Monday, January 28, 2008

Clay Aiken: Day One, Year Six: The Singer, Diane and Mike

Clay's Hollywood Round AI audition, Late 2002

Clay in New York, January 2008 (Photo by Richard Drew)

“Take time to tell me you really care

And we’ll share tomorrow together

Baby, I’ll always love you forever...”

Lyrics from "Always and Forever", Clay Aiken's audition for "American Idol"

On January 28, 2003, millions of people heard you sing for the first time. I was one of the people who met you at “Take.”

Five years later, you are still here and showing a more wide-ranging talent than ever before, performing before enthusiastic and appreciative audiences while appearing in your debut on Broadway. (I’ll be in that audience later on in your run.)

Before “Spamalot”, there was Diane --- and then Mike, but before “Take,” another Diane and Mike were pivotal to your life.

Part of the reason you are where you are today is because of people named Diane and Mike.

I wonder what it was like in that house in Charlotte when Diane Bubel first heard you sing. There you were, a 23 year old special education major working as a mentor to her son Mike, a job, she has said, at which you excelled. As a CAP (Community Alternatives Program) worker, a YMCA counselor and a substitute teacher for a class of students with autism, you had already devoted yourself to delving into autism’s mysteries. You have said that singing, which had always been a part of you, had been put on the back burner.

One day, working with Mike in the Bubel household, you started to sing.

Diane heard something in that glorious voice, saw something in you that should not be denied. There was a new television talent show called “American Idol,” and Diane thought that you should be part of it. You were reluctant, not because you didn’t have the talent, but because you thought you didn’t have the image.

Diane persisted. Knowing that you would have to leave the work you had been doing with her son if you succeeded in getting a spot on the show, she insisted again and again that you should audition.

You auditioned in Charlotte, but failed to make the cut. You went to Atlanta, and got a ticket to Hollywood. You were cut in your Group Two auditions, but came back as America’s Choice in the Wild Card round. You made the Top Twelve, and three months later you finished second.

Then you started to win: sales records, magazine covers, every poll your name appeared on, industry awards.

Less than a year after your first audition, you set records with your first single --- and you founded The Bubel/Aiken Foundation to continue to spread the message of how inclusion benefits all children, regardless of ability.

Five years later, you have sold more than 6 million CDs, EPs and CD singles and earned more than $28 million in box office through your seven tours. BAF has been awarded millions of dollars to develop curriculum, programs and services, and has supported the inclusion of children with disabilities into the same life experiences as their typical peers through Let’s All Play summer camps, Champions of Change honors, ABLE to Serve grants, and numerous other grants and awards.

It started with your talents and passions, but twice, your success received a major assist from Diane and Mike.

One Diane leads to another --- and to another Mike, as well. The opportunities you earned through your finalist run on AI and your record-setting recording debut led to your first major prime time interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News. I look back at that interview and I remember how remarkably open and candid you were, how frankly you talked about the struggles and challenges and losses of your life. (From then on, I knew I could trust you to be honest.) I also remember how Diane looked at you when you sang “Measure of A Man” and a bit of “Moon River” --- she heard it, too, that remarkable something of you.

Somewhere along the line, during your audience interaction on your seven tours, your talk show appearances (particularly the hilarious rapport you have shown with Jimmy Kimmel), your skits on “Saturday Night Live,” your “As Clay Aiken” moment on “Ed” and an even better one on “Days of Our Lives,” or your first real shot at building a character on “Scrubs,” you made it abundantly clear that you are a very funny man with a gift for taking on various characters. I had my moments as an actor before I became an assistant director of feature films and started watching other people act, and I thought it was possible that you had the makings of a good actor in you.

How did “Spamalot” happen? Did Diane Sawyer bring her husband (some guy named Mike Nichols) to one of your concerts, or did they watch you on TV? Did you met him one night at dinner at the Sawyer-Nichols household? Or was one of Mike’s professional colleagues the one who led to your second pivotal audition, the one that impressed a director with eight Tony Awards, as well as Eric Idle, who wrote the book, lyrics and music for “Spamalot” and who, with Monty Python, created the role of Sir Robin that you play now?

Once you were cut from your high school musical, and now Mike Freaking Nichols says
Clay Aiken is amazing beyond that glorious voice. Turns out he is an excellent comic actor and a master of character. People will be surprised by his wide ranging talent, since the first impression is of great country charm and a singer to remember. This guy is not only a star, he is a lot more. We are lucky to get him for Spamalot.

Surreal, isn’t it?

Clay as Sir Robin in "Spamalot" (Photo by Joan Marcus)


Today is quiet for you, your second Dark Monday following another week of cheers and laughter and the affectionate support of your talented cast mates. There have been sold out, standing room only crowds, crushes of well-wishers at the stage door, photographers shouting your name amid a blitzkrieg of flashes.

Fifteen years ago you saw an actor named Martin Moran play Huck Finn in “Big River” and now you take over the role of Sir Robin from him on Broadway. Coincidence or providence?

You have said that this is a full circle moment for you. I agree --- it’s breathtaking, really. I can’t wait to see “Spamalot” and everything that follows it.

This is a full circle moment for me, too. Five years later, you are still here and your career is growing in ways I had not imagined. You’ll have “Spamalot” at the Shubert in New York through May 4, and you are also busy working on your next album, one you have said will be a true reflection of you. Beyond that, there will be tours, television shows, and more of your service to UNICEF and The Bubel/Aiken Foundation. So this is the last time I will formally commemorate that moment, five years ago. It is dear to me, but your future is bright with promise. I prefer to bask in the warmth of your limitless potential.

And I will still laugh at the quirks and the foibles that make you deliciously human.

For all that has been, and for all that will be...

Thank you, Diane and Mike Bubel.

Thank you, Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols.

And thank you, Clay Aiken, for a wonderful five years that is only the beginning.



Bring on the music!

And may you be blessed with love, happiness and success, from this first day of Year Six on through tens of thousand of bright tomorrows.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Clay Aiken Slipping Into Spamalot

Wonderful article by Mark Kennedy from yesterday.

Interesting, this article written by an AP writer doesn't get picked up by the hundreds of newspapers that were quick to pick up the airline stupidity. Or anything AI-related. But it is definitely worth a read.

Ex-Idol Clay Aiken slips into 'Spamalot' By MARK KENNEDY, Associated Press WriterWed Jan 23, 1:34 PM ET

Clay Aiken is trying to become the next American Idle.

The singer, who burst to fame during the second season of "American Idol," has made his Broadway debut in "Monty Python's Spamalot" — in creator Eric Idle's old role.

"There's a lot of pressure," Aiken says. "To think about how many people dream of doing something like this and to have the opportunity is pretty humbling."

Humbling, and possibly a little bit puzzling: What's a nice North Carolina boy with scant theater background and a penchant for pop lite doing in a scatological English stage comedy?


"One of the reasons that it intrigued me was that it was so different. Nobody I think would have expected me to show up in 'Spamalot,'" he says, laughing.

"It's very irreverent. ... I mean, my character soils his pants on stage multiple times."

This also is different territory for Aiken, who hasn't really acted much and was even cut from his high school's production of "Guys and Dolls." Just nailing the stage lingo has him rattled.

"I'm having to learn a whole new language. Upstage, downstage. I'm like, 'Upstage? What's that mean? Behind? Oh, got it. Why didn't you just say behind? ...' It makes me crazier than I already am."

Aiken, 29, has taken over the role of Sir Robin, the cowardly knight that Idle once played on film and David Hyde Pierce originated when the Tony Award-winning musical debuted in 2005.

"I think I'm probably just like the character — kind of chicken, afraid of everything and likes to sing. This particular character becomes a knight because he really just wants to sing and dance. He's so surprised when he finds out there's fighting involved. That kind of silly stupidity? — yeah, that's me."

Aiken, a performer who has sold 6 million CDs and continues to draw fans to his concerts, confesses to being sore and exhausted as he prepares for his debut. Aiken's first performance was Friday.

"Probably more preparation has gone into this than anything I've ever done," he says. "It's not just learning music and lines and even steps. It's mentally preparing yourself to do all of it at once."

Associate director Peter Lawrence says Aiken has been no idle diva; the singer asked to be treated like any other company member and has been surprisingly fearless.

"Clay really surprised me. When you meet him, he's this sweet kid from North Carolina with an accent. And you think there's no way he can do Cambridge material. And then he does," says Lawrence.

"It's been a total delight and a surprise for me and everyone in the company to work with Clay because he can do things you'd never imagine he could do."

The show is based on the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which came out in 1975. The film, in turn, grew out of the success of the cult BBC comedy series.

Aiken, it turns out, was a stranger to both.

"Until three months ago, I thought Monty Python was a person," he says, sheepishly.

Not surprisingly, the Python-Aiken partnership started poorly. After being courted by "Spamalot" producers a year ago, Aiken went to see the show and left befuddled.

And why not? He was expecting something like "The Phantom of the Opera" and instead saw characters slapped with fish, dancing plague corpses, a killer rabbit and cow tossing.

"It was, in my opinion, the stupidest thing ever produced," he recalls. "There's no plot."

Persuaded over the summer to return, Aiken finally got it. "It's just completely off-base. So I went in and realized that. You have to go understanding that they even advertise it as being the silliest thing ever. It really is."

That's something Python purists will be happy to hear. Even so, Aiken is bracing for criticism from die-hard fans who can be more caustic than Simon, Randy and Paula.

"I'm anticipating and expecting some sort of fallout. I think it's a little bit different when someone who's never done Broadway before, who may be more well known in the pop world, comes in to Broadway," he says.

"There's always this skepticism that they've been brought in for the wrong reasons or they didn't play their dues or they're not going to do their part well," he says.

"So I even told the choreographer and the director ahead of time, 'I don't want you to go easy on me. I want to do everything that everybody else does. Don't change things and make them easier for me,'" he adds, laughing. "I've since changed my mind."

Aiken, who got a degree in special education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was teaching grade school kids with autism before he tried out for "Idol" in Atlanta. He was a former member of the Raleigh Boys Choir, and occasionally sang at weddings and at church.

"There's not really a market in North Carolina to sing for a living. There's not that career path for people. So I never really assumed or had any dreams or aspirations to sing," he says.

That changed in the seventh grade when his mother took him and a friend to a local production of the musical "Big River," starring Martin Moran as Huckleberry Finn.

"It was the first time ever that I looked on stage and saw people — you know, adults — singing. And I thought, 'Wow, wait a second. You can actually sing for a living?'" he recalls. "From that point on, I kind of allowed music to be a part of my what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up scenario."

After finishing second to Ruben Studdard on "Idol," Aiken went on to release his debut CD "Measure of a Man," which went double platinum in 2003. His other albums are "Merry Christmas With Love" and "A Thousand Different Ways." He's currently working on his fourth CD, due possibly by May.

In one of the weirder twists of Aikens' Broadway debut, he looked down at the Playbill while catching a "Spamalot" performance before he officially signed on and saw a familiar name: Martin Moran as Sir Robin.

"So I'll take over Robin from the same person who you could say kind of inspired me to actually make music something that I would do," he says. "It's a very small world — kind of a full-circle thing."

All things Spamalot can be found here: Monty Python's Spamalot

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Destiny's Child

Destiny, Fate, Coincidence. These words are used interchangeably and too frequently. But I don't think they are the same at all. Coincidence seems like a minor similarity of events. Sort of like it is pure coincidence that my browser goes to as soon as Clay Aiken announces a concert tour. Fate? Coincidence on steroids.

But Destiny? Say it in a whisper....Destiny. It even sounds kind of ominous, and should be said only once in a lifetime. Well, unless you're George McFly.

I did not think of Beyonce and company when I titled this blog. Or even Barack Obama, despite Rolling Stone's article wondering if he fit that label. To me, Clay Aiken embodies the name, especially tonight.

Why tonight? Well, Clay begins a 3.5 month starring role in Monty Python's Spamalot this very evening. He often said his career path has taken various turns because his belief is “let go and let God”. Personally, I think God bought Destiny lunch because there are so many things that seem to place him on a path to be right where he is tonight.

The character of Sir Robin is associated with the symbol of a chicken. A secondary symbol is a shrubbery, which stands between Robin, Arthur and the other knights as they seek their Grail...their destiny. This is the historical crest and coat-of-arms for the surname of Aiken in Scotland. Look closely, the symbols are chickens and shrubbery. I actually got chills when I first realized that. It's even more eerie when you realize that Aiken is the name Clay chose for himself after he felt abandoned by his birth father.

"We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours."

Dag Hammarskjold.. Swedish Statesman and UN official.

Recently, Clay recalled his first exposure to musical theater as a seventh grader in Raleigh, North Carolina. The play was Big River and he was intrigued with the character of Huck Finn. The actor playing Huck that night was Marty Moran. Tonight, Clay steps into the role of Sir Robin, which was last played by....Marty Moran. Here's what he had to say about it this month at his blog page on the Spamalot website.

"I remember watching the guy who played Huck Finn on stage and thinking how cool it was that he got to make a living singing. I knew I couldn’t dance, and had no experience acting, so musicals weren’t necessarily something I dreamed of, but I remember realizing at that point that it might just be possible to make a living as a singer. I always have wanted to play Huck Finn in Big River after that. In what is a great full circle twist, the actor who played Huck Finn in that tour was Marty Moran. Now, fifteen years later, I think it’s really funny that I am taking over the role of Robin from the first person I ever saw perform in a musical."

I don't think it is funny, Clay. I think it was all part of the plan.

Fate feeds into destiny. Sort of how when his tour drummer wasn't available this year, the new drummer hired is the drummer for Spamalot. This musician convinced Clay to give Spamalot another look. Or the fact that Spamalot creater, Eric Idle, was in the audience during Clay's American Idol season because his daughter was a fan.

Fans already know the story of how Clay ended up on American Idol. Clay often talks about how he thought he might go to school for music but decided that his chances of success were limited. So he took a year off and worked at the YMCA where he quickly became an advocate for children with disabilities who were often excluded from YMCA activities. The YMCA took him to special education where he taught autistic children and worked as an advocate for Michael Bubel, a teenager with autism. Michael's mother Diane pushed Clay to try out for American Idol. Today, Clay not only has that career in music but he and Diane formed a foundation that continues to fight for inclusion for children with disabilities all over the country. And he may not be teaching in a classroom in a small town but he's teaching on a global scale as he travels with UNICEF as their Ambassador for Education.

"We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plan. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It's just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn't have expected."

Ben Okri (Nigerian author, 1959)

Eight years ago, 21 year old Clay sang the song Go the Distance at a country music show. You can view it at the end of this blog. Some of the lyrics fit this night.

I have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where a hero's welcome
Would be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I'm meant to be

I'll be there someday
I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know ev'ry mile
Will be worth my while
When I go the distance
I'll be right where I belong

Down an unknown road
To embrace my fate

Tonight, his voice, his great sense of comedic timing, his natural rhythm and his work ethic will collide and take him down another unknown road. I hope it leads him to more success in the recording studio, the concert stage, the small screen and the big screen. He deserves every chance to explore the greatest depths of his many talents.

In December of 2004, I attended a concert during Clay's first Joyful Noise holiday tour. I wrote this later that night in a recap of the show..

"Of course we always have felt he was special but I felt that stronger last night than I ever have. I’ve met other people in my life that I get this feeling about and last night I just looked at him and said to myself that this talented, good hearted, flawed person is going to do great things. I felt this with every fiber of my being."

"Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others."

Rainer Maria Rilke (Austro-German poet)

Hundreds? I think thousands will be carrying him tonight. They will be there at the Shubert Theater with hope shining in their eyes. They will be on the message boards with nervous anticipation flowing from their keyboard. They will be on the phone from their homes, their cars and their offices. It's an awful lot of love that carried him and them to this moment. You might say, it was destiny.

Break a leg, Clay.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clay Aiken, “Spamalot” and A Guy Named Monty Python

Ten Fun Things to Check Out This Weekend!

Brave, brave, brave Sir Robin (okay, maybe not) Photos by Joan Marcus

1. Clay Aiken debuts on Broadway as Sir Robin in “Monty Python’s Spamalot”.

Mike Nichols, (Spamalot’s Tony winning director) says

Clay Aiken is amazing beyond that glorious voice. Turns out he is an excellent comic actor and a master of character. People will be surprised by his wide ranging talent, since the first impression is of great country charm and a singer to remember. This guy is not only a star, he is a lot more. We are lucky to get him for Spamalot.

Eric Idle, the original Sir Robin and creator of the book, lyrics and music for Spamalot, on Clay being cast in this Tony-winning musical:

This is great news. I have been a Clay Aiken fan ever since I took my daughter to see him live on the second season of American Idol and she held up a big sign of his name. Maybe now it should read 'American Idle.'

Of the people he is working with for his Broadway debut, Clay said

I really couldn't have asked for a more wonderful group of people to work with. Let's not lie, the chance to work with legendary creative minds like Mike Nichols and Eric Idle is, on its own, a reason to jump at this opportunity. But that's not all. The producers and creative folks I have had the chance to meet and work with so far have been unbelievably welcoming and wonderful. They've really made me feel at home already, and I haven't even started yet!

See Clay and the rest of the thoroughly ridiculous, brilliant cast starting Friday, January 18, 8:00 PM, Shubert Theater, New York.

"Spamalot" also stars Jonathan Hadary, Hannah Waddingham, Christopher Seiber, Rick Holmes, David Hibbard, Tom Deckman and Brad Oscar.

Hey! You’re going to need some tickets!

Sir Robin finds his grail

2. Monty Python and The Holy Grail. The funniest movie ever made, from which “Spamalot” was “lovingly ripped off.” See for yourself.

3. Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam in the stupidest show ever on television. It was rather brilliant, too, with the silly walks, “dead parrots, cross-dressing lumberjacks, loonies, upper class twits, and spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, and spam.”

4. PythOnline. Absurd, ludicrous and essential website for all things Python.

5. Eric Idle, from Python to The Rutles to “Spamalot” to "Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy)," based on the film "Monty Python's Life of Brian" Be prepared to go to hell if you laugh.

6. Michael Palin, Python's world traveler. “New Europe,” “Around the World in Eighty Days,” “Pole to Pole” or anywhere else he chooses to travel, go with him. Great stuff, this.

7. John Cleese. Check out this lovely collection of Cleese’s anarchic comedy: How To Irritate People, Romance With A Double Bass, and Strange Case Of The End Of Civilization.

8. Terry Gilliam. I just have to recommend Time Bandits for fun, or his masterpiece, Brazil. Visual artistry and a unique perspective, even when he’s not fighting with Terry Jones.

9. Terry Jones. Seen Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life? There you have it, no questions left. This explains everything.

10 Graham Chapman, appearing nightly in Heaven --- and at a video rental shop near you. Fiendishly funny bloke.

PS: Go see "Spamalot" --- a lot!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clay Aiken: Spamalot, Charity & CD - Oh My!

Friday is The Knight. Clay Aiken in Spamalot is generating lots of excitement - for his fans and for him . . . as demonstrated in this terrific interview with

Our Exclusive Interview With Clay Aiken

January 15, 2008 - Posted by Marnie

Even with a grueling rehearsal schedule for his upcoming role in the Broadway show SPAMALOT, Clay Aiken conveyed nothing but high energy and endless enthusiasm during his interview with This certainly isn't due to him getting a lot of rest these days, however. As Clay so bluntly put it, the rigors of Broadway are "kickin' my butt!" With the debut of SPAMALOT on Friday, his schedule will only get busier. The show will run once a day from Tuesday to Friday and then twice on Saturdays and Sundays! As Clay relayed, having to put together all the acts of singing, dancing, playing piano, and speaking in an accent is more than he ever expected!

This is not to say that Clay isn't enjoying the whole process. On the contrary, he is completely fulfilled by the experience and constantly amazed by those around him who do this on a regular basis. According to the popular singer, once you do Broadway, you can do pretty much anything. Clay is also astounded by the level of talent that has surrounded him during rehearsals. By the end of the day, they have filled his head with so much information that he has trouble remembering his own name! Clay admits that he was warned about the challenges he would face by another "Idol" alumnus, Fantasia Barrino. Thankfully, he is nothing but pleased with the result. He says that the show is "atypical of a musical," calling it a performance that's filled with "silly nonsense," which is what makes it so hilarious. Clay feels that he has really spread his wings by taking part in this, as the show doesn't even involve that much true singing. In fact, he admits that the one "big song" he performs is actually "talked sung."

Despite his participation in this farcical play and some guest stints on shows such as "Scrubs" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," Clay is reluctant to tout his comic abilities. As he joked to us, the only thing comical about him is that he is "funny looking." All kidding aside, Clay was quick to say that he doesn't think of himself as the complete marketing package, like Carrie Underwood or Chris Daughtry might be. Explaining further, he said that he knows he's "not this hip, cool radio guy," but he embraces the strengths he does have and enjoys pursuing things that will play up these qualities. In fact, one thing he thinks he would really excel at is hosting his own daytime talk show. While he doesn't want to pursue this to the point of missing out on other great opportunities, he did admit that this certainly something at the forefront of his mind. However, he realizes that this could be a long process and, as he said, sometimes it's best to "let go and let God."

Clay also discussed two things that are very close to his heart—his charities and his fans. What's interesting is the fact that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, his fans have helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations in which Clay is involved. The Bubel/Aiken foundation, formed by Clay, helps to include kids with disabilities in things like summer camp and sporting events. He also works closely with UNICEF to raise awareness about poverty stricken areas around the world. As Clay mentioned, his fans were the ones that helped raise over $100,000 in the ten days he spent in Mexico recently, helping those who were devastated by floods. They also helped to raise approximately $250,000 during his time in Afghanistan last year.

"Claymates," as his fans are often called, can expect something huge in return for their loyalty—a new album by Clay! While his last album was something that was desired by others, Clay says that this album contains music that is definitely desired by him. It is also the first time he is having one producer help him to put out the entire album. The result, he says, will be an album of original material that is consistent in its sound and its message to his fans—look for it to hopefully be released this May.

The next few months are going to be FUN!

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Hair Today

Sally's Beauty Shop supposedly surveyed Americans for the “Best Tressed”. I think it's a cheap PR stunt to get their name out there since they actually paid good money to put that on PRNewswire. (Just for that, I'm not giving them a tag in this there.)I've been to Sally's, you can get 42,000 emery boards for $1.50 but the people behind the counter have purple hair styled with 3 gallons of gel. Now, there's a walking billboard for their products...only not. They voted the best men as
Denzel Washington
Johnny Depp
Patrick Demsey

and the worst as
Kid Rock
Clay Aiken
Zac Efron.

My first reaction to that list was to laugh out loud. Let's examine why.

Denzel: A really good actor who I knew would be a star since St. Elsewhere. But best tressed? What's his hairstyle called? Short? I think even his wife could cut this hairstyle with an Epilady and not mess it up.

Johnny Depp: Isn't he known for having messy hair most of the time? Or hidden under a hat?

Or a bandanna? Yoohoo, eyes up here. (And there is nothing subliminal about the fact that I first typed banana.)

Ok, I get it, I get it.

Patrick Dempsey: I don't follow Grey's Anatomy so I'm not up on McHairy except when I notice his pictures in magazines. I think sometimes he has too much.

But then he has just enough. Very much the hair that makes you want to finger style it. And hope that your fingers get stuck.

So now let's examine the hair that competed with Clay for worst tressed.

Kid Rock:
Most of the time, he's got a hat on too. But I think it is because he doesn't own a comb or shampoo. And he's probably thinning on the top a bit too. Based on this mug shot from The Smoking Gun, apparently he hasn't had good hair in a very long time.

And you wouldn't believe how many disgusting pictures of Pamela Anderson I had to go through to find a picture of him. Will somebody let the air out of her tires, already?

Zac Efron: Meh,he's got that long messy hair that all teens have right now.

Yikes, I think I had that hair cut early last year when my new hairdresser kept talking and cutting.

My only problem with Zac is that a guy who stars in a show called High School Musical should be able know, SING.

Now, let's do Clay. Yeah, yeah, get in line. Get your brushes out of the gutter, I meant let's review Clay's hair. Sure, he's had a couple of not so good hair days most noted by the “Look ma, I tried to tame that cowlick by simply forcing it in the other direction” hair.

And then there was the winning entry in the “cut your cousin's hair using a bowl” contest. Yes, I know this was for a gag but it sort of looked like that when he sat on a horse visiting Jimmy Kimmel.

But most of the year was pretty good.

Channeling McCartney.

And let's not forget the Afghani Prince.

We got the brown hair of highlighted goodness for the summer tour.

And finally at the end of the year, was the Christmas tour starring Joseph and the head of many colors.




For the first four months of the year, his hair will be under a wig while he stars as Sir Robin on Broadway in Monty Python's Spamalot so Sally can just go pick on someone else.

Although, when he looks this good and this happy (from a candid taken Monday at his Bubel/Aiken Foundations's Golfing for Inclusion at Mirasol Country Club in Palm Beach), it seems a shame to hide it under a wig.

Read Clay's special blog on the Monty Python's Spamalot site here.

The sad thing is? This is not my first blog about hair.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Our Year End Thoughts And Wishes

Another year flew by – and we’ve all had such fun contributing our different voices on ConCLAYve. Now at the start of 2008, we are once again sharing our thoughts and wishes. Please share yours. We love reading your comments.

Contribution from Nan:

An Artist - Damn Right!:

Looking back at 2007 I return again and again to that moment when I first heard Lover All Alone, live during the summer concert. How I held my breath (and of course, MrNan and Corabeth’s hands as well). How blessed I felt to be able to be in that moment, to feel the energy of the audience, the intense silence of listening, that moment at the end when you could feel the shared intake of breath before the overwhelming applause for Clay’s amazing voice, his poignant lyrics and David Foster’s beautiful music. For 2008, I hope that whatever brought Clay to write this lovely song, he feels encouraged by the reception and finds inspiration to write more.

Time and again, I am simply amazed at Clay’s ability to make me laugh out loud and this summer was no exception. But then – at Christmastime, he took my breath away for a completely different reason. His 2007 Christmas concert was my chance to drown in the beauty of his voice and to really recognize the purity and truth in his performances. I heard him singing My Grownup Christmas List and I was drawn into his world-weary but still hopeful interpretation. Completely unmanipulated, the tears came and I turned to Corabeth and saw that he had affected her in the same way. I am truly in awe at his growth as a performer and my wish for 2008 is that he embrace this growth and keep stretching his wings – there is so much for him to explore and I think Clay’s seeing that as well.

OMG – what fun we had and how he loved to tease us with the Spamalot news. Will he. Won’t he. He Will!!!!!! I loved this show and can’t wait to see it again. What a brave part for Clay to make his Broadway debut in. How unexpected. How challenging. Clay’s courage in tackling this makes me so very very proud to be a fan.

Last year, I wrote that Clay Aiken is an amazing man - a beautiful, radiant, fascinating man. And he is. That hasn’t changed. He is still a dorky, funny, smutty, witty, sexy, goofy guy. A courageous, tenacious person. A magician. A virtuoso. An artisan creating portraits with his voice. A complex mosaic. A beautiful mystery. And no jumping to the last page for me. This is one book I’m savoring. 2008 – here we come!

Contribution from skybar:

The Year in Review: Astrology

Clay has a fascinating astrological chart with 5 planets in the fire sign of Sagittarius. The planet Jupiter becomes extremely significant as it is considered the ruler of the sign Sagittarius and is also the rising planet in Clay's chart which means it is the first planet on his wheel of houses. It was in Leo when he was born, another fire sign and therefore it trines (easy flowing energy) his Sun and all his Sagittarian planets. In fact, all of Clay's planets fall within the trine between Jupiter and Mars. This is considered very auspicious in astrology and although he has many challenges (squares), these Jupiter trines add a strong element of luck throughout his life. People generally land on their feet when Jupiter is prominent like this, no matter what.

Jupiter has a cycle of 11.9 years (rounded to 12) as it transits around our Sun. It is the planet which symbolizes expansion, optimism, growth and oppportunities. Since he first came to the public's attention on American Idol, season 2, I have watched the movement of Jupiter as it transited Clay's chart. Jupiter stays in one sign of the zodiac for about a year. A new 12 year cycle began for Clay in 2002 when Jupiter returned to where it was when Clay was born, the year he tried out for American Idol. This began a process that can be examined year by year as the 12 year cycle unfolds.

Born with Jupiter trining his natal Sun, this trine was activated during the 2003 American Idol season. Naturally there were many other planetary transits happening but Jupiter's 12 year cycle along with Saturn's 29 year cycle is most significant in terms of one's development in the world. Jupiter expands and Saturn grounds and restricts energy in order to create clear boundaries for the energy to manifest most effectively. In fact, the entire solar system works like a giant cosmic clock, each planet playing a significant yet distinct role in the soul's journey throughout a lifetime.

So in the past year where has Jupiter been and how has that manifested in Clay's career?

When 2007 began Jupiter was conjunct (same degree of the zodiac) Clay's Sagittarian Sun. Jupiter often indicates the planning of future projects which will expand one's horizons. Clay gave us all another tour over the summer which furthered his reputation for being a great entertainer. The show, despite the “sloooooow” songs featured his comedic timing and brought lots of smiles and laughs from his audience. He also announced that he would be starring in Spamalot beginning Jan 18th through May 4, 2008 and he began working on a new CD. All this future expansion taking place during this Jupiter transit could be very fortunate for Clay's continued success. Finally, he ended this year with a very unique and different Christmas concert which proved to be classy and simple as well as often vocally stunning. While Jupiter has been moving through Sagittarius, Saturn came along to square his Sun, just as the tour began. I thought it fitting that this tour was very structured with a reverent tone (Saturn) just as Saturn began the square.

Future possibilities, new opportunities and lots of laughs were the highlight of this past year so what's next as Jupiter moves through the sign of Capricorn and enters Clay's house of career in February?

As 2008 begins we find Jupiter in Capricorn. Jupiter will cross his midheaven (10th house cusp) by the end of February. The midheaven is the highest point in the chart. The 10th house is our place in the world, our career, where we show the world what we can do. With Jupiter here, I believe Clay will find some major achievement on both Broadway and also with whatever projects come to fruition in the next year. The work will be hard and at times grueling but the payoff should be very satisfying. I believe Clay will find the upcoming year to be very grounding and constructive for his future. Generally, while moving through Capricorn, a planet will manifest as steady and grounded growth with an emphasis on practical expectations.

As Jupiter moves through this 10th house, Saturn will return to its natal position and trine Jupiter. Saturn consolidates one's life while Jupiter expands it and the flowing nature of the trine indicates a time when Clay could reap what he has sown. I think Clay could have a year of solid accomplishments and personal success. This is a very significant year as Saturn completes its first transit around his chart.

Contribution from ForeverYoung:

My GrownUp New Year's Lists

I love lists! I don't know what that means about my mental state other than I'm organized so every time I sit down to write something, lists come to mind. I'd love to list 2007 things that happened to me last year or 2008 things that I hope will happen this year, but I'll spare you. So I'll just go with 7 things that happened and 8 things that I hope will happen as a result of my following the fascinating Clay Aiken.

During 2007, I:

1. Attended 3 SRHP concerts
2. Lined up for 3 bus lines and got "the Clay touch"
3. Attended 1 CITH concert and didn't get a M&G
4. Attended 1 Neil Sedaka tribute at Lincoln Center and got very wet
5. Attended 4 pre-concert food fests and gained weight
6. Attended 4 post concert drink fests and got tipsy
7. Shared these experiences with many wonderful men and women and laughed and cried!

During 2008, I:

1. Will be seeing 2 performances of Spamalot, so far
2. Will be accompanied to Spamalot by my daughter, who said "Yes" when I asked her to go
3. Will buy several copies of Clay Aiken's new kick ass CD .... soon
4. Will watch every TV show and listen to every radio interview that Clay Aiken will do
5. Will attend as many Clay concerts as possible this spring, summer, fall and/or winter
6. Will faithfully read every article and blog that is about/or written by Clay
7. Will donate to BAF and UNICEF regularly
8. Will share these experiences with many wonderful men and women and will laugh and cry!

Happy 2008!!!!

Contribution from Corabeth:

I know they say as you get older, time goes by faster. But I truly think this year went by so much faster than 2006. This year felt different in so many ways. It felt like a celebration or at least the time when you are buying and hanging decorations in anticipation of a celebration.

I do think one of my favorite days of the year was October 16th when we got the Spamalot news. It started with a simple OMG text message from Invisible926. My fingers couldn't fly fast enough to read Clay's blog. I jammed my bluetooth in my ear and called Nanjeanne. It seemed to ring forever and then she picked up from outside in her beautiful garden. She hadn't heard. I think I screamed it one breath,


Her total and complete fangirly scream received an echo back from me. A friend in the office next to me asked me later that day what exactly precipitated the happy noises coming from my office.

Of all the gifts we have received this year in the form of concerts, performances, extras, teacher blogs and Spamanews, the most incredible were those of the M&G sessions. It seems that the last two years are when Clay embraced the fandom in a way that is comfortable for him and joyous for us. He was honest and funny, yet drew the line when it needed to be drawn. I don't know whose ideas that was but I'll always be grateful to him for agreeing to do it. I'd be even more grateful to actually win one.

I hope that the Christmas stories helped him see a bit of who we are too. They were like our own little chapters of Learning to Sing.

In 2007, he left me in love and in awe at the same time. That's when I wasn't doubled over with laughter.

If I saw Clay today, I would summarize my thanks and hopes for 2007 and beyond in this way.

Thank you, Clay

For the complete entertainment experience whenever I see you in concert.

For being brave enough to spread your wings and sing, dance, act and cuss on stage in Spamalot. It's a brilliant move. I wish you a photographic memory.

For caring about children in a way that inspires me to do more. For giving up your Christmas to bring hope to those in need.

For being willing to look the dorky goof who can't skate, when we all know differently.

For the “natural” the color of your choice....although I'm not quite sure what that is!

For finding a comfortable place with the fandom and embracing it.

For blogs that make us laugh, think, stand in the corner and feel loved. Sometimes all at the same time.

Thank you for singing "Lover All Alone" in concert.

I wish for you

Comfort from those who are so troubled in this life that they seek to hurt you (intentionally or not).

Love from your friends, your family, your fans and a soulmate to “share your everything”, wherever she is waiting.

The album you want in 2008, with the promotion you deserve.

An invitation to that award show you want to, as a nominee.

You knock me offa my feet.

Contribution from Pink Armchair:

2007. What a year. For Clay…and for me.

I went back and looked and…yowza! I was kinda busy. During 2007, I wrote 39 installments of my Climmel skits, stood in three memorable bus lines (well, four if you count the abortive – and sweltering – one in Cary), hosted eight cellcerts and gave two (with a little help from my friends!), attended eight concerts – Columbus, Sterling Heights, Cary and Asheville on the Soft Rock in a Hard Place Tour, and South Bend, Waukegan, Kalamazoo and Merrillville during Christmas in the Heartland. Oh, and somewhere in there I wrote and submitted four holiday stories and was fortunate to get to read one of them three times on stage, meeting Clay in person twice. Yes, it was certainly a memorable year!

I will always remember the fabulous Biltmore House and how beautiful it looked in the moonlight that August night as we waited for Clay; babbling inanely on the Sterling Heights cellcert about late Mayor Harold Washington’s wacky funeral as we waited for Clay; and meeting up with lots of fabulous meers at preconcert dinners in Sterling Heights, Cary, Asheville, South Bend, Waukegan, and Kalamazoo as we waited for Clay. And the wait was always worth it.

And it was a fantastic (and I daresay unforgettable!) year for Clay, too…including two enlightening trips for UNICEF, a high-profile showcase on Holiday on Ice, a lucrative appearance for the BAF on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, a prestigious role in the Neil Sedaka tribute at Lincoln Center -- and the exciting announcement that he will be making his Broadway debut in Spamalot in 2008. Hopefully a new CD is on the horizon, too. Soon.

For Clay, I hope 2008 is his best and most fulfilling year ever, both personally and careerwise. He deserves it, and much more, for all of the joy he has brought to so many.

And for me…here’s to lots more fun trips, big laughs and great times with wonderful friends I would certainly never have met without him. Thank you, Clay, and Happy New Year.