Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
gfx gfx

gfx gfx
223847 Posts in 2571 Topics by 108 Members - Latest Member: CTLovesClay March 31, 2023, 06:35:31 PM
gfx* Home Help Login Register gfx
gfx  |  Archive  |  Solo Tour 2004  |  SOLO TOUR MEDIA - PREVIEWS, REVIEWS & MORE

Author Topic: SOLO TOUR MEDIA - PREVIEWS, REVIEWS & MORE  (Read 31038 times)


  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« on: June 09, 2010, 10:57:53 PM »
Assistant Webmaster
« on: July 09, 2004, 07:41:12 AM » 

Please note:  Media previews and reviews will be posted here for posterity.  They will also be posted in the ANN the day after the concert, so please have all discussion about them there.  Thanks!


RALPH ENGELSTAD ARENA CONCERT: Clay Aiken draws Claymates, Claynadians and Aiken Hearts
Fans from Winnipeg make bus trip to Grand Forks

By Emily Tobin
Special to the Herald

When I walked into the Clay Aiken concert with my two best friends, I thought I was prepared for his legions of adoring fans. I was wrong.

I knew there would be Claymates, but I was not prepared for Claynadians, some of Clay's most loyal fans from Canada.

Sporting maple leaves and "I love Clay" pins, Courtney Black, 15, and Liz Andree and Krystin Cullum, both 16, had driven all the way from Winnipeg on Thursday to see their idol perform in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Part of a fan club called Aiken Hearts, they estimated at least 60 people had bused from Winnipeg to Grand Forks to see Clay. (Concert attendance numbers were not immediately available.)

Worth the trip

It was definitely worth the trip, they said.

"I always thought he had the look, no matter what Simon says," Black said. Simon, of course, is Simon Cowell, one of the three judges from "American Idol," the TV show that in its second season made Aiken a star.

Sitting a row in front of the three teenagers was fellow Claynadian Colette Berube, 59."I'm not even a teenager and I have a crush on him," Berube said.

Mostly female fans

Clay's fan base at the concert appeared to be predominantly female but the age range was impressive. I sat next to four young girls whose shirts spelled out C-L-A-Y. On back, they read "Aiken for Clay," and the sleeve bore a heart that read "Claymates." They were definitely proud to be outrageous fans.

"Some guys see us and are like, 'Eww," but I don't care," said Jozy Hansen, soon to be an eighth-grader.

The C-L-A-Y girls, Hansen, Rachel Boetter, Laura Dahlstrom and Jocelyn Fetsch, also appreciated opening act, Cherie. They agreed she sounded just like Celine Dion and was very beautiful.

Cherie wowed the crowd with her powerful ballads and strong voice. What wowed me was that she managed to hold those notes while in stiletto heels.

By the time Clay took the stage, the C-L-A-Y girls had taken out my right eardrum, and they weren't the only ones screaming.


Other attendees of the concert included three women from Grafton, N.D., all sisters and grandmothers. Phyllis Eng, 70, said she finds Clay refreshing because she can understand what he's singing. Her sister, Margie Kennedy, 75, said Clay reminded her of her own boys, clean cut and well mannered.

Clay opened the concert back-lit by bright lights when a section of stairs rose to reveal him. One of the Claynadian girls said it was incredible. I thought it looked like E.T. had landed again. Not only that, but his hair was bigger than Cherie's.

Clay's might have taken himself a little too seriously. He appeared more comfortable when he was simply joking around. In between songs, he pointed up to a suite and said "Someone up there is watching the game and I wonder what the score is."

And Clay's concern for the female audience was evident. After a bit of prolonged screaming, he stopped mid-sentence and said, "Someone is gonna go hoarse tonight."

After a short intermission, Clay changed into what resembled clown pants. A male friend of mine who attended the concert informed me, "If I ever dress like that, please kill me." So Clay should fire his stylist.

Aiken's concert was ballad heavy, opening with a cover of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name." It also included hits from "American Idol," including "This is the Night" and "Solitaire." The highlight of the night was an acoustic break that featured Clay and his three backup singers on a medley of James Taylor songs, including "Fire and Rain," "Sweet Baby James" and "Whenever I See Your Smiling Face."

Clay's fans appreciated not only his touching ballads but also his efforts to raise money for special needs children. One sign read, "My family thanks you for raising autism awareness."

All hair jokes aside, Clay presented himself well, giving up stage time to acknowledge the amazing talent in his back-up singers, and taking time to say "I love you too" to his screaming fans.



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 11:02:04 PM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2004, 12:37:13 AM » 


The Lovable Loser
By: Monica LaBelle
Argus Leader

Published: Jul 8, 2004

No. 2 ‘Idol’ sings tonight at the Arena

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact makeup of a “lovable loser.” But Clay Aiken seems to fit the bill.

Cute, tame, kind of geeky and with a smile that shines brighter than his singing voice, Aiken is easy to love. And since he lost the finals of the 2003 “American Idol” competition to the R&B-leaning Ruben Studdard, Aiken has been – by definition – a loser.

But unlike other likeable displaced “Idols” (Justin Guarini comes to mind), Aiken has managed to transcend the awkward position of being voted second best.

While Studdard ruled the second season of “Idol,” Aiken’s post-“Idol” career has been more befitting of royalty.

His first song, the saccharin pop tune “This is the Night,” became the best-selling single of 2003. And his debut album, “Measure of a Man,” has gone platinum, selling close to three million copies. Meanwhile, Studdard is struggling to find some airtime for his videos on VH1 Soul.

“Clay should have been the winner because out of the two, he’s a better package to sell as a pop idol,” says Chuck Wood, program director at Hot 104.7 FM.

Tonight, fans can determine that for themselves when Aiken performs at the Sioux Falls Arena.

Some have criticized Aiken’s voice – in an April concert review, Los Angeles Times critic Richard Cromelin called it “thin and pinched, with uncertain pitch and little versatility.”

Others bemoan the fact that a TV show, which is essentially a popularity contest, launched his career.

Aiken wasn’t available to defend himself, but he doesn’t have to. Somehow, this polite guy has risen past the criticism to amass a fan following usually reserved for boy bands or lesser-known deities.

Dubbed “Claymates” – or sometimes “Claymaniacs ”– Aiken’s fans obsessively journal his daily life – like what days he wears certain jewelry – on Web sites dedicated to his Clayness. They follow him no matter the distance – Arena officials say they’ve sold tickets for tonight’s show from as far away as the East Coast.

And this past March, 400 Claymates gathered in North Carolina for “Clayvention 2004.” You can be sure the meeting didn’t discuss the merits of clay pottery.

“The Claymaniacs are crazy,” Wood says. “For being on the scene only a year, he’s got an amazing following.”

Not surprisingly, most of his fan base is female.

Numerous concert reviews document an estrogen-laden audience. And Wood says, “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a guy call in for Clay Aiken. And if he did, it was for his girlfriend.”

Perhaps this is why Aiken’s presence is so polarizing. Few people have mild feelings toward the ex-“Idol.” They tend to either love or hate him.

“There is more division in the audience than there even was with the boy bands,” Wood says. “You’ll get the hate call. Then you’ll follow that up with people who say we can’t play enough Clay.”

Even his peers love him.

When asked if Aiken had less credibility because he launched his career on television, tonight’s opening act Cherie – a heralded up-and-coming French pop singer – says, “No. Because he’s still a very good singer.”

She talked favorably about the opening slot appointment.

“It’s an honor, really, that he agreed to have me on his tour,” Cherie says. “I don’t think of him as the ‘American Idol’ thing. I think of him as a really good singer.”

But while his star is certainly bright right now, Wood is skeptical about Aiken’s long-term appeal.

“No. Disposable pop. I put him in the same category as the boy bands,” Wood says. “But, he might have some longevity because he does have talent.”

Man, this loser is just too lovable.



Aiken pleases the mostly female crowd
Monica LaBelle
published: 7/10/2004

Audience eats up his style

The Sioux Falls Arena was host to an abundance of estrogen Friday night.

Few males could be seen in the high-energy audience for superstar Clay Aiken.

Wearing a workplace-style ensemble of khakis, shiny blue shirt and green tie, Aiken and his considerably more talented backup band roused South Dakota fans to their feet.

Aiken opened with an impressive rendition of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name," then slipped into the less dynamic songs from his hit album, "Measure of a Man."

The audience of 3,200 included many middle-aged women, some wearing homemade Clay Aiken shirts.

They weren't hard to please, despite the unvarying styles of his songs that accommodate his limited vocal range.

But with Southern gracefulness, Aiken admitted to the audience his harmonizing disability and let his backup trio get solo time to belt smooth grooves and James Taylor songs.

And that was the melodic highlight of the concert - besides the opening act, French import Cherie, who set expectations high with her wide-ranging vocals and throaty rock-song finish.

The mellow, wide-eyed Aiken from "American Idol" competition days was replaced with a more eager persona that was sure of its possession of the crowd.

Stage experience was evident as Aiken plied audience members for dance moves by telling them they could move better than his recent North Dakota audience.

"They don't have anything on you as far as signs," he told the front rows of Claymates.

His occasional attempts at lighthearted banter seemed tight and rehearsed, not genuine.

After a 15-minute intermission, though, Aiken busted back on stage in a fresh variation of the previous blue shirt and moved easily to "Perfect Day."




  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 11:07:41 PM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2004, 11:11:32 AM » 


Aiken grows comfortable in his celebrity status
By Steven Hyden
Post-Crescent staff writer

Clay Aiken is enjoying the ride.

The ride has taken the 25-year-old singer from college student to pop stardom in just over a year. He took second on the second season of “American Idol,” but arguably has emerged as the show’s most popular graduate. His debut album, “Measure of a Man,” has sold three million copies. Many critics noted that Aiken was the bigger draw during a spring tour with fellow “Idol” alum Kelly Clarkson.

The ride now includes a first-ever solo tour that comes tonight to Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute. Stadium officials expect about 6,000 people to turn out for the concert.

Aiken’s rise has been so rapid that he admits he hasn’t processed it all yet. He’s just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it while it lasts.

“I don’t want to become one of those celebrity people who is trying to squeeze as much out of their 15 minutes as possible,” Aiken said. “I’d like to allow that to last as long as it can. If God decides to make it last 20 minutes, I’m ready for it to happen.”

In a phone interview with The Post-Crescent, Aiken discussed the new tour, media coverage of his personal life and taking control of his career after “Idol.”

Q: What should fans expect from this tour?

A: It’s a family-oriented show. That’s been our focus. I don’t like doing things that I would be ashamed of or wouldn’t want kids of my own, if I had kids, to see. There’s a lot of songs from the album, “Measure of a Man.” We have some cover songs of stuff that I’ve liked throughout the years. … It’s a good mix of new stuff and some old stuff as well.

Q: You have an incredibly devoted fan base. Have you gotten used to being famous?

A: Used to it? Yes. Have I come to terms with the fact that it might be around for a while? That’s what’s difficult. It’s crazy to think that it’s not one of those things you’re not going to wake up from and it will be over. Which is nice, I don’t want it to be over.

I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that people might recognize me for a few more years. It’s less of getting used to it and more of trying to figure out how to live in that whirlwind.

Q: Do you feel like you have had ample time to process everything that has happened to you?

A: Occasionally I do have a moment where I’m like, ‘Look at where I am. Look at what I’m doing. Look at the opportunities in front of me.’ But to look at it and process it, and realize it’s a completely different place, I haven’t really done that because I still try to live in the moment and realize, you know what, this is fun.

I like to tell myself this is still not normal. Because on many fronts it helps me remember that it all could be over soon.

Q: Obviously you are under much more scrutiny now than when you were just a college student. Do you read what the media writes about you?

A: When I wake up in the morning, I’ll read the newspaper, and most of the time that’s about current events instead of celebrities. I don’t really have much time to read the tabloid magazines and I don’t really have any desire to. People have jobs to do, and unfortunately some people pick a career that focuses on slander and smut and whatever. That’s their thing to do and I just don’t need to have anything to do with it.

Q: After “American Idol,” it seemed like you were able to wrest control of your music and the image you project. How did you do that?

A: I did not plan on having success in any way. I didn’t plan on even auditioning for that show, for “Idol,” ahead of time. It was kind of a last-minute decision.

I think that a lot of times artists go into the industry wanting so badly to be a star that they take the advice of those who have been able to help others. For me, since it wasn’t my own design and since it wasn’t necessarily a dream I had all along, I kind of didn’t care. It wasn’t so important to me that I was willing to change the way people look at me or the way I look at myself


Aiken’s fans fill stands at Fox Cities Stadium

By Steven Hyden
Post-Crescent staff writer

GRAND CHUTE – Why does Ann Shagosh love Clay Aiken? It’s simple, really.

“His voice,” the Green Bay woman said. “It touches me where no one else’s voice has.”

Shagosh was one of about 5,000 people who flocked to Fox Cities Stadium on Saturday to see the mild-mannered “American Idol” star.

While the venue has hosted concerts before this was the first time stadium officials brought in a performer themselves.

For fans who showed their devotion to the big-voiced Aiken with homemade signs, T-shirts and other apparel, the chance to see the easy-listening pop star was too good to pass up.

“I like the fact that he sings the wholesome songs,” said Dutch Lawson of Mesa, Ariz., who bought tickets for his wife and two daughters while visiting family in the area.

“My wife said he’s not hard on the eyes,” Lawson said.

Lawson’s daughter Addy, 13, echoed that sentiment. “He’s hot,” she said. “And he’s got a pretty good voice.”

Alex Cousineau of Appleton was heading to the concert with co-workers. Like Aiken did before he was famous, Cousineau is a YMCA camp counselor.

“I’m not a big Clay Aiken fan, but I love music so much I thought, why not experience it?” he said.

“He was just a normal guy turning his homework in late in college.” he said. “And then he got his big break.”



Review: Give Clay Aiken some credit where it’s due

By Steven Hyden
Post-Crescent staff writer

GRAND CHUTE — For those who can’t stand the phenomenon “American Idol” has become, the show’s biggest star Clay Aiken is an easy target for mockery.

First off, the guy is pretty nerdy. Pop stars are supposed to have flair and glamour, but Aiken is as square as a lunch box. Secondly, he specializes in a brand of soggy soft rock that went out of fashion with cuffed jeans and Aqua Net. Musically, he makes Chicago sound like Limp Bizkit.

But if Aiken’s detractors could have seen his concert Saturday at Fox Cities Stadium, they would have had to grudgingly admit that the 25-year-old singer has enough charisma and genuine affection for his fans to justify his stardom, reality show or no reality show. He clearly has struck a chord with people looking for a wholesome alternative to tawdry Britney Spears-style pop.

Aiken’s two-hour show, which included two sets and a 15-minute intermission, was heavy on inspirational ballads and audience participation, just perfect for a crowd of about 5,000 people made up mostly of young girls and older women.

The biggest surprise of the night came at the beginning of Aiken’s set, when the former camp counselor opened with a stirring rendition of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.” It was a surprise because the song actually kinda sorta rocked, something Aiken’s six-piece band never came close to doing again for the rest of the night. (Coincidently, Cher also opened with “Where the Streets Have No Name” when she performed two years ago at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon. Who will be the next performer to cover U2? Jessica Simpson? Hilary Duff?)

The concert’s best moments came when Aiken interacted with his worshipful audience. One year into his pop career, Aiken seems to have retained that down-to-earth quality that made so many “American Idol” viewers fall in love with him. He was generous enough to share significant stage time with his band and trio of back-up singers, each of whom took the lead on a fun acoustic set of James Taylor numbers.

Aiken has an appealing, self-effacing stage presence. Unlike most pop stars, who only recognize the audience with canned “How ya doin’ tonight?“ type banter, Aiken took several moments during the concert to acknowledge the people who have made him famous. He also told a funny story about calling out the wrong state at the previous night’s gig, and made sure to make the token Packer references required of every performer who comes to the area.

Aiken’s winning personality almost makes up for the shortcomings of his music, which are considerable. As a singer, he has a huge, powerful voice that still comes off sounding generic. He simply doesn’t have that one-of-a-kind quality shared by pop’s greatest singers, from Elvis Presley to Otis Redding to Prince. It doesn’t help that his material often is dull, especially the tracks off his blockbuster debut CD “Measure of a Man.”

With better songs (he seems tailor-made for an album of big band standards or show tunes), Aiken likely would score better musically. A-list material would be a great complement for what he already has, a devoted fan base and a natural likability that could help him sustain a long career.



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2010, 09:28:23 PM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2004, 11:09:08 AM » 


Aiken turns Opie Taylor look into Tom Jones appeal

Posted on Sun, Jul. 11, 2004
By Heather Svokos

Some might take a gander at those strawberry eyelashes, which flit beneath the elongated punctuation-mark eyebrows, which match the moppet hairdo, which pokes out from behind big ears, which complement the freckly complexion and spindly frame of Clay Aiken. And they might wonder a host of things, including: Pop star sensation? Urh?

If this is our reaction, perhaps we've been too infected by the ilk of Simon Cowell, who early on in American Idol's season two, told Clay, "You don't look like a pop star, but you have a great voice." Simon and the other Idol judges are famous for their limited, generic visions of what a pop star should look like. (Anyone heard of Bette Midler? Barry Manilow?)

So once you move beyond the boyish looks, it's clear the guy has chops. He's got a beautiful, technically polished voice, and theoretically, that should be enough to explain his appeal. But there are several other interesting elements that make his fame a kind of Cinderfella story.

First, let's remember: in the American Idol contest, this guy lost out to Ruben Studdard, but his album's doing better than Ruben's, and his star has outshone that of the man Gladys Knight dubbed the Velvet Teddy Bear.

Also, Clay's got something rare in pop: immediate cross-generational appeal. The teeny-boppers are the ones who got Clay to the runner-up status on Idol, but the moms and the grandmoms -- they, too, are Aiken 4 Clay.

Still scratching your head? We and a few fans -- Claymates, as they call themselves -- will try to put it in perspective.

His 'Weapons of Mass Seduction'

If Clay came in second, maybe it was the underdog factor?

If that were the case, how would we explain Justin Guarini? The sproingy-haired singer came in second to American Idol Kelly Clarkson in season one. The way he slid and slithered across the stage, winking seductively at the drooling girls in the audience, Guarini's future seemed as dazzling as his million-toothed smile. Alas, there was From Justin to Kelly, a critical and box office bomb. And a year ago, he released an album that was filled with producer-driven songs that he hated, he told Entertainment Weekly. The self-titled album flopped; to date, it's sold a meager 140,000 copies. To boot, RCA dropped him from its label.

Conversely, Clay's album, Measure of a Man, has sold about 2.6 million copies.

Clay arguably does not possess matinee-idol looks, and unlike Justin, he delivered his pop anthems with, depending on whom you asked, either minimalism or a dearth of charisma. The minimalism worked -- Clay stood his ground and slowly adjusted his sensitive, impeccably show-tuned tenor to stadium-size volume, and quite often blew the lid off the joint.

But the same things that draw fans are what turn some off: from Elvis through Eminem, America has loved its rock 'n' roll bad boys. And along comes Aiken, an easier pill for the masses to swallow: a sugary-sweet Southern gent, a devout Christian who works with autistic kids and even creates foundations to open doors for developmentally disabled children.

Saintly, maybe, but these are not exactly your standard hallmarks of sexiness. But for many fans, it may be his sexless vibe that makes him, well, sexy. Or at the very least, accessible.

"He literally looks like the person who would sit next to you in class, or would be your child's teacher," said Amanda Morris, a 21-year-old Georgetown College senior who's active on an online Aiken message board, cheekily titled Weapons of Mass Seduction. "He doesn't look like the guy you're gonna put a poster of up on your wall. He is the guy you could sit down and talk to. You wouldn't expect him to be a Justin Timberlake -- he's more on your level. He's just as goofy as we all are and doesn't try to put up this front to be really cool."

Although he did undergo an insanely touted makeover throughout the run of American Idol, Clay has otherwise refused to let the pop star machine mold him into something he's not, fans say.

Another fan on Weapons of Mass Seduction is Sara Harpe, 49. She's admittedly more of a "fanatic" than her 14-year-old daughter, Betsy, who told her mom why she digs Clay. "I like his music, and he's not afraid to be himself. He knows he's different, and he is confident enough in himself to be OK with that."

That makes Sara rest easier as a mother. "Even though he has been taunted and teased by some people of the public and media, he has shown the maturity to rise above and stay true to his ideals. ... I am very grateful that she (Betsy) has a very public person to show her it's OK to not follow the crowd."

As someone who works with children with autism and related disorders, Sara has other reasons to admire the singer. "I know not everyone one understands how the world affects them. It takes a very insightful person that is willing to walk the fine line between taskmaster and soul mate to establish a close bond with children having autism. From what I have read, Clay effectively rose to that challenge when he was a caretaker for a child with autism."

Wow, that really got off the sexy track.

To bring us back on the Clay Train, let us hear from another Internet group; a randy, half-sarcastic group of women who call themselves the Lecherous Broads For Clay Aiken. One of them has called Clay a "delicious little teacozy of a man."

But more telling is a snippet of the group's "manifesto," which in part declares that "nobody is allowed to say anything mean about Clay Aiken 'cuz he's dreamy and he's the boy we all wished had taken us to the prom."

And there you have it. Clay Aiken, pop superstar? Surely a deserving title for America's ideal prom date.


Not just an idol anymore
Popular runner-up wants to go beyond the show

By Walter Tunis

On the eve of a national tour that brings him to Lexington for a Monday concert at Rupp Arena, singer Clay Aiken is poised for life beyond American Idol.

First comes the acknowledgement that singing on an arena stage differs a bit from performing before a trio of TV judges and roomful of hysterical fans with cell phones.

"There are plenty of differences," Aiken said by phone last week. "One of them, of course, is no one is there insulting you when you sing on tour. You don't have (American Idol judge) Simon Cowell in front of your face every night.

"The odd thing, though, is that people think the American Idol studio held thousands of people. It looks so big on camera. But it actually holds only 200 people or so. So when you sing in front of a concert audience of 6,000 or 7,000, you're going to feel the energy more. It's much bigger. You feed off the crowd all the time. The bigger, the more excited and the more hyper the crowd is, the more you give a performance."

But Aiken's tour is more than an excuse to build his already secure fan base. A runner-up in last year's competition on the wildly popular TV talent show, Aiken is ready to shake the notion that he is just a manufactured celebrity.

"Do you call American Idol an introduction? Or is it still the form by which people remember me? That's become a difficult complication for (American Idol winners) Kelly (Clarkson), Ruben (Studdard) and myself. How much do we still want to be connected to the show? I know I never would have made it here if it weren't for that show. But am I truly American Idol? I don't think so. But I guarantee you won't be able to write your article without using those two words.

"American Idol was a great entertainment boot camp. It's where I got my education, not just in how to perform live, but in how to deal with cameras and how to deal with interviews. But I'm not defined by the show, nor is that show defined by me."

Aiken's debut album, Measure of a Man, however, was undeniably created with the popularity of the show in mind. In fact, such prestigious music industry executives as Clive Davis, the producer mastermind behind Whitney Houston's stardom and Santana's commercial rebirth, among many other triumphs, and Steve Ferrera had the 12 songs chosen for the album before Aiken concluded last year's American Idol competition. The album was in stores within five months of the program's season finale.

"It was definitely put together quickly," Aiken said. "But I liked the songs. They come from amazing writers and were produced well. But I don't know if the product necessarily defined me. A lot of the songs are about heartbreak. And, let's face it, some are downers. I don't consider myself too much of a downer. While I love to sing the ballads, I'd like to have a little more happiness on the next one."

A follow-up recording, though, is down the line. For now, Aiken's hit version of Neil Sedaka's Solitaire and an upcoming Christmas album serve as his primary recorded output outside of Measure of a Man. Still, the album will make up the bulk of the repertoire at the Rupp show. "That's the one we want people to buy," he said.

Aiken is also promising a tribute to "one of the singers I've always admired" during the Rupp performance, but "you'll have to wait ... to find out who that is."

Most of all, Aiken hopes his tour will complement his American Idol star status and establish a sense of independence from the program.

"I am my own person," he said. "Instead of 'American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken' or 'American Idol alumnus Clay Aiken,' I'd just like to be introduced once or twice in a newspaper story just as singer Clay Aiken."



Note to Clay: Leave the U2 tunes alone

By Walter Tunis

"You all shout like I can hear what you say," said a bemused Clay Aiken last night at Rupp Arena.

Granted, the screams, cheers and overall jubilation of the largely female crowd was certainly an audience force for this American Idol celebrity to reckon with. But with a turnout of only 3,000 -- a figure that seemed smaller given that Rupp's full-house seating configuration was employed -- Aiken easily held court over the crowd with a two-set, two-hour performance devoted to mostly cheery and calculated pop fare.

On the plus side, Aiken performed as a capable if not terribly daring singer. His voice easily sailed up to the higher registers on This is the Night and cooled to ballad timbre for the comparatively hushed I Survived You. It was also refreshing to see an artist so obviously designed to meet the expectations of a teen pop audience play to all ages. At one point, an older patron was escorted onstage to dance with the singer during the radio-friendly pop of When You Say You Love Me.

In essence, what you got from Aiken was what you have been seeing on TV in the past year: a likeable, politely unrefined pop personality with a wholesome voice, who doesn't fall back on cheesy choreography, video-friendly theatrics or, worse, lip-synching during a stage performance.

But when Aiken ventured into deeper waters, there were problems. For example, who thought it was a good idea for him to open the concert with U2's Where the Streets Have No Name? The song boasts a social resonance way, way beyond the singer's grasp. A mid-show medley of James Taylor tunes, which included an overly stoic and stilted reading of Sweet Baby James, sounded equally out of place.

The more appropriate cover tunes -- and there are loads of them -- steered to the safer pop-fabric framework Aiken updated on his 2003 album, Measure of a Man. Such jukebox fare included: Mr. Mister's Kyrie, Orleans' Still the One, Toto's Rosanna and an encore of Neil Sedaka's Solitaire. All come from a middle-of-the-road base that has become a clear comfort zone for the singer.

In her second Lexington concert in as many months, opening act Cherie, a 19-year-old French singer with a booming vocal command, used her self-titled debut album as the basis for a surprisingly comprehensive pop presentation.




  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 09:39:21 PM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2004, 07:44:22 AM » 


Clay's way

Aiken no second-place finisher as most successful ‘American Idol’ star sings on

By all standards and measures, Clay Aiken is an A-list celebrity. His first album, “Measure of a Man,” went triple-platinum in six months. He won a Billboard Music Award in December for the year’s best-selling single (his cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”). He was nominated for two “TRL Awards” on MTV: best male artist, along with Justin Timberlake, rapper 50 Cent and Andre 3000 of OutKast.

Aiken’s road to larger-than-life stardom was atypical: void of hype and paved with few of the traditional steppingstones. He didn’t do time as a singer/dancer on the Disney Channel. He didn’t emerge from a boy band.

Nor was he the focus of a glitzy, million-dollar publicity campaign from a label trying to hype his talents and spit-shine his star qualities.

All Aiken did was be himself for several weeks in the second edition of the Fox network’s weekly talent search, “American Idol,” a role that led to a showdown — and a cooked-up rivalry — with vocalist Ruben Studdard.

Aiken lost that little war, but he won the larger battle decisively. He has been, by far, the most popular and successful “American Idol” performer. [His constant touring includes a Charleston Civic Center show on Tuesday.]

No matter how temporary it is, his success says a lot about what some people these days want from their celebrity entertainers.

Mostly, it says they want someone who isn’t larger than life, someone who is as ordinary, wholesome and homogenous as they are.

Nearly every review of an Aiken tour notes the composition of the audience: predominantly females of all ages, including lots of moms and grandmothers.

Asked recently whether he brings out the maternal instincts in some of his fans, Aiken laughed and said: “The show lets you watch a person and get to know a person and even take ownership of that person. It’s possible I remind people of a kid who needs taking care of. But I don’t mind. My fans do take care of me. They are amazingly devoted and enthusiastic.”

Aiken brings out the motherliness in some of his fans because, above all, he portrays himself as a moral hygienist: He’s friendly, spiritual, charitable, modest and humble.

He also arrived at “Idol” with a sympathetic story: He was estranged from his birth father and raised by his mother and her second husband, who died in 2002. He started singing in church choirs while still in grade school. While in college, planning for a career working with underprivileged children, a half-sister committed suicide.

Thus, his fans extract something deeper from his music than casual listeners, who tend to dismiss Aiken as another Barry Manilow or the next Michael Bolton. His most die-hard fans document his every move in excruciating detail, right down to the jewelry he wears or doesn’t wear on a certain day.

“I have a chain I wear occasionally around my neck,” he said, “and fans on their Web sites will write about what’s on the chain on a certain day, whether it’s just a chain or there’s a pendant on it.

“I really don’t understand it. I still think I’m awkward and geeky and pretty normal.”

Aiken knows his success comes with a stigma — “People say we’re not real artists; we’re game-show contestants” — which puts him in a peculiar place. For now, he’s obligated to play up his association with the show that made him a star. But he’d also like to slip out of its spotlight and into his own eventually.

“Maybe when I’m done with the second album,” he said, “I’ll be able to distance myself from the show a little bit.”

Aiken knows why so many of his fans were attracted to him: because he isn’t as slick and beautiful and luminous as people like Cherie or Justin Timberlake.

“Most people who attach themselves to someone on the show pick someone they relate to,” he said. “Ruben and I don’t fit the typical image of a star. I’ve told Kelly [Clarkson] several times, the reason every person auditioned for the second [‘Idol’] show was because they saw her win, and they thought, ‘She’s normal; if she can do that, so can I.’”

Clay Aiken performs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Charleston Civic Center. Tickets, $34.50 and $44.50. Call 342-5757.


'Idol' crooner enjoying the ride along with fame
Chris Dickerson
Daily Mail staff
Thursday July 08, 2004

The way Clay Aiken sees it, his thrust into superstardom is like singing "Kumbayah" while making S'mores around an open fire.

"I try to look at it as a good summer camp experience," Aiken said. "I'm enjoying it while it's lasting. If this goes on for 15 years, I'll be thrilled because I'm having a good time. But if it's over next year, I've got some great memories to live off of."

Aiken, the geek-turned-heartthrob who narrowly missed becoming the second "American Idol," hopes to add to those great memories Tuesday when he performs at the Charleston Civic Center.

The 7:30 p.m. concert is the fourth show in Aiken's tour which kicks off tonight in Grand Forks, N.D. Cherie, a 20-year-old French songstress trying to make a name for herself in the United States, opens the show.

Aiken, who has toured with his fellow Season Two "Idol" contestants and, last winter, with Season One winner Kelly Clarkson, is happy to be back on the road.

"We got off the plane last night here in Grand Forks, and the tour bus was waiting for us," he said, happy that it wasn't the usual car or limo. "It's the same bus and same driver we had when I toured with Kelly, so it's kind of like going home. I get a little excited about things like that. I guess I am waxing a little nostalgic."

But he said there are drawbacks to the rigors of constant touring, including fewer trips home to his hometown of Raleigh, N.C.

"Being on the road quite a bit, those trips are becoming more rare," the 25-year-old Aiken said. "It used to be one weekend a month, I'd get back home. Then that became one weekend every two months. Then it become once every three months. It dwindles, but being on the road is fun, too."

For fans who caught his co-headlining show with Clarkson, Aiken said the show rolling into Charleston is an extension of that.

"I basically have the same group of people," he said Wednesday afternoon. "Same dancers, same musicians, same crew. Kelly went off to finish her next album, and I'm going on."

While he only has one album of material (last year's multi-platinum "Measure of a Man") under his belt, Aiken said fans should expect more.

"As I grew up, there were tons of songs I wanted to sing," he said. "So now I've got a band and everything, so I might as well go ahead and do it."

He did say the new show does have some differences from his winter shows.

"There are going to be some different covers," Aiken said. "And we're actually doing a little tribute to one of my favorite singers. But you have to come to concert to find out more."

After his tour ends, Aiken will remain busy with a Christmas CD planned for a mid-October release.

"What's nice about it is that it's a very classic Christmas album," he said. "It's not one of those pop-based Christmas albums where we try for a different take on a classic song. It's got a fireside feel. We wanted it to stand the test of time, and I think it will."
After that, Aiken doesn't know what lies ahead.

"I've been so busy with the Christmas album and the tour, I haven't had too much time to really think about anything else," he said. "I haven't sat still long enough. But we'll do a second album."

* * *
Aiken was quick to point out a few links to the Mountain State.

"The teacher I worked with in Raleigh in her special ed classroom, she is from West Virginia, and I think her family still lives there," he said. "And I've been skiing at Winterplace near Beckley. Everyone knows West Virginia for its skiing."

Contest winners chosen

Of the more than 500 entries in the Daily Mails' Clay Aiken ticket giveaway, 122 had all five trivia questions answered correctly. To narrow those to the five winners, a random drawing was held.
The winners of a pair of tickets each are: JoAnn Dearien of Clendenin, Carolyn Smith of Scott Depot, Tara Thomas of Montgomery, Helen Waybright of Charleston and Jill Withrow of Charleston.

The questions and correct answers are:

1. For what other reality show did Clay consider trying out before "American Idol"? "The Amazing Race" (Many entrants said "The American Race.)
2. What is the name of Clay's dog? Raleigh
3. Where did Clay go to college, and what was his major? UNC-Charlotte, special education
4. What song did Clay sing in his first "American Idol" audition? "Always and Forever" (Many entrants said "Open Arms," which was his first televised audition)
5. With whom does Clay share a home in L.A.? Kimberley Locke

If you go

What: Cherie and Clay Aiken
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Charleston Civic Center
Tickets: $33 to $43
Info: 342-5757



Aiken sings hits both old, new Southern boy's voice makes show worthwhile

Chris Dickerson
Daily Mail staff
Wednesday July 14, 2004

Clay Aiken's niche in the music world is simple: He's a nice down-to-earth Southern boy who can sing.

Yes, he can sing. That might sound simple enough. But in today's world of lip-synching and rap/hip-hop, that trait is a rare find.

Aiken, fortunately, is a good singer. A very good one, in fact. And that's why fans both young and old flock to see and, more importantly, hear him perform.

When he took the Charleston Civic Center stage Tuesday night, Aiken immediately took command of the Coliseum and the estimated 5,000 fans there to see him.

Aiken, a 25-year-old Raleigh, N.C., native who became world famous as the runner-up on the second season of "American Idol," relied heavily on songs from his 2003 debut pop album "Measure of a Man."

Over the course of his two-hour, two-set performance, Aiken alternated between the album's catchy pop tunes ("Perfect Day") to ballads ("I Survived You") that showcase his powerful vocal skills.

But he also threw in a few covers, such as Mr. Mister's "Kyrie," Orleans' "Still The One," Toto's "Rosanna" and U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name." Those songs especially highlighted his capable band.

In addition, he and his impressive backup singers did a medley of James Taylor hits midway through the show. And he closed with three spectacular vocal displays: the stirring gospel "You Were There," his infectious No. 1 hit "Invisible" and an impressive version of Neil Sedaka's "Solitaire," a song Aiken made his own on "Idol."

Aiken's charm is unmistakable. He seemed to thrive on interaction with the audience, even bringing giddy girls on stage a few times. He danced with St. Albans resident Ashley George and sang the title track from his album with a girl named Virginia from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

He talked to people in the crowd, commenting that he recognized a few crazed fans who apparently have followed him from town to town on the tour. We also learned there were people from as far as away as England who had made the trek to Charleston to see the show.

He jokingly chastised others who had brought suggestive signs to the front rows. He laughed with the audience, with his band and at himself throughout the evening.

His self-deprecating demeanor only added to his appeal. His charity work was highlighted on the giant video screens during his show's 15-minute intermission.

It was nice to see someone who realizes he's on the stage to entertain and then actually is able to do it.

Aiken might not have won on "American Idol," but he is more than making up for that now.

Tuesday night's crowd wasn't too big. The few stragglers in the balcony easily could have moved down and still not filled the lower level. But those in attendance, mostly teen and pre-teen girls, were quite loud and enthusiastic.

Opening act Cherie, a 19-year-old French songstress trying to make a name for herself in America, barely was passable.

Her voice wasn't that impressive, and her stage show was pretty dull. And she certainly shouldn't have tried a cover of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "It's Your Love," especially in the South. But she did what she was supposed to do, which was get the crowd achin' for Clay.


‘Idol’ also-ran Aiken brings 1st-class talent to Civic Center show

By Roger Lilly
For The Charleston Gazette
July 14, 2004

Charleston and the Civic Center Coliseum opened their arms Tuesday evening and welcomed America’s most renowned runner-up, the world’s luckiest loser, it’s most awesome also-ran, Clay Aiken.

Last year’s “American Idol” television show second-place finisher blew into town determined to show everyone he’s more than just a semi-pretty face. He made his point early and often.

The show actually started off pretty much in a lame vein, with an uninspired performance by an up-and-coming French singer, Cherie. Neither she nor her sparse three-piece band had the chops to fill an arena with worthwhile sound.

Her seven-song set featured a rumbling, unseen bass and ended with her next single, “Older Than My Years” and her current one, “I’m Ready”.

After a short intermission, the lights dimmed and the instruments fired up. Clay Aiken emerged from the center of a multi-staired stage. You could almost feel the swoon.

Singing U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name”, Aiken was armed with that one thing I mostly found missing from the television series, a jammin’ back-up band. The 5 1/2-member crew (one fellow spent his time split between playing woodwinds and harmonizing with two female singers) was strong and tight, and knew when to take the lead and step forward.

A medium-sized crowd that didn’t need to scratch the balcony was treated to some of the strongest pure vocals that Charleston has heard in quite some time. But what the crowd lacked in size it more than made up for in volume and enthusiasm.

Aiken rewarded them with powering versions of songs from his 2003 debut CD, “Measure of a Man.” “Shine”, “I Will Carry You”, “No More Sad Songs”, “I Survived You”, “Perfect Day”, “This Is the Night” and the title track were all done as well or better than the studio versions.

For someone who went from complete obscurity to absolute absurdity in a matter of months, Aiken really seems to have his head screwed on right. His banter with his band-mates and the audience seemed unforced and honest.

His six-song tribute to James Taylor was a total delight and gave the harmony singers a chance to step forward and strut their impressive wares.

Being a parent who occasionally enjoys a conversation with his kids, I became swept up in the “Idol” phenomenon from the beginning. It seems that the “American Idol” crew spends a year locating the best vocal talent the nation has to offer and five minutes picking the pulp they put on their CDs. Most of the “Idol” discs are only two songs away from being a coffee table coaster.

But Aiken definitely has the chops, and if his Charleston show is any indication, he will most certainly have the staying power.

Roger Lilly can be reached by e-mail at



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2010, 11:50:22 PM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2004, 12:50:17 AM » 


Clay Aiken isn't letting success go to his head

Behold the phenomenon that is Clay Aiken.

The second season American Idol runner-up has sold 3 million copies of his debut album, Measure of a Man. He has appeared on Jay Leno's late-night show. He's already finished a big co-headliner tour with first season American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. And last week he started his own headliner arena tour, which brings him to Gaylord Entertainment Center tonight. He's also been on the cover of Rolling Stone.

But Aiken still is not sure he's going to make it. ''I don't think I'm a pessimist. I'm a realist. I try to allow myself to be as successful as I believe I can be,'' he said in a phone interview just hours before a tour date in North Dakota.

''Yet, I prepare myself for failure. We go out and do tours. And when I see the crowds with Kelly, I tell myself, 'It's all Kelly.' It's possible I could be back teaching within a few months.''

That's highly unlikely as the sweet nerd-turned-sweet pop star is the biggest commercial success to come out of the American Idol franchise. Aiken built a broad rabid base of fans who call themselves Clay-mates, fans who are likely to buy albums for several years whether they hear Aiken's songs on radio or not.

Aiken, though, looks forward to the day when he's known as a pop singer and not the American Idol contestant.

''I don't think anyone's ready to let that happen just yet,'' he said. ''It's a double-edged sword in that way. I wouldn't be in the position at all if it weren't for that show. At the same time, I don't think I'm defined by American Idol. There's a stigma that goes along with that.

''We are anticipating the day when we're introduced as Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Kimberley Locke. I'm not that show. That show was a stepping stone and a wonderful stepping stone. But it's not who I am.''

Aiken already is severing one tie. He and Locke, a Gallatin, Tenn., native, have been sharing a bungalow-style house in southern California for the past year or so. But Aiken says the lease is up soon and they're both looking for new places.

Aiken, though, still talks with most contestants, and he still feels the love for the one contestant, Josh Gracin, whose military service prevented him from staying in touch. But when Gracin's country album, on Nashville-based Lyric Street Records, came out a couple of weeks ago, Aiken still went to buy it, though it wasn't easy.

''I bought it the first day it was out,'' he said. ''I had to go to two malls to find a record store. And then I had to run through the mall to get it because, well, I was being chased.''

Aiken, when asked, conceded that few school teachers, if any, get chased through malls.



Vanilla, sure, but Aiken can deliver it well

Staff Writer

With no offense to his rabid fans, let's call Clay Aiken's show last night what it was: sticky-sweet schlock.

The American Idol star turned in a two-hour show of power ballads and puff to a Gaylord Entertainment Center less than half-filled with loud Clay-mates, the term die-hard Aiken fans use to describe themselves.

On a sparse stage, Aiken whipped out a seemingly endless supply of vanilla ballads from his debut album, including the title track, Measure of a Man. Aiken even sanitized his cover songs, which included U2(?!)'s Where the Streets Have No Name, Toto hit Rosanna and Orleans hit Still the One, stripping out any edge or grit and replacing it with powerful but too-smooth vocals.

In khaki pants, blue shirt and striped beige tie, Aiken told the crowd he'd been in the Dakotas and Washington. ''It was good to get to a place that had some sweet tea,'' he said, eliciting a cheer.

Perfect beverage choice for the show. You half expected to see Barney and Gomer Pyle skip onto the stage for a duet.

So what is it with these Clay-mates? What's the draw?

Aiken offers a kind boy-next-door pop artist with a powerful, engaging voice. In a pop-music scene filled with profanity-laced Eminem and OutKast and a variety of scantily clad pop tarts, Aiken offers a sweet (there's that word again) non-threatening alternative, a good boy who works with the disabled, an average Joe who looks more like pop music listeners than any artist in the top 10.

Sure, you might yawn through a song or two, but Aiken provided stirring renditions of his album cut Run to Me and Measure of a Man. And he was charming and engaging when he pulled a girl onto the stage to dance or when he took the cell phone from a fan and asked, ''Why are you talking on the phone, girl? I'm trying to do a show!''

He even called an Aiken look-alike onto the stage.

''I have to thank you,'' the look-alike said, ''because a year ago nobody would talk to me.''

''Same here!'' a smiling Clay shot back.

And though Aiken has said he looks forward to the day when the words ''American Idol'' don't appear near his name, he was smart to include a video montage from the show, which got great audience response.

With little radio support and a half-empty crowd at the GEC, Aiken was able to truly connect with those who were there.

Some people like vanilla.



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2010, 12:30:57 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2004, 09:05:27 AM » 


The feats of Clay
Kevin Harvey, Staff Writer
Friday, July 16, 2004 1:00 am

Who says second place is the first loser? Since narrowly losing “American Idol 2,” Clay Aiken has enjoyed success not usually associated with being defeated. His first single, “This Is the Night,” stayed at Billboard’s No. 1 slot for 12 weeks. “Measure of a Man,” his first full-length album, debuted last October at No. 1.

A Raleigh native and a graduate of UNC-Charlotte, Aiken says that shows in his native state are among the best on the tour.

“North Carolina always has the best crowds,” Aiken says before a concert earlier this week in Charleston, W.Va. “They’re usually more hyped.”

Aiken, who started his nationwide tour earlier this month in Bismark, N.D., will perform tonight at the Greensboro Coliseum. Here are some thoughts of the 25-year-old who admits he winds down by watching movies on his bus and talking about what he calls “random stupid stuff.”

Is this your first trip to Greensboro?

No, I’ve been there quite a few times; I’m not that far away. I’ve never performed at the Greensboro Coliseum before, but I used to sing the national anthem there.

You try out for “American Idol,” then suddenly you get on TV, and before you know it you have a hit record and a national tour. Is yours a Cinderella story?

I think so, that’s one way to look at it. It’s not anything I expected. Somebody was some kind of fairy godmother. It wasn’t anything I had in the cards for myself. To be honest, I was pretty surprised by it all.

You were the first runner-up to Ruben Studdard, yet you’ve enjoyed more post-“Idol” success. How do you feel about outshining the guy who beat you?

Well, I think people who think I have more commercial success are somewhat mistaken. Single sales I do better in, but in radio airplay he does better. We both have successes in different areas, and the competing question I’ve tried to get rid of. The media just doesn’t want us to be ourselves.

Has fame jaded you?

I don’t think it’s jaded me. I do think I behave differently in different situations, but it hasn’t changed me. I carry myself different when I’m at work. I have to pay attention to where I get my gas now (laughs). The other day, the band members asked me if I wanted to go to the mall. Then they were like, “Oh yeah, you’re you.”

With all of the work you do, how do you maintain your sanity?

I spend a lot of time it the hotel room watching TV. When we’re on and I get to the venue, I do about 75 of these (interviews), you do the sound check, you do some production notes, then you do the show. I like the opportunity to get some chill time.

What do you do in your spare time on the road?

To wind down, I kind of like to sit around and talk about random stupid stuff, watch a movie on the bus and go on with life as normally as possibly.

How do your friends feel about all the attention?

My closest friends are the ones who don’t care about what I do. We go on vacation and they don’t see me any differently. One of my best friends is on the road with me right now. He makes sure everything works and gets done, and he doesn’t even pay attention to what we’re doing. My best friends aren’t interested in the fame.
• • •
Clay Aiken at a Glance:
Birth date: Nov. 30, 1978
Personal statistics: eyes, green; height, 6-feet-1; hair color before makeover, red; hair color after makeover, brown
Goals in life: “Success, happiness, stability. I would love to be known as a generous and selfless person.”
His American idol: “My mother is the strongest person I know.”
Favorite type of music: “I love music with strong melodies where the singer really has to sing. I like jazz, some slow R&B and pop/country ballads.”
Favorite male pop artist: Jon Secada or Peter Cetera
Favorite female pop artist: Shania Twain and Faith Hill
If he couldn’t sing, which talent would he most like to have: “I wish I could draw like my friend Meredith. Even her handwriting is art.”
His definition of an American idol: “Someone with a talent that leaves a mark on American society and inspires people to think, feel, love, act.”
His favorite judge: “Randy. He is probably the best at giving truly constructive criticism.”
His least favorite judge: “I’m not stupid enough to answer this question.”
Advice for other “American Idol" hopefuls: “Believe in yourself and practice, practice, practice.”
If he could be a performer from any era, which would he choose? “Big band in the 1940s. Music really brought people together during that era.’”

Kevin Harvey, a senior at UNCG, is a writing intern this summer with the News & Record’s Life section. Contact him at 373-7319 or



Aiken drives those Greensboro fans wild

Analisa Price is a rising freshman at Western Alamance High School and a writer for the Here & Now section. Here & Now runs on Mondays.

By Analisa Price Times-News correspondent

GREENSBORO — Thousands of fans were "Aiken for Clay" on Friday night and they weren’t too subtle in showing it.

Just by glancing around the Greensboro Coliseum, you could see countless girls testifying their steadfast love for last year’s American Idol runner-up on signs and homemade T-shirts.

French artist Cherie opened the show at 8 p.m. with a new hit single, "I’m Ready." Even so, concertgoers wanted Aiken and didn’t seem too thrilled about waiting.

Finally, the North Carolina product appeared, and "Clay Mania" began. Everyone was on their feet cheering at the sight of him, and when he started to sing, the crowd was in complete hysteria.

Aiken quickly got the crowd moving with a dance contest. He said a Hawaiian lady sends him leis for every concert, and he presented one to a member of the audience with the best moves. A winner was chosen who then got to get up onstage and dance with Aiken himself while all the other "Clay Mates" jealously looked on.

Most of the songs performed were from his album, "Measure of a Man," but he performed a medley of James Taylor songs that highlighted his backup dancers, which the audience loved. It was a nice break between the ballads he is known for.

The fans’ favorites of the night seemed to be "I Will Carry You," "No More Sad Songs," and "I Survived You." The audience also gave Aiken standing ovations for "This is the Night" and "Invisible." "You Were There" left the crowd in awe and was definitely one of the most powerful pieces of the night.

At one point in the show, Aiken pointed out that it was a family show, and it was. Young children were there with their teenage sisters and moms, and there were also Clay-crazed grandmothers in attendance, making the audience a varied group of women ages 7 to 70. Men were few and far between, but the ones sitting around me seemed to be having a good time.

Aiken ended with an encore of "Solitaire," which was the best performance of the show.

Though Aiken can’t dance and openly admits it, he sure knows how to get a crowd on their feet.


  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2010, 12:35:23 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2004, 09:06:53 AM » 


Small-town guy, big success
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 2:05 pm

By Donna Isbell Walker

Clay Aiken says he isn't interested in being defined by record companies, industry executives or album titles.

The North Carolina-born singer, whose second-place finish on last year's "American Idol" has led to a double-platinum debut album called "Measure of a Man" and a headlining tour, has his own take on who he is and what he wants to accomplish with his music.

"I'm a nerd. That's OK with me, and if people want to buy that, then great. That's wonderful, and hopefully we'll have a long career," Aiken said over the phone from North Dakota, where he was preparing for the opening night of the tour. "If they don't, I'm not willing to change who I am to sell an album."

When Aiken sat down last year to record "Measure of a Man," he laid down the law to his record label; Aiken said he wouldn't record certain types of songs, particularly those with sexual content.

Perhaps it was a gutsy move on the part of someone making a first album for a huge and powerful record label, but 25-year-old Aiken, who auditioned for "American Idol" at the urging of friends, said he was ready to walk away from the project.

Doing it his way

"It wasn't necessarily always a dream of mine to have a record deal. I didn't even expect to do this until a year-and-a-half ago. And so it was not such a dream that I was not willing to give it up. I had rules that I wanted people to abide by, and if they didn't want to do that, if that didn't work, then OK, this isn't for me."

The album, filled with songs about love and loss, was given the title "Measure of a Man" because Aiken was adamant that it not be self-titled, as is common with first records. Clive Davis, the venerable head of RCA Records, wanted Aiken's name as the title, but Aiken balked.

"I kind of had a concern about that because so many of the songs on the album were ... downers. They were very introspective, and some of them are very heart-breaky and what-not, and that doesn't really define me at all. So I didn't want to call the album 'Clay Aiken' when I did not think the album represented who I was."

Aiken grew up in Raleigh and graduated from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. An unabashedly small-town guy, he says he shocked the Los Angeles-based members of his tour staff by declaring the low-key North Dakota town of Grand Forks a cool place. He said he misses the slower pace of Raleigh while he's on the road, but right now, his face is too familiar in his hometown.

"I can't go to the grocery store. I can't go down the street. I can't do anything at all in public that I could have done before this," he said.

A teacher first

But Aiken isn't complaining. The singer, who began his career as a special education teacher, created a foundation to help children with special needs. The foundation, he said, is a way to stay connected to the world of education while he pursues music.

But it's also a way to educate more people about the problems faced by children with disabilities. The concert stage and his national prominence are a much larger platform than a local classroom.

"I think the grand scheme of God's plan was to get me involved in that special-ed field so I would have something I was passionate about to work for, so that when I actually got to this position, I wasn't doing it for myself. I think it's the responsibility every entertainer has, if they're in the public eye, to do something with it. You can do it for your own benefit, or you can do it for someone else's benefit, and I think doing it for someone else's benefit is a little more fulfilling."

Aiken's show at the Bi-Lo Center Saturday will feature several songs from "Measure of a Man," along with some of his favorite tunes by other artists.

"It's an opportunity for me to sing some stuff that I've always liked. I sing in the car all the time ... and some songs I'm like, 'Man, I'd just love to sing that on my own, sing it with my own band.' And so this is my opportunity.

"I actually have (the band), I'm paying them, they're here; we might as well sing what I like."


Seldom idle now
Aiken leaves the classroom to pursue singing ... for as long as people want him

Posted on Fri, Jul. 16, 2004

For a select few performers, “American Idol” has become a dream vehicle by which to enter the music business. But success on “Idol” doesn’t guarantee a place in mainstream music once the show is over.

Consider Justin Guarini, who has faded quickly from the public eye since finishing second to Kelly Clarkson in the show’s inaugural 2002 season.

Clay Aiken, who finished second to Ruben Studdard in 2003, didn’t want to go the same route. He went into the making of his debut CD, “Measure of a Man,” knowing he needed to bring more to the table musically than he showed on “American Idol.”

“I think that with ‘American Idol,’ you perform a lot of classic standards stuff, and a lot of times people come out of there wondering, will this person have the ability to compete in a mainstream market?” Aiken said by phone recently.

“I think that’s what we were really trying to show with the album. Yeah, I sang ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ and ‘Solitaire’ and ‘Mack the Knife’ on that show, but that’s not all I can do.”

Whether fans saw the songs on “Measure of a Man” as adding a new dimension to the musical personality Aiken established on “American Idol” may be open to debate. But there’s no arguing with the popularity Aiken — who will perform this weekend in Greenville and North Charleston — continues to enjoy.

“Measure of a Man” debuted last fall with first-week sales of 613,000, the second-highest total ever. It spent two weeks at No.1 and has topped 2 million in sales. Its lead single, “Invisible,” became an adult-contemporary hit.

Meanwhile, touring — first this spring with Clarkson and now as a headliner — has kept Aiken in the spotlight throughout the year.

It’s an amazing series of events for Aiken, who never saw singing as anything other than a hobby.

“I had my life planned out until I was 50 years old,” Aiken said. “I was going to be a teacher and maybe a principal, at some point. Music was not in my five-, 10-, 20-year plan. And so I would have never auditioned had it not been for someone who convinced me to do it.”

That someone was a family friend, Diane Bubel, who had heard Aiken sing and persuaded the 25-year-old Raleigh, N.C., native to try out for “Idol.”

Aiken failed in his first audition for the Fox network affiliate in Charlotte. But Bubel got him to travel to Atlanta for national auditions. He made the show and emerged alongside Studdard as a leading contender to win.

In the season finale, viewers voted Studdard the winner by a margin of less than 1 percent. But Aiken’s showing was strong enough to earn him a deal with RCA Records.

Trying to describe exactly the kind of artist Aiken wants to be is tough. Between his “American Idol” performances and the songs on “Measure of a Man,” he has sung a variety of material, from classic pre-Beatles pop to adult-contemporary fare.

Aiken enjoys the fact that he has been hard to pin down stylistically.

“I think that’s part of the reason we’ve had so much success with our album and what we’ve been doing, because we don’t necessarily fit into one of the prefabricated niches that record companies have put out,” Aiken said.

“What’s amazing about the show I was on, and the way that I came around, is because I came around by allowing the public to pick from day one.

“And I think there’s no need to put me in one of those niches, (to say), ‘This is where he belongs.’ It doesn’t matter where he belongs. People like what he does and he doesn’t have to fit into that. ... The public will decide how long they like me, and when they stop liking me, they’ll stop buying.”



Clay Aiken greeted with idol worship
Posted Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 12:03 am
By Donna Isbell Walker
It's probably best not to keep thousands of screaming Claymates waiting.
Impatient fans at Saturday night's Clay Aiken concert at the Bi-Lo Center began chanting "We want Clay, we want Clay," and within a couple of minutes, the lights dimmed, a staircase opened, and Aiken appeared.

The fans' shrieks were loud enough to drill holes in eardrums a mile away.

Aiken, casually dressed in khaki pants, untucked shirt and WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelet, kicked off the show with U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name."

The "American Idol" runner-up, who seems to have taken first place in the hearts of many fans, performed two sets mixed with famous cover songs and tunes from his double platinum debut album, "Measure of a Man."

The appreciative audience, ranging from kids to grandparents, screamed and danced and held up signs with such sentiments as "I'm Shaken for Aiken." His appeal has many factors, said two fans who drove up from Atlanta for Saturday's show.

Cathy Tibbitts, in town for the show with pal Kathy Werhan, said the two picked Aiken during his early days on "American Idol" for his voice and stage presence.

"He's a good guy," Werhan said. "He's different from what's out there. It's refreshing."

Aiken, a native of Raleigh, showed off his vocal range on songs as varied as Mr. Mister's '80s hit "Kyrie" and Orleans' 1970s rocker "Still the One," and he paid tribute to fellow North Carolinian James Taylor. Along with his three backup singers, Aiken performed Taylor classics like "Sweet Baby James" and "Fire and Rain," often taking harmony and letting the other vocalists sing lead.

The engaging performer also got a female fan, who wore a shirt emblazoned with "Mrs. Aiken," to dance on stage, and another fan to sing a duet.

And while he paid ample tribute to his musical heroes, Aiken also performed a cross-section of tunes from his own album. The set included "This Is the Night," accompanied by video of Aiken performing on TV, plus "Shine" and of course, his big hit "Invisible."



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2010, 12:15:19 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2004, 02:03:01 AM » 


A nice boy to marry your daughter
by Devin Grant

There are still certain times when even something as effortless as attending a concert becomes hard work. I was expecting Sunday night to be a perfect example of that when I attended the Clay Aiken concert at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Let me give you a little background of myself. First, I abhor the prepackaged fluff that passes for pop music these days. The only time I watch the T.V. show "American Idol" is during the first few episodes, where Simon, Randy and Paula are still weeding out the William Hungs among the hopeful multitudes. Aside from that, I really couldn't care less who wins those silly karaoke contests. So when I was given the opportunity to see Clay Aiken perform, you might think my first reaction would be to run away screaming.

Actually, I wanted to go, if only for the chance to see an actual ready-made popstar. Although Aiken seems to be a nice guy, the fact remains that he is the creation of the FOX network. I will admit that I am amused that Aiken, who came in second place at last years "American Idol" contest, has managed to become the biggest star so far to emerge from "IDOL", eclipsing the efforts of Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini and Ruben Studdard. Wow, I just named three other "American Idol" winners without looking them up on Google. Perhaps I was paying more attention to that show than I thought.

So, I arrived at the North Charleston Coliseum ready to be entertained, and indeed I was, even before I stepped into the building. I discovered that Aiken's core audience isn't the teens who watched "American Idol", but rather the mothers of those kids. A large percentage of the 5000 or so people who attended Sunday night's show seemed to be women between the ages of 40 and 50. Perhaps it is the nice-guy image that Aiken presents. Most mothers will probably tell you that Aiken is just the sort of clean-cut boy they would like to see their daughters bring home.

With that said, it was still a little weird when, in the middle of Aiken's set, a woman sitting a couple rows in front of me who was old enough to be someone's grandma shrieked, "I love you, Clay!" There was a lot of that sort of screaming going on, along with displaying of poster board signs and constant flashing of disposable cameras. After spending a weekend at the Bonnaroo Festival and several weeks covering shows in small clubs, the spectacle of this coliseum performance was pretty surreal.

The beginning of Aiken's performance found the singer stepping out from under the stage's massive staircase, which opened kind of like the one in the house in which TV's The Munsters lived. As Aiken emerged, singing U2's "Where the Streets Have no Name," the crowd litterally went wild. We're talking spontaneous dancing in the aisles and everything. Incidently, Cher opened with the exact same song when she played the Coliseum last year. Draw whatever conclusions you choose.

Clad in blue jeans, a striped shirt and a red tie, Aiken roamed the three-tiered stage, belting out songs from his debut CD,"Measure of a Man," including "No More Sad Songs," "Shine," "Perfect Day" and the title track. Beside the U2 tune, covers included Toto's "Rosanna," Mr. Mister's(anyone remember them?) "Kyrie," and a James Taylor medley that Aiken shared with his backup singers. One of those singers was none other than Charleston's own Quiana Parlor, who also competed in the early rounds of American Idol's second season. Parlor and Aiken performed a duet on the song "without You," but not before Aiken gave an audience member from Ashville a chance to sing the same song with him earlier in the show. After the obligatory performance of the hit single "Invisible," Aiken stepped back under the stairs, only to emerge moments later for his required encore, a performance of "Solitaire."

Again, I am not a big fan of Aiken's music, but even I had to admit that the guy really can sing. While the material was beyond lightweight, Aiken is such an agreeable guy that in some cases you don't mind his vanilla warbling. So was the concert good? Well, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Even I enjoyed Aiken's nod to James Taylor, which featured my favorite JT tune, "Sweet Baby James." A couple of things bothered me about the show, though, the biggest of which was a lengthy promo for Disney's forthcoming "Aladdin" DVD. It came after an intermission and had a charity tie-in, but do we really need what amounts to a television commercial in the middle of a concert that folks paid upward's of $50 to attend? Opening act for Aiken was French singer Cherie, who has gained notice in recent months for songs such as "Older Than My Years" and "I'm ready."

I actually enjoyed Cherie's set more than Aiken's. Cherie sings as well as Celine Dion, with the noticeable fact that Cherie's music doesn't make me want to vomit. Cherie proved to have an adaquate amount of stage presence as she led the audience through some simple exercises, including "the wave" around the coliseum.

All in all, it was a pretty good show even for someone like myself who normally shuns pop music. I still wouldn't pay to see an act such as Aiken, but I can show you 5000 people who would, and did. Strangley enough that group seems to be made up largely of women who are between the ages of 40 and 50 and are looking for a nice boy to bring home to their daughter.

Watch your back, Clay.



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2010, 12:17:53 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2004, 02:03:24 AM » 


Down-to-earth Idol brings debut tour to Portsmouth

by Ed Condran

Clay Aiken speaks quickly.

"Everyone in my family talks fast." Speed is certainly necessary in his fast-paced life. Aiken, arguably the most popular "American Idol" alum -- "Definitely arguably," he said with a laugh -- is on his first solo headlining tour and is very much in demand. His interviews are limited to 10 minutes, but that's OK. Aiken could give a New Yorker a run for his money in the chat department.

Life has been a whirlwind for the diminutive Aiken, who performs Tuesday at NTelos Pavilion at Harbor Center in Portsmouth. That's quite a contrast to what could have been had he not participated in the second "American Idol" in 2002.

Prior to auditioning for the Fox reality show, Aiken, 25, mentored children with behavorial disorders in Raleigh, N.C.

"I've always thought I would be a special ed teacher," he said in a phone interview from Charleston, W.Va. "I love it. When I hear my friends tell me stories about what happens in their classroom, well, I long for that."

Don't think that Aiken regrets his change in vocation. His debut disc, "Measure of a Man," has sold nearly 3 million copies. His legion of "Claymates" are helping make his 42-date summer tour a success.

"I'm thankful for everything. I have nothing to complain about. I'm singing in front of great crowds, and I'm seeing the world."

Prior to his meteoric rise, Aiken was hardley a traveler. "When I was growing up we went to a few places outside of North Carolina. We did go to Virginia Beach since I have an aunt in Norfolk. It's great to be back in the South. There is something different about performing down here. When I performed in Kentucky the other night, you could just feel it. The response is just great. "

Unlike many of his peers, Aiken comes off as an unaffected, regular guy --a trait that helps and hinders him. The former member of the Raleigh Boys Choir has been hammered by the media for being too dorky. "The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth," Rolling Stone declared. "OK, We Admit It . . . We Love Clay Aiken" read the cover of Entertainment Weekly. "Revenge of the Nerd," was the headline in Teen People.

Much of what has been written about Aiken has more to do with his cool quotient than his musical talent. However, this that hardly dims the sunny singer's perspective.

"I don't mind all of that. When I was 14, I wished there was as big a dork as me so I could have a role model. If you believe the media, women should all be supermodel skinny and everyone should look cool. I want to change that misconception. You don't have to be cool. It's not easy. I got kicked around in middle school. I hardly look at myself as cool."

But there are a plethora of young girls who disagree. During an "American Idol" makeover, Aiken scrapped the glasses and dyed his hair. Now he has legions of female fans.

"People have said, 'Look how I've grown out of who I once was.' But it's not as if I've turned into a swan. This ugly duckling had turned into an ugly duck."

Not according to People magazine, which named him one of its "Sexiest Men Alive" in 2003. One year after his graduation from UNC-Charlotte, the affable Aiken is a well-compensated and popular vocalist. "I can't deny that I'm in an incredible situation. It's been fantastic."

So will Aiken follow fellow "American Idol" contestants Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini to the big screen? The two starred in the bomb "From Justin to Kelly." The rumor is that Aiken will costar in a movie with Ruben Studdard, that man who beat him on "American Idol."

"That won't happen," Aiken insisted. "There are other things to do."

One of which is to work on a new album. Aiken is proud of "Measure of a Man," but he's hoping the next project better captures his essence.

"There was a push for this album to be called 'Clay Aiken,' but 'Measure of a Man' didn't define me. Some songs are downers, and there is heartbreak that I just never experienced. Next time I would like there to be more up songs. But I can't complain. I'm going to continue to let God point me in His direction. He has bigger dreams for me than I do for myself."



Aiken’s boy-next-door appeal, voice pair up to wow the crowd
 By JEFF MAISEY, The Virginian-Pilot
© July 21, 2004

PORTSMOUTH — Clay Aiken, the 2003 American Idol runner-up, was treated like the winner at the nTelos Pavilion at Harbor Center stage Tuesday night.

Where one couple on the third row donned Krispy Kreme doughnut hats and Clay T-shirts, another group of girls were self-decorated in costume jewelry that included princess crowns and fake feathered scarves.

Middle-aged and teeny-boppers alike jointly held their homemade posterboard signs at arm’s length over their heads for Aiken to read. The enthusiasm was boundless.

Aiken seems to have done all right for himself with millions of his debut CD, “Measure of a Man,” sold and throngs of star-struck fans gazing up at him on stage.

It’s the American dream come true.

Aiken’s concert opened in semi-dramatic form. A lighted center stage staircase opened vertically to the sound of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” as Aiken walked out. While Aiken was no Bono, his backup band of session musicians came off as the real thing, just like any good cover band should.

For a non-songwriting entertainer with no dance moves to speak of, Aiken relied on his boy-next-door appeal and adequate voice to wow the audience. Much of his performance, though, resembled a glorified karaoke set, which included a lengthy medley of James Taylor tunes where Aiken allowed his dynamic backup singers to shine.

Aiken’s down-home chatter between songs was equally as entertaining as “No More Sad Songs” and “I Will Carry You.”

French born teen idol Cherie was the opening act. The 19-year-old singer performed half of the tracks from her yet-to-be-released self-titled CD.

With a voice more appealing than Britney Spears’ and yet not nearly as strong as Whitney Houston’s, Cherie often sounded so polished you’d think she was lip syncing to pre-recorded music, especially considering the audible bass lines and back-up singers were not present in her live band.


A case of 'Idol' worship
"American Idol" star Clay Aiken comes to Portsmouth and wows the ladies with clean-cut charisma and musical melodrama

July 21, 2004

PORTSMOUTH -- The threat of a thunderstorm had passed. The only question was when Clay Aiken would appear on stage.

Even before the lights had dimmed on Tuesday, the crowd began chants of "We want Clay!"

Finally, the Harbor Center's lights dropped to black, and the air erupted with a high-pitched collection of voices. With lights flashing intensely, the pavilion's sound system pumped snippets of Aiken's recent successes from various news reports and television moments that sounded like the quick changing of a radio dial.

Then the moment arrived.

In a teal button-up shirt, khaki pants and tie, Aiken appeared from behind the stage as the center staircase lifted for his entrance and his band performed the U2 classic "Where the Streets Have No Name."

Since being named runner-up in the second season of Fox TV's "American Idol" competition, Aiken reaped a bounty of public affection: His image has appeared on the covers of magazines including Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and Teen People. His album "Measure of a Man" moved more than 600,000 copies in its first week in stores and has since racked up sales of more than 2 million.

About 4,500 fans turned out to see the singing star in the flesh.

Early in the show, Aiken hyped up people in the crowd by encouraging them to dance. "You can't dance if you're sitting down," he said. Eager to interact with his audience, Aiken smiled and joked often. To one specific fan, he said, "Those are jumping jacks, honey!" At one point, a fan who identified herself only as Patsy joined Aiken onstage and danced with the star and his background singers.

Many concertgoers openly displayed their admiration for the singer with homemade apparel and signs penned with felt-tip markers. They included messages ranging from "3,000 miles for a song and a hug" to the simple yet effective "We Love You Clay."

Virginia Beach residents Michela Pearl, Kathryn Alvarez and Susan MacClary made entire outfits for the occasion. The three 15-year-olds came equipped with matching crowns and capes. The reason?

"We are the queens of Clay's heart," the three said in unison.

The largely female crowd included various ages and levels of interest in the singer. Some fans said they came simply because they enjoyed his music and message, while others said they had followed Aiken since he first appeared on television.

"It's nice to hear something with meaning," said Eric Fontanilla, a 29-year-old from Virginia Beach who said the singer's lack of obscene language was another reason that he was drawn to Aiken. Although he's been a follower of the singer since his first appearance, Fontanilla admitted that he was uncertain of Aiken's lasting ability: "I thought he wasn't going to make it - it surprised us all."

Aiken's squeaky-clean image and musical lightness - Entertainment Weekly recently dubbed him "the king of Wuss Mountain" - is certainly part of the attraction.

So are his looks, which some would describe as resembling the nerd next door.

But a gang of 11-year-old girls on Harbor Center's lawn insisted that his singing was truly the reason for all the excitement.

"It's his strong voice," said Susanna Keating of Virginia Beach, her five friends shouting in agreement. "But it's kind of strange that it comes out of such a skinny person," injected Ashby Whitehouse, another girl in the posse.

"He is kind of flimsy," another friend said.


  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2010, 12:23:43 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2004, 03:49:02 PM » 


Former Idol Star Hasn't Been Idle

By Ralph Berrier Jr.

Clay Aiken calls them "moments."

They come during a soundcheck, on the tour bus or just before he takes the stage. For an instant, the whirlwind of his career freezes in time and he reflects on what an amazing year he has had. Barely 15 months ago, no one had heard of the skinny, spiky-haired North Carolina native with the big voice. Then came his epic battle with Ruben Studdard on "American Idol," in May 2003. Aiken finished second in the popularity vote, but he won out on the pop charts with his platinum-selling "Measure of a Man" CD and several hit songs.

Yes, the 25-year-old Raleigh native has had quite a year.

"It's really kind of funny," Aiken said by telephone during his tour's opening leg in South Dakota. "I look where I am ... I mean, I'm in South Dakota. It's wonderful. I still have 'moments.' Sometimes I look around and think, 'How am I doing this?' It's all happened so fast."

Growing up in Andy Grif-fith country ("I think a Raleigh station still puts 'The Andy Griffith Show' on in prime time," Aiken said), Aiken gained a love of old country and pop standards from his mother, Faye, who used to tote her son to the local Sears where she worked. Little Clay would sing early '80s hits such as "Islands in the Stream" while perched upon the carpet samples, earning a dollar or two from customers.

He joined the Raleigh Boys Choir and played roles in high school productions of "Oklahoma!," "The Sound of Music" and "The Music Man." Even with obvious talent and natural stage presence, Aiken chose not to pursue a musical career, enrolling in college to study special education.

While a student at UNC-Charlotte, Aiken worked with Mike Bubel, a teenager with autism, and became close to Mike's family. Diane Bubel, Mike's mom, knew Aiken had musical talent and encouraged him to audition for "American Idol." Aiken actually had his eye on another reality series - "The Amazing Race" - but eventually bowed to Diane Bubel's nagging.

After a rocky start in which he nearly blew the audition by singing the words of the wrong song, Aiken impressed judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and the impertinent Simon Cowell and earned a trip to Hollywood. Even then, he nearly didn't make the cut. He didn't finish among the top two in his group, but saved himself in the wild-card round, which is sort of like playing your way out of the loser's bracket, with a version of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

In the weeks that followed, Aiken advanced by singing mostly oldies, including "Mack the Knife" and "Build Me Up Buttercup." Finally, when it came down to Clay vs. Ruben, the hefty Studdard won the nationwide polling by a mere 130,000 votes out of nearly 25 million cast.

Aiken fared pretty well for a runner-up. He scored a No. 1 hit with his "This Is the Night"/"Bridge Over Troubled Water" single, which reaffirmed his preference for classic pop.

"In the '50s and '60s, people had to sing," he said, noting that much of today's pop music is the product of technology and studio craft. "If I'm in the studio and mess up, I know I can punch in and sing that word over. Back then, you had one piece of acetate that had to record the band and all. That '50s and '60s sound, especially Motown, really had emotion. Those are real singer songs, not performer songs."

Aiken credits his love of classic pop to his mother, who has become something of a celebrity herself. Just last month, Faye Aiken was in Roanoke to judge the Miss Virginia competition. She gave the city a good scouting report.

"Mom was just up there, and she liked it a lot," he said. "I'm traveling a lot now and I prefer the smaller quiet areas. The fast-paced L.A. lifestyle, I'm not used to it. I always thought when I moved from Raleigh to Charlotte I was going to the big city. It was going to be so fast-paced, so big ... my Lord, it was Charlotte!" 



Geek appeal thrills Clay Aiken audience

By Ralph Berrier Jr.

How can you not like Clay Aiken? He's the nerdy guy who got the homecoming queen, the physics geek who won the Nobel Prize, the skinny placekicker who booted the game-winning field goal.

More than a year after playing second fiddle to Ruben Studdard on "American Idol," Aiken has emerged as the platinum-plated star. His rags-to-riches story has endeared him to millions of fans, and his friendly demeanor and work with special-needs children shows he has a good heart. The spiky-haired waif from North Carolina has a naturally huge voice, polished neither by voice teachers nor music school, and really belts out those middle-of-the-road pop ballads that TV fans apparently love.

Yet the thing that sets Aiken, 25, apart from the rest of his soon-to-be-forgotten "Idol" classmates is his boyish exuberance and easygoing manner. You get the feeling that all this attention and success from the past year hasn't changed him that much. That's why he has ultimate crossover appeal, winning fans aged 8 to 80.

So it's no wonder that a crowd of 5,000 loved every minute of Aiken's 110-minute show at the Roanoke Civic Center Wednesday night. At times, the proceedings seemed as geeky as he is, with silly dance contests and corny between-songs patter, but what else would an Aiken fan expect? He never seemed overwhelmed that thousands of people adore him, and he had fun with the crowd, whether ad libbing between songs or encouraging a little girl from Lynchburg to sing "This is the Night" onstage with him.

Emerging from a portal in a two-story staircase, Aiken looked a little Harry Potter-ish in his glasses and red tie with striped shirt. He began with U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name," the first of nearly a half-dozen cover songs he performed.

The show was heavy with 1970s and '80s hits, many of which he hopefully won't be performing in future years (Clay, we really don't need to hear "Still the One" sung by ANYBODY). His choices of Toto's "Rosanna" and Mr. Mister's "Kyrie" bespeak his affection for the songs of his youth. The tribute to James Taylor, another North Carolina hero, was mostly an unnecessary showcase for his three back-up singers.

His Christian upbringing was most evident on a couple of contemporary gospel songs, especially the high-concept "You Were There," during which he and his backup group dressed in angelic white.

For the most part, his voice rises above the material. Although he sings every song pretty much at full-throated, talent-show volume, he does it without the egomaniacal bombast that affects many big-voiced pop singers (think Michael Bolton). Standouts from his platinum-selling "Measure of a Man" album included "This is the Night" and the show-closing "Solitaire," but much of that album consists of harmless mainstream radio pop. One expects that as Aiken's career runs long-term, he will tackle much more substantial material



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2010, 12:29:33 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2004, 07:48:52 AM » 


Clay Aiken is a school teacher distracted by fame
And that's where he'll return if the music stops
By Rashod D. Ollison
Sun Pop Music Critic
Originally published July 22, 2004

He doesn't get it.

Clay Aiken never dreamed of becoming a pop star - never mind a sex symbol. And he is an unlikely one: skinny and gawky with jug-handle ears.

"Hello! Have you seen me?" says Aiken, who's calling from a tour stop in Kentucky. He plays 1st Mariner Arena Friday night. "The attention is flattering. Some [fans] are, like, mothers and grandmothers, but the fan base spans different age groups. I don't understand being ga-ga over anyone, especially me."

Last season, he came in second behind Ruben Studdard on American Idol. But with all the media attention, the massive fan base and the double platinum sales of his debut, Measure of a Man (released in October, two months before Studdard's), it seems as if Aiken were the first-place winner. His first single, "This is the Night," made history by entering Billboard's Hot 100 at No. 1, selling more than 392,000 copies during its first week. It beat Elton John's record for "Candle in the Wind 1997." Measure of a Man moved 613,000 units during its debut week, also entering at No. 1.

The North Carolina native and former special-ed teacher, 25, can hardly go to the grocery store these days without getting mobbed. Security guards shadow him at appearances. He sells out arenas. Last July, he graced the cover of Rolling Stone, rocking a What Would Jesus Do bracelet, his shirt blown open revealing a slightly hairy abdomen.

"I am not a sex symbol," Aiken insists. "It's only been a year since nobody knew who I was or cared who I was. So it has taken some adjusting to all of this. But American Idol was a good boot camp. We had to learn how to perform live, take criticism, do interviews. Now I kinda know what's going on around me."

Regardless of his awkward looks, there's no denying Aiken's charm. On the phone, he's polite and humorously self-deprecating, his Southern twang warm and relaxed. As it has been said several times before, Aiken's booming vocals, though adequately suited for the glossy, bombastic pop songs on Measure of a Man, are ideal for Broadway (or those over-the-top productions at amusement parks).

On his debut - and it is no surprise - Aiken says he had very little creative input.

"The main thing with my last record was setting the standard," he says. "I wanted to maintain who I was before all this started. There's a misconception that I had to fight hard to maintain my identity. That's not true. There were some songs I didn't want to sing, and the producers were respectful of that. But I had hardly any input on the songs."

Most of the tunes, including the stalker anthem "Invisible," seem to focus on unrequited love.

"Musically, the last album was much more an album that didn't define who I was," Aiken says. "Much of it was sad songs and downers. The next album will have more of an up side."

No release date has been set yet. But who knows whether his second album will be as well-received as the first? Pop audiences are notoriously fickle. Aiken, however, is not worried. If the fame evaporates, he will be all right.

"I was gonna be a teacher my whole life," Aiken says. "I had no other plans. But doing this wasn't worth changing who I was. If this singing doesn't work, fine. I consider my teaching Plan A and singing Plan B."

Clay Aiken performs at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., tomorrow night at 7:30. Tickets are $35-$45 and are available through Ticketmaster by calling 410-587-SEAT or by visiting

BALTIMORE SUN (registration required)


The 'American Idol' runner-up comes in first with his fans

By Rob Hiaasen
Sun Staff
Originally published July 26, 2004

Spooky. The Clay Aiken pre-concert at Burke's Cafe was straight from the backstage scene at any old Led Zeppelin concert. You remember - or not: Idolatrous teens hungry for a line of Krispy Kreme doughnuts; one "Clay Mate" reprimanded by another for drinking a Coors Light ("Clay would not approve," said the voice); and messages computer generated onto tucked-in T-shirts:

"Bartender, I'd Like a Clay on the Rocks."

"I have Mom's Permission to Kiss you!"

"Lonely? Call 1-800 Me! Me! Me! Me!"

My, my, my, what do we have here? A pre-concert party for Clay Aiken - the lip-biting, runner-upping, national idol with his double platinum debut album Measure of a Man, the Carolina Comet who may have lost American Idol but won the love of the nation's moms.

Moms like the one who wore a shirt that read, "I may be your Mom but I can still shake it like a Polaroid Picture" at a pre-concert party for Clay Aiken Friday evening, who in two hours would consume 1st Mariner Arena in his first Baltimore appearance. These fine people at Burke's restaurant -another of whom was wearing the biblical words, "He is the Potter. I am the Clay" - will go forth to look upon Aiken and a few were even chosen to meet and greet but not touch Mr. Aiken. And the rest will be shaking like Polaroid pictures, high on Krispy Kremes, higher still from listening to their geeky Elvis, their bright angel, their stud. Yes, hubbies everywhere, we said stud. Deal with it or stay home and peek at Britney's videos.

Welcome to Clay Nation, which stopped in our state Friday. Clay Aiken could have left with our wives and daughters, you realize. To his credit, however, he simply put on his show and left one non-believer to dig deep into his rusty soul to ask the age-old question:

OK, who is Ruben?

For starters, there's Clay lingo to itemize. "Clay Mates" are, duh, his fans. "Clay Dogs" is some sort of a fan subset. "Thud" is the falling sound a Clay Mate makes when Clay sings, twitches or breathes. "Lip Bite" is a trademark Clay quirk, one which 6-year-old Taylor Dukeman of Baltimore ably demonstrated at the party. Her mom, party planner Missy Dukeman, stood by with what would become a familiar expression that seemed to say, Don't look at us that way. We are not crazy, honest. We just really love Clay. Hey, you don't have to explain - well, maybe just a little.

"He's that real geeky person who became famous," said Emily Blount, a 33-year-old fan up from D.C. He's not Brad Pitt, she said, and that is powerfully accurate.

Blount felt like she had to explain how strangers on Aiken internet message boards sprung for her ticket on account of her having brain surgery in the fall. But there's nothing crazy about that or the fact that before the night was over, these Clay Mates would chip in more than a $1,000 for Aiken's charity, the Bubel/Aiken Foundation.

More than 130 people showed up for the party, a guest list that included Pat Hlousek, a 57-year-old bartender from Rockville. The Lord has blessed Clay with the "golden voice of the century," she said. Plus, he's a good Christian and refuses to do, you know, explicit stuff like Britney does. One couldn't help notice Pat's dress for the evening - a black number with, as she said, air-conditioning all around. Would Clay approve?

"No," she said. "But I'll get his attention."

Certain things you should never say about a man. For example, when in a group of Clay Aiken fans, never say, "He's kind of short, isn't he?" You will learn Aiken is a mountain of a voice at 6-foot-1.

Now meet Gloria Dietz and her sister, Kate Bradley, both of Baltimore, both Clay Mates, both shaking like Polaroid pictures because Dietz won a local radio contest for best Clay Aiken poem. We can't get enough of this handsome STUD/who has given new meaning to the word THUD went part of her framed poem. Gloria has even tailed Clay to New York in hopes of meeting him. So, when was the last time she wrote a poem for her hubby? "Many moons ago."

Binnie Meltzer, a 56-year-old English lit professor from New York and Rhonda Emory, 36, of Elkton did some explaining.

"Male chest-beating is out. The Thinking Man is in style," Meltzer said.

"We have been begging for a man like Clay for a long time," Emory said.

The most delicate of subjects was also raised, with Emory proposing that Mr. Aiken is still a virgin.

"It's our common belief," Emory said.

"It's their common fantasy," Meltzer said.

Enough said.

Gloria Dietz was told to be at the arena by 6:30 p.m. to "meet and greet" Clay Aiken. She wrapped up her poem, bolted Burke's, and hauled jeans toward 1st Mariner. An over-the-counter horse tranquilizer could not have slowed her. "It's hitting me just now," Gloria said, nearly running. She would meet Clay! But she wouldn't try to kiss him. "He doesn't like that stuff."

She's had passions before - Boy George, Rosie O'Donnell, Melissa Etheridge - but Clay is true thud material. Inside the arena, Gloria and other chosen fans were whisked away to meet Aiken. Others stood outside staring at the fleet of glossy, window-darkened, RV's. "I Love Nerds" and "I Wanna Play with Clay" and "Dork" read their T-shirts. But Gloria Dietz, Aiken poet laureate, was on the inside.

By 7 p.m., Gloria had emerged from some top-secret location to brief her sister and any others on her meeting with Aiken.

"Are you Gloria?" Aiken had asked.

No words came to Gloria at that time. "I froze." She had been thrown off by the rules: no cameras, no handshakes and no one-on-one pictures, just a group shot of the 13 chosen fans. But during that group shot, oh baby, Clay had his hand on her back! And she touched his arm. Then, she found the words - "You just made my life" and "Clay, rock the house!" - to finally say to her idol.

The only thing left to do was to find her floor seat, sit through an opening act (a singer named Cherie, whose only fault was insisting the crowd perform "The Wave") and at 8:30, holler like a teen-ager watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

With orgiastic fanfare, Clay Aiken opened his Baltimore show with U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name." OK, this guy has pipes, major PVC pipes. In necktie and specs, Aiken had his shirt untucked and he wore those comfy bowling shoes, if that's what they are. He has very good posture, as moms would note.

Among other tics, Aiken does this hand thing with his, well, hands. The crowd seems to mime his hand thing. Lot of group hand action - and signs, of course. Aiken enjoys turning up the house lights and reading the signs. "Did you get my cookies?" Of course he did, hon. And fear not: we will not run the risk of the headliner closing his show by hailing Fahrenheit 9/11.

In the spirit of the birthplace of his career, Aiken believes in giving unknowns a heaping if fleeting share of his spotlight. He brought a 16-year-old girl from Jersey up to dance with him. She wore a T-shirt that covered limited geography. "You're too young to dance like that," Aiken quipped. To sing "Without You" with him, he invited a Tracy Turnblad-ish girl on stage and she was from Jersey, too. It was mildly embarrassing not to have a Baltimore girl up there.

Aiken sang all the songs people craved to hear. It was not unlike secretly liking the Carpenters or Barry Manilow or in even older days, David Cassidy. For the record, there were men at the concert with their arms draped around their gal's shoulders. Points scored.

In a packed concert venue, Gloria Dietz's "Gloria Loves U" sign could be seen from across the arena. Earlier, she was worried and so nervous and even crying. She was just happy now.

See, it's not crazy at all.

Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE SUN (registration required


  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2010, 12:38:41 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2004, 07:49:12 AM » 


Aiken on Tour

By Mark Bialczak
Staff writer

Ask Clay Aiken how's the day going in Sioux Falls, S.D. - we do read the tour itinerary to prepare for these interviews, you know - and the American Idol chuckles.

"Well, I don't know," Aiken says by telephone. "I'm in Grand Forks, North Dakota!"

Turns out Aiken's getting ready to travel to Sioux Falls for a show later that night.

So, the natural question becomes, do you ever wake up on tour and not remember what city you're in?

"I do," Aiken confesses. "But I've had it drilled into me here. Grand Forks. Grand Forks. Grand Forks."

Aiken's got 10 minutes to talk before he gets ready to get on the tour bus.

"We're always on the bus," he says. "I like it that way. It's much easier. The bus becomes home. I like different cities. I enjoy seeing them. It's neat to see different ways people live. There are so many things to see around this country."

Aiken, 24, says it quickly. When you talk to the personable runner-up to Ruben Studdard in the 2003 "American Idol" competition, you can indeed squeeze a 15-minute interview into a 10-minute slot.

Aiken's 42-date headliner tour comes to Syracuse for a show at the Onondaga War Memorial on Saturday night. Before this, he co-headlined a national tour with 2002 "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson.

Yes, lots has happened for the spikey-haired native of North Carolina since he graduated from the Fox TV show into the world of the-rest-of-your-career.

His album, "Measure of a Man" has sold 3 million copies. His first single, "This Is the Night," was the best-selling single of 2003. His next single, "Solitaire," debuted No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart.

The networks love him. He's appeared on the late-night TV shows and performed on the morning programs.

And he actually seems to enjoy a reporter asking questions.

Q How have you handled the fame?

A "It's been difficult because it happened so fast. Not having three or four years to ease into the hubbub. It's been difficult to get used to not being able to walk the dog or go to the grocery store. People are out there, waiting to meet me."

Q Do you ever get used to fame?

A "I think you get used to the fact that ... let's say I don't get surprised anymore when my name is mentioned on TV. I was watching Jay Leno, my name came up. No big deal anymore. You get used to realizing that your life will be different. I hope I don't get used to fame. As complicated and difficult as it is, it's humbling at the same time. If I ever get used to it and take it for granted, that wouldn't be good."

Q Do you want the fame to last or do you want to go back to a 'normal' life?

A "I don't care either way. OK, I do care a little bit. How long do I want it to last? I want it to last as long as it will. I think there are a lot of people who have their 15 minutes, than they scramble to be on 'Hollywood Squares' or '$100,000 Pyramid.' I don't' want to be one of those people. If I end up working for the (Bubel/Aiken) Foundation (to care for challenged children), that's OK. If what's next for me is going to teach, I'm ready for it. I miss that. I don't ever want to miss that, either. I like to have a bit of that reality. Maybe I'm one of those people who really aren't all that thrilled with fame. I do love what I do, but some aspects of it ..."

Q Do you think that things would have turned out differently if you had beaten Ruben instead of losing by, what, 20,000 out a 3 million votes?

A "I joke about that a lot. Oh, I lost. But in all honesty, I think that I'm pretty OK where I am now, and I'm happy with what has transpired."

Q What have you learned since "American Idol" that has helped you become a better performer?

A "I think just being a little more comfortable with what I'm doing. Knowing the audience a little more, knowing the music a little more. Some of the songs from that (debut) album, I couldn't relate to my life. I haven't been scorned in a previous life, and not since, either, in a love way. But in the business, yes. So many life lessons that I've learned in the past year can be used to identify with the songs."

Q Are you a more confident performer now?

A "I think I was pretty confident before now. If anything, I'm less confident. There are times I hope that I don't let the fans down. I didn't worry about that before. Now there are so many fans loyal to me."

Q Who did you want to win this year's "American Idol" competition?

A I kind of had LaToya (London) picked from the beginning. She was so classy. But after LaToya was eliminated, I think the right person won. Fantasia (Barrino) was the obvious pick then."

Q Is there a fraternal feeling among "American Idol" competitors?

A No, not really. Interestingly enough, we never have contact with seasons that aren't part of us.

"I'm friends with Kelly, obviously because of the tour, but not any others out of my season.

"I stay in touch with Kimberly (Locke) and Ruben. We're a graduating class together."


Fate deals ‘sexy’ Aiken a winning hand


He never dreamed of being famous.

“I just wanted to be a teacher,” Aiken said from a tour stop in Charleston, W. Va., a tour that takes him to Syracuse’s Oncenter Saturday, July 24, and to Albany’s Pepsi Arena Sunday, Aug. 8.

“I admired politicians who did a lot for kids with disabilities.”

In fact, Aiken’s career path seemed pretty clear cut when he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in special education. He had planned to get a master’s degree and saw himself as a principal by the age of 50.

But fate had other ideas for the 25-year-old from Raleigh, N.C.

Aiken was working with Mike Bubel, an autistic teenager whose mother, Diane, encouraged him to try out for the second season of “American Idol.”

He said he only went to the audition to appease her.

After being chosen to perform in Hollywood, Aiken’s good luck continued. When he was rejected from the top 32 contestants, viewers voted him back on as a wild card.

Fast forward to the last week of “Idol” when it was down to Aiken and his good friend, Ruben Studdard.

“Ruben and I didn’t put any designs on what a title (is),” Aiken said. “My whole take on life was that getting a degree in music didn’t mean you were going to get a job in music. It’s all about the way you sing.

“Both Ruben and I looked at the title of ‘Idol’ in the same way — just because you won it, didn’t mean you’d be a star.”

Basically, Aiken said, you had to prove yourself.

In the weeks that followed Studdard’s win, Aiken did prove himself. He immediately started working on an album, “Measure of a Man,” and became a celebrity.

The CD sold 613,000 units in its first week, and his debut single “This Is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water” spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart.

Soon, Aiken was on the cover of a dozen different magazines. He also won some prestigious music awards, including the Fan’s Choice Award at the American Music Awards.

But, what he finds funniest — and still can’t believe — is being named one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive.”

His explanation? “I think I got ‘punk’d’ there,” he said.

He does feel blessed, however, and realizes that with fame, comes responsibility.

“People are watching your every move,” he said. “You can choose to make the most of that and be a role model to kids looking up to you, or live your own life and not care.”

And because Aiken chooses to be a role model, he said, he named the album after one of his favorite songs on the CD, “Measure of a Man.”

“I want to make sure I’m setting a good example and making my family proud,” Aiken said.


Aiken pleases his idolizing young fans
by Mark Bialczak

Many of the fans at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Saturday night loved Clay Aiken in the Tiger Beat magazine sort of way.

That means the teen and adolescent girls were loud and proud of their adulation for their American idol.

They held up hundreds of hand-lettered signs, just like the crowds do in the studio audience for the Fox show "American Idol." One said "Clay, I'm not a Claymate. I'm your soulmate."

They wore homemade T-shirts using every combination of words with his name that they could make up.  One girl: "Claynadian Claymaatics." The girl next to her: "Clayvert in Progress."

And, together with their moms and grandmoms and even a couple of good-sport dads and granddads in the jammed-but-for-a-couple-half-sections-in-the-upper-corner hockey arena, they screamed and made lots of noise.

The star of the show took it all in with many big smiles.

Aiken's undoubtedly grown in boundless leaps as a performer in the year since he was eked out by Ruben Studdard in the AI finals. He's still got a little aw-shucks in his born-in-Raleigh, NC, persona. Humbly, he thanked his band, sound crew and all his fans more than once.

Aiken started, surprisingly enough, with the time-tested U2 rocker "Where the Streets Have No Names." He showed much vocal pluck. He didn't carry the tune with the swagger of Bono, but then again, who could?

That wasn't his only nod to rock either.

Aiken took Mr. Mister's "Kyrie," Toto's "Roseanna" and Orleans "Still the One" to the rafters, too.

And there was his medly tribute to James Taylor, in which he let backpup singers - the sweetest voice belonged to Quiana Parlor - almost take center stage for the tender "Sweet Baby James," " How Sweet It Is", "Fire and Rain," "Your Smiling Face," and "You've Got a Friend."

Of course, Aiken also delivered the songs fans screamed for from his debut disc, "Measure of a Man." The title cut, "No More Sad Songs," "Shine," "Perfect Day" and "This is the Night."

During one cute scene, Aiken's handlers invited a mature woman from Toronto on stage to dance. She looked smooth, in a 1960's Shag style. Aiken took one look and jokingly bolted to the other end of the stage.

To look his best, the glasses-wearing Aiken made four wardrobe changes. In all of them, he was Aiken Untucked. Everybody's got an unplugged set these days; Aiken goes for the electric sound with his shirt hanging outside his trousers.

Aiken saved the two biggest crowd favorites for the regular set finale and his encore.

"Invisible" and "Solitaire" had three generations singing along and thrusting their placards of love high in the air.

Transcribed at

Clay Aiken Conquers Syracuse

He came, he sang and he conquered. Clay Aiken brought his show to town last night and the near capacity War Memorial crowd was with him all the way. Ripping through a selection of songs from his first album, Measure of a Man, Clay thoroughly entertained the 6000 or so fans who turned out with signs, Clay shirts and glow sticks. And the operative word was LOUD.

To say that Clay has a devoted group of fans is an understatement. The audience, which was mostly female, came from as far away as Calgary, Alberta and Brazil. For many, Syracuse was one stop on a summer-long odyssey that is transforming these people from ordinary folks to serious "Clayheads." Clay pointed out one couple in the audience for whom it was their 50th show! Plus, a camera crew from MTV was filming tonight's show so Syracuse will be featured in an upcoming special.

To his credit, Clay has become a consummate performer, working the crowd like an old pro and carrying on a running conversation with the assembled masses between songs. His interaction with the audience includes bringing the "best" dancer in the crowd up on the stage (for this show the lucky Claymate was from Toronto) and picking one singer from the crowd to come up onstage and sing with him.

Vocally, he didn't miss a note and sang with all the conviction and range that brought him to the public's attention in the first place. Backed by a very talented group of musicians, Clay is gracious in allowing his backup singers a chance to solo while he sings backup for them. He has surrounded himself with a group of supportive people who compliment his style and energy.

The highlight of the show? Probably his truly stunning rendition of "Solitaire," which was his encore. The low point? During the video montage featuring highlights of the past year, some fans booed when a picture appeared of he and Ruben Studdard. But overall, the show was truly enjoyable and, while I can't say that I have been "Clayverted," I enjoyed seeing him live and was thoroughly entertained during the two hours he was onstage. Still, I had a sense of his isolation and wonder just how long he is going to want to do this. I suspect that Clay will pull back long before his fans do.

If you missed him in Syracuse, fear not. He will be in Albany at the dreaded Pepsi Arena August 8 and at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg outside Buffalo on August 19.


Aiken Breakin' Hearts

Clay Aiken brought awkward, puritan charm to the Onondaga County War Memorial on July 24, tackling tracks from his debut, Measure of a Man (RCA) - "Invisible," " I Will Carry You" and choice covers by U2, James Taylor and Orleans. Even more unashamedly corny than in his runner-up American Idol showing last year, the 25-year-old rose from the proscenium's floor in "You Were There," as shots of Calvary Hill and fluffy clouds panned across the TV monitors - more Young Life kitsch than pop star fare, but the preteens and housewives gobbled up his Bah-bul Belt charm like Librium.

French chanteuse Cherie opened with slick, wailing anthems a la Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey; girl can hardly speak English but suggests promise for her American debut, due in August.
From July 28 Syracuse News Times. No link available. Transcribed at
« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 12:45:29 AM by Marilyn »


  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2010, 12:46:31 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2004, 11:36:40 PM » 


Clay Aiken: 15 minutes and counting
Stands half empty at rainy, uninspired state fair show
Staff reporter

First there were the Deadheads.

Then came the Kiss Army, Parrot Heads and Phish Phans.

Now we have "Clay Mates," and they were swarming the Delaware State Fair on Tuesday night for Clay Aiken's concert.

Mostly made up of preteens, teens and their parents, the fans huddled under their ponchos as a steady rain fell throughout the night.

Aiken opened the show with an uninspired cover of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name."

Imagine Britney Spears covering "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

Well, it was worse than that.

Aiken, dressed in an untucked blue button-down shirt, a yellow tie and khakis, sucked every bit of emotion out of the seminal U2 song.

The fans cheered at one point in the song, but it was at the line "I want to take shelter from the pouring rain."

For the rest of the soggy evening, Aiken sang nearly every song off his debut album and sprinkled in a few other covers. But since all of his own songs were written by other people, the whole concert was basically a five-piece cover band fronted by Clay Aiken.

Aiken rose to fame through defeat in 2003 when he lost the second "American Idol" competition to Ruben Studdard.

Unlike Justin Guarini, whose career has turned into a punch line following his second-place finish at the first "American Idol," Aiken has capitalized on his loss.

Even though the 25-year-old has been lambasted by music critics (one called him a "Southern-fried theater nerd"), his first album, "Measure of a Man," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts when it was released in October and has sold 3 million copies.

His first single off the album, "This Is the Night," was the best-selling single of 2003 and his second single, "Solitaire," opened at No. 1, turning his reality television experience into a bona fide pop chart juggernaut.

But during Tuesday's 60-minute set, the one-man boy band looked like anything but.

His stage presence consisted of synchronized stepping with his three backup singers, clapping his hands over his head, leaning on a railing and sitting on a stool.

Even his chats with the crowd seemed forced. "You guys are better than I am for sitting out here," he said at one point. "So I'll stop talking."

The set included a tribute to James Taylor with Aiken singing "Sweet Baby James."

The tribute took an odd turn when his backup singers took turns singing lead on Taylor's "How Sweet It Is," "Fire and Rain" and "Whenever I See Your Smiling Face."

During those three songs, Aiken sang backup harmony - surely not what the wet crowd paid $23 each to see.

They also didn't sit in the rain to watch the Disney infomercial that opened the show, touting Aiken's song "Proud Of Your Boy," which will be included on the "Aladdin" special edition DVD out later this year.

The attendance was well below the 7,700 capacity for a concert at the state fair, with the grandstand half-empty.

Tonight's Toby Keith show and Saturday's performance by Rascal Flatts are sold out.



  • ANN News Team
  • Claymaniac
  • *****
  • Posts: 42046
  • Gender: Female
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2010, 12:51:13 AM »
Assistant Webmaster
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2004, 11:37:20 PM » 


CLAY AIKEN: Measure of the Man called AMERICAN IDOL
By David Pencek
Norwich Bulletin

A day may come when Clay Aiken’s name isn’t in close proximity to the words “American Idol.” The fact that he was a runner-up on one of the most popular television shows will merely be a footnote in any mention of the pop singer.

The day is not here yet, but Aiken is doing his best to speed up the process.

“I appreciate the fact that without the show I wouldn’t be here today” Aiken said during a recent phone interview. “I don’t think I want to be defined by the show. In seven years, the show might think of something else to talk about. Might as well get started now.”

Aiken talked from his hotel room in Lexington, KY., the fifth stop on his first solo tour. Aiken brings his tour to the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino tonight with newcomer Cherie opening the 8 p.m. concert. The tour also visits the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I., Tuesday.

The 25 year-old Aiken became a pop icon last year when he and Ruben Studdard competed for the second “American Idol” title. More than 25 million voted with Studdard besting Aiken by 130,000 votes.

Although he finished second, Aiken has enjoyed more success than Studdard. His album came out first and produced hits with “Invisible” and “This Is The Night”.

One could easily aruge Aiken’s become the most popular “American Idol” contestant from any of the show’s three seasons so far.

His debut album, “Measure of a Man,” is closing in three million sales and he is recording a holiday-themed Cd that is scheduled for release in December.

Earlier this year, Aiken co-headlined a tour with first year winner Kelly Clarkson. He said he has a picture of Clarkson on his tour bus.  “Everything is the same for this tour. It’s the same bus. She’s the only person missing from this tour,” Aiken said. “I didn’t think I would be nervous but I realized after the first few shows that I am probably a little nervous. All the pressure is on me. I don’t have Kelly so there’s a little more pressure, but it will be easy to get through.”

Aiken’s demeanor and charm make him a likeable pop star. The fact that many stories refer to him as a nerd or geek doesn’t bother the Raleigh, N.C. native.

“I can’t speak for some people who may portray this uneattainable, coolness star. I’m not that” Aiken said. “I’ve never been that. I was a dork before, I’m a dork today and I’ll be a dork tomorrow. I’m not going to try and be somebody I’m not.”

In his shows, Aiken covers songs from the artists such as U2 and James Taylor to less legendary artists such as Mr. Mister and Toto.

Aiken’s desire to break away from the “American Idol” label hasn’t stopped him from staying in touch with his former competitors. He and Studdard speak at least once a month, he said, and he talks with Julia DeMato frequently as well.

“We are family” Aiken said. “For all the good and bad that goes with it, we’re all brothers and sisters. When we get together it’s always a reunion. We did go through a lot together.”

Incidentally, the finalists from this season’s “American Idol” including champion Fantasia Barrino, are on tour as well and visit Hartford August 28.
Transcribed at No link available yet.

Feat Of Clay
Arts & Entertainment Editor/ETW
Published on 7/29/2004

Did ever a second-place finisher end up in a better position than Clay Aiken? Ruuuuuuben Studdard won last year's American Idol battle, but Clay won the career war. He's sold more records and drawn more people to concerts. He won the Fan's Choice American Music Award and the Billboard Music Award for best-selling single of the year, “This Is the Night”/“Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Compare that to the fate of the first year's runner-up, Justin Guarini, who is probably running the Tilt-a-Whirl at a traveling carnival right now.

Here's the secret to Clay's success: Clay's CD plays better to his fan base. In Clay's case, those are tween girls who love music like this soundtrack to a junior high school dance. (And, unlike Kelly Clarkson's schizophrenic CD, Clay's has a sound — Manilowish pop — and sticks with it.)

In addition, Clay gives better interviews than Ruben. He's willing to talk about anything.Ruben is the strong, silent type, but that doesn't provide scintillating magazine copy.

Aiken brings his act to Foxwoods tonight (the show is sold out) and then to the Ryan Center in Rhode Island on Tuesday. The opening act is Cherie, whom The New Yorker has compared favorably to both Whitney Houston and Shania Twain.
— Kristina Dorsey

Clay Aiken and Cherie perform at 8 tonight at Foxwoods' Fox Theatre. Tickets are $82.50 and $110. Call 1-800-200-2882. They also play the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I., at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets range from $30 to $44. Call (401) 788-3250.



Not a runner-up anymore - Aiken stands on his own at Foxwoods

Norwich Bulletin

Figuring out what to make of Clay Aiken isn’t easy, especially for someone who has never had a particular affection toward “American Idol.”
His nearly two-hour show Thursday at the Fox Theatre at Foxwoods Resort Casino didn’t really clear things up. Aiken somehow made it seem natural to cover a song from U2 and a song from Mr. Mister in the same concert. Does anyone even cover Mr. Mister anymore?

He made it seem appropriate to take a 15-minute intermission after performing for just 40 minutes. Did he even break a sweat?

It would be easy to dismiss Aiken as a product of today’s reality-TV phenomenon and nothing more than a glorified karaoke singer. But then you watch the power and connection he had with the audience that consisted mostly of women ranging from adolescents to elderly. It’s something many established pop stars don’t have and would envy.

It’s then you realize that you can’t simply brush aside Aiken’s popularity or talent.

Aiken (as if you didn’t know) was the runner-up in the second season of “American Idol.” He finished second to Ruben Studdard.

His concert felt like “American Idol” all over again when Aiken covered songs such as U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name,” which he opened with, Toto’s “Rosanna” and Orleans’ “You’re Still The One.”

The show’s pacing also made it feel like the television show as Aiken went quickly from one song to the next.

But then Aiken separated himself from the show that made him famous and appeared stronger when singing songs from his debut album, “Measure of a Man.” He owned tunes such as “Shine,” “This Is The Night” and “Invisible.” He ended the night with an encore performance of his hit “Solitaire.”

During the few breaks he took, Aiken had some intimate moments with the audience. One young girl from Norwich was invited on stage to dance with Aiken and his backup singers. He then gave her a hand-made lei.

During the second half of the show, Aiken invited a young girl from Rhode Island on stage and she sang an impressive rendition of “Without You.”

The 14-year-old wore a shirt with the words “Simon Said I Was Good” on it, referring to “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell.

“He never said that to me,” Aiken said. “But I’m doing okay now.”

Aiken is doing more than okay and what was evident from his show is that if he tosses the cover tunes and continues to produce his own hits, he could be the one person from “American Idol” who lasts.

One of the positive aspects about “American Idol” is that the people who watch have the power to make a pop star out of who they want and not who the record companies think the public wants. And right now, the people want Aiken, the young man who wears terms like “geek” and “nerd” as badges of honor.

New pop singer Cherie, who hails from France, opened the evening with a 25-minute performance. She sang five songs from her self-titled debut CD that will be released Tuesday. Those in the Fox Theatre should remember since that fact was on the two video screens throughout Cherie’s show.

Cherie did her job of warming up the crowd, especially with her hit single “I’m Ready” closing out her set. She even returned to the stage to sing a duet with Aiken.

Fans Adore Him, But Aiken Does Little To Deserve It

By ERIC R. DANTON, Courant Rock Critic

Change the circumstances a bit, and the cops would have found a bunch of bodies and some leftover Kool-Aid.

That's the sort of pull Clay Aiken exerts on his fans, who packed the Fox Theatre at Foxwoods Resort Casino Thursday night to see the "American Idol" runner-up make his solo debut in Connecticut.

Yet the attraction is mysterious to the uninitiated, because Aiken is largely devoid of charisma on stage. Despite 36 episodes of "American Idol" and a year on the road, he still looks stiff and not altogether comfortable in the spotlight. Maybe that lack of polish humanizes him, gives him an outsider's appeal that makes Aiken seem like a real person to his adoring fans. It also makes him seem like a hopeless amateur instead of the smooth professional he's trying so hard to be.

Regardless of how he looks and acts on stage, his fans say they love his voice. Truth be told, though, what sounds so warm and deep on his album, "Measure of a Man," comes off as thin and sometimes forced in a live setting.

It's like seeing behind the curtain in "The Wizard of Oz": outside the forgiving confines of the recording studio, the vocal tricks sound contrived. There was a little yelping hiccup in his voice that came right before he'd belt out and hold high notes, for example.

Worse than that was the colorless way Aiken presented songs he had no business covering. He deserves credit for the guts it took to open with the U2 song "Where the Streets Have No Name," but Aiken's version had none of the grit or desire or heated rock 'n' roll passion that Bono - another singer who thinks he's God - injected into the original.

The same was true during an extended medley of James Taylor songs, during which Aiken's backup singers overshadowed him on "Fire and Rain" and "Whenever I See Your Smiling Face."

Although he performed plenty of songs from "Measure of a Man," including the title track, Aiken needed a hefty array of covers to fill out the two 40-minute sets. There were some odd choices, too: "Kyrie" by Mister Mister? "Rosanna" by Toto? The latter, at least, featured Aiken's best vocal performance of the night. The song pushed his voice a little out of its range, and the resulting rawness finally made him sound real.

After performing "This Is the Night," Aiken ended with "Invisible," which sounds like the anthem of a guy who desperately wants to hide in your closet and watch you get ready for bed. Aiken performed the Neil Sedaka song "Solitaire" for an encore.
CT NOW.COM (registration required)

Clay Aiken Shows Stage Maturity Beyond His Years
General Assignment Reporter/Columnist
Published on 7/31/2004

A colleague of my generation, more attuned to the spectacular rise of pop star Clay Aiken than I, assured me as I headed with my niece to the Fox Theater for Aiken's Thursday night concert that the young man “has pipes.”

I may not be the best one to make predictions, but it looks to me like he has legs, too.

The gangly “American Idol” runner up, with spiked hair, sonorous voice and soothing style attracted a mostly female audience at Foxwoods. They ranged from toddlers and school girls to the ubiquitous “Claymates,” a burgeoning sorority of women clad in Clay t-shirts, name tags and — I'll bet — sooner or later the red thong Clay underwear that was selling briskly in the lobby.

One woman, age 55 and accompanied by her equally star-struck 28-year-old daughter, told me after the show that she had tickets for his next four concerts, occurring within the week. I wish I'd had time to ask if this was her first trip as a groupie.

With his signature “Measure of A Man,” “Invisible,” “Run to Me,” “Perfect Day,” “I Survived You,” and my personal favorite, “I Will Carry You,” Aiken earned every deafening shriek of approval from the capacity crowd.

What struck me most, besides the beautiful voice, was the boyish Aiken's relaxed assurance as a performer. His is such a young career, yet he manages the stage like someone long past trying to prove himself, and he does it without any hint of arrogance.

If Thursday's audience tended to the older side, it might be because of the casino venue and the ticket prices, $85-$110. But it was a real advantage to be in the relatively small Fox Theater.

“This is one of the most intimate crowds we've had,” said Aiken, and he used the space to his advantage, especially during a James Taylor medley with his superb back-up singers that had me singing along.

As he is wont to do, Aiken connected directly with fans, dancing with a 9-year-old and popping into the audience to pull a 14-year-old on stage for a — blessedly — brief duet.

He also performed a wonderful full-length duet with Cherie, his opening act. If these two don't make it as longtime pop stars, they certainly have a career waiting in the wings on Broadway.

Can a guy this nice, who wears a “W.W.J.D.” wristband, raises money for disabled kids and dedicated one of his numbers to Jesus, endure as a pop idol in America? It's far too soon to say. At least he'll always have something to fall back on.

He can sing.

Powered by SMF 2.0 RC3 | SMF © 2006–2010, Simple Machines LLC Page created in 0.297 seconds with 18 queries.
Helios Multi design by BlocWeb
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!