

Clay has an incredible voice and is blessed with a quick wit and comedic timing, making him a masterful entertainer in live performances and on the Broadway stage. With a mic in his hand and new backing, the world should be able to experience the talent the Clay Nation has enjoyed for the past six years.

Clay with Michael Bubel prior to his AI2 run.

Expanded Stage for Charities

Since the summer of 2003 when Clay, a special education graduate, and Diane Bubel, mother of a son with autism, co-founded The Bubel/Aiken Foundation to promote inclusion for all children, the singer has used his celebrity to advance philanthropic causes around the globe.

In addition to his projects with TBAF, Clay was appointed a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2004 with an emphasis on children and education.

His charitable endeavors are outlined in an article by Dr. Karen Steinberg --
Celebrity Educational Activism: Spotlight on Clay Aiken -- posted at EDUPINION Thursday.

Many celebrities, however, include education in their philanthropic activism. A relatively recent newcomer to this arena is former American Idol singer Clay Aiken, who has been unusually active in furthering educational missions.

As he explains on his website, "My music career has allowed me to do the same thing I was doing before -- work with kids. It has just given me a bigger stage, so I can enact change on a grander scale."

Through the generosity and activism of celebrities like Clay Aiken, important aspects of and initiatives in education can progress.

The complete article is well worth the read.

Bloggers Applaud Announcement

The ConCLAYve is one of countless blogs weighing in on RCA's loss of Clay Aiken with the current Come Sail Away entry:

The best voices will not be silenced. His voice soars in a recording studio, a television studio, on the concert stage, on a Broadway stage and on the world stage.

Below is a partial listing of other bloggers writing on the topic. Watch the Carolina sidebar for more.

Marhaven Musings: Clay Aiken: Free at Last
Clay Aiken News Network: A Toast to Clay Aiken
The Life and Times of a Clay Aiken Fan: Clay Aiken Leaves RCA
There Was a Man: Free Bird
Hosaa's Blog: Art and Artists
gerra730: Clay Aiken Free From RCA
Chexxxys Pearls: Clay Aiken Says Adios
Clay Aiken News: Clay Aiken Leaves RCA
Shyeyewitness and Friends: Clay Aiken Leaves His Record Label
Truth Rules: Clay Aiken: Rembering Fantasy
All That Is Clay Aiken: Clay Aiken Leaves RCA
Clay Aiken Ruminations: Has RCA Dropped Clay Aiken?

Clay sings 'Fantasy' during AI3 telecast.

In 2004, Clay returned to the American Idol stage to sing lead on Earth, Wind, and Fire's "Fantasy" with the four finalists as backup.

As most videos go, this one from YouTube definitely shows its age. Undeterred, the last verse is resounding throughout Clay Cyberspace this weekend:
As you glide in your stride
With the wind as you fly away
Give a smile from your lips and say
Are you free yes I'm free
And I'm on my way!

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Looking forward to the next chapter! Have a great weekend, Clay Nation!


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Late Leap into 21st Century

Everyhing I Don't Need (Clay Aiken) montage by Gerwhisp

Adventures, Missteps Abound

A Late Leap into 21st Century

After diving into the Twitter social networking medium last weekend, I took another leap into the 21st century Tuesday with the installation of DIRECTV's seemingly limitless channels and my first ever DVR receiver.

Admittedly late to the party and college degree aside, I have discovered there is a learning curve for both. My fledgling missteps even have a theme song: Clay Aiken's "Everything I Don't Need." Featured in Gerwhisp's montage above, the EIDN video includes the singer's Sessions performance and can also be viewed on YouTube.

Since there's no right or wrong way to Twitter, I'm pretty safe there. However, every now and then I try to send a message and notice the board is way smarter than I. Has anyone else hit ENTER a second time only to read "What are doing? Tweet already sent!" or "Recipient not following you." Oops!!!

Scroll to the previous entry, "Twitter Mania Takes Over My Life," for a host of helpful links about twittering.

Somewhat appeasing is the knowledge that I'm not alone. This is a PM from another new "twitterer" I met on a Clay Aiken message board:

Just need to update you on my mental state. I have been too busy to concentrate for long -- that's my excuse! -- so yesterday I decided to give up for now. But THEN this morning in the Toronto Star, a columnist wrote about her learning agony on Twitter.

She told step by step how to "Tweet," so I tried again. Now I know how to post, but I never know where it's going to show up. Its hilarious; all of a sudden I find a post of mine where I didn't know anything existed.

I commented in the Star column and explained that because of her I'm trying again, but am doubtful. She replied, "If I can Tweet, anyone can Tweet!" Even thought I am having a mental and emotional meltdown, I'm having fun. Thanks for getting me started on my downfall. Just as I figured out Facebook ... now this. Oy!

So we're all in this together, LOL! If you get a chance, send @maddie99 a tweet. Also, here is the link for the columnist who convinced my friend to try again. Read Twitpics, retworts, hash tags and twicks by Antonia Zerbisias. You can also tweet @AntoniaZ at Twitter, or visit her at the Star.

I am following lots of interesting people on Twitter, none more helpful than a representative from my new TV supplier. Ten minutes after I tweeted that I was having a time figuring out what was playing on all the new channels at my disposal, @DIRECTV posted this Tweet:

@CarolinaClay we have an online guide at directv.com/guide. If you are registered, you can also set DVR recordings at home from this guide.

That's what I call service!

Now, my friend Sally, who ever so slightly twisted my arm to upgrade to the trial movie channels-DVR package, literally programs her daily recording schedule while exercising on the treadmill.

I'm definitely not that adept. This morning, sitting on a sofa, I double-booked and overlapped movies while missing a live report about President Obama's visit with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I knew MSNBC's @David Shuster would replay major segments on MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and he did.

Meanwhile, I am streaming "Everything I Don't Need," my new theme song, as well as the title track and "Ashes" from Clay Aiken's On My Way Here CD, at his MySpace. The sound is fantastic, so give these songs a whirl.

No doubt many more 21st century-related adventures await me. A day early, but have a wonderful weekend, all!


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Click to stream CLAY AIKEN's MYSPACE

Monday, February 16, 2009

Twitter Mania Following Me!

Stuart Goldenberg (New York Times)

Tips from First Three Days

Twitter Mania Takes Over My Life

Three days ago I was successfully juggling a crazy mix of music lessons, two weekly blogs, and passable housecleaning results while staying in tune with the latest news about Clay Aiken, politics, Carolina basketball, and global happenings.

Then my friend Sally casually introduced me to Twitter, the very interesting, very addictive messaging utility for staying connected in real-time; and the kilter of my life has been off balance ever since.

On days I teach at home as the final student departs, I rush back to the den where my laptop is chirping away. TWEET!!!

Talking on the phone with my computer-less friend, I was asked about my new "bird." Try explaining Twitter to someone who is not on the Internet. Another asked me about the submarine sounds coming over the phone. TWEET!!!

I even hear "tweets" in my sleep and catch myself trying to bring up TweetDeck. TWEET!!!

I'm sure experienced "twitterers" know what I'm talking about. It's the newbies like me I'm addressing. In fact, perhaps some of the pro's on this online community can add to this piece.

The local newspaper, discontinued long ago, has lost its last vistage of hope to ever darken my doorstep again despite a two-year campaign of special offers. I am perfectly content with Twitter, cable TV, and a host of online sites.

That's really a shame since I got my start writing for a local daily at age 16. Sunday I sent my former editor an invitation to join us at Twitter. LOL, we'll see.

Logo by Visha Gaikar

A Twitterer's Initial Tweets

Since joining Twitter, I have enjoyed chatting and exchanging links with people around the globe. Cable news anchors are communicating with audience members via Twitter, and I think that's pretty neat. Sunday I followed the give and take of Davids Shuster and Gregory with their audiences.

There's quite an active Clay Aiken fan group on board, posting links to the singer's music, concert performances, and video montages. A fan from the beginning, I'm not about to pass up those links, LOL!

In the short weekend we have been on Twitter, my friend and I have located several sites that include helpful hints for others just coming aboard. Be prepared for everything else to go to pot. Sunday afternoon I even forgot a flute choir rehearsal that I had promised the director, my sister, I would attend.

Twitter Love by Collective Thoughts

If you're still game, here are some informative, helpful links:

Twitter? It's What You Make It" by David Pogue of the New York Times. Great read!

Twitter, in other words, is precisely what you want it to be. It can be a business tool, a teenage time-killer, a research assistant, a news source — whatever. There are no rules, or at least none that apply equally well to everyone.

USE IT HOWEVER YOU LIKE: I’ve finally harnessed Twitter’s power for my own nefarious ends. I pass on jokes. I share little thoughts that don’t merit a full blog or article post. I follow links and track buddies. I un-follow people who are boring or post 50 times a day.

And I query the multitudes. Last week, I was writing a script for a TV segment, and needed a great example of “an arty movie that a teenage baby sitter wouldn’t be caught dead watching.” My followers instantly shot back a huge assortment of hilarious responses.

Other people plug their blogs, or commiserate, or break news; the first report of the plane in the Hudson came from a Twitterer. It’s all good

How to Become a Twitterer

To get started, open a free Twitter account. Click on "join the conversation." Select a username and password, enter your e-mail address, enter the codes on the screen, and click "I accept."

A great start-up walk-through is outlined here:
Getting Started with Twitter by Kirsti Scott.

Twitter is a site where you can create a microblog, which isn’t a teeny, tiny blog, but a blog consisting of teeny tiny posts. Each post or “tweet” can be no more than 140 characters. Each of these tweets answers a simple question: “What are you doing?”

Your answers can be about your personal life, your work life, an interesting article you just read online, a funny video, a shout out to a friend, or anything you’d like. It really couldn’t be easier.

After setting up a free account, members are encouraged to post frequent updates about what they are doing, seeing and feeling. The messages, known as "tweets," are limited to 140 characters (YIKES!!!) and can be sent from a computer or a mobile phone.

Although the updates are available for anyone to see, Twitter users usually set up their accounts to monitor the tweets of people they know or admire. These "followers" are automatically fed tweets from the people they are shadowing.

Another excellent "how to" guide was posted by C.G. Lynch earlier this month
here. Covered are the sign-up routine, who to "follow," what you can gain and share with Twitter, etc.

Twitter Network by Nathan

Go Viral with Twitter

Check out 25 Tips for Going Viral on Twitter by Rodney Rumford, whom I now "follow."

One of the great benefits of Twitter is that it allows for content to spread rapidly and virally across the network and allows for many people to easily discover and share your Tweets.

Who Tweets? A Tweet Census from Digital Arts describes the community you are joining.

10 Twitter Tips for Bloggers by Andrew Stark. Great ideas for non-bloggers, too!

Some nitty-gritty tools include:

TweetDeck. Download this immediately after signing up. The deck splits the main Twitter feed into manageable columns.

Real-time Twitter Search -- Just what it says.

Twellow -- Great place to find others who share your interests.

How to Re-Tweet -- Scroll down for several other helpful newbie links.

Who Should I Follow? -- Analyzes your choices and recommend others you might be interested in.

Twitpic -- Allows one to upload/share photos and videos.

Be a DJ with Blip -- Broadcast your favorite music clips with Blip.

Tweet Smarter -- Tweet with easy icons, add a retweet link to any tweet!

Twitscoop -- See what's buzzing right now!

Twitter Tips -- A practical guide to getting started on Twitter.

Mr. Tweet -- Discover and get discovered by relevant people. Make him your personal networking assistant.

Tweet Grid: Amazing Race -- Fans of AR -- and other shows -- can watch and chat in real time. Locate others via the SEARCH mechanisms.

Tweet Tees -- "Eat. Sleep. Tweet." broadcasts your Tweeter addiction on these custom tee shirts and hooded sweatshirts.

Every time I start winding down this blog I find something new. Here are a couple more quick tips:

Hashtags: Be sure you use hashtags -- keywords preceded by the hash sign, "#". Over the past few months, hashtags have become a great way for other users to find content quickly. Example: #Carolina

Clickable Screen Names: Put the @ sign before a user's SN to create a link. Example: @MissSallysPC

As David Pogue wrote in the above NYTimes article, Twitter is "powerful, useful, addictive and fascinating" but it is OK to close the site. Sometimes you just have to.

A special arrangement for my string students and planning the next day's music lessons await my attention. However, see you on Twitter ... SOON!


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Aiken-Kimmel a 2/14 Tradition

VALENTINE GREETING -- Cindilu2 designed this elegant card for Clay Aiken's traditional Valentine appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The songs from Clay's CD, "A Thousand Different Ways," are the quintessential musical match for St. Valentine's Day.

St. Valentine's Fan Favorite

Aiken-Kimmel in Classic Rewind

February 14 traditions centuries old continue throughout the world this weekend, but none closer to the hearts of Clay Aiken fans than the Valentine Nights the singer appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Live Show.

In the host's words, "Valentine's Day is Clay Aiken Day." Clay and Jimmy celebrated Valentine's 2005 together, and the CA fandom literally took charge of the stage decor, sending flowers, stuffed animals, balloons in the shape of hearts, and enough pizza for the crew and half the audience.

At the heart of the "Climmel" happenings is a special friendship, complimented by a unique chemistry that has developed through the years. Last Valentine's Day, Clay was perfoming on Broadway in Spamalot; and, with Singerman on vacation, a 2009 event isn't looking very promising.

The Aiken-Kimmel reunion on Feb. 14, 2007, however, was a classic and worthy of a rewind, which will have to fill the Valentine vacuum of 2009. Grab your popcorn; it's almost time for Clay's introduction ...

In addition to being a multi-platinum recording artist, the author of a New York Times bestseller, and tireless UNICEF ambassador, our first guest has been my Valentine for two out of the last three years running. Please welcome Clay Aiken!

Clay Arrives Bearing Gifts

As in past appearances, pandemonium greeted Clay as he entered bearing gifts -- a giant heart of red balloons, the Clay face shirt for his host, and special "Aiken 4 Kimmel" M&Ms. Jimmy immediately whipped off his jacket and put on his new shirt.

The two friends chatted about Clay's break, his upcoming UNICEF trip, his "enthusiastic" fans" ("Do you realize you command a larger army than Fidel Castro?"), some recent dental work ("I heard that you got a visit from the tooth fairy yesterday and had some work done on your teeth"), and what not.

Jimmy's hint that Clay had promised to compose a special Valentine's Day song was met with comical and toally convincing bafflement. As a pianist quietly started playing an intro offstage, Clay relented, "Well, I can make one up."

Valentine Song Lyrics

Mischievously eying the bowl of candy beside him, Clay began picking up pastel-colored hearts, improvising a song with the Valentines and tossing them over his shoulder after their usefulness. Miraculously, a microphone appeared; and the improvisational flavor of the song and skit progressed:
Love me ... true love,
Fax me ... got love,
You're so sweet ... yours forever,
You're so sweet ...

(speaking) I've got Stage 2 diabetes; that's not going to work!
(singing again) Angel ... dear one. (chuckles)
You're a tiger ... you're mine, Jimmy!!!

Back on the message boards came reports that, during commercial breaks, Clay picked up the bowl of candy and passed out sweets to audience members. Definitly a Valentine's Night to remember ... again and again!

Yollie950 has incorporated these events into her new montage: Valentine's Day with Aiken & Bacon.

Valentine's Day with Aiken & Bacon - Montage by Yollie950

Love Song Weekend

What better time to vote for Clay and his music on the
Love Songs site than Valentine's Weekend!

Scroll down to
Favorite Song Not on the Radio and vote for "Where I Draw the Line." The On My Way Here track is currently No. 1 by the slimmest of margins.

Clickable graphic by Sally

Also, check Clay's circle for Current Favorite Artist. Right now he is #2 behind a whole bunch of singers grouped as "Other."

Bookmark this site, and cast daily votes for the romantic vocals of Clay Aiken!

VALENTINE REWIND: Featured in this collection of graphics are the designs and photos of four visual artists, including ABeautifulMind, 1 and 3; Amazing_CA, photos by Scrpkym, 2, and KarenEh, 5; and MNmeesh, 4.

Vintage Cards Make Unique Valentines

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, but written Valentine's didn't appear until after 1400. The oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum.

The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards in the U.S. were created by Esther A. Howland in the 1840s. Known as the Mother of the Valentine, Howland made elaborate creations with lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures known as "scrap."

During the Golden Age of postcards (1907-1915), some of the world's most beautiful Valentine's Day postcards were created. You can see in these vintage Valentine's Day postcards the influence of Victorian design and sentiments, which have stood the test of time.

Many antique Valentine's Day cards feature travel as a theme, but flowers, hearts, and cupids are also plentiful. For an interesting step back in time, see Vintage Valentine Cards. Below are the clickable examples.

Have a very special Valentine's Weekend, Clay Nation!


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Click to stream CLAY AIKEN's MYSPACE

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clay Aiken Lends Heels a Boost

CAROLINA BLUE - The Clay Aiken graphic with Carolina blue frame is the perfect lead-in for this week's Tobacco Road basketball rivalry between UNC and Duke. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photos by Katy4Clay.

UPDATE: Carolina, 101; Duke, 87!!!

Tobacco Road Rivalry Week

Clay + Carolina in Battle of Blues

Since July 2005, I have penned more than 300 blogs about the passions in my life -- family, good friends, music, writing, Carolina basketball, and a very special singer from my home state, Clay Aiken.

I come by most of these penchants naturally. Family and good friends go without saying. With all the musicians in our clan, some of whom have been introduced in this journal (Mama Mac, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Lill, Mr. Caro, my sister and BIL, our daughter, and grandson Kai), music is probably a notation in our DNA.

I have taught band and orchestra, as well as private lessons, in three states and have played oboe in symphonies/ensembles along the way. Mr. Caro and I met while performing in the Florence, SC, Orchestra.

I am not sure how writing became such an important part of me; but as the newspaper editor of then North Carolina's largest high school and a columnist/reporter for the Wilmington Star-News, I entered college planning to major in journalism. Though I later switched to music education, I have written for newspapers in NC, Texas, and Tennessee.

March Madness an Annual Event

From several blog entries, readers know the craze consuming me this time every year is Carolina basketball. As far back as I can remember, I have cheered for the Tar Heels. My father and I listened to games on the radio before we owned a television set. The famous Michael Jordan and I even share the same hometown.

When the 1959 Heels topped Kansas in triple overtime for the NCAA national championship, I retreated to my bedroom and prayed on the Bible before each new bonus period. It worked (LOL!); and to this day when Carolina needs a little extra help, my fellow Tar Heel friend Terri asks if I have the Bible handy. Traditionally, she dons her special Tar Heel sweatshirt for Carolina games.

Texas Alma Mater Wins NCAA

I married a Texan, and we were fortunate enough to attend Texas Western College, now the University of Texas-El Paso, the year the unranked round ball team came out of nowhere to meet and beat Adolph Rupp's #1 Kentucky Wildcats for the NCCA Men's Basketball title.

For the final game in a University of Maryland arena, filled with unwelcoming fans waving Confederate flags, Coach Don Haskins started five African-American players, a first for a Division 1 school from the South, breaking an unspoken barrier and forever changing the complexion of sports in America.

'Glory Road' clickables: TWC team rallies; Haskins meets Rupp

The story of Texas Western's momentous championship season is depicted in the 2006 movie Glory Road, in which Josh Graves and Jon Voight portray Haskins and Rupp, respectively. One of the winningest coaches in NCAA history and a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame, Haskins retired in 1999 and passed away last September.

In 2007, the entire 1966 championship squad was awarded the Naismith honor. Glory Road was shown on TNT last weekend; and despite the fact that I own the movie, I was glued to my TV the entire time.

Tobacco Road Rivalry Tops Headlines

For basketball enthusiasts in this neck of the woods, the hottest event this week is Wednesday's Tobacco Road rivalry between the Heels and their neighbors eight miles down the road, the Duke Blue Devils. Sporting identical league records, the teams are tied for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 7-2. Their overall records are almost identical with the Tar Heels at 21-2 and Duke, 21-3.

In order to snag a ticket to the intense rivalry, hundreds of students annually establish a tent city known as Krzyzewskiville weeks before The Battle of the Blues in Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Rules for K-Ville actually appear in Duke's student handbook.

Each tent in K-Ville must contain at least six people from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. One member of the group has to be in the tent at all times, and everyone must be present for the last 48 hours before the game. When temperatures dip below 20 degrees, students get a bye on sleeping in the tents. Some nights the Duke coach, for whom the village is named, sends pizzas down to the students; and he usually addresses them before the Carolina game.

Carolina holds a 125-96 advantage in the competition that has been an annual event since 1920, but Duke has won 16 of the last 20 games. Both teams are among the sport’s most accomplished. Duke has won three NCAA titles and been in 12 Final Fours. North Carolina has won three national championships and appeared in 15 Final Fours.

The fierce battles along Tobacco Road frequently split families down the middle, and "house divided" mats, license plates, and flags are not unusual sights.

House Divided mats for UNC-NC State, UNC-Duke families

My brother Chuck, a N.C. State graduate, and his sister, the lifelong Heels fan, reside four hours apart; so our round ball contentions transpire via friendly email digs and long-distance phone conversations. After Carolina bested his team last month, a week went by before he spoke to me.

Although there will be many divided loyalties across the state when the Tar Heels meet the Blue Devils Wednesday night, my brother and I will be cheering for the team in light blue. Ditto when Duke comes to Carolina for the season finale on March 8.

However, on Feb. 18, date of the Wolfpack-Tar Heel rematch at Chapel Hill, we will once again be a family divided.

Throughout his stint as Sir Robin on "Spamalot," Clay often wore UNC sweatshirts and hoodies on important game nights. The show is over, so I selected some memorable Carolina blue stage door graphics for Wednesday's very important rivalry.

Hopefully, all this gives the Tar Heels an edge. Win or lose, Carolina-Duke games are always exciting, close contests. Go, Heels!!!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured in this clickable Tar Heel interlude are stage door graphics by Amazing_CA, 1, 2, and 4 with photos by Scrpkym, 1; butterflyshine, 2; and dancerdad, 4; collage by Fountaindawg, 3; and graphic by Artz11, photo by ClayChristina, 5.

Unique Voice Reels in Fans

What more can I say about my enthusiasm for Clay Aiken, one of our state's greatest gifts to the planet? I fell for Clay's unique voice the first night I heard him sing on American Idol six years ago.

As the weeks progressed and we learned more about him, I was there for his charitable heart, intelligence, dedication, and sense of humor, too. Like so many, I came for the voice and stayed for the man.

It's in Everyone of Us - Montage by Emerson032

Fans from all corners of the globe are drawn to this special man who uses his celebrity to make a positive difference in the world. By his actions, he inspires fans and supporters to do the same.

Clay's agenda to make a difference through The Bubel/Aiken Foundation and as a UNICEF ambassador are portrayed in Emerson032's montage in which Clay sings It's in Everyone of Us. View the montage above or at YouTube.

The multi-platinum artist has proved he is the consummate entertainer, displaying incomparable vocals and stellar communication skills in subsequent tour and media appearances. Hopefully, he is enjoying communicating with his son Parker during this down time.

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation ... and Go, Tar Heels!!!


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Friday, February 06, 2009

Clay Aiken on High Energy!

Spirit Unobtrusive -- Montage by Aspiegirl

Aspiegirl's Latest Montage

Video Features Non-Stop Clay

Wow! Aspiegirl is back with a brand new Clay Aiken montage that is a rush of energy from start to finish. Hold onto your hat, Clay Nation, and enjoy the ride this talented fan provides with "Spirit Unobtrusive."

According to Aspiegirl, approximately half the montage utilizes a backwards gear; so after the first viewing, rewind and see how many flips you can spot in the video clips, photos, and graphics. If you'd like, list your finds in a comment, and we will keep a running tally.

Some hints from Aspie include:

I used a lot of clips running backwards. Many are from Tyra Banks Show, Good Morning America, A Thousand Different Ways, and in Insider photo shoot.

That's not counting reversed pictures. Some are buried in other clips, which means they are in layers. Also, some are dropped into other clips.

LOL, I'm lost already!

Contributing visual artists for the montage include Sally, Moaf99, Gerwhisp, Topaz, Kcudawg, Mustbeeme, Dancermom2, Spotlightlover, and SecretlyLovesClay.

You can view Spirit Unobtrusive here and at YouTube, as well as download the 85-meg montage with this Sendspace file.

Thank you, Aspiegirl, for an incredible ride!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured are graphics by Amazing_CA, two from the recent Golfing for Inclusion fundraiser of TBAF and one that appears in the Aspiegirl's montage. Katy4Clay took the photos in the GFI graphics.

Never a Dull Moment

My Friday afternoon music lessons at Wesleyan Christian Academy are never dull. Following a 1:30 makeup piano lesson, I knew I had a 20-minute break before my scheduled first lesson. Normally very prompt, the student is usually warming up when I arrive.

At five minutes past her lesson time, I dialed her father's cell phone. "We're still in Mexico," he told the surprised teacher. Hopefully, the piano books made the trip and my student is giving lots of "recitals" at her uncle's home.

Many have asked about my "swinging new sax student" introduced in the Feb. 1 blog entry. I sent him a link, and he read the blurb via his BlackBerry.

The poster child of adult students, Mr. Sax travels during the week and takes his instrument to practice in his motel room at night. He has noticed that management doesn't seem to be assigning guests in the adjacent rooms.

After almost a month of home practice in a townhouse that he and his wife are remodeling, my student decided to mention his saxophone lessons to his neighbor.

"Oh, so that's what that is!" his neighbor laughed. "I thought y'all were really getting with it on the renovations."

Despite the laughs, Mr. Sax is progressing very well. We just may have to provide some clack. *g*

Early Valentine Greetings!

Thnx to this graphic by Ashes, grandson Kai stopped by with some candy hearts to wish everyone an early Happy Valentine's Day!

Have an awesome weekend, Clay Nation!


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Click to stream CLAY AIKEN's MYSPACE