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ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  2007: Christmas in the Heartland Tour  |  Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
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Author Topic: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews  (Read 4468 times)

Marilyn

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Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« on: November 15, 2010, 10:08:37 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« on: June 23, 2007, 09:30:22 AM »   

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Reviews will go here.
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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2010, 10:26:30 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2007, 03:27:31 PM »   

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Fans swarm to Aiken's holiday show

BY ICESS FERNANDEZ

Wichita Eagle

What could make 42-year-old Jacki Koah fly from Portland, Ore., to Wichita with no family or friends around for miles?
Clay Aiken, of course.

"I wanted to do the first two shows but in the summer I did nine shows," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "I've done four meet-and-greets and he knows me by name. I'm Jacki from Oregon."

The proof of her acquaintance with Aiken is on her left shoulder.

"He signed my shoulder and I had it tattooed," she said. "The man can sing the telephone book to me and I would be happy."

Koah and her daughter attended the packed Aiken concert Monday night at Central Christian Church on Rock Road.

The holiday concert included songs from the singer's Christmas CD.

Fans lined up in anticipation of the show, most of them women -- Aiken's traditional fan base.

Nancy Roseen flew from Rhode Island to Wichita to see the first of seven shows she's purchased tickets for. She also won a chance, through a fan site, to meet Aiken personally. Monday she held a teddy bear with his signature
.


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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2010, 10:28:17 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2007, 03:29:43 PM »   

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Aiken pleases smaller Genesee crowd

November 30, 2007
By DAN MORAN DMORAN@SCN1.COM
WAUKEGAN -- Clay Aiken was more honest than he needed to be Thursday night, admitting to his faithful that he messed up the opening of his Christmas ballad "Mary, Did You Know."

"I try so hard to be classy for these here shows -- which is not in my nature," the North Carolina native said in an unaffected, homespun accent that stands completely at odds with his Adult Contemporary singing voice. "But I came in a little early on that last song."

If the audience didn't notice the mistake, his conductor and pianist, Jesse Vargas, apparently did. "But he somehow made it work," Aiken said, mimicking the grimace Vargas apparently made when the gaffe unfolded.

And then, when the ensemble launched into "Merry Christmas With Love," Aiken joked that "now I'm going to start this one late."
The moments of self-deprecation came at the start of his "Clay Aiken Christmas," stopping by the Genesee nearly a year to the day after he last visited with his 2006 holiday tour. Last year, Waukegan served as the opener, while Thursday's show was the third of 20 shows on a tour that continues through Dec. 22.

Aiken told the audience that he and his traveling squad -- including Vargas and backup singers/soloists Quiana Parlor and Angela Fisher -- "like going out on the road for Christmas ... It's great to be here for the second year in a row in the Chicago area."

Thursday's crowd was smaller than last year's, which was only 400 under capacity on a night when the Chicago area was hit with a foot of snow. The Claymates who filled about half of the main floor and part of a balcony Thursday were primarily female and from the early years of the Baby Boom.

Working with the Skokie-based Bill Porter Orchestra -- Aiken performs with local musicians at each stop -- the former "American Idol" contender mixed Christmas standards with material off his 2004 album "Merry Christmas With Love." He opened by emerging amid the orchestra in an all-black suit, singing a medley that included "Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel" and "Silent Night."

He also introduced a new element for his fourth holiday tour, inviting pre-selected local fans -- Georgene Winkler, Donna Deets, Julia Marsh and Marilyn Lang -- to read accounts of their favorite Christmas memories to introduce songs.

After Winkler told a comic tale of being doused with egg nog after her holiday dress caught on fire, Aiken again improvised, launching into "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and changed the lyrics to "there'll be parties for hosting and dresses for roasting."

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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2010, 10:31:42 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator

« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2007, 03:30:46 PM »   

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Clay Aiken presents Christmas pop
Thursday, November 29, 2007By Christopher Horb
Press News Service

KALAMAZOO -- When one thinks of Christmas music, singers such as Andy Williams or Bing Crosby may come to mind.

These days, Clay Aiken is the pop performer trimming the proverbial tree with his own holiday song stylings.

 
Accompanied by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Aiken will wrap his voice around seasonal tunes new and old when "Christmas With Clay Aiken" hits Miller Auditorium on Friday, which happens to be the 28-year-old performer's birthday.

"You know, I don't even celebrate them anymore, I just let them happen," he said with a laugh. "It's starting to feel like my birthday is more important to other people than to me."

Last December, Aiken joined the Grand Rapids Symphony for a sold-out show in DeVos Performance Hall. But the 2003 "American Idol" runner-up is touring with a new show.

"It differs a little bit every year," Aiken said about his fourth holiday tour. "We have a tradition of involving people from the communities we visit in the show. The first tour, we used children from local orchestras, elementary schools, high schools.

"This year, we're allowing fans who've submitted their own Christmas memories through our Web site to tell those holiday stories along with the music," he said. "It's going to be kind of like a big Christmas card."

Three years ago, Aiken's "Merry Christmas With Love," a mix of classics and originals, debuted atop Billboard Magazine's holiday album chart.

The album, with numbers such as "Mary, Did You Know?" and "Silent Night," enjoyed the biggest debut week for a Christmas album since SoundScan began tabulating sales in 1991

In addition, it debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, one of the highest-ever debuts for a holiday album on the pop music charts.

The North Carolina native said he had not planned to record a Christmas album so early in his career, but he's glad he did it.

"After doing it, the Christmas touring has easily become one of my favorite times of the year," he said. The Christmas tour is more emotional for me than the pop tours. There's a real sense of family about them. It's about getting in the spirit, and it's always exciting to see people getting in the Christmas spirit."

It's not just his Christmas music that has endeared him to fans, dubbed "Claymates."

His 2003 debut, "Measure of a Man," went double platinum, outselling "Idol" winner Ruben Studdard's "Soulful" CD. Aiken's latest release, a collection of covers titled "A Thousand Different Ways," has enjoyed robust sales as well.

But Aiken keeps his other work music separate from his holiday tours.

"I like the show to feel like a holiday event, and I think it would be confusing to throw in a pop tune," he said. "It's only going to be Christmas stuff."
MLIVE
 
 
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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2010, 10:33:18 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2007, 03:31:51 PM »   

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Quote
Quote
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Clay Aiken answered YOUR questions!
First off, let me again thank all the “Sean’s Space” readers who submitted questions for me to ask Clay Aiken.

Less than 12 hours after I posted here, asking for Clay’s fans to submit questions for him, I received more than 100 questions e-mailed to me! My inbox runneth over.

They ranged from funny and easy-going to serious … some way too serious. (He’s a singer, remember, not a miracle worker.) They came from here in the Hudson Valley to Singapore to California to Florida to India to Mississippi ... you wouldn't believe it!

With such diversity to choose from, I tried to pick a cross-section. I had 10 readers’ submissions selected to ask Clay, but when he gave such heart-felt and thoughtful answers (you’ll see with the first one), we just ran out of time and could only to get three of your questions.

Clay was very nice, though, telling me, “I’ll talk as fast as I can to answer them, Sean!” to make sure he got to answer the last two readers’ questions before he was whisked away for another interview.

So, without any further ado, I now present three “Sean’s Space” readers’ questions and Clay Aiken’s answers to each:

Rosemary from Poughkeepsie, NY asked: Does traveling around all the time afford you much of a home life with friends and family?
Clay Aiken: I do. I’d say all told, I probably spend about five months a year at home. I spend time a lot going between Los Angeles and New York. I’d rather be working and doing something. It may be more like a month at home — after a while, I get so bored. Maybe I’m only home for two months and it just feels like five months. This Christmas, we’re going on a field visit for Unicef. It’ll be my first time being away for Christmas; Unicef doesn’t take a break. I won’t be back at my home for five months straight. That’s a bit weird. The last night I was at my home before the tour, I was in my bed and I was like, “This is the last night I’m going to sleep in this bed! I’m not going to see my house for five months!”

Anny from Toronto, Canada asked: Do you ever think about going back into teaching?
Clay Aiken: I think about it, but I don’t know if I ever will.

Khrystah from Toronto, Canada asked: What brand of shampoo & conditioner do you use to get your gorgeous hair so downright “I-wanna-run-my-fingers-thru-it” gorgeous?
Clay Aiken: I have absolutely no idea. I have someone do my hair every night on the road. I couldn’t tell you if I had a gun to my head.

And with that, Clay was off to his next interview. From previous experience, artists on tour usually spend one hour a day to do press interviews on the phone, cramming as many as they can into that hour.

No, I didn't get to ask about the new CD and its producer. Nope, couldn't get to "Spamalot" or living in NYC or if he has been taking piano lessons.


Still, Clay was very giving with his time. I was similarly very appreciative of his generosity, thoughtfully answering both my questions for the upcoming Poughkeepsie Journal story and your questions.

To compare how Taylor Hicks answered some fans' questions I posed to him during an interview back in August, click here.

So here's one final thank-you to all of Clay's fans who submitted questions and, of course, Clay himself for taking the time to answer them! C'mon back here to "Sean's Space" throughout the week for more on Clay's upcoming show here in Poughkeepsie on Dec. 8.

I'm hoping to make it to his Dec. 9 Mohegan Sun show in Connecticut, and if I make it there, look for a review the next day
!

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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2010, 10:35:41 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator

« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2007, 03:33:07 PM »   

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Aiken's Holiday Fare Doesn’t Disappoint Faithful Fans

Julia Maish stood on the right side of the Morris Performing Arts Center stage recounting one of her most vivid Christmas memories.

It involved a borrowed black dress, a handsome, but intoxicated young stranger, an unfortunate fire to said dress, and a bowl of eggnog that doused the flames.

"That was the first time I ever really sizzled," she said as Clay Aiken smiled broadly at the center of the Morris stage.

Maish was one of four South Bend audience members invited to share their holiday tales Wednesday night during Aiken’s "Christmas in the Heartland" tour stop.

The stories, solicited for the tour as part of a fan club contest, were interspersed throughout the 90-minute set, bringing a dose of hometown charm to a concert that, at times, felt almost too formal.

Best known for his stint on the second season of the Fox reality juggernaut "American Idol," Aiken bypassed his hits but wooed the crowd with a selection of holiday staples and several tracks off his 2004 CD, "Merry Christmas With Love."

A relaxed and polished Aiken, dressed in all black, eased into a soft rendition of "O Come, O Come Emanuel," then, with the Bill Porter Orchestra, a Chicago jazz band, in tow, he launched into the first of the show’s three holiday medleys. Joined by talented supporting vocalists Angela Fisher and Quiana Parlor, the trio zipped through an arrangement that somehow morphed "Away in a Manger," "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Silent Night" into a single, pleasant entity.

Maish, who lives in Chicago, was the first of the four storytellers to step onstage. Up until Tuesday, she didn’t expect she would be sharing any of the four stories she submitted to the contest.

"I found out last night at 9:30 p.m.," Maish said. "I guess he liked this one."

While Maish’s story was played to comedic perfection, the others included more traditional tales — a Christmas tradition between mother and son, a woman’s connection to her goddaughter, and an immigrant’s recollection of her family’s first American Christmas.

"It’s nice to be in this part of the country," Aiken said. "It’s nice to be back in Indiana."

The audience seemed to agree.

"There were two people from Tampa, Fla. Then there were two gals from California who flew in for the concert," Morris volunteer usher Eve Pierce said. "I met a man or a woman from Texas, and of course the people from Michigan. It’s just amazing. They’re real groupies."

Although a good chunk of the audience may not share a common zip code, it was clear Wednesday that these were proud citizens of Claynation.

They clapped loudly when Aiken belted out perhaps his most popular Christmas tune, "Mary, Did You Know?"

They seemed undaunted by a few harmless, but noticeable vocal cracks at the end of "Winter Wonderland."

They even panicked for a brief moment when the curtain fell just 45 minutes into the show. Seconds later a voice came on to inform them that it was simply intermission.

Perhaps it was the orchestra setting, or the backup singers in formal gowns, but the first act came off as a bit stiff, despite Aiken’s obvious vocal acuity.

It’s clear he has grown as a singer and performer since his "American Idol" stint, and after the break, he proved by just how much.

Aiken’s tender version of "O, Holy Night" set the tone for the rest of the night.

He was inspired throughout "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," before yielding to Parlor for her soulful rendition of "Where Are You Christmas?"

It all led to the undeniable concert highlight, "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day," a tune once sung by Parlor.

"I like it so much," Aiken admitted, "I stole it from her."

Whether they knew it or not, this was the moment the audience was waiting for. Reminiscent of his "American Idol" performances, Aiken pushed his vocals to hit the big notes, which he did to perfection.

The song’s crescendo was such a stirring moment that audience members actually leaped to their feet like they were at a church revival.

They were still standing when Aiken left the stage and remained that way until he came out for the one-song encore, "All is Well." It paled in comparison to "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day," but the song’s tender moments turned out to be a fitting ending for a holiday show that left Aiken’s faithful following delightfully giddy as they exited the theater
.
WSBT
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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2010, 10:38:23 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2007, 03:33:45 PM »   

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Aiken molds his own way
'Idol' singer, set to perform his holiday show in D.C., embraces his lack of cool in an effort to just be himself
By Brad Schleicher | Sun reporter

Clay Aiken knows he isn't cool. He doesn't seem to mind.

He's been fighting to stay that way after being launched into the ranks of superstardom as the runner-up on 2003's American Idol.

The show's quintessential nice guy never wanted to sound like he's in his 60s or like he's trying too hard to be cutting-edge.

If I tried to be cool," Aiken says, "it would be like your parents using slang and sounding weird."

He's fought with managers over his image and argued over song choices, saying that many of the songs that were proposed to him were great, but they were better suited for Justin Timberlake or Maroon 5.

Aside from an occasional change in hairstyle and wardrobe, Aiken says he hasn't tried to reinvent himself or his music to compete with pop music's edgier leading men.

And he admits that it would be odd for people to bump and grind to one of his songs.

"I'll put it this way," he says, "if I was in a club and Clay Aiken started playing, I would get off the dance floor."

But Aiken, who will perform a holiday concert Sunday at D.C.'s Warner Theatre with the Concert Artists of Baltimore, has stuck to what he knows he's good at - showcasing his vocal prowess rather than his dance moves or beats.

It has worked out well for him. Based on album sales, the Raleigh, N.C., native is the most successful male contestant and second-place finisher in American Idol history.

His first album, 2003's Measure of a Man, went double platinum; his 2004 album, Merry Christmas With Love, set a record for fastest-selling holiday album since 1991; and his 2006 release of A Thousand Different Ways received gold certification.

Regardless of his success, Aiken is still trying to get where he wants to be musically.

His first album, he says, was sort of a "scrapbook" of different producers, which made every song sound different. But now, he says, his albums have some sort of continuity.

"There's a similar arch with anyone that comes out of [American] Idol. On the first album, the record label has control over everything," he says. "Before, the song choice was based on what the label believed people wanted."

Aiken says he has gained more control in the studio. For his fourth full-length album, in pre-production, he has more of an influence when choosing songs and producers, which affects the direction of the album as a whole.

But Aiken is broadening more than his musical horizons by appearing on a different type of stage in January.

Aiken was recently cast in the role of the less-than-heroic Sir Robin in the Broadway production of Monty Python's Spamalot, a critically acclaimed, Tony Award-winning musical directed by Mike Nichols.

This isn't the first musical that Aiken has been a part of. Growing up, he was in a few plays and did some community theater after being cut from the high school musical in his senior year.

But Aiken wasn't in the musicals and plays to hone his acting chops.

"In Raleigh, there aren't too many opportunities to sing," he says. "You just have to do what is available
."

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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2010, 10:40:04 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator

« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2007, 03:38:55 PM »   

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WILKES-BARRE ­— Clay Aiken packed a punch with a score of passionate holiday favorites during his “Christmas in the Heartland” before a packed crowd at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night.

Sporting his modern long-coat suit and thin-rimmed frames, Aiken opened his first set with “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” hitting his signature high notes and falsettos.

Aiken sang several medleys containing a somber mix of traditional seasonal favorites, including “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “O Holy Night.” He also livened the mood with a jazz ensemble of Christmas hits including “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Jingle Bells.”

Aiken’s back-up singers, Kiana Parlor and Angela Fisher, sported black, flamenco-inspired gowns and provided solo hits including “Where Are You Christmas” and “Who Would Imagine A King.”

Between songs, Aiken chose to bring a different vibe to his holiday concert by inviting audience members on stage to share their favorite holiday memories. In the months prior to the show, fans submitted their stories to his Web site, with the top four being selected. Stories included a parent’s war romance, a childhood Christmas tree, a Christmas infant miracle and a Christmas morning film tradition.

Aiken told the audience he wanted his fans to share their favorite holiday memories to help everyone remember the meaning of this time of year.

“My favorite holiday memory is being able to share this concert with everyone,” Aiken said.

Aiken was accompanied by the Lee Vincent Holiday Orchestra, comprised of musicians from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, as well as symphonies from Allentown and Binghamton, N.Y.

Before concluding his final number, he urged audience members to support the local arts community, and challenged them to appreciate each other all year round, not just during the holidays.

“Encourage children in your area to become involved,” Aiken said. “The arts community is important, and so is your family, don’t let them forget it.

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2010, 10:41:43 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator

« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2007, 06:12:22 PM »   
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Clay Aiken prepares 4th Yule show
Thursday, December 06, 2007By KEITH J. O'CONNOR
When Clay Aiken's record company proposed the idea of recording a Christmas album, he was hesitant at first.

"My first response was that I would love to do one, but not just yet," said Aiken, who is bringing his Christmas in the Heartland tour to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday.

"I had just released my first album and thought we should give it a year, with another album in between," said the popular "American Idol" finalist.

But as powerful record companies often do, they prevailed.

"They were very adamant in feeling that this was the time to do it, and it did work out well," said the singer, whose voice thrilled millions of Americans who watched the performer rise to the top on year two of "American Idol."

And, so, on Nov. 16, 2004, RCA Records released Aiken's "Merry Christmas With Love," which set a record for fastest-selling holiday album in the Soundscan era. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and tied Celine Dion's record for the highest debut by a holiday album in the history of Billboard magazine. The album went on to sell more than 1 million copies in six weeks and was the best-selling holiday album of 2004.

In support of his Christmas album, Aiken launched a tour in November 2004 that revolved around a Christmas theme. He also starred in and executive produced his first television special in December, "A Clay Aiken Christmas," to coincide with the album and tour. The TV

show's featured guests Barry Manilow, Yolanda Adams and Megan Mullally. It was released on DVD later that month.

Aiken said with the fourth Christmas tour this year, "it's always tougher to create something a little different for the fans," but noted they have.

"We sent out a call to anybody able to write who wanted to share their own Christmas memories with us, and we've selected several of them to come up on stage at each concert to share their stories with the audience," Aiken said.

"It's almost like creating a Christmas card and we do it in such a way that the stories fold right into the next song," he added.

Born in 1978, Aiken began singing at an early age and by the time he reached his teen years was a member of the Raleigh Boys Choir in his native North Carolina. However, when it came time to go to college, music wasn't his major. He studied special education instead and had dreams of attending William and Mary for a master's degree in administration.

Before he could further his education, he ended up wooing 21 million television viewers on "American Idol" each week from February to May 2003. His rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" earned him a spot in viewers' hearts. Although he finished second to Ruben Studdard, Aiken's loss was not taken lightly. He landed a deal with RCA within weeks of the show's finale.

Aiken's debut single, "This is the Night," made history by going to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. It sold more than 392,000 copies during its first week, beating Elton John's record for "Candle in the Wind 1997."

Later that year, he issued his first studio album, "The Measure of a Man," which went on to No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 during its first week of release. After the Christmas album, Aiken waited two years, until September 2006, to release his third album "A Thousand Different Ways," which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard chart - making him the fourth artist to have his first three albums debut in the Top 5.

After his current Christmas tour, Aiken said he expects to go into the recording studio in January or February to begin recording his fourth album, which he hopes to have out by the middle of next year
.


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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2010, 10:43:46 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2007, 06:13:19 PM »   

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Dork chic
'Idol' alumnus Clay Aiken makes best of senior-citizen adoration 
 
By JOEY GUERRA, Hearst News Service First published: Thursday, December 6, 2007
 
Clay Aiken -- despite the stylishly shaggy 'do -- still isn't hip.

"I'm never going to be, and I'm fine with that. We all must embrace our inner dork," he said in July.

Aiken, who brings his Christmas show Friday to Palace Theatre, has still managed a successful post-"American Idol" career as the soundtrack of choice for enthusiastic grandmothers.

"People always come up to me and say, 'My grandmother's your biggest fan,' " said Aiken, who just turned 29. "There's a misconception among these ladies that I'm cool and hip and now. And they think that by liking me, it makes them cool and hip and now.

"But shhh -- we aren't going to tell them that I'm not cool and hip at all."

An affable Aiken talked about his future as a talk-show host (maybe), turkey basters (keep reading) and how Claymates saved "Jericho" from TV extinction.

Q: Fans still get worked up over you. What's with the enduring Claymania? A:

I don't get it. I don't know why. They don't see me right now in my pajamas, with my hair all messed up, one contact out. There's nothing to be excited about, honestly.

Q:

What's the most unique gift you've received from a fan?

A:

You mean turkey-baster unique? Like that? Because I've gotten one of those. Let's just let you sit on that for a minute. (Brief pause.) And there it is. The show "Jericho" ... I loved it. I started blogging about it on my fan site. It got canceled, and I blogged about how upset I was. I said, "The Claymates can do anything. How do we get this show back on the air?" Honestly, within a week they had organized a campaign amongst "Jericho" fans to send nuts to CBS. It kind of started in that place. And it's back on the air! It just blows my mind.

Q:

Any songs that didn't make the cut on "A Thousand Different Ways"?

A:

Things other than covers. Sorry, I'm being way too honest today. How do I say this politically correctly? I was strongly encouraged by other sources to do an album of covers. There was the feeling that it might be successful because there'd been success with Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow doing covers. I guess the argument against that would be I don't have the reputation that Rod Stewart has. I really don't have the credibility that he has, so there's no reason for me to do them.

Q:

Do you like the disc at all?

A:

It did turn out to be something I was really proud of. My mom's always told me, "Take lemons ... " I think we really did that.

Q:

What was the first record you purchased?

A:

I got in big trouble when I was 6 or 7. They had that Columbia House, seven albums for a penny or something like that. I was young enough to not really know what I was doing, and I stuck the little penny on. You want to talk about being completely not cool and hip? One of the ones that I remember was Crystal Gayle. God help me. It's somewhere around the house.

Q:

If you're the anti-cool singing star, who's the ultimate pop hipster?

A:

I think that Justin Timberlake's going to have that market cornered for a while. ... He can believably pull out an album like ("FutureSex/LoveSounds"). I'm not a huge fan of that one, but I'm a fan of his
.

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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 10:46:04 PM »
clayMaine-iac
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« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2007, 06:14:01 PM »   

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Aiken's Christmas tour arrives Saturday
By Sean T. McMann Poughkeepsie Journal

 Is standing under the mistletoe with Clay Aiken on your wish list this Christmas? 

 You might get your chance Saturday night. 

 That is, if you're on Santa's "Nice" list. 

 That's because the former "American Idol" finalist brings his "Christmas in the Heartland" tour to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in the City of Poughkeepsie at 8. Aiken's concert will be the 10th show in a 22-city circuit, coming between stops in Albany tonight and Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday. 

 "It has gone really well," Aiken told the Poughkeepsie Journal last week, the morning after a show in South Bend, Ind., the third on this Christmas swing. "It's been a lot of fun." 

 Beginning in Wichita, Kan., Nov. 26, "Christmas in the Heartland" is Aiken's fourth such holiday tour. In all, it's his eighth time across the country since spring 2004, when he shared the stage with original "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson. 

 Even for a veteran of the road, things can get hectic night after night, town after town. The holiday season is no different. 

 "Sometimes the first week of a tour, we all hold our breath," said Aiken, who turned 30 a week ago today. "Usually by the end of the first week, we have a rough night. For us, that came last night." 

 Aiken said he looked to change things up a bit this time, making this year's show interactive. 

 "It's a challenge to change the show every Christmas, to make it something different," he said. "The challenge became not giving people the same show every year." 

 Aiken solicited fans' favorite memories of Christmases past, providing the singer with inspiration, if not segues, in between tunes. 

 "I needed something to say in between songs," said Aiken, who released his "Merry Christmas with Love" CD in 2004. "I thought I'd share some of my own favorite Christmas stories, but then I realized: I don't really have any Christmas stories! 

 "This year, I've asked fans to share their favorite Christmas memory. I thought, 'Let's have the fans do it.' It's kind of neat to hear the way people celebrate their holidays." 

 It's kind of tiring, too. 

 Receiving more than 1,600 memories from fans, he spent his time leading up to that Wichita show, reading each one individually. 

 "During Thanksgiving day, right before I left for the tour," Aiken said, "about every hour, I had to sneak away into my office and read some. Then I got about 400 more. I'm almost done." 

 Philharmonic to join in
He said the night of Christmas music promises to be a treat for his fans, some of whom are headed to Dutchess County from New England and beyond. 

 Unlike the jolly guy making his yearly trek Dec. 24, though, this wish-maker will arrive in town on tour bus, not a reindeer-drawn sleigh. 

 Adding to the festivities, Aiken has again joined forces with local orchestras and choirs on each stop of the tour. 

 For the Poughkeepsie concert, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic will share the stage with the "Idol" season two runner-up. 

 "I think it's great for Clay's audience to be exposed to the Hudson valley Philharmonic and vice versa," said Chris Silva, executive director of the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, the home of the orchestra. 

 Following the tour, Aiken will head overseas for UNICEF goodwill appearances before starring as Sir Robin in the Broadway production of Monty Python's "Spamalot." 

 Between the hectic schedule of touring and now the New York City stage production, one might think Aiken longs for his home in North Carolina. The performer said this is the longest stretch he's been away that he can remember. 

 "It'll be my first time being away for Christmas; UNICEF doesn't take a break," he said. "I won't be back at my home for five months straight. That's a bit weird. The last night I was at my home before the tour, I was in my bed and I was like, 'This is the last night I'm going to sleep in this bed. I'm not going to see my house for five months.
' "



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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2010, 10:48:23 PM »
clayMaine-iac
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« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2007, 06:14:43 PM »   

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Clay Aiken performs his Christmas show at the Kirby Center Tuesday night.

WILKES-BARRE – Chatter filled the F.M. Kirby Center while the Lee Vincent Orchestra was onstage, quietly playing Christmas songs. The orchestra went virtually unnoticed until the concert master came onstage and took his place at the piano.

That’s when the fans silenced.

They knew Clay Aiken would be coming on stage soon.

And out he came, from a curtain draped under part of the orchestra, dressed completely in black. He took his place at a standing microphone in the center of the stage and belted out a medley of Christmas tunes in a rather unassuming manner.

Aiken, the runner-up on Season 2 of “American Idol,” didn’t move on stage. He didn’t let flashy costumes or neon lights take the focus away from his vocals. And, on songs like “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” his voice soared, causing the audience to wonder why he didn’t win “American Idol.”

Could Ruben Studdard, the Velvet Teddy Bear, hit the high notes in “Oh Holy Night”?

Aiken sang familiar Christmas songs – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” with a big band ending – sandwiched together as medleys. The lesser-known songs (like “Mary Did You Know” and “Welcome to Our World”) were full-lengths, which perhaps was purposely done to eliminate turning the concert into a group singalong.

Aiken played the Kirby Center last year (this is actually his fourth annual Christmas tour), and he changed the show up this year by inviting four audience members to read aloud holiday stories.

The first story was a humorous tale of opening presents under a father’s video camera. The second was a tear-jerker about a sick grandson who was able to come home for Christmas; another was of a woman who made “moments” for her playhouse Christmas tree (because she was too young to say “ornaments”); the last was about the woman’s parents, who were separated at Christmas when her father was in the Korean War but were reunited thanks to Operation Santa.

The stories of holiday joy, each person’s own holiday miracle, choked up some audience members at times and caused laughter at others. But, what it did more than anything was stir up some holiday spirit.

And that’s what Aiken hoped for.

He closed the second set (he sang two and an encore) by asking people “not to save it all for Christmas” and to give love and affection to those close to your heart now.

He then appropriately sang, “Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day.”

People left chattering as the orchestra packed up onstage, this time talking about how great Aiken’s voice was, how great the orchestra was and perhaps just how great the holiday season is going to be
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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2010, 10:50:39 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2007, 10:56:17 AM »   

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Clay molds nicely to life's offerings
"Idol" Clay Aiken takes all in stride with Christmas show tonight at State Theatre
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 By JOHN A. ZUKOWSKI The Express-Times

"I enjoy everything I do," says Clay Aiken with a laugh. And he sounds like he means it.

He was asked a question about a recent appearance on the TV game show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"

But it could have been anything he's done recently -- from his appearances on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to preparing to star in "Spamalot" on Broadway to his current tour "Christmas in the Heartland," which brings him to Easton's State Theatre tonight.

The "American Idol" runner-up may be enjoying things so much because he's carved out a niche for himself.

The revenge of the wholesome might be the best way to put it. He's like the kid who was in high school plays but never hip enough to become the star. Aiken has become Opie in an era of Britney.

And over the phone he seems, well, Opie-style nice. He has good Southern manners. There's no pretense at trying to be cool. Maybe at this point being anti-cool is the new cool?

And maybe that's the ultimate subversion of the pop star system. Aiken is someone who never should be cool enough to be a star somehow becoming one. And what could be more subversive than being nice?

Just how nice is he?

Well, for his current tour he pulls people from the audience to read some of their favorite Christmas memories. That must have been because of some handler who picked them out for him from a batch of letters, a reporter thinks.

But no. When he's asked a question about whether he enjoys hearing them, it turns out he knew them already.

"I read them all and picked them out myself so I knew the stories," he says, calling from a tour stop in Albany, N.Y.

Aiken also seems to have some fun poking at his squeaky clean image. His appearances on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" have done that (where Kimmel often introduces him as "my best friend in the whole world" and where he once interviewed Aiken on a horse).

"You have to have fun with yourself and be willing to joke around and not take yourself so seriously," Aiken says. "And I think Jimmy is great and he's easily the funniest guy on late night TV."

Another way Aiken is playing with his wholesome image is to appear in the Broadway production of "Spamalot" from Jan. 18 through May 4, 2008. He'll play Sir Robin in the farce based on "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

He must have been a Monty Python fan who wanted to appear, one would think.

But no. He wasn't originally a Monty Python fan. But after seeing the show a second time, he warmed up to the idea.

"This is something completely contrary to what people expected me to do," he says. "There was this expectation that if I was going to do Broadway, I would have done something like (he breaks into a parody of a melodramatic Broadway song). But this isn't that at all."

He says he's also looking forward to seeing another ex-Idol on Broadway.

"Fantasia is a friend of mine and she's appearing in 'The Color Purple,'" he says.

And it turns out he doesn't have a background in acting. Not even in the high school plays you think he would have been in. He says he was rejected for parts.

"I didn't get the singing bush, I didn't get anything," he says with a laugh.

Last year on Aiken's Christmas tour, he took a break to visit Lower Nazareth Elementary School. Aiken is co-founder of the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which published the students' book "Our Friend Mikayla" written and illustrated by Mikayla Rush's third-grade classmates two years before.

Aiken's foundation works to have children with special needs included in the world around them.

The stop in Nazareth must have been one of many appearances he's made over the years. So one would think it's iffy whether he would remember it. But he does.

"Of course I remember it," Aiken says before going into great detail about the book and the events of the day.

And that includes the limousines he ordered for the students to be taken back to school after an assembly.

"I wanted the kids who wrote it to stay so I could talk to them," he says.

Assistant Features Editor John A. Zukowski can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at jzukowski@express-times.com
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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2010, 10:53:16 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2007, 10:58:53 AM »   

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Clay Aiken to bring sounds of Christmas to the area
By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz  For The Daily Item

WILLIAMSPORT -- One of the most joyous and beautiful parts of the holiday season is the music that celebrates this special time of year. From "White Christmas" to "Hark the Herald angels Sing," each note has the ability to evoke a cherished memory from a Christmas of long ago.

On Saturday, the sounds of the holiday season will fill the Community Arts Center when Clay Aiken, along with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, deck the halls with holiday sounds with "Christmas in the Heartland."

"Each one of us has a special memory of the holiday season. That is one of the aspects that make this time of year so great. For me it was going to my grandparent's house on Christmas and be-ing with all my family," said the popular recording artist and "American Idol" runner-up in a recent phone interview.

"This is why we wanted to incorporate this into the holiday show this year. There was a spot on my Web site where people could send in their most cherished holiday memory. In each city we stop in, we selected four people that will come up on stage and share their memory with the audience. I always thought my memories of the holidays were something special, but after hearing from people of all ages across the country, it just amazed me what some people have experienced and the wonderful memories they have."

A native of Raleigh, N.C., the 29-year-old crooner began his rise to fame with his appearance on the second season of "American Idol" in 2003 where he landed a second place finish and won the hearts of fans from coast to coast. In addition to becoming one of the most successful "American Idol" contestants by releasing four top-selling albums, Mr. Aiken has also launched eight tours, produced the 2004 TV special, "A Clay Aiken Christmas" and worked on the New York Times best-selling book "Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life."

Mr. Aiken has also been a frequent guest on such shows as "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Saturday Night Live."

"This is what I love to do, I love to sing and to be able to perform in front of an audience," he said. "It does not happen often where someone can do what they truly love for a living, so I feel fortunate to be able to have my dream of singing come true. Music is such an important part of my life. The best thing of course are the fans. Being on stage and seeing their smiles and knowing they are enjoying the music is a great feeling." Fans of Mr. Aiken, or "Claymates" as they are often called, will get that holiday feeling when he performs a collection of holiday favorites sure to get everyone in the spirit of things.

"There are so many terrific Christmas songs that have been written over the years. We'll be performing some of my favorites," he said.

"This is the fourth year we have been doing a holiday show and each year it just gets better and better. Being on the road this time of year allows us to see and experience so many aspects of the holidays. A lot of us on the tour come from places like Los Angeles or down south, so seeing snow is always a great experience. We drove up from Philadelphia to Wilkes-Barre the other day and there was snow on the ground and covering the trees, it makes everything look so beautiful."

The "Christmas in the Heartland" stop in Williamsport marks Mr. Aiken's second visit to the area since last years performance at the Community Arts Center, which was a sellout, drawing fans from across the state as well as New York and Ohio.

"Williamsport is very fortunate to have such an outstanding theater," he said." I feel honored to be able to come back to Williamsport and the theater and to be a part of the holidays for people in Williamsport."


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Marilyn

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Re: Christmas Tour Media and Reviews
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 10:55:56 PM »
clayMaine-iac
Administrator
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2007, 11:01:28 AM »   

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Letters from the heart
Who'd have thought reading fan letters during his Christmas concerts would be a 4,000-letter success? Clay Aiken has only himself to blame.

BY DAVE RICHARDS
dave.richards@timesnews.com [more details]

For his fourth holiday tour, somebody in Clay Aiken's camp had the bright idea of asking fans to write about their memorable Christmases. Aiken would personally read every submission, then choose four fans in each city to read their letters on stage during his concert.

After more than four thousand letters poured in, Aiken's eyes are aching. Better believe the person who dreamed this up is feeling his wrath.


"I've kicked myself a few times for having this idea," said Aiken, with a laugh, during a phone interview. "But trust me, I'm a control freak. I wouldn't have let someone else do it."

Actually, he said, the letters thrust plenty of heart into his "Christmas in the Heartland" tour, which arrives Sunday at Tullio Arena.

"I definitely think when people share, it's always powerful and has a profound effect on the audience," Aiken said.

"I really have gravitated when choosing stories to people who've gone through a trial. Not necessarily trauma but something upsetting, whether it's a death in the family or a loss of this or that, and the spirit of Christmas brought them back to life."

So far, Aiken said, the onstage readings have moved him as much as fans.


"We've had some amazing, classic love stories," he said. "We had two from people who were away for Christmas because of the war.

"In one story, a family kept the Christmas lights up through May, waiting for their child to return. In another, a serviceman showed up at home for Christmas as a surprise. Those are the types of stories that get a hush from the audience, the ones where they hold their breath."

Aiken spoke in a breathless rush during a brief but candid interview. He was disarmingly self-effacing when he revealed his favorite holiday songs have changed since he was a kid. Then, he liked peppy ones like "Up on the Housetop." Now, he prefers more meaningful ones.

"I hope my tastes have matured, even though I haven't!" Aiken said with a giggle.

For Sunday's show, in addition to the Erie Philharmonic, he'll be joined by vocalists Quiana Parlor and Angela Fisher. Aiken will draw heavily from his 2004 smash, "Merry Christmas with Love," performing "Mary, Did You Know," "Winter Wonderland, "O Holy Night," and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."


The Christmas show, he said, is more comfortable than any other tour.

"It's like slipping on an old shoe, so I do it quite a bit," Aiken said. "I'm able to relax."

Not for long, though. Early next year, he joins Broadway's "Spamalot" as Sir Robin. Producers had to ask him twice.

"You know, the first time I saw that show, I thought it was the stupidest thing I ever saw in my life," Aiken said.

He came around after seeing it again.

"When you realize it's the silliest show on Broadway, it's just fun. I had so much fun we decided to give it a shot. It's something different, something we thought would make sense and people wouldn't expect us to do."

Aiken, who shot to fame via "American Idol" in 2003, will record his follow-up to 2006's "A Thousand Different Ways" in New York during down time from "Spamalot."

The skinny
'Christmas in the Heartland' with Clay Aiken and the Erie Philharmonic will be presented Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Tullio Arena, 808 French St. Tickets are $57.75, $47.50, $37.25, and are available at the Tullio Arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 452-4857 or 456-7070, and online at www.ticketmaster.com
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