Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Montage Spotlights Clay Aiken on Broadway

Knights on Broadway - Montage by SueReu
View video full screen at YouTube. Download Retro Part 5 here.

Part 5 in Retrospective Series

Memorable Walk Down Broadway

"Knights on Broadway," Part 5 of SueReu's retrospective series of Clay Aiken montages, spotlights special performances by the singer with Heather Headley and Hannah Waddington, as well as his stint in the hit musical, "Spamalot."

Among the highlights are "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," duet with Heather Headley, Broadway Cares, May 24, 2004; the Easter Bonnet Competition, duet with Heather Waddingham, April 29, 2008; "Home," Broadway Backwards, Feb. 7, 2011, video by Scarlett; and a variety of "Spamalot" scenes/songs as Sir Robin, Brother Maynard, and guard.

Who can forget the shy Robin predicting he would become the "Idol of his Age"? The clips SueReu merged also showcase the singer's extraordinary vocal range, his dramatic but forgettable piano technique, the Russian bottle dance, and such memorable tunes as "Find Your Grail," "He Is Not Dead Yet," "You Won't Succeed on Broadway," and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

For other Clay Aiken retrospective montages by SueReu, see the following:
Part 1 - The Music
Part 2 - Small Screen Fun;
Part 3 - A Special Guest;
Part 4 - Photographs & Memories

Download the first four segments of the Retrospective series with the following links: Retro Part 1; Retro Part 2; Retro Part 3; Retro Part 4.

Below are clickable graphics from Clay's Spamalot run by AmazingCA, 1 and 3, and cindilu2, 2.

Clay appears in the Musicians' Real Names slideshow on the MIX 96.5 website. Link to the station's site by clicking on the graphic below. Arrows on either side of Clay's photo will take you to the real monikers of other entertainers.

Graphic by Ashes links to 'Real Names' at MIX 96.5.

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day: A Time To Honor America's Heroes

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.

Clay Aiken Sings 'God Bless the USA'

Remembering America's Heroes
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: "It's a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day."

On Memorial Days past, I have featured a 1963 interview with John M. Steele, the paratrooper who landed on a church steeple in St. Mere Eglise, France, during the D-Day invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944.

I was a 20-year-old college junior writing news and features for the Wilmington Morning Star the summer I interviewed the local war hero whose experience had recently been included in the movie, The Longest Day.

The story about Pvt. Steele missing the drop zone, landing on the church steeple, and playing dead for hours before German soldiers searching for cigarettes realized he was alive can be read in the 2010 Memorial Day blog: America Honors Military Heroes.

John Steele steeple monument in Ste. Mere Eglise, France.

Memorial Day Originally Decoration Day

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans - the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) - established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

To read the complete history, link to the WECT Wilmington website.

The Internet is overflowing with commemorative images marking the day America pays tribute to those who have served and sacrificed for their country. The four used in this blog are from CLIPish and can be shared via iPhones and other smart phones.

America Salutes 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.

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 2011 event will be televised live to US service members around the world. Memorial Day Parades in other locations are listed here.

At 11 a.m. today, President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a traditional ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

Patriotic music is an important part of Memorial Day observances. Sunday's National Memorial Day Concert on the west lawn of the US Capitol featured dramatic readings, documentary footage, and live performances. Check your PBS station for rebroadcast times.

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

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.'"

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


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Student Musicians Enjoy Butterfly-Free Recitals

Three Days of Varied Programs

Surprises Fill Performance Week

Spring recitals are a rite of passage at the close of a school year. However, this season my music students enjoyed a variation of the formal event that was almost butterfly-free and beneficial for all concerned.

When preferences for three proposed recital dates came back equally divided, I decided to combine back-to-back students into small groups, allowing each to play several pieces for their invited guests.

This was a treat especially for the pianists, who normally perform only 1-2 selections at spring recitals. The violinists usually play a solo and several songs as a group.

Students had a great time creating repertoire lists the week preceding the performance classes. Programs ranged from one to six solos. The musicians, whose ages range from 6 to 15, represent seven area schools.

Power Outage Strikes Schedule

On Monday, the first of three performance days, I was still casually drinking my morning coffee when a Wesleyan mother called to ask if the recitals were still on since a power failure had cancelled classes at the the academy.

I learned that the electricity had been restored, but school was definitely out except for high schoolers whose exam schedule was revised to start at 11. Students and parents were contacted via email or text, and our classes were back on schedule, too.

Monday's first duo partnered Payton, a freshman, and third grader Chase. Parents and an uncle completed their audience as the musicians shared everything from Bach to Joplin to the "Saints."

Like their teacher, they are avid Tar Heel basketball fans and have shared many celebrations -- and a few pity parties -- following Carolina games.

Due to the day's schedule snafu, one student, Brenda, was unable to attend the piano class. Her partner, Haley, presented a six-piece program for a family friend, her dad, and mom via video recorder.

The girls had planned an interesting program of literature, pop, Disney, hymns, and even a 12-bar blues improv.

A trio of pianists -- Miranda, her brother Mitch, and Cawyn, who studies at my home -- performed 16 songs for their families. Their teacher played the duet part for "Amazing Grace" and "Rock Song."

Violinists Invite Moms To Sing

Wednesday's sessions began with Tatum and Raegan, elementary string students who performed solos and duets for their moms. Their program featured Suzuki lit (the "Twinkle Variations" and "Andantino"), "Edelweiss," and "Love Me Tender," with some vocals from the audience.

The second group spotlighted Joseph and Caleb, two talented middle school composers. Unfortunately, their schedules only overlap for a few minutes, so they each played for family members.

Both performed compositions from this semester, Joseph's temporarily entitled "Spring" and Caleb's "The Quiet One."

Caleb also added "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," "Scarborough Fair," "Volga Boatman," a piece he is arranging for his guitar class, and another composition, "Skeletal Waltz."

iPhone Records Student Compositions

My iPhone, a tool we have employed all semester as a tuner, a metronome, and a handy recorder of compositions and prepared pieces, wasn't even on my radar this week. It's a wonder I remembered to turn off the ringer!

Special thanks to Scarlett for converting the mp4's to mp3's and getting them into a player. From lesson recordings, the player contains the opening of Joseph's composition; a partial of Caleb's "The Quiet One" (working title);
"Hope," written by Jessicca for Mother's Day. Click on each song to play.

Three cousins and their family members filled the studio for Wednesday's final group. Ora, a violinist, performed "The Two Grenadiers" by Schumann, her favorite fiddle tune, and "Over the Rainbow."

Her brother
Jeremy, a pianist, played Cathedral Bells," a Bach minuet, and two piano duets with his teacher, "Crown Him with Many Crowns" and "America the Beautiful."

In addition to the special Mother's Day composition, their cousin Jessicca performed the Pachelbel Canon and "Amazing Grace."

Fiddle Tunes, Musicals, Classics

Five violinists -- Tatum, Raegan, and Ora from WCA, Erica and Anna from Our Lady of Grace (OLG) -- gathered at my home Thursday to perform solos and play as much of their ensemble literature as we could in an hour.

WCA violin solos received a second run, Erica played Bach's Minuet in G, and Anna performed Gavotte in D Major by Bach.

Repertoire for this group is varied -- fiddle tunes, selections from The Sound of Music, a Disney set, folk songs, and more. We closed with a classic and their current favorite, "Over the Rainbow."

This blog's most entertaining art will have to be in your imagination. Picture the teacher completing last minute house-cleaning -- a bum left knee, vacuum in one hand and cane in the other, chasing away dust mites in the living room.

Just because it's almost summertime the music doesn't stop.

Students will have a break next week, but many will resume lessons the following Tuesday and Thursday. Several will perform programs in area retirement homes this summer.

Have a very special Memorial Day Weekend, all!

Caro/Ms B

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Clay Aiken Discusses Career, Fatherhood, Idol, Charities

Clay Aiken talks about his career, future plans, fatherhood, American Idol. You can also watch the interview with Debra Morgan at the WRAL website. Download and view the interview with this 4 shared file.

Singer Talks Topics A-Z

WRAL Shares In-Depth Interview

In the midst of a very busy week for me personally, WRAL-TV posted an in-depth interview with Clay Aiken in which he talked about his career, future plans, fatherhood, American Idol, North Carolina's seeming edge in AI finalists, his charity work with the National Inclusion Project.

In case there are readers having a week like mine, the full 25-minute discussion is embedded above. Here are five clickable screen caps by Cotton. You can download all 150 caps with this Sendspace file.

Astaire Dances to Clay's IOMB

Performing "It's Only Make Believe" from his Tried & True album, Clay & Co. accompany Fred Astaire in SueRue's latest montage. Featured is Scarlett's video from the Atlanta T&T Concert. Enjoy!

It's Only Make Believe - Clay Aiken and Fred Astaire
View montage by SueRue full screen at YouTube.

Show Goes On Despite Power Failure

Despite the fact that Wesleyan Christian Academy called off school Monday due to a power outage, paired piano students shared examples of the semester's music with relatives and each other during afternoon classes.

Even though electricity was restored by 8 a.m., younger students enjoyed an unexpected vacation while their high school counterparts took exams on a revised schedule. For the most part, music lessons went on as planned.

My piano/violin students are in the midst of a week of performance classes with the latest installments set for Wednesday and Thursday.

So far, the groups have been an enjoyable, relaxed version of the more formal spring recitals we usually present. The best part is that everyone can play several selections versus one or two. Check back for a more detailed report following the last chord.

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Clay Aiken Key Performer in Most Viewed Idol Finales

Clay Aiken-Ruben Studdard, Timeless Duo
Link to montage by SueReu on You Tube for full page view.

Best AI Season Ever

Aiken-Studdard Pairing Timeless

Through nine editions of American Idol, the 38.1 million viewers garnered by the Clay Aiken-Ruben Studdard Finale of May 21, 2003, not only confirms the popularity of the two singers but also the high bar set by the Season 2 contestants.

Next week's competition between two Southern teens -- Lauren Alaina, 16, of Fort Oglethorpe, GA, and Scotty McCreery, 17, Garner, NC, -- will determine the winner of American Idol 10 and whether Season 2 retains the viewership crown.

Read more about the AI 10 showdown in this story at The Improper website: Scott McCreery, Lauren Alaina Idol Finalists; South Bias Strikes Again.

AI10 finalists Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery

Articles Rewind AI Finales

Finale week always inspires a variety of previous season highlights. Articles of interest to this blog's readership would include Studdard, Aiken: A Match of Opposites (Variety), a replay of Season 2.

In Secrets Behind American Idol's Incredible Comeback, a May 19 Hollywood Reporter story, Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer, reported that his favorite AI moment was when the Season 2 runner-up turned up for a surprise duet with Michael Sandecki, an Aiken impersonator, during the 5th season finale.

Seasons of 'Idol'-atry, 2010 Washington Post story, provided an overview of the show's nine seasons to date. With 38.1 and 36.4 million viewers, respectively, the finale shows of Seasons 2 and 5 were maintaining their gold-silver ranking.

Ironically, Clay participated in both, as a finalist in his season and as a surprise guest performer with a suave makeover that momentarily fooled loyal fans and Idol personnel alike three years later.

Don't Let the Sun go Down on Me - Clay Aiken
The AI5 Finale water cooler moment.

Link to YouTube to view full screen.

Lythgoe Reveals AI5 Secrecy Plan

In an interview on KTLA-TV's Morning News Show the week following the AI5 Finale, Lythgoe revealed that details of Clay's appearance and performance on the show were kept secret from almost everyone.

The singer arrived at an obscure entrance in an SUV with tinted windows. Sporting a suave new look and attracting no attention whatsoever, he walked in unnoticed with wardrobe personnel and the garments they were transporting, secretly watching the show in a nearby building before being escorted to the stage for his entrance.

American Idol 5 Finale showstopper - Graphic by Sally.

Clay was there to surprise Michael Sandecki, an early contestant who supposedly had won the Golden Idol Award for "Best Impersonation" of a previous finalist.

As the stage doors parted, Clay entered singing DLTSGDOM. The theater audience and television viewers went wild.

It was the same incredible voice, but the maturity and difference in Clay's appearance were so striking that the panel of judges and emcee Ryan Seacrest didn't recognize him at first.

The event easily became the most discussed water cooler topic of the AI5 Finale, surmounting the buzz about the evening's newly-crowned Idol, Taylor Hicks.

Click on screen cap to link to Fan Fest website.

Aiken Fans Assemble for Annual Fest

For Clay Aiken fans, the place to be this weekend is the Yorktowne Hotel in York, PA, where supporters have gathered for Fan Fest, annual two-day fundraiser for the National Inclusion Project.

Besides greeting longtime online friends, attendees are enjoying a schedule packed with crafts, a Clay hat contest, caricatures, singalong of Clay's hits, live auctions, raffles, the Claymobile, dinner with guest speaker Faye Parker, and a round table Sunday morning breakfast discussion.

Be sure to click on the headings at the top of the Fan Fest website for more details. Heading up this year's event is Cookie, original owner of the Claymobile. Below are clickable photos shared by Scarlett from some of the Saturday afternoon activities.

Included are Faye Parker and friends; Yoshi of Baltimore, formerly of Japan; two of the many displays; a spring wreath made especially by Faye for the Fan Fest auction, a Linda Huber drawing, deemer with Flat Clay, and Scarlett holding her caricature drawing.

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Clay Aiken: Celebrating a Decade of Performance

TRIED & TRUE - Fans celebrate the many hats Clay Aiken wears -- singer, actor, humanitarian. Graphic by cindilu2 with photos by Diana Levine.

Round-the-Clock YouTube Rewind

Fans Document Clay Train Ride

The next best thing to Clay Aiken "live" is clack from past concerts; so while the Carolina singer is not on tour, performances from the past decade are in round-the-clock replay in a smorgasbord of clack at YouTube.

For the novice, the term "clack," a play on the words Clay and another highly addictive substance, has been a part of the CA fandom since its inception in 2003. Clack quickly became the byword for video, audio, photos, etc., from the singer's concerts and other appearances.

Featured in this blog are montages by Hope (Wowzers4Clay) and SueRue that celebrate Clay past, present, and future. Some even incorporate pre-American Idol performances with the more familiar events of the past eight years.

At the Wowzers4Clay YouTube Channel, fans can view 15 montages separately or in a non-stop loop by clicking on the current

Clay Aiken Still the One 1999 - 2010
View montage by Hope at YouTube.

'Clay Aiken Still the One 1999 - 2010' spotlights the singer's performances at the JCC Country Music Show (1999), the Solo/NAT Tour Raleigh Concert (2004), and the Timeless Tour show in Lancaster, PA (2010).

The montage incorporates video/audio clips by Shellyfish, Scarlett, Solo, SecretlyLovesClay, Deemer and Canfly172 and photos by MBLovesClay, Tasapio, Suzieq977, VO5Clay, and PatriciaLuvsClay.

Decade of Unchained Melody - Clay Aiken
View montage by Hope full screen at YouTube.

Personally, I think 10 years of Clay Aiken singing "Unchained Melody" is pretty hard to beat.

In the UM montage, Hope highlights the decade with clips from the singer's Redefined demo, American Idol (2003), the Jukebox Tour (ImAllEars, 2005), Starch Search with David Foster (Scarlett, 2006), and the 2010 performance on the
The View promoting the Tried & True CD.

The Real Me - Clay Aiken
New montage by Hope can be viewed at YouTube.

"The Real Me," a fan favorite from the singer's On My Way Here album, received a one-time only performance on March 1 in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the 2011 Tried & True Tour.

Hope's montage features clips and screen caps by videographers
LauraQ, ClayIzzaQT, Goldarngirl, Lissical, and Scarlett. The audio is from ClayIzzaQT's video.

Clay Aiken - A Simple Thank You (Finale)
View montage by SueReu full screen at YouTube.

The final video in SueReu's "Thank You" series, this montage, like its predecessors, rewinds many memorable vocals and humorous moments from Clay Aiken tours.

Be sure to also see
Clay Aiken: A Simple Thank You and Clay Aiken - A Simple Thank You (Part Deux) on her YT channel.

To download videos and montages, visit Clack Unlimited where you can also donate to support the site. In addition to searching for Clay Aiken clips on YouTube, you can link to many at Unlimited Clack on Facebook.

Visual Artists Chronicle Clay

Also documenting the eight-year Clay Train ride are the talented visual artists who photograph and create graphic designs from an array of images.

The handsome graphics below are a sampling of the countless designs that have graced Clay Aiken message boards since 2003 and the Carolina blog since 2006.

To locate visuals by a particular photographer or graphic artist at this site, type the person's screen name in the top left search box beside the orange B just above the Carolina masthead.

Featured below are graphics by
AmazingCA, 1, 2, 3; cindilu2, 4; ABeautifulMind, 5, 6; Sally, 7, 8; and Fountaindawg, 9, 10. Photographers represented include PermaSwooned, 2; Scrykym, 5; Tasapio, 8; and Jim R. Bounds, 9, 10.

Designs capsule CA concerts, interviews, the singer's activities as a UNICEF Ambassador, and his charity work with the National Inclusion Project. Some are double clickable, and some are not.

Join this celebration of clack by linking your favorite montage, video, photograph, or graphic design in the comments below. A special thank you to all artists who share their talent with the Clay Nation!

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Clay Aiken Supporters To Party Down at Fan Fest

WRAL COLLAGE - AmazingCA created this stunning graphic from the station's interview with Clay Aiken last week. Click to enlarge design to wallpaper size.

Party Time in York, PA

Fan Fest To Raise Funds for NIP

Clay Aiken fans will gather in York, PA, this weekend for the 2011 Fan Fest that promises lots of fun, in-person activities for online friends during two jam-packed days of fundraising for the National Inclusion Project, charity co-founded by the singer in 2003.

Hosted this year by
Cookie (Diane Knappy), the fest kicks off at the Yorktowne Hotel at 10 a.m. Saturday and continues through noon Sunday. Contests, clack, caricatures, live and silent auctions, raffles, good food, fun, and fellowship are on tap for the special weekend.

Visit Fan Fest website for full details. Flier will expand.

Activities at the 2010 Fan Fest generated a $3,000 contribution for the National Inclusion Project, and the 2011 chair hopes to top that figure.

Among the special guests in York, PA, this weekend will be Faye Parker, Clay's mother, who will speak briefly about the work of the Inclusion Project, and the Claymobile with new owner Nancy LaFave, who won the car in a special auction at the 2010 NIP Gala.

The Claymobile will be available for pictures with attendees. Originally owned by Cookie, the automobile's history can be read in a Saints, Legends and Goddesses blog entry by

Current and past owners with the Claymobile in Raleigh.

"I have tried to create a weekend event that is all about the fans," Cookie explained in an email. "We are a great bunch and have so much fun just being together, sharing memories, making new friends, meeting old friends, and just having a down right fun time!

The 2011 Fan Fest website contains registration, schedule, and contact information if you would like to join the party in York.

Y'all have fun!

Twitter Helps Rescue Laptop

In case you missed it, an amazing play-by-play mystery unwound on Twitter in real time Thursday when a Canadian author/tech consultant's laptop was taken and he was able to track and recover it remotely with the aid of social media participants and his Prey software.

Not only did Twitter members sit at their computers and watch the story unfold, but several also participated in the recovery. Using tweets, Brandon Ballenger organized the story in his Storify blog: Man tracks stolen laptop, calls thief

You can catch up with this fascinating stream of events by reading the tweets organized in the blog. Once again, true life is stranger than fiction!

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!