Sunday, January 30, 2011

NHL All-Star Game Another Memorable Clay Aiken Sing

RALEIGH IS MY HOME - Double clickabe graphic by cindilu2.

Clay Aiken Nails National Anthem

Hometown Performances Special

When Clay Aiken performs in his beloved hometown of Raleigh, NC, it's always a special "This Is the Moment" kind of event.

Like when he returned on June 21, 2010, to help raise money for Raleigh's theater arts in the "Bringing Broadway Home" benefit concert. The performance of "This Is the Moment" was videoed by Scarlett.

View 'Bringing Broadway Home' video full screen at YouTube.

True to form, Sunday's rendition of the US national anthem will be, too. Be sure to check back later for a report of the "Star Spangled Banner" from pregame festivities.

UPDATE: Clay hit the banner out of the RBC Center!!! The announcer commented that he brought down the house. Here are Sendspace downloads for audio and video files (Canadian feed). The photo below links to the Canadian telecast on YouTube.

Clay sings national anthem at 58th NHL All-Star Game.
Click photo to view Canadian telecast on YouTube.

Click to enlarge this News & Observer photo of Clay.
To view more photos, see Getty Images.

Meanwhile, here are other memorable Raleigh performances -- not all, but a few. Take, for example, the unforgettable moment when the American Idol 2 Tour played Raleigh and the first runner-up took the stage.

Captured by an unknown graphic artist, the moment when Clay stood before a packed hometown crowd in the Raleigh Municipal Auditorium is preserved on countless CA fan hard drives.

RALEIGH TOUR PERFORMANCES: For the American Idol 2 concert
in his hometown, Clay appeared in a Carolina Hurricanes shirt.

Montage Presents NIP Overview

Featuring the dedication to humanitarian work that has always defined Clay Aiken, the final montage in the four-part 'Memories of 2010' series by LovesClaysVoice rewinds the latest Champions Gala of the National Inclusion Project, charity co-founded by Clay and Diane Bubel in 2003.

Included are portions of the singer's speech, live and Dutch auctions, and the treasured finale, "Both Sides Now," performed as a duet with Debra Leisey signing the lyrics.

Making a Difference - Memories of 2010, Part 4
View montage by LovesClaysVoice full screen at YouTube.

'Retro 3' Spotlights Appearances

The third montage in SueReu's Retrospective series features an overview of Clay's 2003-2009 special appearances.

Among the highlights are several national anthem performances, including the "Skate with Clay" National Inclusion Project fundraiser at a 2003 Carolina Hurricanes game.

Also featured are Christmas specials, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Capital One Holiday on Ice, Ed ("This Magic Moment" and "Ebay gold"), Scrubs ("Isn't She Lovely?"), Days of Our Lives, A Capital 4th on PBS, Saturday Night Live and the "Aiken wink," 30 Rock, and "Solitaire" from American Idol 3 and the 2007 Neil Sedaka Tribute.

Clay Aiken - A Retrospective, Part 3, A Special Guest
View montage by SueReu full screen at YouTube.

This overview of the Raleigh native's hometown performances would be incomplete without the PBS special taped last March. From Clay Aiken: Tried & True ~ LIVE, here is the big band arrangement of "Mack the Knife," a track from the singer's latest Decca release.

Songs from the Tried & True CD and special, promptly dubbed by fans as the "OMG Concert," are set to go on tour in selected cities Feb. 10 - March 12. For concert dates and times, see the Jan. 11 Carolina blog entry.

BACK IN TOWN: Clay sings "Mack the Knife" in Raleigh taping.
View PBS concert full screen at YouTube.

Another sing-it-to-the-rafters Raleigh performance! Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


P.S. Thanks to Sandy Hall, Clay Aiken and hockey enthusiast extraordinaire, here is a very complimentary take on the All-Star weekend from the Ottawa Citizen: Pressure's on Ottawa to keep the Raleigh going.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Clay Aiken Fans Celebrate 'Take' Anniversary

ATLANTA AUDITION REMEMBERED -- With the Tried & True Tour less than two weeks away, Clay Aiken fans reflect on the first time they heard the singer on TV, Jan. 28, 2003. T&T graphic by AmazingCA, screen caps by Scarlett, is double clickable.

'Always and Forever' in Atlanta

Clay Nation Marks Anniversary

Celebrations are in full swing throughout Cyberspace as fans recall the night that Clay Aiken was introduced to the world with the American Idol 2 telecast of his Atlanta audition on Jan. 28, 2003.

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

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

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

In her montage Clay Aiken Marches Through Atlanta, hosaa has reconstructed the week with a variety of audition, concert, and news clips.

Clay Aiken Marches Through Atlanta
Montage by hosaa

For countless worldwide fans, the beautiful strains of "Always and Forever" signaled the beginning. Many have been on board the Clay Train ever since.

No one could have predicted the musical journey that originated when the unassuming student teacher belted out those first few notes for the AI judges, how his positive role model would affect others around the globe, the close friendships that would form all because of a skinny, be-speckled, red-headed guy with big feet, floppy ears, a magnificent set of pipes, and a huge heart.

The annual Year at a Glance Timelines and collages from 2002 - 2011 at the Clay Aiken Kids site trace the history. Here are double clickable collages for 2003 and 2010 by Fountaindawg.

Click to expand both collages by Fountaindawg.

Fans Recall Jan. 28, 2003

I missed the audition we commemorate this week. A friend asked me what I thought of the skinny kid from North Carolina, so I promptly located a video clip online and tuned into AI from then on to cheer for this amazing singer from my home state. I'm sure I would have had the same initial reaction as the fans quoted below.

Where were you and what were your thoughts upon hearing Clay for the first time? Hopefully, you will share your Jan. 28 reflections in the comments, joining posted on various message boards.

TEXWRITER: I was folding clothes in the bedroom, watching on the bedroom TV, and DH [Dear Husband] was watching in the living room. I didn't even glance at the TV until Clay started singing, but once I did, I was completely mesmerized.
Like Randy, I couldn't believe that voice was coming out of that body. The minute his clip was done, I started down the hallway to find DH.

Funny thing is he had gotten up to come and find me, so we met each other halfway. We were both completely blown away by his talent and rooted for him from then on.

WILDABOUTCLAY: I still remember the moment vividly. I didn't plan to watch AI2, but it was a slow TV night, and I was channel surfing. By some stroke of fate, I turned AI on as Clay was being introduced.
Because I love voices and am naturally curious, I kept it on as he began to sing. WOW! I still remember yelling to my husband in the other room that "this guy has a good voice."

I was hooked after that because I wanted to see how he did. When it came to Open Arms night, I was convinced he had the best voice there.

ONEMOREFAN: I can remember watching Clay walk into the room. When he put his arms out and said, "I am the next American Idol," I thought he was cute but sort of expected him to not have a good voice. Then he started singing, and I was actually shocked that someone with that good a voice wasn't already a recording star.

VJM: I wasn't really watching AI. It was on the television by chance, just as background noise. I was doing some serious cleaning in my bedroom, moving books, cleaning the glass of picture frames, rearranging closets. I wasn't even facing the television. I didn't see Clay walk into the audition and didn't tune in to his talk about being the next American Idol. I didn't see what he looked like.
But then he sang that first phrase, I was immediately captivated, turned around, and sat on the edge of the bed to watch the rest. That's all it took. He's had my attention ever since.

NETTE: The night of the Atlanta audition I had been sleeping on the couch, woke up, picked up the remote and started channel surfing. When I came to Fox, I recognized the show as the one my son had liked the year before. I watched it for a while, but was disgusted at the bad auditions. I picked up the remote to change the channel just as Clay walked in.
He caught my attention before he even started to sing. There was the brightest aura around him even on TV. When he sang, I just froze. This was the best voice I had ever heard, and I could not understand why they were haggling about his looks.

He looked beautiful, and with his voice why did they care. He took the darkness out of my life that night, and I knew I would beat cancer because there was just no way I was going to leave Clay.

ROSEVIOLET: Like a lot of other people, I only saw the last couple of episodes of AI1 and found it intriguing. When AI2 started, I was determined to watch it from the beginning.
When Clay first stepped up for his audition, I thought, "Oh dear, he's going to be one of the bad ones" and then was totally blown away by his voice. I felt that connection with him from that point on.

It has only been further cemented in place over the years. I don't know why. I have never felt this way about any singer before, not even when I really was 12.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: These clickables feature graphics highlighting some events since 2003. Graphic artists represented include Amazing_CA, photos by Tasapio, 1; cindilu2, photos by Tasapio, 2; Fountaindawg, 3; A Beautiful Mind, 4; and CLAYPERFECT, 5.

Season 2 Memories Still Vivid

DYLAN: When Clay returned for the Wildcard Show and sang DLTSGDOM, that's when I noticed the singing voice for the first time. I was thinking, "Who is this guy who swallows the last note in each phrase?" I had never heard anyone sing like that before. From that time on, I was and still am a complete goner.

RCKNRLLMOM: I believe I was where I needed to be six years ago. Just coming out of a life altering situation being diagnosed with cancer and going through all the emotions and treatments. I had faith, for sure; I had to. But life was just starting to go on.
We were all watching the night Clay sang for the judges for the first time. I think my mouth dropped open at the voice that came out. I was amazed; I was hooked. My heart opened that night, too. The joy was back. It started with a simple word -- "Take" -- and has grown a thousand-fold since.

CLAYLEE: The beginning of my love affair with Clay began with DLTSGDOM in the Wildcard Show but really blossomed when, during an interview, he was talking about Simon's remarks to him about not looking like a pop star.
Clay said he would always have these (flipping his ears out) and that he was okay with that. There was no vanity, no embarrassment, just pure honesty. He got me with that, and the rest is history.

SALTWATERDOG: I remember Clay well. I remember his confidence. I remember thinking how beautiful his skin and cheekbones were. And the voice! Mr. Salt and I just looked at each other and went, "WOW!"
We laughed at the comments, agreeing that Clay did not look like a pop star, and cheered when Clay went on to the next step.

We still tease the neighbors about how they got us started watching AI, blaming them for how we travel cross-country to see Clay in concert.

IRISHBOOKGAL: During the Atlanta audition show I was listening while I was in the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies. I was just about to take a batch out of the oven when Clay began to sing.
His voice just did something to me; and I jerked, burning my hand on the oven as I ran to see just who that was. My cookies burned to a crisp, and I still have a little "Clay scar" on my my hand. He had me hook, line, and sinker from "take"!

Bumpy Road to Final 12

As longtime CA fans know, Clay lost to Quiana Parler, now one of his backup singers, in the finals of his Charlotte audition. Thankfully, he was determined enough to drive to Atlanta and try again.

That stubbornness served him well as he was eventually bumped again in Hollywood, returning for the Wildcard Show and blowing everyone away with his rendition of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down." The American public responded by voting the North Carolinian into the final field of 12.

Though Clay finished second to winner Ruben Studdard in the spring finale, he has attracted countless fans from multiple generations with his golden voice, entertaining shows, and a profound dedication to use his celebrity to make a difference.

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

Aspiegirl's montage If You Don't Know Me By Now, bonus cut from the A Thousand Different Ways album, provides an overview of Clay's career as an entertainer, as well as his philanthropic endeavors.

Co-founder of the National Inclusion Project with an inclusive mission that children with and without disabilities experience life together, Clay serves as a special ambassador for UNICEF and has traveled throughout the world promoting these causes.

Happy "Take" Anniversary and the beginning of a very special Year 9!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Clay Aiken Talks Tour, Hockey, American Idol, Charities

TRIED & TRUE MAGIC-- AmazingCA lived up to her screen name when she took several of Scarlett's T&T ~ LIVE screen caps from the previous entry and produced this handsome graphic. There's another one at the bottom. Both are double-clickable.

National Inclusion Grant 'Official'

Clay To Sing SSB for NHL All-Stars

Clay Aiken will take a break from Tried & True Tour preparations to sing the American National Anthem at the National Hockey League All-Star Game Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. The Canadian Tenors will perform their country's anthem.

A longtime hockey fan, Clay has sung the "Star-Spangled Banner" to open numerous hockey games since the Carolina Hurricanes arrived in Raleigh in 1997.

Like most residents of the Triangle area, he is excited that his hometown is hosting the all-star game. "We built a brand-new airport. It specifically opened Sunday to be ready for the all-star game," he said.

AP Photo by Karl DeBlaker

In addition to Sunday's festivities, Brian Mansfield's story for USA Today also includes previews from Clay about the T&T Tour:
"I like being relatively laid-back and casual," he says. "This is Moon River, Unchained Melody and What Kind of Fool Am I. These songs don't need a lot of flashy light stuff. I like to come out and sing the songs, and I like talking to the audience."

Most of Clay's set will focus on tunes from his recent albums of standards, but he says he has a few surprises up his sleeve.

"Most of these songs are big-band types songs," he says. "I think we're going to do a medley of songs that are on the radio today, but we're going to do them in a big-band style."

Such as? Lady Gaga's Poker Face is on the short list. So is Kenny Chesney's She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy.

"They're definitely songs you would not expect to hear in big-band style."

WKNO: A Conversation with Clay Aiken
View Pierre Kimsey's interview full screen at YouTube.

Memphis PBS Chat Covers Bases

WKNO producer Pierre Kimsey's interview with Clay Aiken was a hit when it first aired on the Memphis PBS station last fall. Already on YouTube, the interview has this week begun airing on other stations throughout the PBS network.

Kimsey's chat with Clay covers all the bases -- performing, sudden fame, the National Inclusion Project, UNICEF, family, fans, connection with former teachers, the Tried & True PBS Special, Broadway -- and much more.

Promo for the interview provides an excellent overview of the chat between Clay and the WKNO producer:

WKNO Producer Pierre Kimsey talks with singer Clay Aiken. The North Carolina native was beginning a career as an educator working with special-needs children when he took an opportunity to audition for the TV show American Idol, then in its second season.

His life was transformed as a finalist, and he has emerged as one of the most successful singers to have been launched by the show.

Aiken has used his celebrity on behalf of the international charity UNICEF and has traveled to Somalia, Afghanistan, and other countries where children have been impacted by war.

IT's OFFICIAL! The National Inclusion Project has been informed
that December's $50k Pepsi grant win was certified Friday.
Double click on the NIP Pepsi banner to view full size.

NIP Pepsi Grant Win 'Official'

Throughout Clay Cyberspace, fans are "dancing in the streets" with news that the National Inclusion Project's December $50k grant win has been declared official.

Jerry Aiken, executive director of the foundation, received word of the certification on Friday and shared the news with supporters via Facebook:
Thanks so much to everyone that helped us win. We will hold the drawing for the iPad early this week!

Most Inclusion Project supporters are still voting -- for the alliances and partners who helped bring home the $50,000 grant. As this sampling from the NIP Pepsi page shows, the daily votes have not gone unnoticed:
SHENAN ARTS: Hello, National Inclusion friends! Shenan Arts appreciates your continued support! You're the best. Thanks for any additional votes you can send. Congrats again, and thanks for all the support!

CRAVEN ARTS COUNCIL: Craven Arts Council thanks you, thanks you for your support!!! We so appreciate you continuing to vote for us. We need it!

VOMA: The Venue of Merging Arts can't thank you enough for remembering us and continuing to support our efforts.

LONG ISLAND RIDING for the HANDICAPPED: Hello, National Inclusion Project! Thanks so much for your continued support of LIRHA. We're now at #11!!

ROBERT MORRIS ELEM SCHOOL: On behalf of Robert Morris, I would like to Thank all who have been coming back and voting for us. You guys are the BEST!!!

Double clickable graphic by AmazingCA, caps by Scarlett.

Unlimited Clack Now on Facebook

There's a new "face" at the popular social networking site that should keep fans rolling in videos of the singer's performances. Visit the growing Unlimited Clack wall at Facebook, and join the fun.

Scroll through the Unlimited Clack widget in the Carolina sidebar that continuously reflects the latest additions with a page refresh.

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Clay Aiken's Tried & True Tour #1 Topic for Fans

Widget features slide show of screen caps from 'Clay Aiken: Tried & True ~ LIVE!' by Scarlett.

Mailbag Spotlights Readers

Clay Nation Anticipates T&T Tour

Tried & True Tour mania has taken over Clay Aiken's slice of Cyberspace and is constantly inspired by the latest updates from Decca Records and the Official Fan Club site, as well as a myriad of T&T videos/visual art shared by fans.

An atmosphere charged with excitement is evident at the singer's message boards, Facebook/Twitter networks, and fan blogs. All who frequent these sites know there's nothing like being present for the spontaneity, great vocals, and sheer entertainment of a "live" Clay Aiken performance.

Scarlett's opening slide show of screen caps from the PBS Special Clay Aiken: Tried & True ~ LIVE! not only graces this blog but is also decorating countless Facebook walls with abundant links on Twitter. Below is the first of two sets of clickable stills from the slide show:

According to Krule Music's Front Stage blog, Clay has something special planned for the 2/14 Valentine T&T Concert in Houston. Stories and YouTube promos abound. Here is one for the 2/12 Miami concert: Clay Aiken Comes to the Van Wezel.

The opening of a new Idol season always produces headlines centering around previous finalists and their subsequent careers. From Extra, see American Idols: Where Are They Now?.

According to USA Today, Clay is rooting for 16-ear-old Victoria Huggins from Lumberton, NC, in the 2011 edition of Idol. Don't miss Victoria's AI audition that sent her to Hollywood. (Yo-Yo, Dawg!)

T&T Tour Talk Hot Mailbag Topic

One of the best indications of the growing excitement are the comments fans leave in Carolina entries. It's been a while since I assembled a mailbag blog, and here is a sample of what readers have been writing back during January.

Headlining are the well-deserved celebrations for the National Inclusion Project's $50k Pepsi Refresh grant win in December, continued "thank you" voting during January for the charity's partners and alliances, lots of Tried & True Tour talk, as well as thoughtful remarks RE the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1/1/11: Clay Aiken Fans Celebrate 2011

Graphic by AmazingCA, photos by Tasapio.

Marlyne: I loved SueRue's "Clay Aiken: 2010 Recap" It is awesome! Awwwww the memories. Looking forward to the memories of 2011.

SueReu: WONDERFUL graphic by AmazingCA featuring the very expressive face of one Mr. Clay Aiken.
Hooray for the National Inclusion Project! Whether it's #1 or #10, it matters not to me - in the hands of National Inclusion Project $50K can do an amazing amount of good.

AmazingCA: Awesome video from SueRue! What a good way to end the year and see the 2010 Recap.

Sandy: A big congratulations to The National Inclusion Project for their first place finish in the Pepsi Challenge! A job well done by everyone involved!
What a fantastic job Sue did in making the "Clay Aiken: 2010 Recap." Loved the Jacquie Lawson "Auld Lang Syne" card.

MissSally: The Inclusion Project's thrilling first place finish is a fantastic way to start this new year. Kudos to all of the voters, and the worker bees; Royalle, Scarlett and you, Caro. As your friend I know about the countless, hours, days weeks and even months the three of you devoted to this project.
ACA's 2011 graphic is gorgeous! I'm so happy that she continues to delight us with her unique creativity. SueRue's "Clay Aiken: 2010 Recap" is pure joy to watch. Clay Nation is blessed to have so many talented artists.

Katy: Looking forward to a wonderful 2011 for Clay Aiken and his fans. Loved the 2010 Recap.

Puteri: Thank you for all your blogs which help keeping me updated on all about Clay. Sue please keep feeding us with your clacks... that's the only way I can relieve my thirst of Clay performance. Hugs from Indonesia ...for all Clay fans & for a wonderful 2011 to come!

1/5/11: Clay, Fans Applaud Pepsi Win, Broadway Event

Graphic by AmazingCA, photos by Invisible926.

ImGranny: I love that you have the Widget on the side to make it easier for those that want to continue voting for our alliances and partners that helped us win. Hopefully some of them will win this month. I will be voting every day!
I'm excited about Clay performing on Broadway Feb. 7 and can't wait to see what he is going to sing. It won't be long now till the Tried & True Tour starts! Fun times ahead!

Marlyne: Yeah, we did it!!! It is now time for us to help others. Thank You for the wiglet, you make it so easy for us.

Sandy: Looks like 2011 is getting off to a good start! First the NIP getting the $50,000 and now Clay performing at the Great White Way again. Should be interesting to hear what he is going to sing! Hope we get Clack!

anaturegirl: Thanks for having the Widget on your site. Makes it easier to vote for all those who helped get NIP to Number 1 in December.

MissSally: The "Thank You" widget speaks volumes about the kind and considerate nature of Clay's many dedicated fans. I think it will forever be remembered by the helpful groups who participated in December's amazing win. Thank You for "Playing it Forward."

1/11/11: T&T Tour To Spotlight Signature Song

Tried & True ~ LIVE! - Graphic by Fountaindawg.

Donna in WI: Hope the concerts go well and Clay enjoys singing to everyone soon! Loved your blog and the videos get me in trouble; but, hey, love them!!

Lois: I just got done watching some of the old tapes I had on clay when he was first on Idol, and now I come here to see some more of the early clay. How wonderful. It was hard to pull myself away from u-tube, and all the old videos.

Marlyne: I just love watching those old Clay videos from the American Idol days. Now I have to get some of my old DVD's out and curl up this evening and watch them. I can't believe T & T Tour is about to begin! Finally!!!

Montages Serenade Tour Countdown

Graphic by AmazingCA, photo by PermaSwooned.

ImGranny: It won't be long now till Clay Aiken is on tour to entertain and delight us as only he can. I can't wait!!!!

lovinclay: I can't get enough of the Video of Prince William and Kate. SAU has always been one of my favorite songs from OMWH and it just seems to fit this montage so well. I also loved the montage from DWTS . UM goes so well with it.

LovesClaysVoice: Caro, there is so much fun stuff in this blog! Thanks for including my montages! I love the graphics and have one of them as my background already!

1/16/11: America Marks King with Service Day

The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

MissSally: Our First Lady Michelle Obama, the direct descendant of slaves, now lives in a house that was built by slaves. This morning I downloaded the e-book version of "How Michelle Obama Leads", and look forward to reading it. Dr King's "Dream" lives on, and our nation will forever be enriched.

Sandy: I was watching Piers Morgan interview Oprah last night and when Piers reminded her that the most powerful woman and the most powerful man in the USA today are both black, Oprah was close to tears!
She holds Dr. Martin Luther King with the highest reverence, knowing that in all probability, if it were not for him, she most likely would not be where she is today.

Reneti46: Enjoyed the look back. Loved the 'Grace of God' montage!

Newspaper: Truly inspiring and very thought provoking. Strange, there are people still who can't understand this great man's concept of what life is all about.

Hope you enjoyed reading the thoughts of the Carolina's readers, some of whom post at the OFC.

Below is a short preview of the Tried & True Winter Tour concerts slated for Feb. 10 - March 11. The itinerary is posted in the Jan. 11 blog, as well as at Decca Records

CHARLOTTE CONCERT - Clay previews the Tried & True Tour for his Feb. 23 home state concert at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC.

According to the sidebar's Tried & True Tour countdown widget, the Miami opener is under three weeks away. Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

America Marks King Anniversary with Service Day

A NATION REMEMBERS -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presents the "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Aug. 28, 1963. The 25th anniversary of the federal holiday honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King will be celebrated Monday, Jan. 17. (AP Photo)

25th Anniversary of MLK Holiday

Day of Service Tribute to King

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, Jan. 17, this nation commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of the nonviolent civil rights movement in the 1960's and, 44 years after his death, still a symbolic force in the ongoing struggles toward fulfillment of his famous speech: freedom, equality, justice, dignity, respect for human beings of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

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

King Legacy of Service Celebrates 25th Anniversary.

Dr. King changed the course of history and inspired this country to build what he called "the beloved community." The above King Legacy of Service 25th Anniversary video tells the story of how this countryman's birthday evolved into a national day of service.

Featuring civil rights luminaries such as Congressman John Lewis, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery, and Ruby Bridges, the six-minute video emphasizes the importance of keeping Dr. King's legacy of service alive and challenges all to make service a part of their lives ─ everyday of the year.

Obama Presidency Magnifies King

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

January 17, 2011, marks the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. The milestone is a perfect opportunity for Americans to honor the King legacy through service. To learn where and how you can participate, explore the MLK Day website.

First Lady Michelle Obama wrote the following:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was much more than a civil rights champion -- he was a man who lived his entire life in service to others, speaking out against poverty, economic injustice, and violence. Through his leadership, he showed us what we can accomplish when we stand together.

Each January, we remember Dr. King on his own holiday -- and one of the best ways to preserve his legacy is to engage in service ourselves. As Dr. King told us, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

That's why this Monday, January 17th, Organizing for America volunteers will be participating in service projects all across the country in Dr. King's honor. There will be food drives, neighborhood clean-ups, education projects, blood drives, and more.

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

Haitian Earthquake Inspires Donations

Following the Jan. 12, 2010, devastating earthquake in Haiti, US citizens were inspired to direct funds and Martin Luther King service efforts toward a neighboring country with colossal needs.

Fans of Clay Aiken, a UNICEF Ambassador since 2004, donated through the organization's special link that is still active this January: From the Heart of the Clay Nation. The "Gift of Life" montage below is accompanied by the singer's "Grace of God" track from the On My Way Here album.

The Gift of Life - Montage by SueReu
'Grace of God' sung by Clay Aiken
View montage full screen at YouTube.

There are countless Internet links on the Life and Teachings of Dr. King, who would have been 82 years old on Jan. 15 had he lived. In 1968, his plans to lead a Poor People's March to Washington were interrupted by a trip to Memphis, TN, to support striking sanitation workers.

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

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

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today marks the fourth year since 2007 that I have posted this blog entry with updates and slight alterations. Next to Clay Aiken, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most searched topic in the Carolina blog's "live feed."

Homework assignments would be my first assumption, although "searchees" have arrived from countless countries around the globe.

Just Four Blocks Away

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

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

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

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

Staying in Touch

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

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

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

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

Harsh Lesson in Discrimination

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

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

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

Drummer Orders Burgers for Band

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

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

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

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

Remembering Dr. King

Changes in the Air

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

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

Civil Rights Timeline

1865: 13th Amendment outlawed slavery.

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

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

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

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

Greensboro Woolworth's 1960 Sit-In

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

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

Woolworth's Exhibit at Greensboro Historial Museum

7-25-60: The first black ate a meal sitting down at Woolworth's in Greensboro. After one week, 300 blacks had been customers. The lunch counter is now on display in the International Civil Rights Center and Museum located on the original Woolworth's site in Greensboro.

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

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

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

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

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

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

1986: Federal Martin Luther King holiday was first celebrated.

Keeping the Dream Alive

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

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

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

On Jan. 17, 2011, the United States honors Dr. King and the generations who paved the way for the historic inauguration celebrated two years ago.

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

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

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

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Here's to a memorable week, America!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Clay Aiken Montages Serenade Tour Countdown

DWTS Season 11 - Viennese Waltz
'Unchained Melody' Vocals by Clay Aiken
View montage by LovesClaysVoice full screen at YouTube.

Clock Ticks Toward Miami Concert

Montages Celebrate Aiken Vocals

With the Feb. 10 Miami opener for Clay Aiken's Tried & True Tour less than a month away, fans are completing travel plans while taking intermittent "rest stops" at YouTube to view the latest videos and montages from previous performances.

The opening montage by LovesClaysVoice partners the Viennese Waltz routines of Dancing with the Stars 11 contestants accompanied by Clay's Tried & True "Unchained Melody." Dancers include Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough, Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke, Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. You can download the montage with this Sendspace file.

Fortunately, the CA fandom is filled with fans who share their talent for creating, capturing, and rendering montages and videos from the singer's performances.
The same can be said for the handsome graphics visual artists create with photos from previous events.

Below are blends by AmazingCA that expand to wallpaper size with a double-click. The first two feature photos by PermaSwooned while the third incorporates photos by toni7babe.

CA Fans Keep YouTube Buzzing

While there is nothing like seeing Clay Aiken perform live, it's for sure aficionados help keep YouTube in business. Based in San Bruno, CA, the video-sharing website was created in February 2005 by three early employees of Pay Pal -- Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, design and computer science majors.

Six months before YouTube made its official debut, the public was given a sneak preview of the site in May 2005. Due to its immediate popularity, the angel-funded enterprise quickly grew from an "office in a garage" to a multi-million dollar company.

YouTube was purchased by Google in November 2006. To learn more, read History of YouTube at Wikipedia.

Montages are often created from special tracks by Clay. An excellent example is "Something About Us," a video blending music and art from the recent engagement announcement of Prince William and Kate Middleton. To save, download with this Sendspace file.

Prince William and Kate - Something About Us
'On My Way Here' Vocals by Clay Aiken
View montage by LCV full screen at YouTube.

For the Clay Nation, there are never enough reruns of the singer's tours. Below is a widget loaded with 27 videos recorded by Scarlett at last summer's Los Angeles Timeless Tour Concert. You can watch the entire concert in the widgetbox or open the links on YouTube.

The show's all there! The scroll on the right will take you from the "Flying Without Wings/This Is the Night" opening number by Clay and Ruben Studdard through the various decades and hilarious banter between the two good friends right on into the "Time of My Life" finale.

Widgetbox Features Complete LA Concert
Timeless Tour videos by Scarlett

Calendar Deadline This Weekend

An order deadline of Jan. 15 has been set by Rosaratana, who annually produces a Clay Aiken calendar as a fundraiser for the Inclusion Project.

The 2011 wall and desk calendars, feature photos by toni7babe from the summer's popular Timeless Tour, have been well-received by CA fans.

Clickable Cover

All proceeds after costs will be donated to the foundation in February. Cost of the calendars, which are printed on premium glossy card stock are $12 for the desk size (8.27" x 3.74") and $25 for the wall model (11" x 8.5").

Currently, a total of 143 calendars (86 wall, 57 desk)
have been sold. The remaining six desk and five wall calendars will be donated for Spring Fan Fest fundraising if not ordered this weekend.

To place an order, Paypal or email Rosa at by Saturday, Jan. 15. Checks are accepted, and she will email you her address. For additional information and photos, see the Nov. 2 Carolina entry: Clay Aiken Fans Go to Bat for Inclusion Project.

Christmas Clock Insures Grins

Snow and ice have held Triad school calendars hostage most of the week. Mother Nature also put a "fermata" (hold) on music lessons; but warmer temps are on tap and makeup sessions are in the works.

My students were very generous with holiday remembrances for their teacher, everything from gift cards to sweets that are being carefully rationed. As a Carolina basketball fan, who knew Buckeyes could be so enticing?!?

Putting a reverse spin on a Clay Aiken favorite, "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day," however, is a clock that plays a phrase of a seasonal song at the top of each hour.

I have had more fun watching unsuspecting students (even the pianist who gave it to me!) stop and grin when they suddenly hear the music box-like hourly greeting in the middle of a lesson. Among the 12 songs heralding new hours are "Jingle Bells," "Adeste Fidelis," "O Tannenbaum," "The 12 Days of Christmas," and "Joy to the World."

Soon the two batteries that instigate the holiday songs will be removed; but for now, we are getting a real good jump on "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day."

Use the sidebar widgets to continue voting for the National Inclusion Project's Pepsi alliances and partners. Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!