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!



claniac24 said...

WOW! What a delightful walk down memory lane. I loved Clay from the "Take" moment and am still a die-hard fan. Your site is SO classy, Carolina. Love your choice of subjects and can't download your superb selection of pics fast enough. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Loved your blog. It really made my day. The comments from the fans, the memories from Idol 2, and that picture of Clay by amazingCA. It just took my breath away.

Hugs, lois

Anonymous said...

Fun to see all that and one of my favorites is when he surprised that dude on AI, it was fabulous! Even if he needed his hair trimmed a little to see,LOL...always a mystery what that hair will look like. And your blogs are fun to see too!! Thanks. D. In Wi. ( home of the Packers)

Cindy said...

Hey Caro,

Great memories! I guess now it's time to revise the Unchained, then, now, forever and add 'always' to it, huh? Now he has his very own version.

I missed 'Take' since I never watched reality television, but my husband did and when it came time for the Wildcard show he said you HAVE to come and hear this kid. I did, very grudgingly, and the rest is history.

Anonymous said...

I remember thinking the poor guy was going to totally get made fun of by Simon and Randy. It was my first season watching the show and it was obvious they liked to set some of the kids up for mockery. I was already feeling sympathy for the guy when he opened his mouth to sing and floored me with that voice. Clay Aiken continues to surprise me, even after all these years. Wonderful blog! Thanks for reviving a great memory.

Anonymous said...

Hi Caro,

Love this blog going down memory lane is my favorite.

Aspirgirl's montage "If You Don't Know Me By Now" is awesome! She is so talented. Plus I love Fountaindawg's collages, I think they are keepers.

I hope your keeping warm.....we got MORE SNOW!!!!


Anonymous said...

I missed the beginning of Clay on Idol but his "Somewhere Out There" blew me away -- and I'm still here. Still loving, still traveling to concerts, still following this man. He is amazing.

T said...

Great blog Caro! It's always a delight remembering how Clay started and I'll never forget that moment. He was my favorite and I still want to repeat myself in saying that Season 2 was the best and most memorable season. I don't think I'll ever get the same exciting feeling that I had before watching American Idol.

Thanks so much for including the graphics and all the other beautiful graphics that brought so much beautiful memories. The montages were terrific and enjoyed watching them.

Again, many thanks for all wonderful blogs that you bring. It's always a special treat to visit.:D

Have a nice weekend!


Sandy said...

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video that Hosaa put together to celebrate this remarkable anniversary! This all happened years ago, yet it all seem like just yesterday. The journey still continues and when we hear that beautiful voice again today at the RBC Center, we will remember " that skinny, be-speckled, red-headed guy with big feet, floppy ears, a magnificent set of pipes, and a huge heart" who won our hearts over that day!
Thanks Caro for bringing us this wonderful blog full of great memories!


MissSally said...

My visiting sister physically pushed me from my home office into the living room to watch Clay, and I'm so very thankful that she did.

I missed the "Take" moment, but have been a loyal fan ever since.

Great blog. Caro.