Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clay Aiken Fans Remember 'Take'

ATLANTA AUDITION - The Clay Nation honors the anniversary of "Take," Jan. 28, 2003. Graphic by Fountaindawg.

'Always and Forever' in Atlanta

Clay Nation Marks Anniversary

Celebrations are in full swing throughout Cyberspace as fans recall the night in 2003 that Clay Aiken was introduced to the world with the American Idol 2 telecast of his Atlanta audition.

Take time to tell me you really care
And we'll share tomorrow together
Baby, I'll always love you forever.

Always and forever
Each moment with you
Is just like a dream to me
That somehow came true.

Sign into any message board in Clay Cyber and you will note a stream of "Happy Take!" greetings honoring the opening lyrics of "Always and Forever," his audition song.

What a Feeling, a montage by Aspiegirl, commemorates the Atlanta event and the memorable AI5 finale appearance three years later.

What a Feeling - Montage by Aspiegirl

On January 28, 2003, an unassuming redhead from North Carolina took his first step on the path of pop culture. The text below has been adapted from a seven-year highlights post by Fountaindawg.

2003: We watched Clay Aiken rise through the ranks of American Idol and take his initial steps as a successful independent performer by the fourth quarter of that year. The early days were just a peek at both the "Measure of a Man" and a natural entertainer.

2004: Three tours! And a book! And a Christmas special! Clay was one of the hardest working people in the entertainment business. We were definitely spoiled.

2005: With the Jukebox Tour's Elvis-Motown-Beatles-Disco-New Music, Clay certainly showed his range. He showed that he "Scrubs" up nicely, too.

2006: Silence and patience as we waited for the man to talk and to sing ... the AI5 finale water cooler moment ... and the "Clay Aiken Traveling Christmas Music and Comedy Banter Show."

2007: This year brought a tour that showed "A Thousand Different Ways" to sing slooooooowwwww songs and, later on, the "Clay Aiken Traveling Christmas Music But *Not* Talking to You This Year (Nope No Way) Show"!

2008: Clay "Spammed" … a lot! Stage doors galore meant plenty of pics for the truly obsessed. (Yes, that would be me!) He also began his own family and spoke his Truth. He was "out" in every meaning of the word, reclaiming his life. "On My Way Here" had some interesting stops along the way!

2009: A quiet year fandom-wise, but we did catch Clay between a "30 Rock" and a Tyra place. While "Fostering" his relationships quietly, he made a few appearances and, after kicking the old "Arsey, Eh" label to the curb, announced that he would begin a new "Deccade" with a release in 2010.

If You Don't Know Me By Now - Montage by Aspiegirl

The montage If You Don't Know Me By Now encapsulates highlights from tours, television appearances, UNICEF trips, and National Inclusion Project events. IYDKMBN is a bonus track from the singer's A Thousand Different Ways CD of 2007.

Here are Sendspace downloads for both montages --
What a Feeling and If You Don't Know Me By Now -- by Aspiegirl.

See Fountaindawg's Year at a Glance Timelines, annual collages from 2002 - 2009, at the Clay Aiken Kids site.

NEW YEAR - The Clay Nation celebrates Years 1-7 and the beginning of Year 8. Graphic by Fountaindawg.

So here’s to what was,
The memories are sweet.
And here’s to what will be.
Hey, maybe he’ll even Tweet!

Below are clickables of commemorative graphics by Fountaindawg, 1 and 3, and Cotton, 2:

Happy "Take" anniversary ... the beginning of Year 8 ... and the new decade, aptly spelled "Deccade" by the Clay Nation!


Recently featured in this blog, the Retrospective montages by SueReu provide an outstanding rewind of the past seven years. The Atlanta audition appears in Retro 1. Enjoy!

Clay Aiken, A Retrospective, Part 1 - The Music

Clay Aiken, A Retrospective, Part 2 - Small Screen Fun

Clay Aiken, A Retrospective, Part 3 - A Special Guest

Clay Aiken, A Retrospective, Part 4 - Photographs and Memories

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Clay Aiken Makes Global Difference

MAKING A DIFFERENCE - Golfing for Inclusion, Feb. 1 fundraiser of the National Inclusion Project, is represented in this graphic by cindilu2 from the 2009 event. Photos by Katy4Clay.

Heart of Clay's Singing Career

Star Influence Benefits Charities

From the start, making a difference and using the celebrity influence of American Idol have been at the heart of Clay Aiken's career.

Throughout the 2003 competition, admirers of the geeky Carolina crooner's voice steadily grew, evolving into a nation of ticket/CD-buying fans for the Season 2 runner-up.

The multitudes of Idol Found-Game Over followers became the Clay Nation, directing talent, time, energy, and financial support towards the singer's humanitarian goals, adopting his charitable causes and joining his campaign to make a difference for children around the globe.

Clay during AI2 Hollywood Auditions
"... the biggest thing about being an American Idol is
the influence someone has when they are well known

Contestant a Man of His Word

In July 2003 in the middle of the AI2 Tour, Clay's advocacy for children with disabilities resulted in the formation of The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, bridging the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them.

In 2009, the foundation was renamed the National Inclusion Project to better portray its mission.

The health and educational needs of children around the world became central goals of Clay's 2004 appointment as a UNICEF Ambassador.

Clickable by Claystruck

In addition to projects in the US, he has represented UNICEF in several countries, including Indonesia, Uganda, Afghanistan, Mexico, Somalia, and Kenya.

Inclusion Project Slates 3rd GFI

On Feb. 1, Clay and PGA professional Wayne Player will host the 3rd Annual Golfing for Inclusion fundraiser at the Mirasol country Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. In addition to a clinic by Player, GFI 2010 will feature a golf tournament, hole-in-one contests, live/silent auctions, extraordinary cuisine, and a special performance by Clay.

In addition to the live auction at Monday, online bidding is provided for several attractive items. Various avenues of participation are available through online registration at the Inclusion Project site.

The Gift of Life - Montage by SueReu
'Grace of God' by Clay Aiken

The colossal relief required by Haiti, rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, immediately became a project of the Clay Nation. Spearheaded by SueRue, the singer's fans are donating through a special link at UNICEF: From the Heart of the Clay Nation.

When the original goal of $2,000 was reached, a second was set at $3k. That met, CA fans are now 78% towards achieving the third goal of $4,000. One hundred per cent of the donations will aid the children of Haiti.

The "Gift of Life" montage, accompanied by Clay's "Grace of God" track, can also be viewed at YouTube.

International Media Promises News

An upcoming CD from Decca and a March PBS taping has the Clay Nation on guard. According to the latest Facebook post by International Media, production company for public television, the next two weeks will be anything but calm in Clay Land:

BIG Clay Aiken announcement coming in two weeks: venue, date and location information will posted here and on our website. Stay tuned. Thank you for sharing your interest and excitement with us!

One of the best descriptions of fan excitement level and angst for March 12 details was posted Monday by mumm fums at the Clayversity message board:
Clay's invented a whole new meaning to "March Madness"!!!

Ironically, the Atlantic Coast Conference College Basketball Championship is March 11-14, the same weekend in question, 60 miles west of Raleigh in Greensboro. March Madness indeed!!!

Below is a clickable of cindilu2's lead graphic:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Clay Aiken Pledges CD Details

Clay Aiken graphic by AmazingCA

Singer To Share News in Blog

Album Buzz Soars in Clay Cyber

The excited buzz and anticipation levels circulating through Clay Aiken Cyberspace match the singer's enthusiasm for the upcoming CD and PBS Special shared on Twitter, Facebook, and his fan club blog.

Speculation about which songs will be on the new Decca album continues at full throttle as fans await the news Singer Man seems dying to tell. So far he is "biting his tongue" to keep details under wraps. According to his latest blog, news is coming soon.

We are almost finished with the album, and I love it. I think you will too. These songs, the arrangements, the orchestrations are the most amazing I have ever gotten to record.

As a musician, that seals the deal for me!

The casual or Not.Just.Us fan sector is also on alert, as CA message board members are spreading word of the new CD via various modes. In case news breaks when fans are away from their computers, various contingency plans -- texting, cell phones, the good old-fashioned land line -- are in place.

National Inclusion Project rolls out YouTube channel.

Fans Spread TNIP News, Too

The National Inclusion Project, the charity co-founded in 2003 by Clay and Diane Bubel for all children, benefits from the unofficial P.R. activities of CA fans. Two of the three NJU stories below are about Clay's charitable endeavors for children.

The above video can also be viewed on the new Inclusion Project channel page at YouTube. Supporters are encouraged to subscribe to the site and follow the organization on Facebook. See National Inclusion Project.

Hopefully, others will share their NJU experiences in the comment section so I can add them to the blog. As always, thank you for helping to tell the story of Clay Aiken.

ISEEME: I was getting my nails done, and the woman next to me was talking about "teaching her kids to make grilled cheese sandwiches." I asked her how many kids she had. She explained she is a junior high special ed teacher for children with severe emotional problems and was shocked at how many of them had never been in a kitchen. She believes in teaching them life skills as well as reading and writing.

Naturally, I had to tell her I was a big Clay Aiken fan and asked if she knows about his foundation. Before I could get "National Inclusion Project" out, she interrupted and said, "I know! It's about inclusion, and it's a wonderful organization!"

She asked me about Clay's background and how he chose that particular cause to support. (HA -- a captive audience!) So I told her about his special ed degree, work at the YMCA, the little girl who wasn't accepted because she had special needs, Michael Bubel, and so on.

She said she had heard about the foundation in an in-service session last summer. As an afterthought I said, "Oh, and the guy can sing, too!" She knew that, too. It was a good moment.

Clickable graphics are by cindilu2, 1 and 3, and Ashes, 2.

NCWANNABE: My NJU story began a few months ago when a co-worker was in my office talking about a work issue. Suddenly she stopped mid-sentence and said, "OMG, is that Clay Aiken?!?!?"

She had spotted the picture(s) of Clay and me in my office and asked if I had met him. I told her about my "meet and greet," concert reading, and the special dinner in 2009. She was quite impressed.

Last week the same co-worker dropped by to ask a question. As she started walking away, she said "Oh, I saw an article on Huffington Post that your friend Clay Aiken wrote. I was impressed. He is a UNICEF Ambassador! Wow!"

I explained that Clay has been a UNICEF Ambassador since 2004 and has traveled to Somalia. She just kept nodding her head and saying, "I am so impressed."

Definitely made my day!

: When I picked up a prescription at our pharmacy drive-through, "Something About Us" was playing on my CD player.

Female Pharmacist: "Who is that?"
Me: Clay Aiken
FP: I've never heard that song before. What's the name of it?
Me: "Something About Us". It's on his last CD.
FP: What's the name of the CD?
Me: On My Way Here
FP: I need to get a copy of that. That's a beautiful song!

From the headlines:

Clay will release his 1st album on @deccalabelgroup in summer 2010! It will be a collection of classic songs from the 50s and 60s.

American Idol superstar alumni and TV personality CLAY AIKEN sings great romantic favorites in "Classic Memories". Tapings for this International Media special will take place in February. Look for the show to be aired on public TV this June!

Clay Aiken is in the Decca house! Such a nice guy.

The above tweets/posts are from decca label group and International Media at Twitter and/or Facebook. Admittedly biting his tongue, Clay passed along this information in his blog, now on the public side of the OFC:

If I were making travel plans, I'd be sure to be in Raleigh by 7PM on Friday, March 12th. I'm just sayin' ....

Below is a clickable of the opening graphic by AmazingCA:

Here's to an exciting ride on the Clay Train in 2010! All aboard -- the best is yet to come!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Clay Aiken: 'Spamalot' Debut Salute

OPENING NIGHT -- Cindilu2's animated design with photos by Kareneh commemorates Clay Aiken's Jan. 18, 2008, debut as Sir Robin in the Broadway show "Spamalot."

Ovations Rock Shubert Theatre

Clay Aiken Debuts in 'Spamalot'

Today's 400th Carolina On My Mind entry salutes Clay Aiken's Jan. 18, 2008, Broadway debut as Spamalot's Sir Robin. With minor alterations, below is a reprint of the Carolina blog that appeared the morning after the singer's celebrated opening.

Many thnx to all who visit this site regularly, leave comments, and are participating in the 400th milestone entry. At last count, you represent 138 countries around the world.

This weekend Clay Aiken is the toast of the town in New York City. With his spectacular debut Friday in Broadway's award-winning "Spamalot," the singer was everything his director had predicted in promos leading up to the extraordinary night.

Clay is amazing beyond that glorious voice. Turns out he is an excellent comic actor and a master of character. People are going to be surprised by his wide-ranging talent. -- Mike Nichols

The stunning performance had also been predicted five years ago by American Idol guest judge Gladys Knight:

You're ... you're ... a mystery. You have your own look. There's something very magical about your look. And your voice is so pure. I don't know in the contemporary world what's going to happen with you, but something exceptional is going to happen for you along the way because you are pure. You're wonderful.

Opening night excitement continued Saturday as both performances were SOLD OUT and "Standing Room Only"!

Special Celllcert Breaks Records

Friday's audience was filled with CA fans; and despite the plan to abide by no clack or streams from the theater, Internet fan participation via cellcerts before/after the show, as well as during intermission, registered peak proportions for those back home.

With 721 on board Friday night, Clayversity broke the previous record of 666 set during The Bubel/Aiken Foundation Gala last year. Amazingly, the only transmissions Friday night were fan reactions.

Official critiques of a newcomer in an established show can take a while, but the Clay Nation has prolific recaps from those who attended the singer/actor's Broadway debut. This blog is quoting parts of several from multiple message boards.

Cast Cheers Clay's Performance

Queensmum: This was an absolutely magical night and an experience I will never forget. I knew Clay would be good, but I never thought he would be that good. The joy on his face -- and his fellow cast mates' -- at the curtain call, lifted up my heart. Sir Galahad hugged his arm and patted him on the back ("job well done"), and the King gave a little special acknowledgment of Clay.

A Not.Just.Us man, talking about how good the knight was, thought he was speaking with Clay's mother because the fan knew so much about him.

PanayRN4Clay: What a night! The sold-out Shubert Theater pulsated with cheers for Clay and company. The cast were excellent, but Clay was undeniably the one with the biggest applause. All the numbers were treated with huge cheers, but Clay generated the most "oohs" and "aahs" and the loudest ovation at the finale. What a star!

During the curtain call, Clay was second to the last to come out. He's a superstar. Even his cast mates are acknowledging that when they turned and pointed at him as the whole audience erupted in cheers and a standing ovation.

I was choked up with so much pride for Clay. His face was lit up as he absorbed the love from the audience and the respect from his peers. A nice salute at the end from Clay!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: The first three photos are by Bruce Gilkas of In the first, Clay is pictured with Hannah Waddingham, who Friday night made her Broadway debut as Lady of the Lake. The second includes original cast member Christopher Sieber, and the third is a cast shot.

Photos 4 and 5 by Irishbookgal and BigAppleforClay, respectively, show the enormous crowd that gathered in Shubert Alley for autographs and to congratulate Clay on his big night.

A Master of Comedic Timing

WinkyDink: "Clay was superb. Mike Nichols knew what he was critiquing when he said Clay has excellent comedic timing. The cast knew it, too. At the very end, even "King Arthur," during his own bow, held out his arm to Clay, in acknowledgment."

LinusluvsClay: "The cast looked stunned at the reaction of the audience during the curtain call, and they were loving it! Kind of like the reaction of the Saturday Night Live cast when Clay did the show and came out in the white outfit and the audience went ballistic.

I remember the regular cast looking at each other, grinning and shaking their heads. It was like that tonight. They were all smiling at him and pointing at him, and Clay just beamed. Truly a magical moment!"

Cindilu2: "Beyond amazing! I don't even have the words. He is a natural -- pure and simple. Born to be on the stage. Loved the whole show - it was funny beyond expectations. Laughed until I had tears in my eyes several times.

The Guard, Brother Maynard, and Sir Robin might have been three different people. He made each one unique and awesome. And his voice - just GAH!"

A Knight To Remember!

Toni7babe: "What a incredible KNIGHT last KNIGHT was! And then what a blast we all had taking over Sardi's afterwards! Truly a KNIGHT I will never forget!

Clay was, as you all know, totally wonderful. His comedic timing, his expressions, and the accent blew me away. I have no words to describe just how wonderful he was.

Some NJU people had attended the show and were waiting near us by the door. They said they had never seen Clay in person or a concert but came when they saw he was going to be in "Spamalot" because they always had liked him on Idol. They said they couldn't believe how good he was, that his expressions were priceless."

Mustbeeme: "Not only did it all "click," but he fit in like a pro! I had more than a few "OMG" moments last night, but I must say seeing the press run and swarm the stage at the end to get pictures of Clay was one of the best ones."

GRAPHIC INTERLUDE: The fandom's graphic artists helped celebrate Clay's debut weekend with new creations, many using the official "Spamalot" photos by Joan Marcus. Featured in this interlude are clickables by Amazing_CA, 1 and 4; MNmeesh, 2; A Beautiful Mind, photo by FiveGoldens, 3; and Fountaindawg, 5.

Applause Raises the Rafters

Playbiller: "At the end, the applause was loud and long for everyone from the chorus members to the king. It was loudest for Clay; he was next to last, only followed by the king. After the king took his bow, he pointed to Clay in the line and the thunderous applause came again.

Perhaps he wanted to see if we were paying attention. So they went into the big finale number. The lights dimmed, and the actors moved back onto the stage waving -- and Clay did his little salute before returning to waving like everyone else."

Dancermom2: "He really didn't "sing" like at a concert. The singing was a breeze for him last night. When they added the line about "Idol." the audience roared; and when he said his line about singing and dancing, the audience roared. There was a lot of that going on last night.

During the curtain call, everyone got applause and cheers; but for Clay, I think we lifted the rafters of the Shubert theater. It was deafening, truly deafening.

We all came out of the theater and waited in Shubert Alley for Clay. There were a lot of people there, the paparazzi, too.When Clay came out, there was a roar. A cheer went up. I know he felt the love; he had to.

Those who make it to Broadway are only the best of the best. Last night on the stage of the Shubert Theater, Clay Aiken proved those words."

Clickable proofs of FCA's 'Spamalot' pins

FCA 'Spamalot' Pins Sell Out

The original order for two "Spamalot" pins designed by Cindilu2 for the Finding Clay Aiken board more than doubled expectations before completely selling out in the middle of Friday's opening show.

Couch Tomato sent word that she literally pulled the plug for the pin link mid-performance. Orders for 500 "Finding Sir Robin" and "Doing Clay on Broadway" pins were received from fans throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Denmark, New Zealand, and Australia.

Clay Salutes Fans in Final Bow

Clay's silent salute to fans during Friday night's final bows had many expecting to hear his traditional tour closer: "I'm Clay Aiken! Good Night!"

Photo by Steven A. Henry

Singer Man posted a brief blog at the OFC thanking his fans for their support. The cast was apparently blown away by the audience's enthusiasm. Now they wonder if CA fans can maintain the same intensity for 15 weeks.

Little did they know. Bravo, Clay!

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

America Honors Legacy of MLK

A NATION REMEMBERS -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presents the "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Aug. 28, 1963. The life and legacy of Dr. King will be commemorated Monday, Jan. 18. (AP Photo)

'I Have a Dream'

Day of Service Tribute to King

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today! -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, Jan. 18, this nation commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of the nonviolent civil rights movement in the 1960's and, 42 years after his death, still a symbolic force in the ongoing struggles toward fulfillment of his famous speech: freedom, equality, justice, dignity, respect for human beings of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

For the full text and video of Dr. King's oratory, see
I Have a Dream.

Obama Presidency Magnifies King

Significantly in 2009, Barack Obama, the nation's first African American was inaugurated on the steps of the US Capitol building one day prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

On Monday, hundreds of thousands of American citizens will honor Dr. King's legacy with community projects like tutoring children, building homes, cleaning parks, painting classrooms, delivering meals.

Participation in "a day on, not a day off" of service has grown steadily since 1994 when Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to celebrate the King holiday in this manner, reflecting the man's life and teachings.

Following Jan. 12's devastating earthquake in Haiti, countless citizens have been inspired to direct funds and MLK Day service efforts toward this neighboring country with colossal needs.

Fans of Clay Aiken, a UNICEF Ambassador since 2004, are donating through the organization's special link: From the Heart of the Clay Nation. The Gift of Life montage below is accompanied by the singer's "Grace of God" track and can also be viewed at YouTube.

The Gift of Life - Montage by SueReu
'Grace of God' by Clay Aiken

There are numerous Internet links for the Life and Teachings of Dr. King, who would have been 81 years old on Jan. 15 had he lived. In 1968, his plans for a Poor People's March to Washington were interrupted by a trip to Memphis, TN, to support striking sanitation workers. For more information, see Wikipedia.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated by career criminal James Earl Ray as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Often quoted are these poignant words from his speech in Detroit five years earlier:

I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just Four Blocks Away

As my junior year at New Hanover High School in Wilmington, NC, came to a close in May 1960, I was elected editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, was already writing a teen column for the Star-News Newspapers, and had just been awarded a scholarship to Northwestern University's National High School Institute in Journalism.

My parents allowed me to ride a bus from Wilmington to Evanston, IL, which is another blog in itself. Upon arriving on the Northwestern campus, I located my dorm room and began meeting new friends from throughout the country. When I told a girl my hometown, she said, "There's another girl on this hall from Wilmington, too."

That's how I met Phyllis Brown, also a high school senior and editor-in-chief elect of her newspaper. Phyllis attended all-black Williston High School just four blocks away from NHHS, which at the time was all-white.

That summer Phyllis and I became fast friends. Like all southerners at the summer institute, we were asked to demonstrate our accents time and again. With other young journalists, we participated in and wrote about a variety of events, some concocted by the faculty and some real. We toured the Chicago Tribune offices and attended the Democratic National Convention where John F. Kennedy was nominated for the presidency.

Staying in Touch

When we returned home from the six-week institute, Phyllis and I stayed in touch throughout our senior year and even on college breaks. My teen column highlighted NHHS happenings, featured stories about various students, and included a brief gossip section in which I often inserted special shout-outs of "hello" or "congratulations" to Phyllis.

That December my mother and I attended a beautiful ceremony during which my friend and several girls her age were inducted into a special sorority.

Phyllis attended Howard University, and I left in the fall for St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg. A few years later our high schools merged, but not without vicious racial riots and demonstrations. We lost contact when I married and moved to Texas.

How could two 17-year-old girls who lived within a five-mile radius of each other and attended school four blocks apart not meet until they traveled to a university campus 600 miles away from home? Separate schools were the norm throughout the South; but change was in the air, as the timeline below indicates.

Harsh Lesson in Discrimination

Mr. Caro, a drummer in the 82nd Airborne Division Band at Fort Bragg during 1963-64, also played in one of the most popular combos in eastern NC -- The House Rockers or The Components, depending on the type gig booked.

The band played the hottest music of the day -- Green Onions, Walking the Dog, Puff the Magic Dragon, Twist and Shout -- for redneck armories, black and white high school proms, country club debutante balls, you name it.

When the white Texas drummer joined the all-black combo, he was slapped with a harsh education in segregation just about the same time that Dr. King was delivering the now famous I Have a Dream speech.

En route to a gig, the band members decided to stop for hamburgers. The drummer didn't believe his musician friends when they told him he would have to place their order. The belligerent owner not only wouldn't serve the musicians, but Mr. Caro was told in no uncertain, unprintable terms where he could go, too.

This was his first personal experience with the despicable manner in which African-Americans were treated in the South. He remembers being extremely furious and that his fellow band members had to calm him down.

During a debutante ball in a local country club, Mr. Caro noticed a chaperone gradually inching her way around the room towards the band. She had been staring at the drummer throughout the 45-minute set. During a break by the band, she snuck up to him and asked, "How can you stand to play with this, this ... all black group?"

Never at a loss for snark, Mr. Caro looked the woman in the eye and drawled, "Well, 'mam, I'm only passing for white."

Remembering Dr. King

Changes in the Air

As shown in the partial Civil Rights Timeline below, during these same years (1960 - 64), history was being made with the Sit-In Movement, which originated in Greensboro; the Freedom Rides; Dr. King's speeches, projects, nonviolent marches; and subsequent civil rights legislation.

The battles for equality led by Dr. King -- and the legions of other men, women, and children before and since -- are to be celebrated and remembered on this special day.

Civil Rights Timeline

1865: 13th Amendment outlawed slavery.

1870: 15th Amendment established the right of black males to vote.

1920: 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.

5-17-54: The Supreme Court ruled on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS., unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

12-1-55: Rosa Parks refused to change seats on a Montgomery, AL, bus.

Greensboro Woolworth's 1960 Sit-In

2-1-60: Four NC A&T students launched the Greensboro Sit-Ins at the Elm Street Woolworth's. After purchasing school supplies, they approached the lunch counter and ordered coffee at 4:30 p.m. Though refused service, they remained in their seats until closing. The next day 25 participated in the sit-in, the following day 63, representing more than one race.

Within two months, the Sit-In Movement had spread to 54 cities in nine states. Student sit-ins would be effective throughout the Deep South in integrating parks, swimming pools, theaters, libraries, and other public facilities.

Woolworth's Exhibit at Greensboro Historial Museum

7-25-60: The first black ate a meal sitting down at Woolworth's in Greensboro. After one week, 300 blacks had been customers. Parts of the Woolworth's counter are on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and the Greensboro Historical Museum as reminders that we never forget where we have come as a country.

1961: Integrated groups of protesters joined Freedom Rides on buses across the South to protest segregation.

1963: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

1964: Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in education and employment. Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize.

1965: Congress passed Voting Rights Act of 1965. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting were made illegal.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1968: Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN, at the age of 39.

1983: Congress passed and President Reagan signed legislation creating Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be celebrated on the third Monday of January.

1986: Federal Martin Luther King holiday was first celebrated.

Keeping the Dream Alive

Our society is changing with younger generations on a much faster track toward a new social order than their parents and grandparents. Excerpts from middle school student essays honoring Dr. King's legacy -- "United for the Common Good" -- can be read in this Seattle Times article.

In 2009 on Meet the Press, comedian Bill Cosby described his feelings when voting for this country's first African American president. Accompanying him into the voting booth were pictures of his late father, mother, and brother James. "I pulled the curtain, took out their pictures, and said, 'And now we're going to vote.'"

He quickly added, "I only voted once ... and their pictures were out. Then I put them back in my pocket and opened the curtain. And it was wonderful."

On Jan. 18, 2010, the United States will honor Dr. King and the generations who paved the way for the historic inauguration celebrated one year ago.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even first graders are learning the significance of Dr. King. While receiving a well-deserved spanking, one reminded her mother, "According to Martin Luther King, we are supposed to use words, not fists!"

Happy Birthday, Dr. King!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Clay Aiken Sets Album, PBS Special

Clay Aiken Jukebox Tour, Part 1 - The 50s
Video blends by Scruffy 13

Summer CD, PBS Special

Facebook, Twitter Deliver News

Between Facebook and Twitter, the past couple of days have been one continuous news flash about Clay Aiken's upcoming album of 50s-60s classic songs and PBS "Classic Memories" special.

Beginning Tuesday, the timeline of posts by Decca Label Group, International Media, and Clay himself revealed this information:

Listening to the upcoming @ClayAiken album in the Decca office and it sounds amazing! Fans will definitely not be disappointed!


American Idol superstar alumni, NY Times best-selling author and TV personality Clay Aiken sings great romantic favorites in "Classic Memories". Stay tuned for more information on a forthcoming special!

COMING IN JUNE: American Idol superstar alumni and TV personality CLAY AIKEN sings great romantic favorites in "Classic Memories". Tapings for this International Media special will take place in February. Look for the show to be aired on public TV this June!

Clay will release his 1st album on @deccalabelgroup in summer 2010! It will be a collection of classic songs from the 50s and 60s.

Graphic by Sally, photo by Tasapio

Jukebox Playlist Provides Clues

Fans need look no farther than the very popular 2005 Jukebox Tour for clues about possible tracks for the new album. Message board supposition is indeed in full swing!

A fan favorite throughout North America, the Jukebox Tour featured Clay, a seven-piece band, and three back-up singers performing music of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, with tracks from the Measure of a Man album, and some new songs being considered for the second CD.

Slow tempo, up tempo, you name it -- Jukebox Tour videos are an excellent source for deliberation while fans await album news and snippets.

The JBT 50s medley included such favorites as "The Great Pretender," "Only You," "That'll Be the Day, "Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay," and "Unchained Melody" plus an entire segment devoted to Elvis.

Clay Aiken Jukebox Tour, Part 2 - The 60s
Video blends by Scruffy 13

Among the songs in the 60s collection were "Downtown," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Sugar Sugar," "Happy Together," "Solitaire," and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

Scruffy13 blended videos from various concerts to create the montages includes in this blog: the 50s Medley opener and the thee-part 60s medley. For those who have never seen Clay converse with an audience, the fourth video provides a glimpse.

To view the entire Jukebox Tour, go to Scruffy 13's YouTube page and click through the numbers!

Clay Aiken Jukebox Tour - 60s, Part 3
Video blends by Scruffy 13

Clay Aiken Jukebox Tour - 60s, Part 4
Video blends by Scruffy 13

The Decca Decade is off to a rip-roaring start. No doubt the JBT rewinds provide a starting point for speculation -- that is, until the next nugget arrives on Twitter or Facebook.

In the midst of CD/PBS celebrations, fans are remembering their Haitian neighbors. Visit UNICEF and help spread the word to citizens of the world who would like to help. Link others to this Haiti Earthquake PSA video.

SueReu's excellent montage Haiti - Give the Gift of Life Through UNICEF is accompanied by Clay's "Grace of God" vocal.

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


Other blogs with a similar topic include:

Clay Aiken Fact Find

Clay Aiken News Network

Clay Aiken News

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Clay Aiken's UM In Top AI Vocals

Clay Aiken - Unchained Melody (Season 2)

CA Fans Celebrate PBS, CD News!!!

Curtain Rises on Idol's Season 9

It's showtime for American Idol 9, and the opening curtain countdown is being celebrated in countless ways across the Web.

Clay Aiken's Top 3 performance of "Unchained Melody" from Season 2 is featured in a lineup of 12 former AI contestants at Countdown to American Idol: 12 of the Best Idol Voices on Neon Limelght:

Through all of the delicious side dishes, we really tune in to hear the great voices of talented undiscovered singers. From sultry soul singers, big theatrical wailers, and angelic soothers, Idol has seen every kind of voice imaginable.

The 12 best vocals from Idol's eight seasons -- Clay Aiken, David Archuleta, Elliott Yamin, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, LaToya London, Kelly Clarkson, Kris Allen, Melinda Doolittle, David Cook, Chris Daughtry, and Adam Lambert -- are featured in the festivities.

Clay sings 'Unchained Melody' on AI2.

Read a blurb about each, view all 12 performances, and leave a comment on Neon Limelight. Of course, Clay's Season 2 version of Unchained Melody is my favorite. The falsetto leap puts a lump in my throat every time:

If Clay didn’t give you chills at least once during his run on American Idol, you’re dead inside. Haul yourself off to the nearest morgue. He’s the first Idol to get hit with the “too theatrical” critique; and, thankfully, for those who’d follow, he made it OK.

Pop Sugar Rush kicked off the new season with a splash about the five Most Successful American Idol Contestants. They include Clay, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, and Kelly Clarkson.

The video at Idolator -- Simon's Idol Legacy - His Best and Worst Calls -- includes an exchange CA fans can quote from memory:

Simon Call: "Okay. Very good. You don’t look like a pop star, but you’ve got a great voice. So now what? Clay Aiken, we’ll see you in Hollywood."

Actual Outcome: Oh, ye of little faith. Thankfully for Clay, the mass market can sometimes see greatness beneath the surface. While he may have come in second (by a mere 130,000 votes), Clay went on to debut at #1 on the Billboard chart with the highest-selling first album by an Idol alum to date.

He has scored a number of subsequent hits (though he left the RCA label in 2008), generated some $28 million at the concert box office in his first five tours, and starred on Broadway in Spamalot.

Clay's PBS Special, CD Headline News

Tuesday night the curtain rose on American Idol 9 on FOX. Even more exciting to Clay Aiken fans was the latest tweet from @deccalabelgroup:

Listening to the upcoming @ClayAiken album in the Decca office and it sounds amazing! Fans will definitely not be disappointed!

And from iNternational Media on Wednesday:


American Idol superstar alumni, NY Times best-selling author and TV personality Clay Aiken sings great romantic favorites in "Classic Memories". Stay tuned for more information on a forthcoming special!

And from International Media's Facebook page Thursday morning:

International Media COMING IN JUNE: American Idol superstar alumni and TV personality CLAY AIKEN sings great romantic favorites in "Classic Memories". Tapings for this International Media special will take place in February. Look for the show to be aired on public TV this June!

And then Singer Man tweeted and posted at Facebook about his new album:

Clay Aiken: Clay will release his 1st album on @deccalabelgroup in summer 2010! It will be a collection of classic songs from the 50s and 60s.

WOOHOO, the Decca Decade has arrived!!! Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Clay Aiken Fans Have Their Say

Clay Aiken, Retrospective 4: Photographs & Memories
Montage by SueReu

Overview for CA Newcomers

Retro 4 Video Replays Memories

Thank you so much for this outstanding montage! I can't even begin to imagine the time and effort that must go into creating something like this.

The LOVE you and others have for Clay is how I found him not quite a year ago. So know that your LOVE for him has brought another person to know and love Clay. I can't put into words the appreciation that I feel. ~ D

The Retrospective montages about various aspects of Clay Aiken's career and charitable endeavors are resonating with new and longtime fans alike. Despite the disclaimer, the above comment describes the Clay Nation's appreciation for the remarkable series by SueReu.

Posted Friday, the fourth montage reflects the photo shoots and videos of Clay's early years. For fans of seven years, they are packages chock full of special memories. For newcomers, the montages provide an excellent introduction to initial events.

The video can be viewed in the above player or at YouTube. You can download the Retro 4 montage with this Sendspace link.

Mailbag: Readers Use Their Voice

Visitors 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 remarks shared by Carolina On My Mind and Clayonline readers in a mailbag entry.

This edition highlights what many of you wrote about the National Inclusion Project, the outstanding fan montages featured this past month, the arrival of the much-anticipated Decca Decade, 2009 recollections, the joyous Christmas music synonymous with Clay Aiken, and the Clay Nation's remembrances of a very special friend.

Golfing for Inclusion graphic by AmazingCA

1-6-10 Clay Aiken Practices Golf Swing

VIBAJAJO: Great blog! Hope the weather warms up in Florida so they can have a great turnout for inclusion.

MARIANHOOKAILO: Just saw SueReu's 4th episode. She continues her journey of portraying Clay the way we love to see him.

SIOL: With SueReu's montage, I was spellbound. I got chills so often during it, I had to get a sweater. What a great job and what wonderful memories. I just have to watch it a few more times.

HOSAA: I hope to be attending the Youth Inclusion Summit this weekend, so thanks for the writeup about it.

Cap from 'Grace' montage - LovesClaysVoice

1-3-10 Montage Characterizes Clay Aiken

MISSSALLY: With "Grace", LovesClaysVoice created an ethereal, deeply moving montage. The music and black & white images are hauntingly beautiful, and not easily forgotten. Thank you so much for featuring this remarkable montage.

MARGARET5828: So you were on vacation! That is why we are getting so many wonderful blogs. Keep them coming; I enjoy every word, picture, and montage.

ANAMERAIKENINTX: If I were not already a Clay fan and I happened upon this montage, I think it alone would make me want to learn more about Clay Aiken. This beautiful montage certainly illustrates how magnificently multi-faceted Clay is, showing both his spirit and heart.

LISA1068: I've always loved the black and white pictures the best. Along with the touching piano music they just fit so perfectly too.

DEYABIRD: The montage is grace itself and I love that it portrays caring nature so beautifully.

Graphic by cindilu2

1-1-10 Aiken Fans Embrace Decca Decade

CLAYCOLOMBIA: I love that incredible video by SueReu! I can not understand everything he says in interviews. But I am happy to see Clay and hearing speak and laugh. It is enough for me. I'm hoping all the good that will come to Clay Aiken with Decca this year

CINDY: The retrospective is fantastic! - my face is sore from grinning for 9 minutes straight. I miss seeing Clay on my TV so much and can't wait to see what 2010 has in store.

LOVESCLAYSVOICE: Decca Decade with Clay Aiken! That has a great sound to it! I can't wait!

Graphic by AmazingCA

12-30-09 Aiken Fans on Decade Countdown

SUEREU: Thanks for adding my video, Caro!! It was fun to make, going through all those Clay Aiken memories -- although it's REALLY TOUGH to limit it to just 10 minutes.

ANATUREGIRL: I am so looking forward to all the NYE celebrations. A time to look back at Clay's career so far, but eagerly looking forward to the Decca Decade.

SANDY: What a decade it was! One I will never forget as Clay has given us seven years of some of the greatest memories and friendships that I will cherish always. I can only dream of what is ahead of us in the next decade.

Graphic by Fountaindawg

12-28-09 Clay Aiken Montage Rewinds 2009

MARLYNE: Thank You for the memories. The montage by LCV is wonderful and about covers the highlights of 2009. I cannot wait to see what Clay has in store for 2010.

KATY: The best is yet to come for Clay Aiken. Bring on 2010, but I loved your 2009 memories!

SANDY: I was discussing with another fan about the Clay drought this year but after seeing this video - we actually got to see lots of Clay! I guess we somehow spoil ourselves with so many videos, pictures and montages when he is on tour, that it does seem like a "drought" when he isn't touring.

Thanks for these highlights of 2009 and looking forward to 2010. Just think a whole new decade lies ahead of us! Can hardly wait!

MISSSALLY: That Decca pic always makes my heart skip a beat! *sigh* Great wrap up, Caro. I'm sooo ready for next year!

Graphic by Cotton

12-25-09 Clay Aiken Sings of Christmas Joy

T: Merry Christmas, dear Caro! What a beautiful Christmas blog. Although this Christmas makes us remember those who are not here anymore, it's still a joy to see the spirit that shines in your blog. Appreciate everything, especially your friendship.

MARLYNE: "Mary Did You Know" is my favorite Christmas song sung by Clay; and to be truthful, I play it all year long.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER: Hope everyone is having a wonderful Clay Aiken music-filled holiday.

ANONYMOUS: Clay Aiken and Christmas music ... a perfect match!

ESTER-C: I definitely need to say thank you for your wonderful work on this blog that I have so enjoyed throughout this whole year.

Graphic by Ashes, photo by gerwhisp

12-23-09 Clay Nation Loses Special Friend

There were 64 heartfelt comments in the Carolina/OFC blog entry about Joan Martin, the very special friend the Clay Nation lost the week before Christmas.

Aspiegirl’s moving montage features visual art by Joan/Ashes/Claysmelody accompanied by her favorite singer's vocals for "Because You Loved Me."

BONNIECARMEN: Thanks so much for the tribute for Joan. Clay brought Joan alive -- she lived through difficult circumstances, but Clay always brought a smile to her face. How blessed we have been to have known her. How amazed she would be to see all the tributes, as she was a very humble person. May she rest in peace.

EMERSON: What a beautiful montage in memory of Joan and her love of all things Clay Aiken. Obviously, Clay brought an incredible amount of joy to Joan's life and she returned that same joy to Clay Nation ten-fold.

BARB55: We have lost a dear, special, and beloved friend who was one of the most dedicated Clay fans. Her blogs were positive, happy, and uplifting and put a smile on my face. She was truly an asset to the OFC and the fandom.

DONNA IN WI: Joan was one of the first to make me feel welcome. Very nice tribute for our friend. Joan would have approved and smiled.

SANDY: They say memories are forever and the memories that Joan left us will always be with us. We shall let these memories comfort us and remember her always for her undivided devotion to the man that we love and who brought us all together - Clay Aiken.

TOMMYSMOMMY: May Joan rest in peace and I hope her family can take solace in the fact that she was admired and loved by so many.


BLUECOUCHPOTATO: I cannot claim to be anything to Joan. I am just an ordinary passerby in the streets of the Clay Nation, yet even I have laughed and cried at the beauty of her work and her obvious love of life, music and Clay.
Perhaps it is sweet solace that through the very technology that enabled us to be part of her life, she will continue to be part of ours; and so many others will continue to wish they had known her.

Have a special weekend, Clay Nation!

Signature by A Beautiful Mind