Sunday, February 28, 2010

Clay Aiken Campaigns for Rights

HRC video of Clay Aiken courtesy of Pam's House Blend.

'It's About Damn Time'

Singer Speaks at 2010 HRC Gala

Clay Aiken's speech at the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala in Raleigh Saturday was eloquent, passionate, and even sprinkled with his trademark humor as he outlined the long, arduous path preceding major civil rights milestones, most often achieved after "it was about damn time."

This was not a pop concert appearance, but several of the singer's supporters attended the event and a cellcert was beamed to fans around the globe.

For sure, the title of the speech is the line Clay reiterated throughout about the personal and civil rights segments: "It's About Damn Time."

To me, one of the most moving lines occurred when he discussed a person's decision to come out: "I know that the power of truth and living honestly is very liberating."

The video of Clay's speech is from Pam Spaulding's blog,
Pam's House Blend. A North Carolinian, Pam provided a running commentary of the HRC gala in her House Blend blog. The other keynote speaker was actress-producer Meredith Baxter, whose speech is also cued on the opening player.

Sendspace downloads of Clay's speech are available in video and audio formats.

Clay and Pam Spaulding at HRC Gala.

Clay addresses HRC Carolinas meet. (Photo by Cotton)

Meredith Baxter poses with Pam Spaulding.

Achievements of the organization's Equality Award honorees -- Greensboro's Guilford Green Foundation, Mary Elizabeth Lennon of Charlotte, and David Parker of Colfax -- are published here.

Speech Outlines Civil Rights Milestones

Clay's speech was not long. These are among the highlights:

We've seen throughout our nation's history that all the major civil rights movements, major milestones in our country have come after a lot of waiting and a lot of hard, long-fought work.

Thankfully, while many of us have been waiting, you at the HRC have been fighting to ensure that LGBT Americans have the same rights that straight Americans take for granted.

As HRC's name implies, our battle is about something much larger than the LGBT community. It's about that most American of notions that all men and women are created equal. (That is, with the exception of my son, who is brilliant.)

The belief which this nation was founded on is the cornerstone of our movement; and, as I said, it has been the cornerstone of every major civil rights movement in our nation's history.
  • In 1920 when the 19th amendment was passed which gave every American woman the right to vote, it was about damn time.

  • In 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education desegregated our schools. It was about damn time.

  • In 1964 when the Civil Rights Acts was passed banning discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, it was about damn time.

  • And last year when the Matthew Shepard and James Berg, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed, it was most certainly about damn time.
The LGBT community has seen and obtained unprecedented visibility and legitimacy in America. We have a great deal more work to do to ensure that LGBT individuals and families have the same rights and same freedoms that straight Americans have.

I know that my son's world will be a better one because no one no matter how hard they try, they are not going to stop our progress.

And like those civil rights movements that came before, our message is the message of fairness, of righteousness, of decency. Our message is the message of the future. Our time is now, and it is about damn time.

Cotton, who generated the feed so fans could listen to the speech as it occurred, added this observation:

At the HRC Gala last night, I saw a room filled with people who were full of love. It was a very hopeful evening of celebrating progress and fighting for what everyone wants - the right to live and love equally. I'm so so honored to have been there.

Below are clickables of Cotton's podium photo and a collage of her HRC pictures by Fountaindawg:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Clay Aiken Plans Speech of Hope

Photo by Ethan Miller

For Speech on Human Rights

Clay To Take Stage at HRC Gala

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

Longtime advocate for inclusion and the rights of all, singer Clay Aiken takes the stage at the Raleigh Convention Center as a headline speaker for the 15th Annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Carolinas Gala Saturday.

Emmy Award-winning actress and producer Meredith Baxter will share the speaker podium with Clay at the HRC Gala. Individual and organization award recipients will be honored during the evening program.

When Clay and Diane Bubel co-founded the National Inclusion Project in 2003, the singer's fans became core supporters and fundraisers for the organization's mission to include all children with and without disabilities in community activities.

Through the North Carolina singer, supportive fans have recently been introduced to the Human Rights Campaign:

As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC’s vision a reality.

Founded in 1980, the Human Rights Campaign advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.

The non-profit group conducts a number of educational and lobbying efforts, including projects designed to promote equality in the workplace and to reach out to college students.

To date, the story about Clay's speech has appeared on 274 media sites, including the News and Observer, USA Today, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post.

An advocate for children through the Inclusion Project and UNICEF, Clay Aiken has proved an intelligent, articulate, and compassionate speaker for countless causes, inspiring the support of those who follow him.

In her comment below, my friend Sally described the phenomenon of Clay and his fans:

Clay's "old soul" wisdom and compassion never cease to amaze me. People who are surprised at the dedication of his fans need to take a closer look at the gift that he really is.

According to press releases, Clay has written his own speech. Hopefully, what he has to say will be shared in a transcript or an audio file. An interview with Matt Ehlers of the N&O provides a small preview:

HRC provided a speechwriter to help Aiken, 31, with his remarks, but he decided to write his own. The original speech was too political, Aiken said, and included a slam aimed at George W. Bush.

"I don't feel like this is the place to be horribly politically charged and bash people and talk about the wrongs that have been done," he said. "My goal is to be hopeful, that it's time for everyone to have equal rights."

SOLD OUT --Clay Aiken's PBS Special taping was declared a sell-out minutes after tickets went public. Graphic by cindilu2

PBS Concert Sells Out in Minutes

Although a few seats remain, according to Skope Mag, the March 12 taping of Clay's PBS Special was declared "sold-out" minutes after tickets became availablle to the general public.

After being on-sale to the public for just minutes, Clay Aiken sold out the Memorial Auditorium in his hometown, Raleigh, NC for his special one night only concert event on Friday, March 12.

The singer put limited tickets on sale for fan club members on Tuesday, February 16. Tickets were then made available for the general public at noon on Friday, February 19.

Fans flooded the online ticket sites and phone lines for the opportunity to be the first to hear Aiken’s new music selling out the singer’s special one night only show in mere minutes.

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Clay Aiken's TNT Stirs Excitement

TRIED AND TRUE EXCITEMENT - The banner by LovesClaysVoice trumpets the anticipation for Clay Aiken's March 12 PBS special taping and world premiere of songs from the TNT album. Press CTRL and click on photo to enlarge the banner in another tab.

PBS Special Benefits Inclusion Project

PBS Taping To Premiere 'TNT'

The fact that tracks from "Clay Aiken: Tried and True" will receive world premiere status in a live performance to be taped March 12 in Raleigh, NC, is naturally the lead topic on the singer's fan boards.

The much-anticipated PBS Special of the singer's upcoming album with Decca Records, nicknamed "TNT" by fans, is also a hot topic all over the Internet.

For example, Skope Mag ran this article last week:


Clay Aiken will hit the stage for a special one night only concert at the Memorial Auditorium in his hometown, Raleigh, NC on Friday, March 12. The singer is promising fans an exciting 2010 with this special one night performance being just the beginning.

The performer extraordinaire is gearing up for the release of his new album, "Clay Aiken: Tried and True." The special concert, which will be taped for television, is the world premiere live performance of his forthcoming album being released on Decca this Spring.

Among the many sites advertising the PBS Special taping are Go Go Raleigh, Wake County Local News, International Media on Facebook, countless blogs, even the National Inclusion Project.

Five VIP packages are being auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds furthering the mission of the National Inclusion Project. In return, winning bidders will experience the taping's dress rehearsal, take a guided tour of the backstage area, have an exclusive Q&A with Clay, and receive two tickets to the live performance.

UPDATE: Bidding for the five VIP packages ended Tuesday and will yield $36,500 for the National Inclusion Project. The package finals were as follows:

1. $9,100.00
2. $6,700.00
3. $6,600.00
4. $6,700.00
5. $7,200.00

TOTAL: $36,500

General admission tickets for the March 12 taping of Clay's PBS special are on sale at Ticketmaster.

Although the Clay Aiken pages at Decca are still in the works, fans can stream videos from previous albums at the Media link.

TWWMAD Disperses Concert Tickets
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. - Clay Aiken

Inspired by the singer they follow, fans at The Way We Make a Difference have served as a conduit for dispersing donated tickets since 2004, enabling countless individuals and groups attend Clay Aiken events.

The organization's history and purpose are stated on TWWMAD website:

The Way We Make a Difference began with a simple idea - that of fostering the cause of inclusion with a donated concert ticket.

Thanks to your support, people with and without disabilities have been able to experience the joy of attending a concert together.

Among the organizations aided by TWWMAD include Best Buddies, Special Olympics, YMCA, The Arc of the United States, and Ronald McDonald houses.

Fans support the organization by donating extra tickets or funds to purchase tickets. To help make a difference, contact TWWMAD here.

I Was Here - Montage by LovesClaysVoice

Interwoven into the fabric of the man Clay Aiken and his entertainment career are his charitable endeavors for the children of the world.

LovesClaysVoice combined scenes from the singer's projects with the National Inclusion Project, which he co-founded in 2003, and UNICEF, for which he serves a celebrity ambassador. Performed by Lady Antebellum, the I Was Here montage can be viewed at YouTube and downloaded with this Sendspace link.

Golfing for Inclusion Tops $150,000

The Inclusion Project has announced funds raised at the 3rd annual Golfing for Inclusion on Feb. 1 topped $150,000. The complete story can be read at foundation link:

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Supporters of the National Inclusion Project helped to raise over $150,000 at the 3rd annual Golfing for Inclusion.

The event sponsored by Allianz Life and American Portfolios was held at The Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on February 1, 2010.

The funds raised will be used to provide children with disabilities the opportunity to play, learn and grow side-by-side with their typical peers.

Special recognition is also extended to Osiris Fund for a generous contribution supporting inclusion.

The countdown is on. Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


TWWMAD is also featured in the current entry at the Clay Aiken News Network blog.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Trio Keyboardists Share Birthday

Adventures of The Cambiata Trio

Musical Friends Mark Birthday

Today marks the birthday of two very special people in my life. Friends and pianists, these ladies were keyboardists for the Cambiata Chamber Players, an ensemble (flute, oboe, piano) originally formed for the pleasure of making music together -- Betty on flute; Judy on piano; and yours truly playing oboe, flute, and saxophone.

In the five years we performed together, the group had two different pianists, Judy Mahone and Diane Aitken. Ironically, they share the same birthday, Feb. 19.

The night my husband walked in our rehearsal and said, "Y'all sound good enough to take on the road," the group moved from playing for our own enjoyment to performing professionally.

We printed cards and stationery, located matching dresses, and away we went. We wound up playing all over Middle Tennessee for park concerts, weddings, receptions, and fashion shows.

We became a hot ticket on the retirement home circuit, often donning concert attire, playing a luncheon gig, and rushing back to our studios to teach afternoon music lessons.

Regular at Governor's Mansion

When Judy could no longer play with the group, along came Diane, who was completing her master's degree in piano performance at Peabody. Diane and then Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander had grown up together in Maryville, studying piano with the same teacher throughout their pre-college years.

After he became governor, Diane was asked to recommend a group to play background music at a reception. This became the first of many joyous occasions the trio accompanied at the Governor's Mansion.

The most difficult gig I ever played was the morning wedding of Lamar Alexander's publicist, for which the governor served as best man. My father had died during the night, and our program included his favorite classical song, "God My Shepherd Walks Beside Me" by J.S. Bach. Our car was loaded for the 12-hour drive home, and we left the minute the wedding ceremony was over.

Still a Nashvillian, Judy, an organist, performs and teaches elementary through college-aged piano students while Diane now makes music in the Chicago area. Betty, a church organist and excellent accompanist, teaches and performs flute in Nashville.

Heavy Equipment Not a Problem

Indoors or out, in good weather and bad, we hauled Diane's Fender Rhodes electric piano to various venues throughout Middle Tennessee. Since I already had three instruments, Diane and Betty were usually in charge of finding assistance for unloading the heavy piano and speaker.

They batted their eyelashes, asked nicely, and always seemed to find a couple of guys anxious to show off their muscles by carrying the equipment.

Wedding cake taste tests were the norm at receptions, and we could have advised prospective brides on the region's best caterers.

Cambiata Describes Repertoire

Originally, we chose the name Cambiata Chamber Players because of the alliteration and the musical connotation. The name evolved into The Cambiata Trio. A cambiata ornament involves a note that skips down and resolves back up -- A to F# to G, for example.

During retirement home programs, we provided background information about the music we played. Our repertoire was a a little bit classical and a little bit rock 'n roll, meeting in the middle like the cambiata.

Trio members were always amazed at the many compliments our pop arrangements received when, in truth, they were very simple: "OK, flute takes the melody at A ... oboe the harmony ... no, this will sound better on sax ... switch on the repeat, etc."

As music majors, picking out harmony from a piano/vocal score was a snap. We just smiled and graciously thanked the guests.

Tubular Oboe Reed Misjudged

Keeping reeds wet is a priority when you rotate three instruments. Following one retirement home gig, residents had come forward to express their appreciation for our program. One woman told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to quit "that nasty, unhealthy habit."

I didn't understand at first; but Diane and Betty did, turning and hiding their giggles from the resident. The lady thought my oboe reed, constantly in and out of my mouth, was a cigarette.

During the Cambiata years, the four of us -- Judy, Diane, Betty, and I -- were raising families. We are all grandmothers now and still making music.

Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year. The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again. -- Menachem Mendel Schneerson (The Rebbe)

Happy Birthday to Judy and Diane, two very good friends with whom I have shared some very special times!


ADDENDUM: Judy, one of the birthday gals, emailed additions, inspiring others:

The trio alternated rehearsals on opposite sides of Nashville. When we practiced in Bellevue, we had to stop at a certain time so the flautist could leave for Donelson, 30 minutes away, in time to watch "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

Our apartment had a dryer; and the flautist, whose didn't, sometimes brought her laundry to dry while we rehearsed.

On a night Judy's childcare fell through, Mr. Caro took all the youngsters around while he ran errands. The winning stop was the car wash. "It was my kids' first ride through the car wash, and they were tickled to death," she recalls.

For a Jewish-Episcopal wedding, we played "Hava Nagilia" at the reception and all the grandmothers got up and danced. That was the same wedding we had to learn the "Yale Whiffenpoof Song" ("Baa, baa, baa").

I played oboe and flute during pre-wedding concerts and added the alto sax at receptions. One bride asked that we play "At Last" for the groom's parents to enter. This was "their song" and definitely a saxophone piece.

During the reception, the bride gushed that everyone was raving about the music.

"Not quite everyone," I told her, describing the stern woman who had made faces at me throughout "At Last" from the bride's side of the aisle.

"Oh, that's Aunt Trudy. She never likes anything!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aiken Fans Tackle Ticketmaster

Clay Aiken PBS Special

Fans Tango with 'Ticketmonster'

Armed with a host of helpful hints, lucky charms, and good wishes from Internet friends, Clay Aiken fans prepared to tackle the unflappable idiosyncrasies of "Ticketmonster," one of the more printable nicknames for Ticketmaster.

The goal: two prime time seats in Memorial Hall of Raleigh's Progress Energy Center for the March 12 PBS taping of "Classic Memories," during which the singer will unveil material from the upcoming "Clay Aiken: Tried & True," his first album with Decca Records.

The one-night-only special event will be a full production filmed for national television. Seating is exclusive and limited.

Clickables of Raleigh's Memorial Hall.

Ticketmaster Downbeat at Noon

Beginning at noon Tuesday, Official Fan Club members were to login into the Clayonline Appearances section to secure the pre-sale ticket code. From there, they began the "Ticketmaster Tango" with multiple degrees of angst, torture, and success.

Early morning message board posts provided a snapshot of pre-sale stress, suggestions, and some very enthusiastic cheerleading encompassing Clay Cyberspace:

I am so nervous that I was almost thinking of buying a ticket to something cheap to see if my account works.

Have Ticketmaster open in another tab. Then when you click on Appearances, you should be already signed in.

I plan to have my desktop computer turned on and ready to go just in case this one crashes. It doesn't happen often, but I was a Girl Scout and do believe in being prepared.

TICKET DAY: Had a dream before I woke up, nightmare of course. Time came to buy, the instructions were confusing, and it was hard to find the code. When I went to Ticketmaster, there were SIX places to enter a code; and it wasn't clear where it should go. Of course, before I woke up, I never did get it figured out or get tickets. I will be glad when this is done!

HEADS UP FROM ME: I plan to log out of everything except the OFC and TM when the time gets close. I don't want anyone here to think either my computer or I died. I'll be back as soon as I have tickets, either to moan about the so-so seats or crow about the great seats!

As soon as y'all get your tickets, get back here and tell us what happened and what you got. I will expect that at 12.01 EST. Okay, maybe 12.02 EST. But no later!

May the ticket gods smile on us today!

Clayonline fan club members have been given the first opportunity to purchase tickets in the pre-sale from 12 noon EST Tuesday (Feb. 16) through 10 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 18). Tickets will be open to the general pubic at 12 noon Friday (Feb. 19).

Pictorial Essay Cheers on Fans

To cheer on fans trying for tickets, Bottlecap prepared a pictorial essay with clickable Clay Aiken concert photos by Kareneh, fivegoldens, and Invisible926.

Fingers crossed

that your ticket search will go well,

that you can successfully bend TM to your will,

and that you emerge triumphant!

Play-By-Play Reveals Trials, Triumphs

Representing three message boards, these posts between noon and 2 p.m. describe a range of "tango" experiences from trauma to jubilation. They also exemplify perseverance, heady excitement, and special friendships as American fans assisted Canadians unexpectedly blocked by a system glitch.

In a nutshell, the Ticketmaster experience is never boring -- but then neither is being a Clay fan ...

12:06 p.m. -- I got my tickets!!!

OMG, this is soooooooooooooo STRESSFUL! I got the WHITE PAGE of NEAR-DEATH at TM for a couple of seconds!!!

My heart feels like it's beating out of my chest.

Me, too, and now my cat wants attention!

Twice I got offered tickets in the balcony, but it won't even let me buy them!

First I put in the max ticket price -- none found.
Second (any price) - got back balcony
Third (any price) - got mezzanine.
I'm in da house!!!

12:46 p.m. There are 802 signed into the OFC right now.

Do you think Ticketmaster wasn't ready for us?

I'm excited, and I'm not even going. Next concert in Raleigh -- I will be there!

EEEEEEEEE -- I'm in da house!!! I got NOTHING AVAILABLE forever, but reentered my code, and it went through!

12:16 p.m. The best laid plans and all that -- eBAY already has a set of tickets in the front for $599.

12:19 p.m. YEAH! I got Orchestra section. I told the guys here at work that I'm taking lunch at noon and not to bother me 'cause I was on a mission.

12:21 Clay says in his latest answer that there's not a bad seat in the house. It's funny he's answering questions while we're all stressing out buying tickets!

If you get "none available," reenter your code.

I was just able to pick up a single ticket in Section B! I phished for half an hour and was offered progressively worse seats. I then went back after a break, phished some more, and a ticket in the Dress Circle came up! I didn't even really plan on going, and now I may have to reconsider!

I agree with Clay. I live in Raleigh and I've been at Progress Energy Center many times. He is right that there isn't a bad seat in the house. I've sat in dress circle, orchestra, mezzanine, and balcony. I've been happy in all those seats. We'll all have a great time, and we are getting to see Clay again!

Ticketmonster more than earned its unprintable nicknames when Canadians could not process a purchase. Passwords were PM'd, and US friends stepped forward and secured seating for many international fans. [TM and the OFC are working on a solution to the glitch for the remaining sale dates.]

BWAHHH! One of my security words to type in was "assesses." I immediately laughed and said to myself that yes, TM is/are asses. At least, that's what it looked like at first glance. How apropos!

We got seats 30 minutes after the frenzy. I am exhausted.

Clay just posted on the OFC and Facebook that the Canadian problem is solved.

In the door and pleased ...

Have a great week, Clay Nation. May the ticket gods smile on Clay Aiken fans throughout the TM adventure!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Aiken-Kimmel a Valentine Tradition

VALENTINES OF NOTE - Previous Clay Aiken-Jimmy Kimmel Valentine Night shows have become rewind favorites among the singer's fans. His second mainstram album, A Thousand Different Ways, is the perfect accompaniment for this weekend. - Graphic by A Beautiful Mind, photos by Scrpkym.

Team Clay Delivers 2010 Valentine

Aiken-Kimmel in Classic Rewind

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

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

At the heart of the "Climmel" happenings is a special friendship, complimented by a unique chemistry that has developed through the years. In 2008, Clay was performing in Spamalot on Broadway; and in 2009, he was on vacation. With Singer Man putting final touches on an upcoming PBS Special, this Valentine's Day isnt looking very promising.

NEWS BULLETIN: Fan club members, check your inbox! You probably have an email from Team Clay RE the March 12 "Classic Memories" PBS Special that starts like this:


We're happy to be able to put an end to the suspense and the waiting by finally letting you know about the exciting "mystery" event happening on March 12!

After a long wait for all of you, Clay will be "unveiling" the material from his forthcoming album, "Tried & True" in a live concert in his hometown at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium!

This one night only special event will be a full production filmed for national television so seating is exclusive and limited.


International Media
Progress Energy Center in Raleigh
Clay Aiken To Perform One-Night Only Concert
Entertainment My NC

Clay Aiken's Raleigh Concert in March

Fan club members will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets in a pre-sale from 12 noon EST Tuesday, Feb. 16, through 10 p.m. Feb. 18. Instructions for the pre-sale code are in the email. Tickets will be open to the general pubic at 12 noon Friday, Feb. 19.

Meanwhile, see Clay's "Non-Scientific Survey" thread in The Man Forum at the OFC to assist with pre-sale ticket count.

If you have HBO, a Bill Maher Special taped this weekend in Memorial Hall of Raleigh's Progress Energy Center, will be televised several times Feb. 13-16.

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

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

Clay Arrives Bearing Gifts

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

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

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

Valentine Song Lyrics

Mischievously eying the bowl of candy beside him, Clay began picking up pastel-colored hearts, improvising a song with the Valentines and tossing them over his shoulder after their usefulness. Miraculously, a microphone appeared; and the improvisational flavor of the song and skit progressed:
Love me ... true love,
Fax me ... got love,
You're so sweet ... yours forever,
You're so sweet ...
I've got Stage 2 diabetes; that's not going to work!
(singing again) Angel ... dear one. (chuckles)
You're a tiger ... you're mine, Jimmy!!!

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

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

Valentine's Day with Aiken & Bacon
Montage by Yollie950

Throughout the seven Valentines fans have shared with Clay, graphic artists have provided special visual treats. In this artistic 2/14 rewind are clickable designs by Sally, 1; A Beautiful Mind, photos by KarenEh, 2; cindilu2, 3; AmazingCA, photos by Katy4Clay, 4; and A Beautiful Mind, 5.

The most recent Aiken-Kimmel Valentine get-together was featured in the annual My Favorite Things montage by SmartyPantsSuz.

Other events highlighted in the 2007 MFT montage were the Mike and Juliet Show, Clay's UNICEF trip to Afghanistan, another JKL appearance, summer and holiday tours, and his $300,000 win for the National Inclusion Project on Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.

My Favorite Things 2007 by SmartyPantsSuz
JKL grid links to MFT montage on YouTube.

Below is a clickable of A Beautiful Mind's opening graphic:

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


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Clay Aiken Fans On News Alert

DREAM MAKER - Clay Aiken sings "Moon River" in the Feb. 1 Golfing for Inclusion concert in West Palm Beach, FL. Graphic by AmazingCA, photo by SmartyPantsSuz.

One More Sleep (Or Maybe More)!!!

Clocks Counting Down to News

Amidst the excitement and hoopla of Sunday's celebrated Super Bowl, the most repeated chant on Clay Aiken message boards -- "ONE MORE SLEEP!!!" -- has been indicative not of professional football's finale but of countdown clocks ticking off the minutes until Singer Man's big news announcement Monday.

Almost as an afterthought, the inevitable "Go, Saints!" or "Yay, Colts!" cheers are attached to board posts while the singer's anticipated news leads most excitement gages. Speculation centers around the upcoming Decca album release and information on the a PBS Special.

UPDATE: News Delayed, But Inevitable

Late Monday night fans learned the music business moves at a snail's pace, crossing all "T's" and bridges before official announcements can be made. However, Clay twice blogged his apologies and frustration about the delay. Clayonline members can read both blogs there.

Having already hinted that his fans they might want to be in Raleigh on March 12, Clay posted a list of excellent hotels. He also said the date is confirmed and he is more excited about "the event" than anything he has done in years.

Information will be forthcoming in a few days, the singer promised. Actually, according to the fandom's definition of SOON!

During Clay's concert at the Feb. 1 GFI fundraiser for the National Inclusion Project, participants were treated to bits and pieces of the new CD. Featured below is video is one of the tracks, "Moon River," recorded by Goldarngirl at the West Palm Beach, FL, performance.

Clay singing Moon River at GFI.

Song Revives Mercer's Career

Composed in 1961 by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini (music), Moon River was originally sung in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's by Audrey Hepburn, although it has been covered by many other artists.

Performed by Andy Williams at the 1961 Academy Awards, "Moon River" won the Oscar for Best Original Song that year and received Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1962.

Mercer (1909-1976)was a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others from the mid-1930's through the mid 1950's. He wrote the lyrics to more than 1,500 songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received 19 Academy Award nominations and won four.

Mancini (1924-1994) was an American composer, conductor, and arranger best remembered for his film and television scores. He won a record 20 Grammy awards.

The success of the song was responsible for re-launching Mercer's career as a songwriter, which had stalled in the mid-1950s because rock and roll replaced jazz standards as the popular music of the time.

Moon river, wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end, waitin' 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me.

An inlet near Savannah, GA, Mercer's hometown, was named Moon River in honor of him and this song. The popularity of the song is such that it has been used as a test sample in a study on people's memories of popular songs.

"Moon River" became the theme song for Andy Williams, who sang the first eight bars at the beginning of his television show and also named his production company and venue in Branson, Missouri after it.

Below are Sendspace links for video and audio downloads by Goldarngirl and a clickable of AmazingCA's opening graphic:

Kai Makes Grandmother's Day

A simple "Hello, Grandmother" over the phone provided my Super Bowl Sunday high. Poppy was in the midst of a family progress report when I asked about the "background music." Kai was playing with his trucks and providing all the proper sound effects.

Invited to come over and say hi to his grandmother, Kai did just that. Talk about making my day!

PARK FUN -- Kai knows one can't steer without proper sound effects.

Long overdue for grandson's many "aunties" in the Clay Aiken fandom, this clickable interlude depicts back the sunny November afternoon he and his mother spent in the park.

With little sister Lia and Poppy enjoying an afternoon snooze, Kai and Mom slipped away for some sliding and swinging in the sun. Fortunately, she took along her camera, too.

SOUND CHECK - Kai investigates slide's nooks and crannies.

LONG WAY DOWN - Even a dare devil scopes out his slide
before diving into a maiden voyage.

SWINGIN' FUN -- Kai tried out several swing positions before
returning for another round on the slide.

I understand Kai and Lia are also marking off their calendars, too, counting down the days until the arrival of spring and many more visits to the park.

One More Sleep! Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


P.S. Happy 18 Months, Parker!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Clay Aiken, Fans Astound Golfer

GOLFING FOR INCLUSION - Clay Aiken assisted with the live auction, talked about the National Inclusion Project with co-founder Diane Bubel, and presented a mini-concert during Monday's GFI event. Photo by SmartyPantsSuz.

'No Three Putts' Supports Inclusion

Aiken Fans Adopt Golfer's Blog

When Larry, a golfing blogger, surprised his readers -- and himself -- with a very supportive entry about Clay Aiken and the National Inclusion Project, the singer's fans wasted little time in spreading the link throughout Cyberspace.

Overnight No Three Putts: Clay Aiken's National Inclusion Project Golf Tournament received more than 2,000 hits and numerous comments from the Clay Nation. The next morning a flabbergasted Larry the Golfer, as he has been affectionately tagged by CA fans, blogged again, describing the degrees of his amazement.

Until last weekend's Golfing for Inclusion, Larry only knew Clay as the singer who came in second to Ruben Studdard on American Idol 2. The staggering stream of visitors arrived from a variety of CA websites, which he visited and learned much of what's been happening with Clay since 2003.

In Wednesday's blog, No Three Putts: A Special Message to Clay Aiken Fans, Larry quoted many of the heartfelt comments, asked what "NJU" means, and asked for a couple of song suggestions to download. So far the second blog has received 72+ comments and enough songs -- some specifically for Valentine's Day -- to keep the man quite busy. His golf game may even suffer.

THERE's MORE: In a third entry Friday, the Clay Nation's favorite golfer shares his plans to promote charitable causes and his favorite performance from the 458 links CA fans provided. Larry now knows about Goodsearch and what NJU and "Use Your Voice" mean. Here's the link: No Three Putts: How You Crazy Clay Aiken Fans & a Brief Talk with Mother Inspired Me.

In addition, he has included the National Inclusion Project banner in the golf blog's sidebar so his readers will become aware of the cause, check it out, and possibly make a donation. Larry also plans to advertise and participate in next year's GFI.

So why am I writing about Aiken here? Because I really believe in his cause. It's called The National Inclusion Project and he has created a curriculum that can be used by already-existing camps to make their facilities accessible and fun for would-be campers with disabilities.

It's nice to see a celebrity put his name and valuable time to good use. Nice work Clay Aiken.

Graphic by Ambassador of Love, photos by LynninNJ.

Record Crowds Attend SRHP Concerts

Precedents to Larry's amazement can be found throughout recaps of Clay's tours and the "Spamalot" stints on Broadway. Who can forget the record-breaking crowds at the Soft Rock Hard Place Tour concert in Columbus, OH?

New Fans Join Clay Team in Ohio, Michigan was the headline of the July 23, 2007 Carolina entry chronicling the SRHP Tour through the Midwest:

A whopping crowd of 12-14,000 men, women, and children of all ages picnicking on the sprawling lawn or around one of 300 tables sold at a Chemical Abstract Service event that surpassed previous attendance records could easily have been the headline from Clay Aiken's concert in Columbus, OH, Saturday night.

To CA fans, however, the lead story had to be the number of "Clayversions" among men from multiple generations that occurred during the course of the evening.

Several concert goers, many of them men, left the event and blogged about their SRHP experience. Dannylion, who posted The Coolest Concert I Have Ever Been To on his MySpace site, wrote that he has attended his fair share of concerts -- from Run DMC and the Beastie Boys to Duran Duran and Fleetwood Mac.

Even though Clay was not his cup of tea, he accompanied his wife to the Columbus, OH, concert to make her happy. In addition to the music and banter, Danny was most impressed with the fact that afterwards, Clay walked the enormous bus line shaking hands with his fans:

That was the coolest thing that ever happened at any concert I have been to!

Clay Aiken in Columbus, OH. -- Photo by toni7babe.

From Comedian to Word Poet

In her review for the Columbus Dispatch, Lynn Green cited Clay's entertaining rapport with the audience:

One of Aiken’s endearing traits is his gently self-depreciating humor. "We have more gentlemen in the audience than we usually have," he observed. "Either the women in Columbus are strong-willed, or the alcohol tab is very high for the men here."

In complimenting "Lover All Alone," the writer painted a portrait of the scenery change as Clay performed the song for which he wrote the lyrics:
He loosened his grip on the polished, practiced stage manner and truly connected with his own soul. And for those few minutes, the squealing fans, the strong-willed women, the devoted husbands, and the rest of the audience fell absolutely silent in appreciation.

Clay, Quiana Parler in Sterling Heights, MI. (MeganAiken

Impromptu Performance Magical

One of the best examples of Clay's innate ability as an entertainer was the unplanned "Listen" duet he and Quiana Parler performed in Sterling Heights, MI.

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

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

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

Montage by Goldarngirl-Luckiest1
Clay and Quiana perform 'Listen' duet.

Goldarngirl and Luckiest1 compiled the Sterling Heights Listen Duet concert montage by incorporating several videos of the performance, a split screen of the singers, and much of the banter preceding and following the song.

CA fans are counting the days until the new Decca CD, a PBS Special, and a brand new tour! Meanwhile, no doubt fans will be keeping Larry company at YouTube!

Below is a clickable of SmartyPantsSuz's opening photo:

Have an awesome weekend, Clay Nation!