Sunday, November 29, 2009

Clay Aiken Due Cyber Birthday Bash

On My Way Here - Montage by Aspiegirl

Happy 31, Singer Man!

Fans Celebrate Clay's Birthday

Clay Aiken's birthday is Nov. 30, but online celebrations among his fans began over the weekend!

Unlike past years when fan salutations of the singer's birthday materialized in song and glow sticks at Joyful Noise Tour venues or the Broadway performance of "Spamalot," this season's recognition of the event is spanning the worldwide Internet.

With the honoree currently recording a new CD for Decca Records, Clay is just one click away from the Cyber festivities via his iPhone and computer.

An outpouring of birthday greetings adorn CA message boards around the globe. The birthday annually inspires charitable gifts to the National Inclusion Project and UNICEF in the singer's honor, as well as creations of new montages, graphics, and blogs.

Aspiegirl's new On My Way Here montage, title track of the 2008 CD, can be viewed in the player above or at
You Tube. Also, here is a Sendspace download.

Clay and other Sagittarius-born stars are in the spotlight at ivillage this week. Below is a replica of the website's segment on Singer Man.

Clay Aiken - Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty

Born: Nov. 30, 1978

Singer Clay Aiken embodies the individualism of Sagittarius. The American Idol season 2 alum may have come in second place, but he went on to score multi platinum albums as well as a successful run on the Broadway show Spamalot.

Last year, he came out as a “gay dad,” (he and friend Jaymes Foster had son Parker, 13 months) with the diplomatic directness we can expect from people born this week.

Other celebrities born between Nov. 30 and Dec. 6 under the Sagittarius sign are Britney Spears, Ben Stiller, Tyra Banks, Julianne Moore, Jay-Z, Marisa Tomei, Bette Midler, and Don Cheadle.

Unchained then ... now ... forever. Graphic by cindilu2

Festivities Feature Quotes, Graphics

Two hundred thousand famous quotes by 15,000 people are assembled at the Jittery website, one of whom is Singer Man. In honor of his 31st birthday, the collection of quotes from Clay's index are interspersed with relevant graphics.

Actually, I don't hate cats, I'm just kind of afraid of them.

nd I don't think that success can be measured by how many TV shows you're on.

And I think that when I finally decided to let go and let God and allow that to happen, I became a lot more successful than I could have done if I had planned it all myself.

But I was going to be a teacher my entire life, so I wasn't counting on money to much.

I auditioned just for fun.

I could have a degree in music and come on the show, and Simon could still say 'You stink'.

I decided to study special education and fell in love with working with individuals with autism. That's what I planned to do with my life.

I did get a degree in special education.

I got rid of my glasses and they changed my hair. That's really all they did. They went shopping for me, so the clothes are different too. It wasn't like Extreme Makeover where I got a nose job or anything.

I kind of had my life planned out for me. I'd be married at some point, have, you know, 1.5 children, and be a principal possibly one day. But I think that that was kind of my problem. I allowed myself to plan out my life and didn't let provident direction guide my life.

I know that I've got big ears and a big forehead and that my hair sticks up. But I'm happy with myself. I'm not necessarily trying to win a beauty pageant here.

I know this is going to sound cheesy and like I'm trying to be Miss America, but the most important responsibility a celebrity has is to set an example and be a role model.

I mean, that's kind of what this business is about in some ways. You're trying to make everybody like you. But you can't do that. You can't force everybody - anybody to like you if they're just not willing to do it.

I sometimes think I might be autistic because I like to know - I need to know - my beginnings and my ends. I don't have to be in control of it, but I need to know what's going on.

I think celebrities have an obligation to the public to not just sing or act.

I think I probably hoped for it a little bit, but I'm not an optimist. I'm a realist... or maybe even a pessimist.

I thought about that the other day after I went to the grocery store and had to sign fifteen autographs before leaving. On one hand, it's just so flattering. On the other hand, sometimes it would be nice to get the bread and leave, you know?

I want to make sure that no matter how long I go through this, I don't fall into the trap of changing and modifying how I do things that aren't a positive example. I want to remain somebody that the entire family can listen to or watch.

I was on TV for almost sixteen weeks during American Idol. It's at the point now where it's old.

I went to school for special education. I always assumed when I had the opportunity I would love to try and help kids with disabilities.

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

I'm really not that special. Really, I'm not. I was on a big TV show, but it was just a TV show.

I'm religious. I think this is something God had planned for me.

If my career detour from special education to singing has done one thing, it has afforded me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

In my ideal world, no child would suffer. Charitable instincts would prevail. There would be global acceptance of all different types of people.

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

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

It's important that I make a difference in some way. It's not necessarily how I make a difference, but I want to make sure that I do.

It's not the money. It's not the fame. It's the influence.

My mother taught me that we all have the power to achieve our dreams. What I lacked was the courage.

The greatest glory never comes from falling, but from rising each time you fall.

The greatest glory never comes from winning, but from rising each time you fall. A person is defined by what he chooses to do with his life, not by what happens to him.

There are stars out there who would die to have this much exposure.

Well, financially it's a little bit better. But it's better than when I was a teacher. But I kind of - it's allowed me to buy a house. And I've been able to help my mother with some stuff and my brother. So, that's nice.

Well, fortunately we found out that the runner-up our particular year was going to get a record contract also. So it was kind of a - it was bitter sweet but it was an opportunity.

Well, there are certain words and emotions I don't want kids hearing, and I'm not changing because they think it's going to sell better. This is going to sound horrible, but I got 12 million votes doing what I did.

hile everyone I work with may not share my beliefs, I have been surrounded by nothing but support.

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

Happy Birthday, Clay! Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!



TOURS 1: Invisible926 (photos: dc4clay); cindilu2 (Tasapio); AmazingCA (Renee4clay)
UNICEF: Clayquebec1 (Invisible 926); AmazingCA; Claystruck
TOURS 2/SPAMALOT: AmazingCA (toni7babe); cindilu2; JPelligrini
PARKER: cindilu2, Fountaindawg, AmazingCA
ALBUMS: A Beautiful Mind (KarenEh); AmazingCA; AmazingCA

NIP/CURRENT: Ashes; AmazingCA (toni7babe); Fountaindawg; cindilu2

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Clay Aiken: Merry Thanksgivoween!

SECOND STANZA -- ABeautifulMind's handsome Clay Aiken graphic extends Thanksgiving greetings, celebrating the second verse of a trio of holidays exemplified in "Merry Thanksgivoween."

Merry Thanksgivoween!

Holiday Commemorations Merge

Due to their proximity on the calendar and the influence of commercial activity, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations have so effectively merged that the appropriate seasonal greeting could easily be "Merry Thanksgivoween!"

The sentiment is effectively depicted below in the classic cartoon by Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press.

The spooks of Halloween have come and gone, families are gathered for Thanksgiving Day festivities, while from Schenectady to Spokane, Pensacola to Phoenix, radio stations with AC, Hot AC, CCM/Gospel, Oldies, and Smooth Jazz formats have begun singing the third stanza of "Merry Thanksgivoween" with Clay Aiken Christmas carols.

Among the CA vocals decking the airwaves with a joyful noise are "O Holy Night," "The First Noel," "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day," "Merry Christmas with Love," and "Winter Wonderland."

Christmas Albums Fan Favorites

Clay's Chrismas albums -- Merry Christmas with Love and All Is Well -- are seasonal favorites and were the nucleus of his popular Joyful Noise holiday tours.

Recognized by Billboard as the "Best Selling Christmas Album of 2004" and the "Best Selling Christian Album in 2005," MCWL has long been certified platinum. The CD features classic carols, as well as some of the singer's personal favorites, "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day" and "Mary, Did You Know?"

A Walmart exclusive in November 2006, the four-track AIW was made available on iTunes in December 2007. YouTube hosts countless montages set to the EP's four songs, the title track as well as "Christmas Waltz," "O Come O Come Emanuel," and "My Grown-Up Christmas List."

Below is All Is Well, a montage for all seasons by Aspiegirl:

All Is Well montage by Aspiegirl

Kai Enjoys First Lap in Barber Chair

On the home front, grandchildren Kai and Lia are celebrating Thanksgiving 1,600 miles away from the Carolina clan. Their mother promises many festive photos and videos to mark Turkey Day 2009.

A first barbershop haircut was a major milestone for our family's two-year-old fellow. Below are clickable memories of grandson Kai's maiden voyage in the barber chair.

Besides the all-important lollipop, Kai was anxious to learn just
how the clippers worked. That settled, it was back to his sucker.

Next time ... maybe a
shave and a lollipop!

Merry Thanksgivoween, Clay Nation!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Aiken Takes Water Cooler Prize

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
Clay Aiken Surprises AI5 Finale Audience

Best Water Cooler Moment Ever!

AI5 Finale Buzz Centers on Clay

Whether Sunday's ABC telecast of the American Music Awards qualifies for the "water cooler hall of fame," from what I have seen online and in the media, I doubt the show -- and especially the final act -- will come close to the most discussed Idol moment of all times.

If you are a Clay Aiken fan, you know what's coming. Of course, the opening video provides a healthy hint. The singer's surprise appearance on the AI5 Finale catapulted his own showdown with Ruben Studdard three years earlier.

Throughout most of AI5 Finale Week, television, radio, and print media focused not on the possible winners but the ever-emerging rumors and debates about whether Clay Aiken, AI2 runner-up, would perform.

Despite the crowning of new Idol Taylor Hicks on May 24, 2006, the postscript media blitz centered around a new, "hipper" Clay Aiken's victorious return to the AI stage. This is a portion of the AP story appearing on MSNBC, CNN, and countless other news sites:

Second-season runner-up Clay Aiken, with a slick new look, performed a “duet” on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” with his alter ego, a wannabe “American Idol” contestant who evoked the originally geeky Aiken.

While in general the comedy skits on American Idol 5 lacked in comparison to American Idol 4’s roast of Corey Clark, there was one shining moment that will likely go down as one of the funniest moments in American Idol history.

In a re-occurring segment called the Golden Idol Awards, Ryan Seacrest presented candidates for “Best Impersonation.” The nominees were Kenneth Maccarone as Cher, Seth Strickland as Michael Jackson, and Michael Sandecki as Clay Aiken.

As Michael warbled through “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” the stage doors opened up to reveal Clay Aiken. Surprised by the sudden loud cheering, Michael turned to see Aiken and appeared to nearly go into shock on the stage.

As Clay joined his impersonator in song, Michael excitedly jumped around the stage. Seacrest eventually reappeared and sat Michael down, while asking him if he was OK.

It was the same incredible voice, but the maturity and difference in Singer Man's appearance was so striking that the panel of judges didn't even recognize him.

The theater audience and television viewers, however, went wild; and the event became the next day's most discussed water cooler topic, even topping the buzz about the newly-crowned Idol.

The AI5 Finale montage by BKFORCLAYANDMK features audio from the next morning's "ACE & TJ Show" on Charlotte's WNKS-FM radio station during which the DJ's and listeners discussed "the greatest moment of the night."

AI5 Finale montage by BKFORCLAYANDMK

Lythgoe Reveals Secrecy Plan

In an interview on KTLA-TV's Morning News Show later that week, Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed that details of Clay's appearance and performance were kept secret from almost everyone, the judges and Ryan included. Clay arrived at an obscure entrance in an SUV with tinted windows.

Sporting a new look and attracting no attention whatsoever, he walked in unnoticed with wardrobe personnel and the garments they were transporting, secretly watching the show in a nearby building before being escorted to the stage just in time for his grand entrance.

Images from the AI5 Finale are featured in these clickable graphics by cindilu2, AmazingCA, and Sally.

To say these few minutes headlined conversation in Clay Cyberspace would be putting it mildly. But it didn't stop there. The Carolina crooner's surprise appearance was the main topic at office water coolers around the world.

In one fell swoop, Clay Aiken was the conquering hero returning to accept the accolades that thousands thought should have been his at the end of the second season. In doing so, he finally received his confetti moment.

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Clay Aiken Fans Use Their Voice

As Long As We're Here - Clay Aiken
Graphic by AmazingCA links to montage by Aspiegirl

Mailbag Blog Spotlights Readers

Clay Aiken Fans Have Their Say

Readers who leave comments have a special place in the hearts of bloggers, and their remarks often complete the dialogue set in motion by the writer.

Occasionally, I like to feature the thoughtful -- sometimes clever -- remarks shared by
Carolina On My Mind and Clayonline readers in a mailbag blog.

This edition highlights what many of you wrote about the the parallels between two men who listen to the "music within" and "use their voice" for the disabled, the goldarngirl-cindilu2 collaboration on a 2010 calendar featuring art and timelines, and the affinity fans share with David Foster for Clay's interpretation of "Unchained Melody."

An overview of reader remarks accompanies the link and opening paragraphs of each entry.

11/17/09: Clay Aiken Song Echoes 'Music Within'

Most people go to their graves with their music still inside them. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Worlds unexpectedly collided on many levels Tuesday as I watched the movie "Music Within," the true story of Richard Pimentel, who overcame a severe hearing impairment, learned to use his voice, and played a pivotal role in improving the lives of Americans with disabilities.

His hearing ravaged on a Vietnam battlefield, Pimentel returned home very frustrated. The government dismissed his dreams of college and public speaking, insisting his fate was one of insanity and rage due to his condition.

Refusing to accept this path, the determined veteran returned to college and became a driving force behind the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law in 1990. He found the music within and learned to use his voice.

SueReu: Use your voice just about says it all. Everyone must have something that they are passionate about, something that can help the lives of others. It doesn't take all that much to make a huge difference.

Aspiegirl: Thanks for sharing this blog, Caro. It is everything I think about all the time (rights for individuals who are disabled). Thanks for sharing my montage, also.

Barb55: Great blog and story! I'll have to make a note to check out "Music Within." It is amazing how one person can make such a difference by using his/her voice.

MissSally: Add me to the "I love ALAWH" list. The music, Clay's voice, and the message in the song create a timeless reminder to remember what's important in life.

kallie: Richard Pimentel and Clay Aiken are an inspiration and use their voices.

Sharrie: What an amazing story. It is so true that one person can make a change. I love how the story is somewhat like Clay's, trying to make the world a better place. I look forward to watching the movie "Music Within."

Ashes: Awesome story. "Music Within," the true story of Richard Pimentel, was written up in the paper a while ago, I've been watching for it to appear on TV ever since.

vibajajo: Once again, I come here and learn something new and wonderful. I never heard of this movie and I will have to check where I might be able to see it.

2010 Clay Aiken Calendar
Graphic by cindilu2 links to slide show of wallpapers

Calendar designed by goldarngirl

11/14/09: 2010 Calendar Features Art, Timelines

Since DIRECTV and I were reunited with a brand new receiver a week ago, I have become a part-time Clay Aiken fan, music teacher-musician, movie buff ... and blogger. Not surprisingly, much-needed housecleaning didn't make the list.

One of the coolest creations in Clay Cyberspace this weekend is a printable 2010 calendar that combines wallpapers by cindilu2, as displayed in the above slide show, with events from the past six years notated each month.

Sandy: Beautiful slide show! Thanks to our wonderful creators for this masterpiece! I am so like you with being "mechanically challenged". Heck I still need my husband to help me start up a movie on the DVD player!

LovesClaysVoice: Great slide show and calendar! WOW! So many great memories! I can't wait to add more! 2010 is going to be great!!

Margaret5828: I love your techie friend. Ask Chris if he makes house calls to Indiana.

gerra: Housework, smousework, that's no fun. Enjoy your new DVR. Love the calendar. What a gorgeous subject.

Cindy: Thanks for getting the calendar out there, Caro. Six years and counting and I still can't get enough Clay Aiken. It's great to see goldarngirl's hard work being appreciated. Thanks everybody!

reneti: Enjoyed the calendar slide show. I can usually hook up things as long as I have the instructions. Col. works all the computer stuff. I do the TV,DVD and VCR. Its funny. somethings I can't do on the computer he can, but he can't figure out how to work the DVD player in the living room. I have to do that, LOL!

MissSally: I just got my desktop computer reconnected (my son did the actual work), and your blog was the first "must see." The calendar is breathtaking; Cindy's artistic talent is THE shining example of Clay's ability to inspire. Thank you Cindy, and all others who helped with the project.

UNCHAINED then ... now ... forever
Graphic by cindilu2 links to Clay's San Jose UM performance
Montage by EcirachcVirus features video by rob91902, audio by kjmmom

11/10/09: David Foster a Clay Aiken-UM 'Junkie'
David Foster might as well be president of the Clay Nation when it comes to his unabashed appreciation for Clay Aiken's interpretation of "Unchained Melody." Like me, he is a true Clay Aiken-UM "junkie."

In the past few years, the successful Canadian music producer has specifically requested that Singer Man perform UM at his foundation's gala and in two David Foster & Friends concerts, the most recent being an unscheduled appearance in San Jose, CA, Friday night.

Aspiegirl: I am a proud to be a "junkie" of Clay version of Unchained Melody. The Toledo JBT was my first Clay concert. Love seeing the video from there and all the other videos too. Love Cindilu2's graphic too. She is really talented. I also enjoyed reading the history of how UM was written. It is one of those icon songs that will be around forever.

deyabird: I think I have watched that UM performance David Foster and Friends...uhm...I lost count. Great job to the National Inclusion Project and all involved for raising such an impressive amount to help further the cause of inclusion. I am proud to be a supporter of this organization.

copingincalifornia: Your junkie title cracked me up. David Foster loves him some Clay Aiken! ME TOO!

Beanblossom: Not every singer has the chops to sing this song. Clay Aiken is certainly the exception to the rule. It's almost as if the song had been written just for him to sing.

Rhode Island Fan: "Unchained Melody" has been my favorite song ever since I was in the fifth grade. And since hearing Clay Aiken sing it, it has become another Clay Aiken song for me!! No one sings it like he does!!

Marlyne: I'm with you, a "junkie" of Clay's version of "Unchained Melody." Yay for the raising $465,000 for the National Inclusion Project. Great job to everyone involved!

Anonymous: I'm a proud member of the Clay Aiken UM fan club too!! Clay can sing the begeebers out of that song!! No wonder David Foster loves to have him sing it!

ImGranny: I just had to come back and listen to Clay Aiken's Unchained Melody (all of them) again! I LOVE listening to him sing that song!

Many thnx to all who leave comments, which not only complete the circle for each entry but also give Clay blogs a boost in the search engines at Google and other Internet sites.

Here's to 2010 and many more memorable moments with Clay Aiken the entertainer and humanitarian!

Have an awesome weekend, Clay Nation!


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Clay Aiken Song Echos 'Music Within'

As Long As We're Here - Clay Aiken
Montage by Aspiegirl

Making a Difference

Worlds Merge in Uplifting Film

Most people go to their graves with their music still inside them. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Worlds unexpectedly collided on many levels Tuesday as I watched the movie "Music Within," the true story of Richard Pimentel, who overcame a severe hearing impairment, learned to use his voice, and played a pivotal role in improving the lives of Americans with disabilities.

His hearing ravaged on a Vietnam battlefield, Pimentel returned home very frustrated. The government dismissed his dreams of college and public speaking, insisting his fate was one of insanity and rage due to his condition.

Refusing to accept this path, the determined veteran returned to college and became a driving force behind the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law in 1990. He found the music within and learned to use his voice.

"Use Your Voice" is the mantra singer Clay Aiken writes above his name when he signs autographs. He has stated on many occasions that As Long As We're Here, a track from his 'On My Way Here' album, is his favorite.

As an entertainer, the former special education teacher has continued his commitment to improving the lives of children with disabilities.

The montage by Aspiegirl opens with images of homeless Americans but also includes videos from Clay's humanitarian work through the National Inclusion Project and as a UNICEF Ambassador.

ALAWH is also harmonious with Richard Pimentel's story.

In 1977, Pimentel began conducting diversity-based disability attitude training in Portland, OR. His landmark program, WINDMILLS, became the blueprint for diversity training.

Along with his PERSPECTIVES training program, he helped revolutionize the modern workplace and change attitudes about hiring and working with people with disabilities in 23 different countries.

In 2007, Pimentel began developing an employer training program to support the transition of wounded and disabled veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan into the workplace. On June 14, 2008, he was presented an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities by Portland State University.

'Music Within' movie poster

Smart, funny, ornery author-poet Art Honeyman, who happened to have severe cerebral palsy, was a devoted friend until his death in 2008. In the movie, Ron Livingston and the British actor Michael Sheen are outstanding in their portrayal of the two men.

Music Within is scheduled several times Thursday (11/18), Sunday (11/22), Friday (11/27), and Saturday (11/28) on the TMCe and TMCw channels.

For more information, see these links: Richard Pimentel (Wikipedia), Music Within (Wikipedia), and Music Within (Internet Movie Database).

Below is a clickable of AmazingCA's graphic reflective of the opening montage:

Enjoy Music Within ... and have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Clay Aiken 2010 Calendar Tops

2010 Clay Aiken Calendar
Above graphic links to slide show of wallpapers
Designer: goldarngirl; Graphic artist: cindilu2

Tunes into 2010, Looks Back, Too

Calendar Features Art, Timeline

Since DIRECTV and I were reunited with a brand new receiver a week ago, I have become a part-time Clay Aiken fan, music teacher-musician, movie buff ... and blogger. Not surprisingly, much-needed housecleaning didn't make the list.

One of the coolest creations in Clay Cyberspace this weekend is a printable 2010 calendar that combines wallpapers by cindilu2, as displayed in the above slide show, with events from the past six years notated each month.

To view the calendar's artwork, click on opening graphic and select the fading, gallery, or full screen version. You can also link with this slide show link.

Compiled by goldarngirl, the calendar credits the Clay Aiken Kids and Finding Clay Aiken websites as timeline sources and dancermom2 for proofreading assistance.

These December double-clickables provide a sample of the monthly terrain:

Download this Sendspace file, unzip, print, and enjoy a 2010 calendar that recalls special Clay Train events from the past six years.

Sunday, Nov. 15, is the deadline to order the 2010 Clay Aiken Calendar compiled by Rosa Shurtz and featuring photos by toni7babe. For more info about this National Inclusion Project fundraiser, see the Oct. 31 Carolina blog entry.

New DVR in Perpetual Motion

To one whose DVR unit croaked a week ago with 10% available space (90% filled to capacity with new films, along with some old favorites), rebuilding a movie repertoire has been a slow, arduous task.

Within a few days, I was thrilled to locate and program a few "must haves": August Rush, The Great Debaters, Hitch, The Paper, Death at a Funeral, etc.

This weekend I viewed for the first time recent blockbusters Milk and Slumdog Millionaire. Both are in the repeat column as the restoration continues night and day. The orange recording light is on most of the time, and the receiver has hit 50% capacity.

Had it not been for my friend Chris, who helps me with everything from computer problems to yard work, I probably would not even have the TV running now.

Friend Makes Set-Up Simple

The good folks at DIRECTV promised I would have no trouble setting up the new receiver. New DVR on top the old, remove connections from one and insert them in the other sounded easy enough. However, I have lived in this skin long enough to know my mechanical shortcomings.

Chris agreed to drop by before afternoon lessons; and, sure enough, even he had to speak with technical support. Because I don't have HD, one or two of the satellites would not load. I left my friend programming the new DVR while I started violin lessons.

Somewhere between Handel's "Gavotte" and the fiddle tunes, he finished and slipped out the den door . A really great guy to know!

Below is a clickable of cindilu2's opening graphic:

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Foster Heads Clay Aiken-UM Fan Club

UNCHAINED then ... now ... forever -- Graphic by cindilu2.

America Pays Tribute to Veterans

Foster a Clay Aiken-UM 'Junkie'

David Foster might as well be president of the Clay Nation when it comes to his unabashed appreciation for Clay Aiken's interpretation of "Unchained Melody." Like me, he is a true Clay Aiken-UM "junkie."

In the past few years, the successful Canadian music producer has specifically requested that Singer Man perform UM at his foundation's gala and in two David Foster & Friends concerts, the most recent being an unscheduled appearance in San Jose, CA, Friday night.

The surround video of Unchained Melody was posted at YouTube by EcirahcVirus on Veterans Day. Here is a Sendspace audio download of the performance.

Clay performs UM at David Foster & Friends
Video by rob91902, audio by kjmmom

Fans first heard Clay sing UM on American Idol, eventually discovering an earlier treasure in the singer's Hometown Connection recording. The lead graphic by cindilu2 highlights Clay's association with the song from American Idol to the Jukebox Tour and David Foster performances.

"Unchained then ... now ... forever" was originally a banner at the Finding Clay Aiken message board. From the clickable banner below emerged cindilu2's handsome opening graphic.

Double click to enlarge banner by cindilu2.

With over 500 versions in hundreds of different languages, "Unchained Melody" is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th Century. In 1955, Alex North was contracted to compose music for the theme song of "Unchained," an obscure prison film.

Hy Zaret wrote the lyrics, and Todd Duncan sang the vocals for the soundtrack. Nowhere in the lyrics is the word "unchained," but the song became known as "Unchained Melody."

An instrumental version by Les Baxter (Capitol) was followed by Al Hibbler (Decca), Jimmy Young (UK), and Roy Hamilton (Epic), ranking at or near the top of the Billboard pop and R&B charts in 1955. "Unchained Melody" was the first and only song to have four different versions in the Top 40 in the same week.

The July 1965 recording by The Righteous Brothers became a jukebox standard for the late 20th century. It regained massive popularity when featured in the 1990 blockbuster film Ghost.

Always a favorite with Clay Aiken fans, "Unchained Melody" was a hit on the 2005 Jukebox Tour. Below is jojoct's recording of the Toledo Jukebox UM, which also can be viewed at YouTube.

UM at Toledo Jukebox Tour Concert
Video by jojoct

In 2006, at his host's request, Clay sang "Unchained Melody" at a benefit concert for the David Foster Foundation Gala in Vancouver. Link to 2006 David Foster Gala to view the UM performance on YouTube.

UM at 2006 David Foster Foundation Gala

Clay has often stated that UM is his mother's favorite song. It was also at the top of the charts with my mother.

Countless afternoons, at Mama Mac's request, I carried along a tape of Clay Aiken songs to play during visits in the nursing home. The two most requested songs were "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Unchained Melody" with my mother singing harmony throughout.

Oh, my love, my darling,
I've hungered for your touch a long, lonely time,
Time goes by so slowly and time can do so much.
Are you still mine?
I need your love, I need your love,
God speed your love to me.

It's amazing the memories spurred by Singer Man's surprise appearance on Friday. Thnx for taking this "Unchained Melody" stroll with me and especially to cindilu2, who provided the artwork.

Champions Gala Raises $465,000

Supporters of the National Inclusion Project helped raise over $465,000 at the Oct. 17 gala honoring 2009 Champions, the foundation announced today.

The funds will be used to give children with disabilities the opportunity to experience life along side their typical peers. Read the complete release in Triangle Business News or at the above website link.

America Honors All Who Served

A Veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including my life."- Author Unknown

Thank you to veterans past and present. God bless America!

Happy Veterans/Remembrance Day! Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Clay Aiken blogs honoring Veterans/Remembrance Day:

Clay-the Man
Clay Aiken News Network

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Surprise Performance by Clay Aiken

SUNNY CALIFORNIA -- A photo of Clay Aiken's sunshade purchase at San Francisco Optics Friday inspired Fountaindawg's imaginative review/preview of the singer and sunshine.

At David Foster & Friends Concert

Clay Sings 'Unchained Melody'

The most celebrated pieces of clack in Clay Cyberspace this weekend have been less than stellar videos of Clay Aiken's unscheduled performance of "Unchained Melody" at Friday night's David Foster & Friends Concert in San Jose, CA.

From fuzzy video with amazing sound late Friday, the sacred clack has progressed to better and best. Many thnx to videographers moonriver919, kjmmom, and rob91902, who shared with fans THE VOX and Clay's surprise appearance with other fans.

Below are moonriver919's recap and the video taped by rob91902 that can also be viewed at YouTube. Download the audio from moonriver's version with this Sendspace mp3 file.

David Foster had a schtick going on (which I'm sure you guys have heard about by now). After singing a note, David would ask a member of the audience in the front row to come up to the microphone and sing it back to him. The first two times, the audience members were normal audience members. But the third and final time, it was Clay!

David sang a note, and Clay sang it back; but the note was too high. David said something to the effect of what he can do when he produces and then sang another note. Clay sang it back perfectly.

David then introduced Clay as his brother-in-law, mentioned that his sister and Clay had a baby together, and invited Clay to come up on stage. I started to flip out, said "OMG" about 20 times in a row, and set my digital camera to video mode as fast as I could!

Clay looked great! His hair was brown, not red. I'm glad that someone gave him a jacket to wear on stage so he could comply with the "dress code."

Clay was very enthusiastic during Ruben’s set. From where I sat (very far away from the stage), I could see Clay in the front row clapping his hands above his head after Ruben’s songs and waving his arms around after Ruben’s request.

Near the end of Charice’s set, someone came by the front row, and Clay ducked and ran along the front row to go backstage.

Clay's Surprise Appearance with David Foster
Video by rob91902

A few years ago, Neil Sedaka proclaimed his hit "Solitaire" would forevermore be a Clay Aiken song. In my opinion, "Unchained Melody" is, too.

Final DF&F Concert is in Vancouver on Sunday. I wouldn't doubt CA fans in the area are scouting around for tickets today!

Inclusion Project Raises $25,000+

The National Inclusion Project completed the month-long America's Giving Challenge one position away from the 12 charities that will receive bonus money.

However, with contributions and daily placements, the Project unofficially generated 1,570 donations totaling $25,100. Results are posted at Causes with official Challenge award recipients scheduled to be announced on or before Nov. 20.

Mark Your Calendar

Nov. 15 - Deadline to order 2010 Clay Aiken Calendar. Contact: Rosa Shurtz.

Nov. 23 - Deadline to order Rockdale wreaths online in the Deck the Halls fundraiser.

HOLIDAY SEASON - Wrapping for Inclusion

Samples and information about the calendar, wreath, and wrapping fundraisers are in this blog's Oct. 25
Trick or Treat with the Clay Nation entry.

Below is a clickable of Fountaindawg's opening graphic:

Have an awesome weekend, Clay Nation!


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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Clay Aiken Makes a Difference

THE BEST - As a singer, entertainer, philanthropist, Clay Aiken is the best. From the beginning, his goal has been to "make a difference," one which his fans have also adopted. Graphic by cindilu2.

Fans Plan 'Final Push' for Inclusion

Remarkable Journey with Clay

Within the ebb and flow of November message board threads are thoughtful reflections not only of Clay Aiken's journey from American Idol to pop star and Broadway actor, classroom teacher to worldwide children's advocate, but also unexpected changes in the lives of the singer's following.

With permission, here is ymarie's extraordinary look back at the past six -- going on seven -- years:

I was thinking this morning on my way home from the airport on all that has happened for me in the last six years because of Clay Aiken. Before Clay, I would get up, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. My computer was used for emails and Word Processing.

I had no friends here because we had recently moved to town, and the only people I knew were my coworkers, and a few people from my church. However, we didn't socialize with any of them. My husband would leave for 6-9 weeks in the summer to go back and work in Alaska, leaving me kind of bored for most of the summer.

Enter one extraordinary young man, a man who made me giggle when I first saw him, with his confident "I'm the American Idol", then blew me away with his voice. We had many water-cooler moments at work discussing one amazing performance after another, right up until the unbelievable outcome. I thought that might be the end of it, although there was that glimmer of hope that since he was signed to a record label, we hadn't heard the last of him.

Sometime after the end of AI, I discovered message boards. Clayboard was the first one I saw, and I lurked for a long time before joining. I think I finally signed up to ask a question , and everyone there was so helpful. I learned to make CDs, then eventually DVDs. I even researched and bought a new computer, based on advice I got from people there. I now have an iPod (that impresses the heck out of my daughter).

Then someone there directed me to Clayversity, and I met a whole new group of people that I love dearly. While standing in line by myself in the wee hours of the morning to get tickets for the Independent Tour, I met a couple of women who had started a local Clay fan group, and invited me to join. Through them, and the rest of the women I have met, I now have lifelong friends. I have traveled to out-of-state concerts and New York City, things I never dreamed I would be doing.

Because of Clay, I now know to address the person first, then the disability. It was never something that I thought about before, not because I didn't care, but because I was ignorant. Same with the problems in the rest of the world. Because of Clay, I am more aware of the strife and struggle for survival of a lot of the world's children. Again, not because I didn't care, but because our media is so focused on sensationalism and gossip, that they didn't report on things like that, so again I plead ignorance.

This wonderful young man, who first said he wanted to make a difference, and has never wavered from that goal that I am aware of, has brought so much meaning to my life. I can't imagine what these last six years would have been like if he hadn't walked (or been pushed) into it.

He has endured more cruelty than anyone should have to endure, and holds his head high. He continues to lead by example with his compassion and caring for all the world's children. Because of him, I no longer turn a blind eye when I see injustice being done. Because of him, I do turn a blind eye to tabloids and gossip sites. Because of him, I spend more time volunteering and fund-raising, not just for the National Inclusion Project and UNICEF, but for other worthwhile causes.

With all he's gone through in his young life, I am beyond ecstatic that he was able to finally fulfill his heart's desire to have a child. No one deserves more than he to be able to carve out a little bit of happiness in this life. I wish for nothing more than that he be able to continue to live out his dreams and that those dreams include me in some small way. He filled a void in my life that I didn't even know I had and has taken up permanent residence in my heart.

Now I can add having new friends stay at my house and a trip to Raleigh to my Clay resume.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Clickable graphics by Fountaindawg also reflect the six-year span from the American Idol collage, 1, and Atlanta-Gala dreams, photo by Shamrock, 2, to the promise of beautiful music with Decca Records in 2010, 3.

Giving Challenge Enters Final Days

Supporters of the National Inclusion Project are busy organizing a Final Push Party for the last 24-hour period of America's Giving Challenge from 3 p.m. EDT Thursday - 2:59 p.m. Friday.

The National Inclusion Project needs to finish within the top 12 to receive a $10,000 award. At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the foundation was holding onto 10th place with a total of $16,630 from 1,157 unique contributors.

UPDATE: At 3 p.m. Friday, the National Inclusion Project finished in the 13th position with 1,570 donations totaling $25,100. See Causes for the unofficial final results.

Of utmost importance is the total number of unique/different contributors. The Clay Nation hopes to inspire several hundred unique donations in the final days of gift-giving. AGC counts one donation per person per day with a minimum gift of $10.

All contributions will aid the foundation and do not have to be at the last minute. Encourage friends and family members to become involved in the cause for inclusion. Donate and follow the progress of the NIP here. A $10,000 bonus would fund another "Let's All Play" camp.

National Inclusion Project - America's Giving Challenge
Montage by LovesClaysVoice

Several montages can help explain the foundation's mission and accomplishments to your contacts outside the CA fandom: National Inclusion Project - America's Giving Challenge and Power of the Dream by LCV, National Inclusion Project by SueReu, What It's All About, Clay's 2008 Gala speech posted by Wowzers4Clay, and Champions Gala 2009 by SueRue.

The "Final Push for NIP" project is being promoted throughout Clay Cyberspace. Share your recruiting techniques, successes, questions in blog comments and posts on Clay Aiken message boards.

Together we can make a difference!

The Night Chris Matthews 'Died'

Since the sudden death of my DIRECTV recorder in the middle of Monday's Chris Matthews Show, it's been very quiet around my house. No news, no political posturing/discussion, no sports, no movies, no nothing coming from the squawk box just a few feet from my computer.

Part of the deathly silence is my mourning the loss of countless favorite movies that are gone forever. I am one who can enjoy a movie or read a book more than once. Some of the movies, recorded months ago when I had the introductory, free access to premium channels, had become old, faithful friends.

Even though there's a replacement DVR box en route, things may stay quiet a little longer as I am the least mechanically-minded person in the world. DIRECTV assures me I can handle the new hookup, but these folks really don't know the depth of my ineptitude. I have already called a friend to be on standby.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying listening to Clay Aiken sing!

Below is a clickable of cindilu2's opening graphic:

Have a wonderful, noisy, winning week, Clay Nation!


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