Sunday, May 10, 2009

Clay Aiken Sings at Foster Gala

Clay Aiken at David Foster and Friends 2009 - Yollie950

Mama Mac Remembered

Clay Performs Cetera Medley

Mandalay Bay provided a smorgasbord of Clack for Clay Aiken fans as the singer joined an exciting lineup of musical guests for Saturday night's annual David Foster & Friends Concert.

The audience at the Las Vegas event center was boosted by countless CA fans on home computers reading concert recaps and listening to cell streams beaming far and near.

After tuning into the White House Correspondents Dinner speeches, I made it an even later night by signing onto a stream, keeping up with message board reports, and catching pre-dawn cell phone photos from the Las Vegas venue.

The opening video by Yollie950, which can also be viewed at YouTube, begins with David's intro of Clay -- "such an amazing talent, and he's now part of my family!" -- and continues into light-hearted banter between the two. Accompanied by the songwriter, Clay performed a medley of Peter Cetera songs: "Hard To Say I’m Sorry," "You’re My Inspiration," and "The Glory of Love."

At the evening's conclusion, the entire cast returned for "America's Song," with Clay singing the opening phrase.

With special thnx to Scarlett, Yollie950, Deborah760, and others still traveling here is the link to Clack Unlimited audio and video files from an evening the Clay Nation will be discussing for quite some time: Clack Unlimited: David Foster and Friends.

Photos from the concert are available at Zimbio (slide show without water marks) and Getty Images. These clickables of Clay's set are by Getty photographer Ethan Miller.

A Mother's Day Remembrance

Saturday morning I was running errands, and memories of my mother enveloped me as I unconsciously performed the maneuver our family years ago tagged "the Mama Mac stop." This occurs when the driver arrives at an intersection in a relatively quiet neighborhood and figuratively, almost literally, drags his/her feet instead of coming to a complete halt.

In her later years and much to the horror of her granddaughters, all excellent drivers, Mother perfected the maneuver and emplyed it at will. On the day before Mother's Day, I drifted into "the Mama Mac stop" at least twice. We used to tease her about this tempered version of a stop, and I just bet she returned the grin this weekend.

Mama Mac, whom many of you have met through my Mother's Day blogs, was a character. This entry is a reprint from Mother's Day 2008. Reflecting the passing year, her five great-grandchildren will become six with the birth of our new granddaughter later this month.

On July 12, 2005, my mother -- the woman who gave my sister, brother, and me life, introduced us to the wonderful world of music, encouraged us in all life's endeavors -- left behind a tired, weary 93-year-old body and sailed peacefully on to her next portal.

On this fourth Mother's Day since that night, our family celebrates a joyful life that almost spanned a century with many fond memories, a full heart, and the knowledge that this very special woman is still singing glorious harmony through her offspring and the many students she touched.

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

As a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, musician, gardener extraordinaire, Alleen McDonald, affectionately known as Mama Mac, worked hard and lived a full life. Her green thumb was legendary, whether she was cultivating gardens of vegetables or azaleas.

An alto in the First Baptist Church-Wilmington Chancel Choir for 42 years, she appreciated good music and was a very enthusiastic fan of Clay Aiken. Some of the most enjoyable moments of the final two years of her life were spent watching and listening to Clay sing. She especially loved his rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and would have embraced the later albums as much as she did Measure of a Man.

Our family misses its spirited matriarch. Besides her three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, Mama Mac was special to a large extended family of friends, former students and coworkers, as well as the caregivers at Wesley Long Nursing Home where she lived following a broken hip.

Even with 35 years in the public schools, all the successful operettas and other musical productions, Mother is best remembered in our Wilmington neighborhood as "the beach lady." On any given summer day, we would load up her old 1939 Chevy, which she kept way past its prime just for beach outings.

Picture an old jalopy, of the running board variety, bursting with neighborhood kids in bathing suits, inner tubes, fishing/crabbing gear, picnic lunches, etc., bopping down the 10 miles between Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. Fond, fond memories.

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

One of my favorite Mama Mac stories happened during National Caregivers Week in May 2005. A month shy of her 93rd birthday, Mother was very proud of the fact that she was cognizant 99% of the time and that she still had all her teeth.

Awakened from a mid-morning nap with a visit from her granddaughter and toddler twin great-grandchildren, Mama Mac immediately began insisting she needed to get dressed for a rehearsal. No one in the family knew that she and her physical therapist had been secretly rehearsing a duet for the nursing home's afternoon talent show, so we just assumed our matriarch was groggy and still getting her bearings.

When my sister dropped by after choir practice later that evening, proudly displayed on Mother's door was a huge lst Place Blue Ribbon. She most certainly did know she needed to get dressed to rehearse. Our mother could sing harmony at the drop of a hat, a talent she shared with Clay and one of the many reasons she admired him so much. That day she and her duet partner were, hands down, the best!

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

Mother would have enjoyed the Celebration of Life in her honor at her home church, especially the beautiful baritone rendition of her all-time favorite hymn, "Amazing Grace," and the loving, light-hearted reflections by her minister.

"Mama Mac was a character in the best way," he told those gathered at First Baptist. At restaurants, she always pocketed several little pink packets of Sweet-N-Low "for the church." Annoyed or bored with a discussion, her final word on any subject was "whatevah," delivered with deadpan inflection and any number of hand gestures.

At the graveside, a "Kodak moment" that went unsnapped came when William, one of the twins, respectfully placed his father's pallbearer boutonniere on Mama Mac's coffin. His great-grandmother would have been very touched by that simple gesture.

She also would have been delighted that, despite stifling temps and typical summer humidity, there was a cool breeze blowing off her beloved Carolina coastline for her mid-July farewell.

PHOTO INTERLUDE -- Featured in this special Mother's Day respite are graphics and photos by Amazing_CA, 1; cindilu2, 2 and 3; Sally, 4; and Fountaindawg, 5. The close relationship Clay shares with his mother and Jaymes, mother of his son Parker, are interwoven with the song lyrics and flowers Mama Mac dearly loved.

Students Honor Special Teacher

In addition to a stream of memorial gifts to First Baptist's music program, our family received an outpouring of letters from former students from throughout Mother's 35-year teaching career. Parts of three are shared here.

Dianne (Sunset Park, 1955-56):
It was with much sorrow I read of your mother's death. I was able to read this because she cared enough to take the time and patience with a LDADHD girl.

I only learned I had these problems 10 years ago. I remember having such a hard time not talking in class and keeping my attention on her teaching. She also encouraged my mother to be more patient with my behavior and my learning problems.

Several years ago my daughter, who was a teenager at the time and had heard me speak of Mrs. McDonald, and I saw your mother in a doctor's office. I recognized her and spoke. To my pleasant surprise, she knew me right away. It was a wonderful moment, for "my" Mrs. McDonald remembered me with all the students she had taught. She showed such interest in what I had done with my life and my daughter's plans for college.

I have been a teacher's assistant for the past 25 years. I hope that I have been able to give my students a portion of the loving care that your mother gave to her students.

Susan (Sunset Park, 1961-62): Your mother was my beloved 5th grade teacher at Sunset Park Elementary. My year with her was very special. Mrs. McDonald taught us everything from how to do research projects to how to harmonize when we sang.

The Christmas play she directed that year probably raised the bar for not just harmony but also the amount of instruments she had us playing in the background. She encouraged us to be inquisitive beyond the textbook and rewarded us for creative thinking with extra credit points. She was a fair teacher with high standards. If we pleased her, we felt very good about our efforts.

Raymond (Hillcrest Elementary, 1936-38), one of Mother's earliest students, touted her influence during his Burlington, NC, school days via a newspaper letter to the editor. A music major, he later became a minister and also served as a collegiate public information director.

His 1980 letter to the High Point Enterprise was inspired by a reporter who attended an opera in Atlanta and wrote a column filled with intense derision and mockery of this art form. The letter to the editor, which ends with a paragraph addressed to the reporter (Clark), was later forwarded to our mother:

Ah, Clark, you have gone too far. And to think one of my fondest recollections of the third grade over 40 years ago in Burlington was when Ms. McDonald, the twice-weekly music teacher, arrived with records and storybooks with color scenes of ancient Egypt, and opened with her enthusiasm to us the glories of "Aida." I'm sorry that you missed such an opportunity, for it has given me a lifetime of pleasure.

Thank you for you kind comments. My zippy little laptop is still busted, and I am working on an older model with the cord duck-taped to its plug. Mama Mac would have gotten a laugh out of that, and I think a certain singer would, too.

Happy Mother's Day, Clay Nation!


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Chardonnay said...

What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful mom on this special day! And the rest of your blog wasn't too bad either.

You seriously have such an incredible way with words!

Happy Mom's Day to you too!

SueReu said...

quick fly by to wish everyone a happy mother's day!

Ashes said...

Caro, A beautiful Mother's Day entry. Thank you for rewinding the story of Momma Mac. How wonderful to have such fond memories.

The David Foster concert review and view..AWESOME! It is so wonderful to hear our man Clay Aiken again and see him looking better than ever.

Happy Mom's Day!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great video and photos of Clay Aiken at the David Foster show. Wish I could have been there!

Thanks too for sharing the loving memories of your mother on this Mother's Day.

T said...

Happy Mother's Day Caro! A very beautiful tribute to your dearest mother. Now I know where you got your talent from. It's so inspiring to read about her.

It's only now that I got a chance to catch-up and that's why, I'm so excited to see the recaps from last night's DF Gala. Loved the video and the photos -- Clay looked & sounded great! So glad that you featured it in your blog. Thanks so much!

Cheers and again, more power to your excellent blogs.


fgs said...

Nice mother's day tribute. Love the David Foster event review. We've missed hearing Clay sing. It was way too short, but otherwise nice to hear him again!

Anonymous said...

So nice of U to write down some of your love for your Mom and share it !And writing about Clay keeps US so informed, I Thank U very much! Enjoy it ALL!:) Donna in Wi.

ImGranny said...

What a wonderful Mother's Day tribute!

It was great to see video and pictures of Clay Aiken at the David Foster and Friends concert too. I miss him and hope he does a tour before too long.

katy said...

What a lovely tribute to your mother and what nice memories. Also love the DFF review and seeing/hearing Clay Aiken.

Anonymous said...

Loved the stories about your mother. Very nice. Also so exciting about seeing Clay Aiken again.

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog, thanks for the updates added. Clay Aiken is the best.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for all the gorgeous pictures of Clay Aiken!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the videos of Clay Aiken. Which I could have been there to see him in person.

I enjoyed reading the tribute to your mom. A great blog.

LovesClaysVoice said...

Great blog Caro! A belated Happy Mother's Day to you! Clay was wonderful at the David Foster event! I can't wait to see him in person very SOON!!!!!

Sandy said...

With memories of my father still very fresh in my mind, reading these memories you have of your mother remind us to cherish every minute we can of those we love. The love and memories you have for "Mama Mac" is very evident in your tribute to her each mother day!
Clay's performance at the David Foster event was the highlight of my weekend. Am still keeping my fingers crossed for a tour soon. VERY SOON!
Have a wonderful day!


musicfan said...

Caro........this was a wonderful blog. Our Moms are so important. Thank you for letting us know your Mom.

The David Foster concert was awesome. Clay was fabulous and surrounded by top talent.

Thank you for this special blog!!!