Sunday, October 17, 2010

Breathe


Every now and then, a singer whose voice fills my every sense, will offer a performance that stands out from all the others. Sometimes it is a rocking performance that gives you chills for the power and control, like the ones I have shown in my last few blogs. And sometimes it is a ballad where you don’t breathe until it’s over. There have been a number of both kinds of performances over the years. They fill my memory bank and trickle into my days on long drives or whisper to me in quiet moments before I drift off to sleep.

I can hear him and I can picture myself, right down to where I was sitting. In My Life from the PBS taping in March, 2010. How do you sing with a lump in your throat? Meadowbrook in Gilford, NH (2005) where I cried silent tears for an acoustic version of I Can’t Make You Love Me that he sang directly in front of me from about the 10th row. The Mann Center in Philadelphia in 2006 where we heard Lover All Alone for the first time, and I rubbed Nan’s back as the song took hold of her. Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2004 for Measure of a Man that the audience sang to him, followed by the most tender version of Fields of Gold imaginable. You could almost see his voice as if it was a summer breeze caressing the tops of wheat stalks bending gently to the music.

This weekend was the annual fund raising gala for Clay Aiken’s National Inclusion Project. As with all the galas, they offered awards to those Champions for Inclusion and auctions to raise money for this incredibly worthy cause. He ends the event with a short performance as a way of thanking the donors. He’ll sing from whatever album is out and and then add a song we've never heard from him before. At this gala he added a special song, a Joni Mitchell song made his own through changes in key, tempo and melody. A song beautifully signed by volunteer Deb Leicey and he positioned her right beside him, because inclusion is always in his heart. Her hands became another instrument on the stage.

Those songs that were classified as pop (or folk) back when pop wasn't a four letter word thanks to today's singers who can barely sing, are as suited to him as the pop/rock style of Alone. I heard someone say recently that he has a theatrical quality voice that sings contemporary pop better than anyone. And it is so true. I felt like I heard Both Sides Now for the first time on Saturday. Granted, I was in elementary school when it was released but I remember vividly my twenty-something mother sitting on an orange shag carpet in the living room trying to learn the chords on her guitar. I can’t wait to send her this clip.

I know there are people out there who can still write like this. He’s one of them. I hope someday soon, he’ll believe it too.




Visit those other performances here:
In My Life
I Can't Make You Love Me
Lover All Alone
Measure of a Man/Fields of Gold

10 comments:

Invisible926 said...

Beautiful song, beautiful performance. No one's voice moves me like Clay's. This material is perfect for him. He made me cry for the first time in a long time. I've loved this song since I was in college. Bravo, Clay!

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

What a gorgeous rendition. Clay mentioned at one time that he wanted to do "adult" songs when he talked about the next album maybe not be standards but being adult. This was one of the most grown up performances I have ever seen Clay do. The arrangement was fabulous. The guitar player was marvelous and Clay's interpretation gave meaning to a song heard so many times. This is what being an interpreter of music is. This is what changing up a song and making it your own actually is. This is the kind of performance that touches the soul - how I wish Clay knew how incredible it is when he bares himself this way - and the way he did in In My Life and ICMYLM and the gala rendition of RHW from a few years ago. This is mature singing at it's finest.

tree ~ said...

I think, after catching my breath, I'll just WORD Nan above me. It really was a beautiful arrangement and his voice took me somewhere different altogether than that song ever did before. *sniff*

Kupkake said...

da..dang! that about sums it up <3

Anonymous said...

I was there and watched and hard this softly sung, amazingly beautiful song with Deb Leicey signing so movingly -- Goodness this man can touch your heart and soul with his voice. I'm not sure anyone was breathing in the whole room. How does he do this? Why does the world not know what this man can do with a song?
Oh please, let him record BSN some day with just the small amount of instruments as was done at the Gala.
Such a lovely few moments in time but unforgettable.
~~ClaySTO (Google giving me problems w/my name for some reason)

Jan said...

As a former sign language interpreter, I really enjoyed Deborah's American Sign language interpretation of the song. Accompanied by Clay's lovely vocal, the whole performance was heartbreakingly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Clay has the voice of an angel. I have never heard a more beautiful arrangement of that song. I hope he records this someday. Wow, absolutely Ouststanding.

DiAnn said...

there are those moments in time when you realize that you are experiencing something so special, so perfect, so profound that you find yourself with tears in your eyes and joy in your heart. This was one of those moments.

Brenda said...

This man has a way of calming me with his beautiful voice, very stressful days just slowly go away when I listen to him.. He has the heart, wisdom, and wonderful talent that only a few possess. His smile and sense of humor, makes by whole day worthwhile. Thank you so very much, Clay and please keep it all coming

Brenda H Salina Ks.

Anonymous said...

This emotionally raw performance has created an earworm for me that I cannot escape. Only a person with such a deep connection to his inner soul could reach so deep within himself and bring such emotionally charged interpretation to a song. The signing just served to seal the deal.

Watch the video and let your senses take hold...you will not regret it!!