Sunday, May 30, 2010

America Honors Military Heroes

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.

Clay Aiken Sings 'God Bless the U.S.A.'

Remembering John M. Steele

'Longest Day' Is Vivid Memory

The longest day has been immortalized in books and on the movie screen. The biggest day in World War II also lives wherever John M. Steele is.

June 6, 1944, D-Day for the Allied invasion of Normandy, is portrayed in the parade of autographed pictures, newspaper/magazine articles, medals and documents that line the walls of a special room in the Wilmingtonian's home.

That was the headline and lead for a feature I wrote for the Wilmington Morning Star in 1963 about one of 13,000 paratroopers dropped into France during the D-Day invasion. Like many, Private Steele missed the drop zone and was carried over the town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise where his chute caught on a church steeple when he tried to steer away from a burning building.

At the Washington premiere of the 1962 movie The Longest Day, John met Red Buttons who portrayed him in the film. "Thanks a lot, John," the actor quipped. You got me four days of work with 20th Century!"

"He's a nice guy and a real character!" the original steeple climber said with a grin.

Pvt. Steele (third from right) and team prior to D-Day invasion.

In the first hour of the invasion, Steele hit the church roof and slid down, his chute wrapping around the spire. When he tried to free himself, pain shot through his leg and his combat knife clattered to the street below.

With the battle raging all around him, the trooper wisely decided to play dead and dangled on the spire for 2 1/2 hours. Later, a group of German soldiers, intent on stripping the "body" of cigarettes and other rations, discovered he was still alive and took him prisoner.

Three days later during an American tank attack, he and another wounded soldier leaped through a window and escaped to friendly lines. Following two weeks in an English hospital, Pvt. Steele returned to the war and was among those who broke through to Bastogne where the 101st was surrounded in the Battle of the Bulge.

For these actions and his wounds, the soldier was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart.

I especially remember John Steele and The Longest Day on Memorial Day. When I interviewed him the summer before my junior year in college, he had cancer and was planning to enter a veterans administration hospital for cobalt treatments.

John Steele monument in Ste. Mere Eglise, France.

According to his bio at Wikepedia, he died on May 16, 1969, in Fayetteville, just two weeks short of the 25th anniversary of D-Day.

An honorary citizen of the first village liberated by the Americans in June 1946, John (I'm pretty sure I called him "Mr. Steele" in '63) visited Ste. Mere-Eglise several times before his death. His story is commemorated in the Airborne Forces Museum in the center of town.

National Symphony Orchestra in concert. (Capitol Concerts photo)

Events Salute Those Who Served

At graveside ceremonies, parades, concerts, and other festivities in Washington, DC, and throughout the nation, America this weekend pays tribute to those who have served and sacrificed for their country.

Featuring the National Symphony, a mix of dramatic readings, documentary footage, and live musical performances, the National Memorial Day Concert is slated for 8 p.m. ET Sunday on the west lawn of the US Capitol.

The concert, which will be broadcast on PBS stations live and in an immediate rerun, will also be seen overseas by US military personnel in more than 175 countries and aboard more than 200 US Navy ships at sea on the American Forces Radio and Television Network.

The National Memorial Day Parade, an annual tradition of remembrance with patriotic marches and floats in Washington, DC, is slated for 2 p.m. Monday. The 2010 event, which will include a special tribute to the US Marine Corps, will be televised live to US service members around the world.

On Monday, Vice-President Joe Biden will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

At 3 p.m. local time, according to the 2000 National Moment of Remembrance Act passed to emphasize the meaning of Memorial Day, all Americans should "voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect.'"

Clay Aiken performs "God Bless the USA" at 2004 concert.
Graphic by Ashes links to the video on YouTube.

On Memorial Day, we honor the John M. Steeles of our lives. Have a very special Memorial Day Weekend!


Friday, May 28, 2010

New Clay Aiken Website Rolls Out

Latest promo for Clay Aiken: Tried & True
CD available everywhere on June 1!
View at

Tried & True Coming June 1

Fan Club Site Opens Without Me!

Wouldn't you know the new Clay Aiken Fan Club site rolled out Thursday just as I completed spring music lessons ... and I have yet to gain admittance to what sounds like a wonderful showcase for the singer and meeting place for him and his fans!

Everywhere I read -- Twitter, Facebook, and 3-4 message boards -- almost all CA fans are having a blast settling into the new digs, befriending each other, listening to a trio of Tried & True tracks, including "Unchained Melody," the song I will play first when I purchase the CD on June 1!

I understand the three full tracks originally playing on the new site have reverted back to snippets. While I'm happy for Clay friends, it has been painful reading all the adjectives, exclamation points, and "squeees" describing songs I couldn't hear.

Even as I deleted Temporary Internet files/browsing history and tried every trick imaginable to log in with either IE or Mozilla, my email box was receiving requests for assistance getting into the site, posting a new avatar, and whatnot.

Clickable cap of new Clay Aiken website. (Thnx to SueReu!)

Ground(ctrl) Hosts

Hosting is an impressive group over at ground(ctrl. Clay's new web masters have been nothing but courteous, personable, and very helpful to anxious fans with access problems. For some, all it takes is a phone call or an email and they are in. Below are US/international/web support contact info (M-F, 9 am - 5 pm. PT):

U.S. Support 1 (877) 463-2975
International Support 1 (916) 443-9205

For those of us still riding the caboose, the new Clay Aiken fan club home will happen in due time. According to a tweet from Team Clay on Thursday, "the new site needs to propagate throughout the Net." This can take between 24 and 72 hours.

Definitely the WORD OF THE DAY for CA fans, propagate means "to cause to spread out and affect a greater number or greater area." For a better understanding of what many are experiencing, see What is DNS propagation and why does it take so long? by Rich Smith.

Before leaving for the Memorial Day Weekend, ground(ctrl) personnel provided active users with login problems an alternative for entering the site:

If you are still experiencing problems logging in to the new Official Fan Club on with your old OFC email and password, PLEASE use the new password clay2010 along with your OFC email address to log in. Once logged in, quickly reset your password in your Account Settings.

All day I was seriously wondering which would come first -- Clay's website or his new Tried & True CD. Right after uploading this blog, 24 hours into the new roll out, I finally crossed the Cyber threshold into the singer's new digs.

Have an awesome weekend, Clay Nation!


NEXT: America Honors Military Heroes

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Clay Aiken CD Set for June 1 Drop

MAGIC MOMENTS - In addition to the cover of Tried & True, AmazingCA's graphic recalls memorable events of singer Clay Aiken's career.

AI Appearance Just a Rumor

Aiken's CD Release Days Away

With less than a week remaining before Clay Aiken's Tried & True album drops on June 1, fans are putting finishing touches on CD release parties and online listening gatherings while staying abreast of the latest reviews, appearances, and spin surrounding the singer's new music.

Longer previews of T&T tracks went live at Decca Records Tuesday, and this computer joined many throughout Clay Cyberspace in playing them non-stop.

Clay is a confirmed guest for Good Mornng America and The Joy Behar Show on June 1 and The View the following morning. Check local listings for air times.

Clay's arrival at LAX sends speculation over the top.

Hints, Tweets Spell AI9 Surprise

Clay Aiken arrived at LAX Monday, setting off all kinds of speculation RE a possible appearance during American Idol's finale and causing "Idol Found, Game Over" fans to program taping devices.

For most fans, the fact that Quiana Parler is in California with Clay and Ruben tweeted that he was flying off to "visit some family" completes the puzzle.

During Tuesday's sing-off between Season 9's top two contestants, host Ryan Seacrest promised lots of surprises for the two-hour finale Wednesday.

Now, the morning after, fans know there was nothing Clay-like about the American Idol finale.

A Lad in Plaid

Clay Aiken arrives at LAX airport on Monday (May 24) in Los Angeles.

The 31-year-old singer is gearing up for the release of his new album, Tried and True, on June 1! Clay and Ruben Studdard will also be hitting the road this July for a summer tour featuring classic songs!

Read more and view additional pictures of Clay and Quiana in Santa Monica at Just Jared, Pacific Coast News Online, and People StarTracks.

Idol Jumps the Shark

In Season 9: Idol Jumps the Shark, Michael Glitz of The Huffington Post provides a blow by blow of this year's results and performance shows:

One of the strengths of Idol is that you don't need to win in order to launch a career -- see Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Daughtry and many others. [snip]

But Crystal is gonna pull a Clay Aiken on him and deliver the goods. They can both flourish in their careers but there can be only one American Idol and to everyone's surprise, it was Lee.

AI2 Maintains Ratings Crown

When AI Finale ratings are compared, Season 2 is "still the one":

AI09/2010: 24.2 M (overnights; final tally due soon)
AI08/2009: 28.8 M
AI07/2008: 31.7 M
AI06/2007: 30.7 M
AI05/2006: 36.4 M
AI04/2005: 30.3 M
AI03/2004: 28 M
AI02/2003: 38.1 M
AI01/2002: 22.5 M

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Below are clickables of graphics by AmazingCA, 1 and 3, and Fountaindawg, 2.

The Examiner Rates 'T&T' 8.7/10

Monday's Examiner spotlighted several artists with LP's dropping on June 1, all of which can be read at this Sneak REVIEW link:

Clay Aiken Tried & True (Decca)

This is Clay's fifth studio album, and it features classic songs from '50s and '60s. The American Idol Season 2 runner-up does have a great ear for good melodic songs.

To wit, Tried & True cuts like "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You," "Moon River," "Crying," Herman's Hermits' much-under-appreciated "There's a Kind of Hush," "Suspicious Minds" and "Misty."

Aiken also includes two songs he made his signatures on Idol: "Unchained Melody" and "Mack the Knife," which are the perfect vehicles for his soaring vocals. Congrats, Clay Nation, your idol will be out on the road with Ruben Stoddard this summer.

IN OTHER WORDS: Love his style or not, Clay's a great vocalist, and these terrific selections are right up his alley.


Add to this the Billboard review in the previous Carolina entry and T&T is deservedly receiving music industry approval.


May 26: American Idol Finale (LOL, so much for rumors!)
June 1: Tried & True CD drops
June 1: Good Morning America (7 a.m. ET, ABC)
June 1: The Joy Behar Show (9 pm ET, CNN Headline News)
June 2: The View (11 a.m. ET, ABC)
June 12: Chicago preview of Clay Aiken - Tried & True: LIVE! (WTTW11, 7 p.m. CDT)
July 23-Aug 14: Timeless Tour

Spring Recital "clack" is gradually coming together, so look for a recap in the next blog. Below is a photo of Chase, a cool-headed first-year pianist of 8. Special thnx to Sally for assisting with the edit.

Chase's final spring lesson Tuesday followed a class picnic, and Sunday's suave, polished performer was completely hidden beneath a full palette of face paint.

Clickable of Chase

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Clay Aiken, Fans Mark 7 Years

Clay Aiken - An Amazing Seven-Year Journey
Montage by SueReu at Yahoo Video
Download with Sendspace:
Yahoo version or Higher quality

May 20, 2003 Anniversary

Clay Nation Celebrates Journey

May 20, 2003, the memorable American Idol 2 finale when Clay Aiken came in second to Ruben Studdard for the title, is celebrated not only as an anniversary of beginnings for the singer's many musical accomplishments and charitable endeavors but also for the bond between entertainer and fans and the close friendships formed among faithful followers worldwide.

SueReu's "Seven Year Journey" montage portrays in song and video the millions of CDs sold, countless television and tour appearances, a foundation dedicated to inclusion for all children, a UNICEF ambassadorship, and a star turn in the Broadway hit "Spamalot" since May 2003.

On June 1, Clay will release "Tried and True," his fifth studio album and the first with Decca Records, followed closely by a 17-city July-August "Timeless Tour" with Ruben, and his first PBS Special to be telecast in August.

Amazing Journey montage screen cap - SueReu

On the May 20 anniversary, Mamarose10 posted the perfect accompaniment to the "Seven-Year" montage. With her permission, it is shared below:

The Anomaly ... Just the Beginning!

And so it began ... seven years ago tonight! Well, in truth, it began when a young man named Clayton Holmes Aiken stepped up to a mic at the beginning of American Idol Season 2 and sang that first word.

But for many of us, seven years ago tonight was our "galvanization," as it were. After the results were read on that fateful night in 2003, which would come to be known as "The Anomaly," everything truly did begin.

After that night we stumbled together, sought each other out, many in shock and disbelief, still reeling and stunned and in need of solace. We came together to commiserate and cry and moan and shake our fists at the fates and unfairness.

But what is most important is that WE CAME TOGETHER. The shock had indeed galvanized us, startled us into the activity that would make us who we are as Clay fans and forge a bond between us and the young man who had won our hearts, a prize far more important than any American Idol title would ever be.

The shock of that night would be the catalyst to all that the Clay Nation would become.

The shock of that night would strengthen our resolve to right that wrong and any future wrongs to come.

The shock of that night would prepare us for all that the next years would bring. It would stiffen our spines and solidify our resolve. In looking back, I feel no sadness about that night. In fact, I think I am grateful in many ways. I truly believe all things happen for a reason.

Now our hearts are tried and tested and we know the truth, and we are still here.

As the Chicago song goes, it was "Only the beginning of what I want to feel forever. Only the beginning. Only just the start ..."

Graphic by Fountaindawg

Billboard Reviews T&T

Billboard has virtually put a stamp of approval on Clay's change of direction with the "Tried & True" CD. Here is the review on Yahoo News where those who agree can "buzz it up":

NEW YORK (Billboard) – After a series of so-so soft-rock efforts, Season 2 "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken looks back to the music of the ’50s and ’60s on “Tried & True,” a big-band-style collaboration with German producer Alex Christensen, whose resume includes work with Paul Anka, Sarah Brightman and Right Said Fred.

Given the cabaret-ready character of Aiken’s voice, the change in direction suits the singer. Where he used to sound like an oldster attempting to crash the top 40, here Aiken’s vocals exude a relaxed vibe that seemingly reflects his recent stint on Broadway in "Spamalot!"

That even goes for a surprisingly authoritative version of "Mack the Knife," where Aiken summons a swagger he never previously displayed. Other songs include "Moon River" (with a tasty acoustic-guitar solo by Vince Gill), a jazzy take on Conway Twitty’s "It’s Only Make Believe" and "Unchained Melody," which gets the full Hollywood-orchestra treatment.

T&T News of Note

Decca Records has uploaded the tracks for the DVD that will be released on July 27. See Tried & True DVD:
1. Mack The Knife 03:38
2. Can't Take My Eyes Off You 04:50
3. It's Impossible 04:12

4. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
5. Eso Beso 03:46

6. Who's Sorry Now
7. I'll Take Romance 02:13
8. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do 03:13
9. Misty 04:18

10. What Kind Of Fool Am I?
11. Crying 04:59

12. Suspicious Minds
13. Build Me Up Buttercup [Live] 02:59
14. In My Life 03:38

15. It's Only Make Believe

16. There's A Kind Of Hush

17. Unchained Melody

18. Moon River

Amazon has posted previews of the Tried & True CD tracks. The 'Tried & True' CD already has a page on Wikipedia.

Below is a clickables of SueReu's 'Journey' screen cap and the graphic by Fountaindawg:

RECITAL COUNTDOWN: The polished performances at Friday's final day of lessons prior to the spring recital Sunday hinted that all will be well. Students range from first timers to seasoned veterans, but one never knows for sure the effect of whimsical butterflies.

Marianhookailo, a member of Clayonline and a professional singer, sent this message to my piano and violin students:
There is nothing like playing musical instruments together and hearing the beauty you give to the listeners. Keep up the good work!

Tune in for Sunday's recap. Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Clay Aiken Previews T&T Album

Clickable banner by LovesClaysVoice

New 'Gifts' Unveiled Daily

Decca, Fans Celebrate T&T CD

The Christmas-birthday celebratory mood continues for Clay Aiken fans with Decca's video of the singer discussing the making of the Tried & True CD, his obvious excitement about the participating musicians, love for the songs selected, and joy that his hometown of Raleigh, NC, was involved in the process.

The video can be viewed in the player below or on the opening page at Decca Records-US. For the largest play, expand the Decca page by 200 - 400% or link to Clay Aiken-The Ideal Idol. Thanks to claysidney, here is a Sendspace download of the video.

Note the clever pairing of the "Suspicious Minds" lyric "We're caught in a trap" with the photo shoot picture of Clay on a golf course.

Clay Aiken talks about the making of T&T.

Chicago To Preview Special in June

Monday Pink Armchair made the message board rounds with the announcement that viewers in the Chicago area will enjoy a preview showing of CLAY AIKEN - TRIED & TRUE: LIVE! on PBS station WTTW (Channel 11) at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday, June 12.

This is an exclusive pledge drive and premium telecast for Chicago. However, links will be provided for fans who wish to order the CD ($55) and DVD ($75) versions of the concert.

Below is the beginning of a press release in the pdf format for Chicago's T&T LIVE! preview:

WTTW11 to debut new music special

Clay Aiken: Tried & True – Live! to premiere June 12 at 7:00 pm CDT

Chicago – All it took was a few bars of an old Heatwave song, and Clay Aiken was on his way. American Idol viewers in January 2003 were taken by surprise when an unknown singer strode confidently into the audition room, announced to the judges that he was their choice, and backed up that claim with an electrifying rendition of "Always and Forever" that instantly caught the attention of millions watching at home.

Many of them -- like judge Randy Jackson -- must have wondered, "Where is that voice coming from?" Well, Clay knew…and he's never looked back.

Adding to the dilemma of those who want to see Clay's special NOW is the fact that it is vitally important to support one's local PBS station's August pledge drive when the show is telecast.

See Wikipedia for a listing of PBS member stations.

Awesome news for the lucky Chicago fans! The rest of us will have two extra months to practice the virtue of being patient.

Int'l Media Releases New Info

International Media has added more information to the Clay Aiken Tried & True Live! page. For example, here is the program description:

Tried and True, American Idol Super Star Alumni Clay Aiken’s first Public Television special, reaches back into the romantic past of the 50’s and 60’s, featuring many of the most iconic love songs ever written.

Shot at the Memorial Auditorium in Clay’s home town of Raleigh, North Carolina, Tried and True features a full orchestra and big band. Clay is joined on stage by special guest and American Idol colleague Ruben Studdard, along with special guest Linda Eder, who is widely recognized as one of the best female vocalists of our time.

German born Alex Christensen is handling production and arrangements, and brings the considerable skills he developed working with Paul Anka on his acclaimed ‘Rock Swings’ album and Michael Bolton on his major Sinatra tribute ‘Bolton Swings Sinatra’ to this concept, as well as the more contemporary sounds of his own project Alex Swings & Oscar Sings, featured recently on the Oprah Winfrey show.

This special concert is the world premiere live performance of Clay’s forthcoming album, Tried and True, being released on Decca this Spring.

T&T News of Note

CA fans are getting a thrill seeing Clay's Tried & Tried CD listed at the top of Metacritic's upcoming releases for June 1.

1 June Tuesday
Clay Aiken
Tried & True

Residents of the US can pre-order Tried & True at Live Nation and receive an instant MP3 download of the "Suspicious Minds" track. From all reports, the recording is amazing. Is patience really a virtue?

Clay's life and career will be featured on "TV Guide Close Up" (TVGN) at 3:30 p.m. EDT May 26. The singer will appear on ABC's "The View" on June 2.

Decca and International Media seem to enjoy unveiling a few gift-wrapped tidbits little by little. The atmosphere throughout Clay Cyberspace is charged with excitement as the counters tick ever closer to June 1. Look for daily additions to this segment during this blog entry's three-day run.

The double clickable retro graphics by Fountaindawg below include one with T&T tracks, one without, and a the third that appropriately highlights the theme "There's no place like home."

Students Prepare with Mock Recitals

The rite of passage known as the Spring Recital is just days away for my Greensboro and Wesleyan Christian Academy piano and violin students. Before they perform for Sunday's audience of family and friends at Jamestown United Methodist Church, they are supposedly presenting daily mock recitals, complete with a musician bow, to anyone who will listen.

The reason their teacher insists on attention to musicality and numerous trial runs dates back to my recital as a 10-year-old when I couldn't remember a Grieg solo and ran off the stage in tears. I decided long ago this would never happen to my students.

Sunday's audience will be entertained from start to finish, beginning with an Irish/American fiddle tune medley by four violinists -- Anna, Erica, Ora, and Nick. At one time or another, all are playing back-up with the piano. Just as entertaining as the music has been the evolution of the group's choreography.

The students have even worked out the exact note ("the high one") on which they will stand for the medley's various solo/duo/quartet combinations. The finale is a rip-roaring "Old Joe Clark/Bile 'Em Cabbage Down." As in years past, they will all say "hippopotamus" as they bow together.

During the 50-minute recital, the audience will be entertained by eight piano solos ranging from "Quiet River" by Jay, "Come to My House," by Chase, and "I've Been Wishing" by Brenda to Chopin's Waltz in B Minor, Op. 68, No. 2, performed by high school senior Emily.

The five violin solos encompass literature from the famous "Twinkle Variations" by first grader Tatum to Dvorak's "Humoresque" by Anna.

In between, there will be seven piano duos from Mitch and Miranda, students of one month, to "How Great Thou Art" and "Crown Him with Many Crowns" performed by cousins Jeremy and Jessicca. Two budding composers, Caleb and Joseph, will share their latest creations -- "Media Nox Marmor" (Midnight Sea) and "La Pienture de Dieu" (God's Painting), respectively.

The concert closer will be the Evanescence song "Good Enough" performed by Emily and friends Austin, vocalist, and Valerie, violinist. Y'all come!

Have an awesome week, all!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clay Aiken Fans Herald CD News

CLAY AIKEN: TRIED & TRUE - LIVE! 30 Second Promo
View and comment on YouTube

'Tried & True' Classics

CD Showcases Clay Aiken's Vox

Clay Aiken has never sounded more at home than he does singing the lushly arranged classics on his fifth studio album Tried and True -- the international pop phenomenon's first album for Decca Records.

Showcasing Aiken's powerful voice and considerable interpretive gifts, the new CD is comprised of songs from the '50s and '60s that Aiken grew up listening to as a child. The platinum-selling artist and idol to many has arguably never sounded better.

For Aiken, Tried and True (so named because he feels the songs have stood the test of time) was about getting back to himself after a career performing more pop-oriented material.

The Clay Nation, which has earned "tried and true" stripes right along with the singer and the music selected for his June 1 album, has rarely seen a better description of THE VOX than the opening paragraphs from the Decca Records press release about the T&T CD.

My brother, who has teased me -- at times unmercifully -- about my seven-year passionate support for the singer, his voice, and his causes, visited last weekend. Casually, I played the YouTube video promoting the August PBS Special and asked what he thought. His honest and atypical response was, "I don't know who that is, but it is fantastic!"

He was pleasantly surprised when I told him that was Clay singing. (EUREKA!!!)

PBS Special graphic by Fountaindawg, photos by Jim R. Bounds

Clay Born To Sing 'Big Band'

A former bass student from my Nashville teaching days not only wrote a very special comment in the Carolina's Mother's Day entry but also called his "other mom" to wish her a blessed day. We talked about Clay, and my "brilliant" student stated, "Big band and Broadway are what Clay Aiken was born to sing."

With Tried & True pre-sale orders, track previews, and the actual June 1 CD drop clocking in at 15 days to go, I was curious to see what fans, their friends, relatives, and associates are saying about the album, the August special, this summer's 17-city Timeless Tour by Clay and Ruben Studdard.

View and comment at

Fans Anticipate Summer of Clay

Graphic designs about the CD, special, and tour provide dividers between fan posts and the reactions shared by the Not.Just.Us contingent. Among the many sites quoted are Clay's Decca page, the YouTube promo, various message boards, Facebook, and the Clayonline Still Spreading the Word! thread in the "Clay the Man" Forum:

caraleigh3: I am 20 yrs old, I was at that concert, and you will NOT be disappointed with Clay's new direction in music! He has brought a breath of fresh air to these older songs. I like some older stuff, and even I'm not familiar with a few songs on the album; so to me, it is new music!

cognitogrrl: The Vox is BACK, and I'm so happy - not only to get this show on PBS, but the Decca album in June plus I'm going to see Clay and Ruben in August! I'm getting back that golden voice I've loved since 2003, belting out gorgeous songs. Here you come again, Clay, and here I gooooooo!

lurkerchic: I really like this sound, this kind of music when it's done like this! It's kind of jazzy and cool. What a great performer!

CanadianFan61: Clay was born to sing and entertain, and nobody sings better than he does.

Invisible926: There is nothing like Clay Aiken live! I'm so happy that International Media and PBS will make it possible for more people to experience the magic that Clay's fans have enjoyed for 7 years.

sutter4clay: I am blown away after listening to both full length songs, "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and "Misty." This album is exceptional in quality, and Clays voice never sounded more incredible.

Graphic by AmazingCA

unaserenata: If International Media captured half the magic that was present on the night of the taping, the special will be spectacular! Judging from this clip, it looks like they did. With Tried and True, Clay has made me love songs I didn't even like before!

remy5230: Stunning! Clay at his finest, singing songs he loves with style, flair and vocals to die for!

joanie: Saturday I was shopping at TJ Maxx with a friend. She picked up something with Elvis on it, and I said, "Elvis has left the building to Clay." I was a huge Elvis fan, never got to see him in concert, though I wish I had. As far as The Voice, Clay's voice moves me more than Elvis' ever did.

itsmeeee: I dont even know how to describe them, but if you haven't heard Clay since American Idol, or ever, go and listen to these song samples on iTunes. Every song takes my breath away, each in a different way.

The tone in Clay's voice, his phrasing, and his vocal interpretation of these classics is quite beautiful. The lyrics envelope you when Clay sings them. This album cannot come soon enough, but I'm so grateful for the samples at least.

"Crying" is stunning! Roy Orbison would be proud of Clay and Linda Eder's interpretation. I think that one will get played first, but I love them all!

madyjax: Good job, Decca. The care you take with your artists inspires public confidence. Your excellent reputation is well deserved. We've waited forever for this!

Graphic by Fountaindawg

Trio Describes Special UM Moment

Some of the most interesting quotes are from fans who attended the March taping of the PBS Special. Among the vivid descriptions of the performance are these three about Clay's version of "Unchained Melody":

luckiest1: I call it the airplane moment ... when he goes low then goes up and up and up in UM. I don't know how to describe it, but it's like nothing he ever did before. I can't wait for everyone to hear it!

cindilu2: And I call it the Supernova Moment. He goes from zero to "holy-#%&#-what-was-that???" in about five seconds. Awesome!

lilyshine: I just call it orgasmic.

Graphic by Fountaindawg, photos by Jim R. Bounds

NJU Crowd Marks Calendar, Too

CA fans are reporting positive response as they spread the word about the upcoming CD and PBS Special. Many have emailed links for "Tried & True" track previews and the August promo video to friends, relatives, and acquaintances in their address book.

Here are just a few. If you share NJU experiences in the comments, I will add them to the collection:

cincy: I played "Misty" for the ladies in the office and while it was playing our mailman came in with the day's mail. He wanted to know who was singing (said he really liked it!!). When I told him, he said he and his wife had seen Clay in "Spamalot" but didn't know he was "that great of a singer."

: I shared the YouTube video on Facebookl. An elementary school teacher of my son's is a friend of mine there, and he has commented twice on Clay links. The last comment asking the date of the special prompted me to invite him to the concert in Windsor. This is his comment about the promo and concert:

Wow, this guy can shift musical gears like a well-oiled Porsche! Have you ordered your tickets yet and would you let me know?

kathyd52: I had my neighbor listen to the preview songs on Facebook, and she said, "That's the kind of songs I've been waiting to hear him sing." Her preferred music is 1950's- 60's Motown. She has always liked Clay's music, but this is the first time she has sounded excited over the songs.

jessie44: I've talked the CD up at my chiropractor's office and gave the receptionist a heads up about the selections on Clay's My Space. She said she got chills just thinking about "Misty," which is becoming one of my favorites. That band and the brass solo on "Misty" are magnificent!

carolcooke: When I had my hair cut, I told three stylists I was going to see Clay in August. All of them said they loved his voice and admired him for his charitable acts and his kindness. They haven't seen him on television for a while and look forward to his promo appearances. They asked me to keep them informed!

janemartin53 (from the comments): Had a pharmaceutical vendor came to my office today. While we were discussing medications, he asked who was playing on my CD. "It's so relaxing, who is it?" When I told him it was Clay Aiken, he was really surprised. I told him Clay's new CD will be out in June and the music is like WOW. As he left, he thanked me for the information.

Timeless Tour graphic by Fountaindawg

Marlyne: My friend was very surprised and excited to hear that Clay and Ruben will tour together this summer. She feels theirs was the last season of American Idol with "really good and true talent" and is planning to attend a concert.

SueReu: I sent the PBS promo link to my mom so she could see the back of my head from way far away at the end of "Build Me up Buttercup." She listened to the whole thing, told me it was FANTASTIC music, and gave it a thumbs up!!!

claygalsal: I ran into my best childhood friend and her husband in the parking lot of Memorial Auditorium after the show. After jumping up and down for a few minutes and hugging each other, I asked her if she is a Clay fan and she said, "I am now!"

She also said that she would buy several of his CD's for herself and other people. I emailed her recently to let her know about when the public sale was starting for "Bringing Broadway Home". She and her hubby bought tickets! THEY ARE HOOKED!!!

brensmemaw: In March, I received a call from a friend from my high school days that I haven't seen or talked to in probably 30 years. She had just talked to a mutual friend who she told her that I had just come back from Raleigh where I had seen Clay Aiken. Joyce got all excited and said that she loves Clay!

She called me immediately to ask me all about Clay and what is happening with him. Needless to say, I filled her in and will keep her informed about the PBS Special and concerts near her via phone since she doesn't have a computer. It was so nice to catch up with each other after all these years and I owe it all to Clay!!

Claymatron: I was sitting beside a couple from Texas who had never seen Clay in concert but they'd driven 1600 miles for the show because they had found his music on YouTube. They remembered him from AI, but then lost track until a year or so ago when the woman (in her 40's) was hospitalized with a very serious medical problem and nearly died.

When she returned to her hospital room after one of her many surgeries, she looked over at her husband, who was fast asleep from exhaustion in the chair beside the bed, and said she felt overwhelmed with love for him.

She picked up her laptop and checked YouTube for Celine Dion's version of "Because You Loved Me," which was "their song" and found Clay's instead.

Her husband woke up, and the two of them sobbed in each other's arms over his beautiful rendition. They were both hooked and searched YouTube for every song he ever sang. They also checked the Internet to find out when he'd next be in concert and found the announcement for the PBS taping.

They loved the show and held hands all the way through it. It was truly a special time for them, and I know we have another couple of devoted fans.

Clay Aiken 'Tried & True' cover by Vincent Soyez

Sites Preview T&T Tracks, Special

Among the sites with "Tried & True" track previews are:

Best Buy

Barnes & Noble - Also see the album credits tab for a list of musicians and production technicians on the CD. LOL, I would have killed to play the flute/alto sax book for this show.

Decca Records (NEW!) - Watch video of Clay talking about the making of "Tried & True."

Amazon - Previews not yet live

Decca Records - Previews not yet live on Clay's page.

Clay Aiken/MySpace - Two complete tracks: "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and "Misty"

iTunes - Pre-order the CD to listen to snippets of 12 tracks, including "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" exclusive

YouTube - View CLAY AIKEN: TRIED & TRUE - LIVE! promo for PBS Special.

Don't forget to share your "word of mouth" and viral marketing experiences in the comments, and I will transfer them to the blog.

Gif by LovesClaysVoice

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Clay Aiken T&T Album Buzz Builds

BACK TO BASICS - Clay Aiken photo by Vincent Soyez.

Aiken Fans Remember Yollie950

T&T Buzz on 20-Day Crescendo

Scroll down for May 13 birthday party!

Twenty days from the June 1 Decca release of Clay Aiken's "Tried & True" CD, and the promotional buzz can only be described as a steadily building crescendo!

From USA Today to Etonline, the headlines herald the June 1 release of the singer's fifth studio album -- "Clay Aiken Goes Back to Basics," "Clay Aiken Sings 'Tried and True' Favorites," "Clay Aiken Comes Full Circle."

Never have fans observed such a well-planned promotion of a Clay Aiken album and event. In addition to the barrage of press releases, sneak previews of three tracks were played exclusively at Clayonline, the singer's official fan club site.

Facebook, MySpace, Feature Tracks

Clay's pages at Facebook and MySpace now feature full versions of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and "Misty." Other sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Clay's page at Decca are among the many poised to post tracks or snippets from the CD any day now. (UPDATE: B&N previews are LIVE now!)

Snippets of all 11 tracks are available on iTunes. Pre-order the T&T album there and receive a bonus track, "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me."

Meanwhile, International Media's second upload of CLAY AIKEN: TRIED & TRUE - LIVE! today has gone over 10,000 views.


Fans play an important role in the promotional roll-out by watching the video at YouTube, rating it, and adding comments at the site. Here are three:
Invisible926: There is nothing like Clay Aiken live! I'm so happy that International Media and PBS will make it possible for more people to experience the magic that Clay's fans have enjoyed for 7 years.

hoganna: Clay is one fantastic singer, performer and true humanitarian. I'm glad I discovered him on YouTube in time for 2010!

Suereu: Thanks for capturing the magic!

Below are opening graphs of four press stories. Link to these sites -- and others listed below -- to read the complete release and leave a comment.

Etonline: Clay Aiken Goes Back to Basics: New Album Details

Clay Aiken is making a musical comeback with a new album, and ET has all the info on his fifth studio album, Tried and True!

Clay chose the title Tried and True because the album will be filled with timeless classics.

"There are a lot of elements to this album that are about me returning to what I'm comfortable with," he says. "To me, older songs are more melodically appealing and beautiful. So doing this album was an opportunity to just be myself."

USA Today: Clay Aiken sings 'Tried and True' favorites
Clay Aiken is releasing his fifth studio album, Tried and True, on June 1. The new CD is comprised of songs Clay grew up listening to, from the '50s and '60s.

Tried and True is the title because Clay feels the songs have stood the test of time, says the release. "To me, older songs are more melodically appealing and beautiful," he says. "So doing this album was an opportunity to just be myself."

Highlights include: Can't Take My Eyes Off You, made famous by Frankie Valli; Misty, the Johnny Mathis hit, and a soulful rendition of Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds.

MSN Music News: Clay Aiken Goes Back to Basics

Clay Aiken is making a musical comeback with a new album, and ET has all the info on his fifth studio album, Tried and True!

Clay chose the title Tried and True because the album will be filled with timeless classics.

"There are a lot of elements to this album that are about me returning to what I'm comfortable with," he says. "To me, older songs are more melodically appealing and beautiful. So doing this album was an opportunity to just be myself."

The album will include old-time favorites such as the swinging album opener "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," made famous by Frankie Valli; "Misty," the Johnny Mathis hit, and a soulful rendition of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds." The album also features two songs Clay sang while on "American Idol": "Mack the Knife" and "Unchained Melody."

Tried and True is set for release June 1.

SKOPE: Clay Aiken Comes Full Circle
Clay Aiken has never sounded more at home than he does singing the lushly arranged classics on his fifth studio album Tried and True — the international pop phenomenon’s first album for Decca Records.

Showcasing Aiken’s powerful voice and considerable interpretive gifts, the new CD is comprised of songs from the ’50s and ’60s that Aiken grew up listening to as a child. The platinum-selling artist and idol to many has arguably never sounded better. Tried and True will be available everywhere on June 1st.

Other sites featuring the release include:

Just Jared

ZAP 2 It

The Insider

Pop News Daily

Idol Gossip

LALate (scroll down)

No doubt many more sites will feature Clay's Tried & True CD release during the roll-out of the next 20 days. Daily checks at
Google and other search engines will provide fans a list of sites to visit and leave positive comments.

In the past, many Not.Just.Us or casual fans have caught the "Aiken fever" through comments at websites and YouTube. The "Tried & True" Aiken fog is not far away!

On My Way Here/I Survived You - Cancer Tribute
Montage by Yollie950, vocals by Clay Aiken

Fans Mourn Loss of Yollie950

Sunday night the Clay Aiken family lost a very special member when Yollie950 (Dorian Limon) lost her battle with cancer and passed away quietly with the same grace and dignity she has shown during her nearly two-year struggle with the disease.

When her doctors gave her little hope a few weeks ago, she made the decision to abandon therapy and asked for prayers that she pass peacefully.

Yollie will be remembered for her compassion for others and her talent in creating montages. Constantly amazed that her YouTube Channel brought joy to Clay fans around the world, Yollie delighted in the entire process of creating montages, and she faithfully responded to those who commented at her site.

According to close friends, her loves for dance, music, and theater are reflected in her personal favorites among the many montages she created:
Rudolph Nureyev-Dedication-In Memory of a Great Dancer, a pictorial piece accompanied by Clay singing "Lover All Alone," and In Memory of Patrick Swayze, a dance video backed by Clay's "Broken Wings" track.

A CA fan since American Idol, Yollie originally supported Ruben; but by the end of the series, she was pulling for the North Carolinian to win. She had hoped to attend a Clay/Ruben "Timeless Tour" concert this summer, but that was not meant to be.

A good friend, ymarie, shared these thoughts about Yollie:

Yollie was well-loved by everyone. She set a good example: live your life with passion and caring, don't sweat the small stuff, try to make someone else's life better. Fight the good fight; but when the fight is over, let go with grace and dignity and, hopefully, leave the best part of you behind in the ones who loved you.

Memorials, Donations Honor Yollie

Memorial messages abound at the
Yollie950 YouTube Channel, as well as message boards throughout Clay Cyberspace.

Fans are also lighting candles and writing remembrances of Yollie on the Gratefulness site. At noon Tuesday there were 100 candles from seven countries burning. Candles only last for 48 hours, and Internet friends may want to repeat the condolence messages for her family.

Among the special messages sent to Yollie's family are remarks from Clay's mother, Faye Parker:

Thank you for sharing your mom with the world too. She has been an inspiration to the fans of my son. Her beautiful montages have touched a lot of hearts. I truly appreciate her support over the last seven years.

It is people like your mom who make a difference in the lives of others. It is people like her that are not known nationally but are "Winds Beneath the Wings" of her family and loved ones and of the Clay Nation. She will be missed by many. May God give you strength and support during this time of sadness.

Yollie is at peace now. Friends like to think she has a front row seat for all upcoming concerts. Still, the Clay Nation will miss her friendship and artistic gifts, both of which she freely shared.

Have a special week, Clay Nation!


to Lia, #1 on 5/13/10!

Graphic by ABeautifulMind

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Clay Nation Celebrates Mother's Day

Clay Aiken and his mother Faye Parker. - Graphic by AmazingCA

Mama Mac Remembered

Fans Join Faye in Pepsi Project

Faye Parker has long been the "First Mom" of the Clay Nation, comprised of fans of her son, American Idol superstar alumni Clay Aiken. You can help Faye celebrate Mother's Day by getting on board a benefit close to her heart -- the National Inclusion Project's all-out effort to win $250,000 in the July Pepsi Refresh Challenge.

Co-founded in 2003 by Clay and Diane Bubel, the Inclusion Project is targeting July as the month to compete for $250,000 in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge. Each month Pepsi gives away $1.3 million dollars to support organizations and people who have fresh ideas that make an impact in their communities.

A win would support Let's ALL Play and Camp Scholarships so that thousands of kids can participate in the organization's innovative inclusion programs. Watch Faye's passion for the Inclusion Project in Aiken's mother talks charity work, a WRAL-TV video.

To win the Pepsi Challenge, the Inclusion Project needs the assistance of the Clay Nation and those who support its mission. The easiest way to vote in the challenge daily is to let the foundation do it for you. To do so, fill out the form at the Inclusion Project's website.

Detailed instructions are provided by Aron Hall in this Pepsi Refresh Challenge Ustream. The voting database of a previous winner (Teach America) was 20,000 names and email addresses. The Inclusion Project's database is currently around 2,700. Now is the time for recruiting participants for daily voting.

Only one email per person will be accepted. If you sign up to vote through the Inclusion Project, do not register with Pepsi. In previous months, the Inclusion Project has created reciprocal relationships by voting for other charities, who will in turn vote for the foundation.

Stay tuned to the Inclusion Project's website and the National Inclusion Project on Facebook for updates.

Pass the word, and recruit other participants. If you would like to volunteer to help in this effort, contact Aron Hall at

A Mother's Day Remembrance

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

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

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

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

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

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

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

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

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

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

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

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

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

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

When my sister dropped by after choir practice later that evening, proudly displayed on Mother's door was a huge lst Place Blue Ribbon. She most certainly did know she needed to get dressed to rehearse.

Our mother could sing harmony at the drop of a hat, a talent she shared with Clay and one of the many reasons she admired him so much. That day she and her duet partner were, hands down, the best!

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

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

My brother has spent the weekend with me while his son performed in the two-day commencement ceremonies at Greensboro College. More than once he has commented how often he wishes he could talk with Mother or ask her a question.

After Mama Mac's death, our family received countless messages from her former students like this one:

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

The Christmas play she directed that year probably raised the bar for not just harmony but also the amount of instruments she had us playing in the background.

She encouraged us to be inquisitive beyond the textbook and rewarded us for creative thinking with extra credit points. She was a fair teacher with high standards. If we pleased her, we felt very good about our efforts.

Until her death, Mother's Day Weekend was on my brother's calendar as he drove up from Wilmington to visit Mama Mac and stayed with his big sis. Our routine was to stop by the Harris Teeter nearest the retirement home and pick up fresh blueberries and boiled shrimp, two of her favorite foods to enjoy on Mother's Day.

Ketchup was an automatic, either a bottle from my kitchen or with several of the packets that remain part of her legacy.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama Mac!

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

Email Salutes Mother's Day

Email sometimes yields a most appropriate piece at just the right time. I received this from a friend and reprint it today for all the mothers who read the Carolina blog.

This is for mothers who sit up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, saying, 'It's okay honey, Mommy's here.'

Who sit in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.

This is for mothers who show up at work with milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

For mothers who run carpools, make cookies, and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who don't.

This is for mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.

And for the mothers who freeze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars. And when their kids ask, 'Did you see me, Mom?' they say, 'Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world,' and mean it.

This is for mothers who yell at their kids and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all mothers who go hungry so their children can eat.

For mothers who read 'Goodnight, Moon' twice a night for a year. And then read it again. 'Just one more time.'

This is for the mothers who teach their children to tie shoe laces before they start school. And for mothers who opt for Velcro instead.

This is for all mothers who teach their sons to cook and iron and their daughters to take out the trash and change the oil.

This is for every mother whose head turns when a little voice calls 'Mom?' in a crowd, even though their own offspring are at home -- or away at college -- or have their own families.

This is for mothers who have sent kids to school with stomach aches, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away!

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. But love them every day.

For mothers who bite their lips when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.

For mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their children who came home from school, safely.

This is for all mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from war.

This is for you all. For all of us...Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can do. Tell them every day that we love them. Pray and never stop being a mom.

Early this morning my daughter and grandchilren passed along electronic and telephone greetings to go with their Mother's Day remembrance sent the the old-fashioned way. I had just posted this entry when a former bass student from Nashville called to wish his "other mother" a happy day.

We exchanged new email addresses, and I mentioned that Clay Aiken has a new CD coming out in June and a PBS Special in August. I directed him to the CLAY AIKEN: TRIED & TRUE - LIVE! Promo. Even before my bassist saw the video, he said, "Big band and Broadway are the music Clay was born to sing."

Such an intuitive young man! Now I'm going to send him links to the press release and bio on Clay's Decca Records page so he can read those very words.

Gif by LovesClaysVoice

Happy Mother's Day, Clay Nation!