Monday, March 30, 2009

Aiken Fans Enjoy Clackapalooza

RED CARPET -- Clay Aiken meets the press prior to the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City Saturday. Graphic by Amazing_CA.

Cantata, Dead Battery Don't Mix

Clay Presents Tyra Media Award

As I prepared for a church gig Sunday, I thought the run in my black hose was bad; but that was before I tried starting my car at 7:20 a.m.

When the electronic door lock didn't work, even I knew something was amiss and immediately dropped my gig bag to the ground to see if the car would start. Not a chance!

Calmly, I called my brother-in-law, the conductor, to get phone numbers of nearby musicians. Of all days, I had left the orchestra roster in my house. Fortunately, Anna, the other oboist, was able to swing by and provide a ride to and from our two performances.

Upon returning home from a morning of glorious music ("Wayfarin' Stranger," a Lenten cantata), I faced the reality of a "sick car" and called AAA, the company that replaced my battery on Nov. 14. The prognosis was that the battery is "severely discharged" and needed to be charged from 3-9 hours.

My choices were to drive around town letting the battery charge itself or head to one of two local AAA centers for expert stimulus. Tar Heel blue basketball fan that I am, I elected to leave the car running for two hours.

Carolina Basketball Rules

I wouldn't have missed cheering Carolina to its South Regional win for anything. During halftime of the first game, I turned the car off. Curious by nature, I immediately restarted it twice -- so I was hopeful.

According to AAA's print-out, a severely discharged batter can be caused by (a) extended storage [nope]; (b) lights left on [nope]; or (c) electrical problems. Monday morning I drove the car to my own auto repairman for a check-up.

Sure enough, there were no hidden lights left on, and the electrical system is on target. The battery, however, is weakened. Chris, who owns Automotive Connection, put my battery through the works. Even though the voltage dropped within seconds, he recommended I see what happens during the next two weeks.

So I'm the one driving around with fingers crossed. If the Sunday morning routine comes calling again, hopefully AAA will make good on the three-year warranty, which supposedly doesn't cover a "severely discharged" battery.

Double talk ... another of life's lessons? Whatever, so far, so good!

Clay's Introduction of Tyra Banks at GLAAD Media Awards

Clay Helps GLAAD Honor Friend

Meanwhile, between my rehearsal-performance schedule, March Madness, and the declining battery ordeal, I missed the red carpet, the main event, and all the immediate clack returns from Saturday's 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York -- a real "clackapalooza" weekend!

Here are the opening graphs of the press release:

New York, Sunday, March 29, 2008 - Vanessa Williams, Stockard Channing, Cherry Jones, T.R. Knight, Keith Olbermann, Judith Light, Clay Aiken and S. Epatha Merkerson were among the celebrities who joined the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) as it honored Tyra Banks, Suze Orman, Phil Donahue and the best in film, television and journalism last night at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.

At the ceremony, singer Clay Aiken presented the Excellence in Media Award to Tyra Banks, who has shown a strong commitment to educating the public about the lives of gay and transgender people on her talk show, The Tyra Banks Show, and on her reality series, America's Next Top Model. The Excellence in Media Award is presented to individuals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community in the media.

Friends kept me posted; and my email box is filled with photos, YouTube links, even a transcript of Clay's speech, some of which are shared below.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured in this clickable collection are images from Clay's appearance at the GLAAD Media Awards event. Represented are graphics by Fountaindawg, 1, and Amazing_CA, 5, and photos by bigappleforclay, 2, 3, and 4.

Many thnx to GoodBabyBrush, who transcribed Clay's speech, one he wrote himself. The excellent YouTube video above includes Clay's introduction, as well as Tyra's acceptance. You can download the video with this Sendspace file.

This is the transcription of Clay's portion:

Very few women in media ever reach the level of single-name recognition: Madonna, Celine, Dolly, Cher -- all also gay icons. Tonight we honor with the Excellence in Media Award a woman who fits into both categories, Tyra. [inaudible] breaking down barriers from the very start of her career.

She made history on the covers of some of the fashion industry's most influential magazines. Who among us didn't want to be with her or ... be her (laughter) when she graced the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue as the very first African American in that position.

Her model portfolio has been surpassed only by her extensive multi-media portfolio. Her transition from runway and print to broadcast brought some of America's favorite guilty pleasures in the form of America's Next Top Model -- which has a very good episode next week [points at self] (laughter).

It's a show that she both created and executive produces, and she uses it as a platform, not only to help young women achieve their dreams, but also to reinforce the value and importance of hard work and determination in achieving success all the while celebrating outer and inner beauty.

That show is nominated tonight in the category for outstanding reality programing in large part due to Tyra’s refusal to shy away from including diverse models and judges in its cast. Her emmy award wining talk show The Tyra Banks Show has expanded her opportunity to speak to a large an influential audience about self-image and self-worth and countless other causes important to society.

This year that talk show has won 3 out of 5 nominations for outstanding talk show this year bringing the total nominations to 7 in the just 3 years. Nobody would expect less from someone who has been a trailblazer from the start: model, tv host, creator, executive producer. She's one of the hardest working people in the entertainment industry and (something) recognized for it.

She was honored by the Hollywood Rreporter as one of the 100 most powerful women in entertainment. Entertainment Weekly called her one of their 25 Smartest in Television and Glamour magazine named her one 2008's Women of the Year alongside Hillary Clinton. And tonight the GLAAD Excellence in Media Award.

This award is given each year to a media professional who increases visibility and understanding of the LGBT community, folks like Glenn Close, Billy Crystal, Diane Sawyer and Phil Donahue. Knowing Tyra, I know that she probably doesn’t think she deserves a recognition like this. Her American’s Next Top Model showcases people like Miss Jay, Jay Manuel, Isis King -- or that guy on next week's show.

Yes, her talk show gives air time to some of the issues that our community cares about most, like marriage equality, gay and lesbian people of faith, and transgender people, but Tyra doesn’t necessarily do these things just to make a statement. She doesn’t just address these issue for the impact. She includes, embraces and celebrates because that’s just how she is. Cause she knows it’s right. She doesn’t marginalize, she normalizes.

She never sensationalizes or exploits, she just cherishes the value of every human being. Because the only thing bigger than her influence is her heart. Her deep respect for the value of all people has led her to make it part her mission to educate the mainstream public about the lives of gay and transgender people, reaching millions of young people nationwide with her message of inclusion and acceptance.

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


P.S. Celebrating Tuesday's drop of The Very Best of Clay Aiken CD are clickables of graphics by fivegoldens and cindilu2. Check for the CD online and in local establishments.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Aiken's Pipes, Wit Tops with Fans

Clay Aiken graphic designed by Amazing_CA.

2009 Calendar Updates

Virtual Tour Recalls 'Clayisms'

The incredible pipes of Clay Aiken are reason enough for fans to long for a new tour, but almost as popular as the golden voice are the singer's quick wit and sense of humor that permeate onstage banter between songs.

Featured in this virtual tour stop are memorable "Clayisms" that can be traced back to concerts and television appearances of the past six years. No doubt, some longtime CA fans can describe the precise setting of each quote. Favorites shared in reader comments will be added to the blog.

Before the banter train leaves the station, however, here is an overview of upcoming appearances by Clay in the near future.


March 28: GLAAD 20th Annual Media Awards -- Clay will present a media award to good friend Tyra Banks. (Marriott Marquis, NYC)

March 28: Paula's Party -
House of Blues rerun, 7 p.m. (FOOD)

Clay Aiken, Dionne Warwick and Duff Goldman are guests as the host creates a blues-inspired menu that includes blue-corn-crusted bass, blue-velvet cake, and a blueberry crème brûlée tart.

March 31: The Very Best of Clay Aiken CD drops
For playlist, see 2/24 Carolina entry. CD available in stores on 3/31 and for pre-orders at several online sites.

March 31: Scrubs rerun - My Life in Four Cameras (COMEDY)
Act II unfolds as J.D.'s sitcom fantasy, filmed in front of a studio audience and triggered by his tending to a TV writer. Clay Aiken guest stars as a hapless cafeteria worker, who sings “Isn't She Lovely?”

April 8: Clay appears on America's Next Top Model (CW)
"Clay Aiken, a close friend of mine, is a guest judge and will pose as a designer in this episode." -- Tyra Banks

May 14: Clay will make a cameo appearance on the final episode of 30 Rock. (NBC)
Clay is known for his quit wit and comedic timing. He just finished his second stint on Broadway's Spamalot in January and fans are anxiously awaiting his return to the spotlight.

Singer Becomes Clack Gatherer

Famous among CA fans is the 2007 Soft Rock Hard Place Ft. Myers concert during which Clay turned the tables on videographer Scarlett, who was shooting from the front row. The above video tells the story and can be downloaded at Clack Unlimited.

Clay Aiken Takes His Own Clack

These Clayisms, which date back as far as 2003, appear in no particular order.

God forbid the clack skip around!

I'm never wrong, people.

Breathe for me, honey!

Talk amongst yourselves.

I know your words.

Perfection takes time, honey!

You need another fact checker!

All done, darlin'.

Happy to save you money on your prescriptions
(autographing "Clay = Female Viagra" poster)

They will be locked!

Lawd, Jesus!
(fanning himself)

Hey Ruben, I got panties!

What do you have in there -- Radio Shack?

Git 'er done!

The twisty tie confuses me every time!

He hit me with his cane!

Stick me on the roof or fold me up and throw me in the trunk.

I don't have an accent, do 'ah'?

She didn't have the balls to send me the letter!

I think I'm gonna take a cold shower at intermission. **Deafening cheers** Let me try again; I'm gonna read a book.

In my life, I've had heartache and pain
(pointing to Angela and Quiana).

Before the show is over they will have your email address, your phone number, your address; and the next thing you know, you will be driving them to Florida!

You can never get enough of Clay Aiken.

We're all family here, right?

I have my own Nation.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude features graphics by Amazing_CA, with photos by fivegoldens, 1; PermaSwooned, 2; and toni7babe, 3. Represented are the Soft Rock Hard Place and Jukebox Tours.

Montages Feature 'Clayisms'

More "Clayisms" are highlighted in three YouTube montages by Marie Drummond: Clay, Your Halo Is a Wee Bit Crooked; Clay Testosterone Contest; and Clay Embraces His Dorkiness.

It doesn't really matter to me how I make a difference; I just wanna make sure that I do.

I'm going through puberty now, and you can say you were here when it happened. Now I am a man!

Here's to not caring!

Savor the flavor.

My teeth are blindingly white.

I was the only one that looked like Jesus.
(reference to bearded appearance during UNICEF trip to Afghanistan)

Krispy Kremes, macaroni and cheese, and slooooooooow songs.

I love going up and singing on stage.

The fact that you are here will help when you get home.
(to the men in the audience)

Clay talking about how classy the orchestra is and how he's not. A fan shouts out, "You're hot though!"

I got beat up by a girl!

He really liked me for some reason..."
(RE the horse on Kimmel)

Lord help the sex symbol world if I'm one of them.

Did you get that on video?

You know, I think I'm a stronger person for realizing that you can't make everybody love you.

It takes a whole team of people working 24 hours around the clock to make me look like this.

I'm being trained to shake the bon-bon appropriately.

I'm fine and have taken steps to prevent any foot wandering in the future.

We sing lots of sloooooooooooooooooooowwww songs.

Clay Aiken bringing families together!

Sometimes things come out of my mouth that don't even go through my brain.

Success is measured by how happy you are, not how much money you have.

It's a little less sweet and a little more suspect!

It's important that I make a difference in some way. If it's by singing and touching someone that way, great. If it's being a teacher and helping some kid understand something, even better.

Use your voice.

I'm Clay Aiken!
(signing "thank you")

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Aiken Fans Serenade Singer

Measure of a Man montage by SueReu

Tour Replays Emotional MOAM

Fans Memorialize Wilkes-Barre

To longtime Clay Aiken fans, Wilkes-Barre is synonymous with special, spontaneous events that occurred during the memorable "Measure of a Man" acoustic medley of the March 7, 2004, Independent Tour Concert.

The Pennsylvania venue easily notched a replay in the Carolina blog's virtual tour of favorite performances. Clay later described the moment in his memoir, Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life:

I am still surprised when people in the crowd sing along. Once on the last tour as we were playing "Measure of a Man," I had to stop singing for a second to clear my throat. I went quiet, but the whole audience kept singing the words. I stopped and listened to them.

Then my eyes welled up. I was almost light-headed. I had to grab my backup singer's hand to steady myself because I thought, "There are fiftee thousand people in this room and they all know this song! They're all singing my song. Which means they listen to my song in their cars. I'm in their cars! I'm in their houses!"

It was one of those times when my life washed over me, when I felt the power of music.

SueReu's opening montage of the Wilkes-Barre IT concert recalls "Measure of a Man" and "Fields of Gold." The popular acoustic medley also included "Carolina On My Mind" and "When I Need You."

Clickable by Fountaindawg
from Clay Aiken Kids site

Clay was not the only one who expressed the emotion of the evening. These paragraphs are from a recap by an 18-year-old:

I dare say there wasn’t a single dry eye in the house. There was more power in that room than anything I’ve ever felt before.

To hear your fans in unison proclaiming their affection for you through the lyrics of your favorite track in conjunction with actual breakdown of your once bubbly stage self was by far and away the most incredible mixture of pride and joy that I have ever felt in my life. I was blessed to take part in it.

Readers present at the Pennsylvania concert are welcome to share recollections in remarks here.

MEASURE OF A MAN --Animated design by cindilu2

Clay Aiken Walks the Walk

"Measure of a Man," lead track of Clay's first mainstream album, has long been associated with the singer's charitable endeavors with UNICEF and The Bubel/Aiken Foundation. Mission of TBAF is the inclusion of all children with and without disabilities.

Since his 2004 appointment as a UNICEF ambassador, Clay has traveled to Indonesia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Uganda, Somalia, Kenya, and Mexico in support of educational and health programs for chidren. In addition, he has testified before a congressional sub-committee, served as national spokesperson for Trick or Treat for UNICEF, appeared on television and in telethons.

For a complete listing, check out charity work at the brand new Clay Aiken Kids site, which has just opened its "doors" in a new location. Also, bookmark Clay's page at UNICEF.

MOAM (UNICEF) montage by Gerwhisp

Another LTS passage by Clay provides the perfect introduction for Gerwhisp's "Measure of a Man" UNICEF montage, which can be viewed in the player above or at YouTube.

In my ideal world, no child would suffer.

I didn't get this singing voice to make myself famous and rich. I got it to become a better messenger.
Clay Aiken, Learing To Sing

Spring Equinox Spells Allergies

In parallel motion, the 7:44 a.m. Friday veranl equinox not only ushered in the first day of Spring but also my first onslaught of allergies in many moons.

Lots of liquids, lozengers, Vitamin C, a Vicks enhaler, and a box of tissues have accompanied me all weekend long. What started as a simple, scratchy throat gradually grew into a full-fledged attack. After years of weekly allergy shots, it has been ages since I encountered even a bad cold. [Knock on wood!]

With some unusual sound effects, I cheered for the Carolina Tar Heels -- and lots of other basketball teams -- anyway. Now on the third day, hopefully, order is just around the corner. But then so is Monday, LOL!

Have a great week, Clay Nation!


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aiken Nation Recalls Pala Concert

CALIFORNIA MEMORIES -- A highlight of the memorable 2007 CA 4-fer was Pala, featured concert on our current virtual tour. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photos by Invisible926.

Pala Popular with Aiken Fans

Flat Clay Headlines Virtual Tour

A Clay Aiken Virtual Tour would be incomplete without Flat Clay's appearance during the Pala Concert, part of the California 4-fer of the Soft Rock Hard Place Summer 2007 itinerary.

Inclusion of Pala's Flat Clay, a life-size cardboard version of the singer, was among the most popular suggestions for the Carolina journal's trip through memorable tour moments. During the past six years, Flat Clay has attended countless concerts, fan gatherings, and TV tapings.

Featured in the player below, the cardboard's cameo appearance at Pala during When I See You Smile is also posted at YouTube by Noritager.

The video begins with the closing scat singing of "I Want To Know What Love Is." At 3:50 during banter between songs, backup singer Angela Fisher directed Clay's attention to his cardboard counterpart overlooking the show from a hotel window.

As the history of the cardboard replica unraveled, the discussion included audience member-fan Artquest, who explained Flat Clay is always along for the ride. "We just fold him in half and hit the road."

Due to back problems, Artquest's husband had returned to their room during intermission. Clay & Co. proceeded to serenade Flat Clay, whose dance in the window promptly became a permanent fixture of CA fandom lore.

Clay & Co. sing to Flat Clay at Pala Concert

Clayverted Cellist 'Goes Greek'

Attending her second CA concert ever, Luvmysalsie reported a discussion she had with a cellist following the Palomar Starlight Theatre (Pala) performance:

You know that look Clay fans have after seeing him live -- bright eyed, animated, joy written all over our faces. That is the look the cellist had, plus she was talking a mile a minute, just like we fans do.

She said that Clay really has the "chops," meaning his voice is incredible; but what really makes him special is the magical interaction with the audience. He had us eating right out of his hand, and that is what makes him a great entertainer.

Anyone can sing, but not everyone can have that relationship with an audience. She said it felt great to hear the applause because most of the time, they don't even know if their audiences are awake. The orchestra really seemed to enjoy Clay, as they were laughing right along with all his jokes; and he was in rare form tonight.

I asked the cellist if she was a Clayvert? Of course, she didn't know what this meant. I explained to her after seeing Clay in person that most people fall in love with him.

She said, "Oh yes! I'm going to go out and buy his CD's and bring my children to his concerts." Her children had asked her to get Clay's autograph, but he was surrounded by people backstage and she couldn't get close enough.

According to my friend Sally, who attended the California weekend's third event at The Greek, the Pala cellist followed through. She purchased tickets and attended her first concert as a member of the Clay Nation!

The CA 4-fer Slide Show below includes a glimpse of the four California concerts: San Diego, Pala, Los Angeles, and Indio. At the site, you can opt for "original" or "gallery" views.

Photographers represented are Invisible926, Toni7babe, Lindylo, FiveGoldens, Riversend22, Mad4Clay, and SmartyPantsSuz.

New Fans Join Clay Nation

In recap after recap, fans reported "Clayversions" of nearby concert goers. Lovethatguy posted this report at Clayversity:

Gareem and I met two girls who had won tickets to the show from the local radio station -- one of those "we loved him on AI but had no idea what he has done since."

One of the girls noticed my Clayversity badge; so, of course, we launched into the whole explanation of our message board, the Internet, Clay Nation, etc. By the time we said goodbye, Gareem had her e-mail address, and they were very pumped. I am positive they had a great time.

A newbie couple sat next to us at Pala, too. They loved the concert! After hearing that Clay was playing at The Greek and Indio next, they said they were going to get tickets to those concerts also.

In her Pala recap, Saltwaterdog described "newbie" experiences of couples sitting near her and her husband.

One couple had seen an AI 2 show, but this was their first Clay Aiken concert. They were enjoying themselves from the beginning of the show; but when Clay spotted the Flat Clay cardboard cutout in an upper hotel window, they were hooked.

During WISYS, Clay sang to the image as if it were his true love. Quiana and Angela added similar theatrical gestures. At that point, the folks in front of us joined in the fun as if they were longtime Clay fans.

They laughed at Clay’s jokes and snuggled during the sweet songs. One of the men even kept a close eye out on Flat Clay all evening.

March Madness Invades Schedule

The NCAA Selection Committee forgot to check with me, and Carolina's 2:50 opener against Radford hits my Thursday teaching schedule head-on. DIRECTV to the rescue, as the game will be recorded while I teach four violinists, at least one of whom shares my enthusiasm for the Tar Heels.

We are preparing for a May 17 Spring Recital with a few twists. My piano and string students will perform at 2, and my sister's woodwind students at 3. In the interim, our strings and winds will present varied selections with harp accompaniment. For many, this will be the first time to be up close and personal with a harp; and they are very excited about that.

The two combined selections are definitely varied: "Ashokan Farewell" from the PBS Civil War special and "Star Wars" by John Williams. I didn't think any of my young charges would even remember the latter, but my seventh grade violist informed me we are "current," as a new triology of Star Wars films has recently been released.

Who knew? But Viola Man said, "We are good to go!"

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Have an awesome weekend, Clay Nation! Go, Tar Heels!


Thank you for putting the Carolina blog on your itinerary. Your visits
and comments are very much appreciated.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

A Little Bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day

ALL THINGS GREEN -- Clay Aiken graphic by Amazing_CA.

March Honors Irish Traditions

Everyone's a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day. This blog commemorates the week with "Spamalot" green, signature color of Sir Robin, Clay Aiken's recent role in the hit Broadway musical.

The most well-known March observance is St. Patrick's Day, honoring the patron saint of Ireland, the man who brought Christianity to the Irish in the 400's A.D. March 17 is truly a day for celebrating Irish history, ancestry, traditions, and customs.

Around the globe, St. Patrick's Day festivities are generally themed around all things green and Irish. The secular version of the holiday is marked by wearing green or orange, eating Irish food and/or green foods, imbibing Irish drink (usually Guinness), and attending parades.

Irish colonists brought St. Patrick's Day to North America. The event was first commemorated in the 13 colonies in Boston, MA, in 1737.

A Month of Varied Observances

Besides this Irish tradition, March lauds everything from Music in Our Schools and women's history to foot health, frozen foods, furniture, hamburgers and pickles, humorists, noodles, peanuts, the Red Cross, science, and youth art. For a full listing, see March Observances.

An amusing listing, Bizarre and Unique March Holidays, reveals this month kicked off with National Pig/Peanut Lover's Day on the lst. There's a day for just about everything, including Old Stuff, 2nd; Be Nasty, 8th; Everything You Do Is Right, 16th; National Goof-Off, 22nd; Chip and Dip, 23rd; and I Am in Control, 30th.

Everyone's a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day!

INTERLUDE IN GREEN: Sir Robin's penchant for green lends itself to a clickable St. Patrick's Day interlude. Included are graphics by Amazing_CA with photos by Joan Marcus, 1; Betsy, 2; and Toni7babe, 4; Claystruck, photo by Disneydeb84, 3; and Ambassador or Love, 5.

No One As Irish As Barack Obama

More than 34 million Americans are of Irish descent, nine times the population of Ireland. Among them is US President Barack Obama, whose maternal great-great-great grandfather Falmuth Kearney was born in Moneygall, a tiny village in central Ireland.

Between 1845 and 1851, more than a million people left Ireland on 'famine ships' to escape mass-starvation caused by potato blight; and, according to documents unearthed by an Irish vicar, passenger lists show Falmuth Kearney was among them, arriving in New York in 1850 before settling in Ohio.

Screen cap links to animated montage.

The song "There's No One as Irish as Barack O'Bama," which was written by Hardy Drew and recorded by the Corrigan Brothers, helps fill in the blanks about President Obama's 3% Irish heritage. The concert and animated versions can be viewed at YouTube.

Everyone's a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day!

Accompanying this timeless Irish blessing (graphic by Sally) is a special wish for a very Happy St. Patrick's Day!


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Kai, our clan's pot o' gold, is 18 months old today!
Clickable graphic by Ashes

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aiken Tour Rewinds SRHP Finale

Photo by Irishbookgal from Orlando IWTKWLI.

SRHP Bows with Exquisite Trio

Virtual Tour Rolls Into Orlando

The Carolina blog's virtual tour rewinds time to the August 2007 Orlando Concert in which a beatufiul duet evolved into a magnificent trio by Clay Aiken and backup singers Quiana Parler and Angela Fisher.

The closing bow of the Soft Rock Hard Place Summer Tour, the Orlando-Hard Rock performance is also remembered for the singer's moving rendition of "Measure of a Man" and the predictable, playful antics of a final show.

First, here in a nutshell are current headlines and the promise of a new photo for grandson Kai's "fan club."

Clay To Present Award to Tyra Banks -- Singer-actor Clay Aiken will present the Excellence in Media Award to Tyra Banks at the 20th Annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York City on March 28. See the story at Broadway World.

UAH Student Supports TBAF -- After reading about The Bubel/Aiken Foundation's mission of inclusion on a Clay Aiken CD jacket, Kelsey Thacker, University of Alabama-Huntsville student, started an ink cartridge recycling program at UAH to help raise money for the organization. Full story in The Exponent.

Clay To Cameo on '30 Rock' -- What do Mary J. Blige, Clay Aiken and Elvis Costello have in common? All three are the latest celebs to make cameos on "30 Rock." See The New York Daily News.

Countdown to 'The Very Best' -- Selected remastered tracks from four CA albums -- Measure of a Man, A Thousand Different Ways, On My Way Here, and Merry Christmas With Love -- will be released March 31 on the highly anticipated The Very Best of Clay Aiken CD.

Pre-order at Amazon for $9.49; AmazonCA, CDN $15.99;Target, $9.49; CD Universe, $9.00, among other sites.

I Want To Know What Love Is

Goose Bumps in Any Language

The Orlando-Hard Rock venue was packed with faithful fans and newcomers alike, while thousands around the globe listened via cellstream to an entertaining but emotional SRHP finale.

Throughout the tour, Quiana and Angela had cleverly teased Clay as to which would be his singing partner on the "I Want To Know What Love Is" duet. Each night Clay sang the opening phrase but had to guess which backup vocalist to face for a reply.

In Orlando, they both answered. As soon as Clay committed to singing with one partner, the other vocalised the next phrase. In the process, the trio spun gold, ending with Clay improvising low register riffs with Quiana and soaring into high altitudes scats with Angela.

In this memorable rendition of I Want To Know What Love Is, posted at YouTube by kb0326, Singerman renamed his backup singers "Heartache" and "Pain." You can download the audio and video by Spotlightlover with these Sendspace links.

Fan Reports NJU Exchanges

In the long line waiting to get into Hard Rock-Orlando, Platinum spoke with a Jamaican foreign exchange student who had attended the concert alone. He had seen Clay on American Idol, thought he had a fantastic voice, and wanted to see him in concert.

Later in the handshake line, she met fans from Venezuela who had come to the US specifically to see Clay. The wife didn't understand English, so her husband translated.

He told me his wife downloads all of Clay's videos off the Internet and watches him on YouTube, too.

Through her husband, the wife told me she loves Clay and thinks he is beautiful. I asked what she thought of the concert, and she grabbed at her arm in an up and down motion. This must be the universal sign for goose bumps.

She only has "A Thousand Different Ways," so I got her e-mail address and will send her some of the extras I have at home. I can't tell you how thrilled she was to get a handshake!

The above Orlando Slide Show features photos by Invisible926, ClayGlo, Toni7babe, and Brightstar. To view the pictures in gallery form, click on the "View All Images" button.

Orlando provided the perfect ending for the Clay Train's amazing ride during the Summer of 2007, but this 2009 virtual tour will continue spotlighting memorable performance moments.

Upcoming stops have been suggested in reader comments. A virtual tour is not hindered by the restraints of consecutive order. Hang onto your hat -- this clack will definitely skip around!

March Madness Takes Over

March Madness and conference rivalries have not just taken over my life (i.e., with no ties to either school, I watched the UCONN-Syracuse six-overtime game into the wee hours of Friday morning), but it has also infiltrated the nation's capital.

Listening to the Thursday afternoon daily press briefing while preparing to teach lessons, I did a double take when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opened with, "Let the record show that the N.C. State alum let a Carolina Tar Heel ask the first question."

My teaching schedule and the Carolina-Virginia Tech game at noon Friday forced me to devise a Plan B -- watch until I just had to leave at 2, mad dash to the car on a time-out, listen to the remainder on the radio while driving to Wesleyan.

Workday an Unexpected Gift

A "heads up" email alerted me the school had scheduled a teacher workday for Friday. Thursday night I called the father of my first student to make sure she would be at her lesson. In the past, we have easily made up a missed appointment by adding 15 minutes for two weeks.

Hopefully, Dad didn't detect the huge grin and accompanying fist pump when he suggested my own remedy. Hence, I was able to watch the entire Carolina game. A big toe injury has our starting point guard in a boot, so all fingers are crossed for tournet's remaining games.

For two days and nights, my West Virginia friend, xxx4clay, and I have cheered for her Mountaineers and my Tar Heels via virtual pom poms and real-time emails. Good shots, bad calls, you name it -- we have made cyber cheering almost like being there.

Even though WVU lost Friday night, the team is assured an NCAA tournament berth. You can bet I'll have my blue and gold pom poms ready!

Kai enjoys the view from his special hangout.
Photo edited by Sally

For all the "Cyber aunties" who have been hinting for pictures of Kai, here is one I just received. A new USB connection finally ended the month-long drought -- but not before several friends suggested online possibilities for a replacement cable.

Grandson Kai, I am told, enjoys the view from the kitchen cabinet, especially when a meal is prepared or dishes washed. His mother snapped the shot of her son in his very own vantage point.

Have a wonderful weeknd, Clay Nation! Go, Tar Heels!!!


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Aiken Tour Tops Fan Wish List

MEMORABLE REPLAY -- The Sterling Heights Concert from the 2007 Soft Rock Hard Place Summer Tour takes another spin in this graphic by Ambassador of Love, photos by LynninNJ.

'Listen' Duet Opens Rerun Series

Clay Aiken Tour Leads Wish List

Despite a CD countdown closing in on the March 31 remastered "very best" collection, the one thing Clay Aiken fans crave most is another live tour by the North Carolina singer.

A quick scroll through any of the thousands of message boards, websites, and blogs dedicated to CA happenings proves the point. During the wait, I decided to create a replay series of memorable moments from the six successful tours Singer Man has already notched.

This could be fun, and readers are welcome to offer suggestions for future stops. First on my list is the impromptu "Listen" duet by Clay and Quiana Parler on July 23, 2007.

Impromptu Performance Magical

Whether seated in the Freedom Hill Amphitheater at Sterling Hills, MI, or connected via a cellcert stream thousands of miles away, fans immediately recognized that the unscheduled duet by Clay and Quiana would long be remembered as one of the most incredible, magical moments in a long line of stellar performances.

Subbing for the ailing Angela Fisher, who nightly sang the "Dream Girls" song in concerts, the unrehearsed duo brought down the house and elicited exclamations that continue to this day wherever fans gather. Totally unrehearsed, the glorious vocals soared with beautifully balanced harmonies.

At the conclusion, music director Jesse Vargas joined the amazed audience in a spontaneous standing ovation.

Photo by MeganAiken links to 'Listen' duet on YouTube.

Goldarngirl and Luckiest1, known throughout the fandom for their concert montages, compiled one for the Sterling Heights Listen Duet that incorporates several videos of the performance, a split screen of the singers, and much of the banter preceding and following the song.

You can download the 93MB Listen montage with this Sendspace.

The montage Let's Listen by malgosia19 highlights several Summer 2007 concerts, accompanied by the Clay-Quiana duet.

Amazing_CA's graphic links to Sterling Heights Slide Show.

Slide Shows Recalls Michigan Memories

The Sterling Heights concert was filled with many special moments. Photographers ClayIzzaQT, LynninNJ, Fivegoldens, Shamrock, and MeganAiken are featured in the above slide show from the 2007 performance.

Almost two years later, the Freedom Hill Amphitheater website still showcases
An Evening with Clay Aiken, a slide show of photos by Larry Garcia accompanied by a medley of CA songs.

The next tour stop is already in the que, but please suggest your favorites when leaving a comment. Here's to many more memories in this special replay!

Bubel/Aiken Makes a Difference

Announced last week, a $40,000 grant from The Mitsubishi Electric Foundation will help fund a a joint venture between The Bubel/Aiken Foundation and the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopikins University, expanding summer learning opportunities for all children.

RALEIGH, NC – The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) has announced $360,000 in new and continuing grants, raising the total investment in the Foundation’s five-year Inclusion Initiative to $3.2 million.

The newest inclusion project is a joint venture between The Bubel/Aiken Foundation (TBAF) and the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University.

Building on a three-year partnership, The Bubel/Aiken Foundation and the National Center for Summer Learning will create a distinct and powerful new force for change in the field of summer learning for all children, especially those with disabilities.

The partners will expand access to high-quality, inclusive summer learning opportunities for young people by developing a summer learning curriculum to help summer camps fully include youth with disabilities.

"We are very pleased to incorporate this project into our Inclusion Initiative, expanding inclusion outreach to the critical area of summer learning," said Rayna Aylward, MEAF’s executive director.

"The Bubel/Aiken Foundation and the National Center for Summer Learning add valuable experience and focus to the inclusion mix, and their collaboration will enrich the lives of many thousands of youth with and without disabilities."

The complete article can be read atTBAF website.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude features graphics by Amazing_CA with photos by Katy4Clay, 2, and PermaSwooned, 3. The middle pictures are from January's TBAF Golfing for Inclusion fundraiser, and the third includes a quote from Clay's March PSA recorded for Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM).

UNC Game Vies with Schedule Again

If you stopped by this corner last weekend, you know Carolina fans are celebrating a regular season basketball championship with the team heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in the Georgia Dome as the No. 1 seed.

Sunday's game with Duke coincided with my flute choir rehearsal, and Friday's first appearance is also playing around with my schedule. I plan to watch 3/4 of the game, grab my music books and dash to the car during a commercial in time to listen to the end of the game on the radio as I drive to the academy for an afternoon of music lessons.

The flute choir will perform at two services Sunday morning, but I'll be home in time for the 1 p.m. championship game tip-off, hopefully watching the Heels again. Life is never dull!

Below is a clickable of the opening graphic by Ambassador of Love:

A special thank you to all who drop by the Carolina blog regularly and leave a note. Enjoy the memories of the rewind series, and have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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