Soap Encounter Cramps Style

THE MUSIC MAN -- ABeautifulMind created a handsome graphic from the cover design of Clay Aiken's new CD, A Thousand Different Ways.

School Fall To Remember

Soap Encounter Cramps Style

Every year when the new school season begins, I remember a fall (LOL, pun intended!) about 10 years ago when I almost missed the annual autumn ritual of teacher workdays, open house, freshmen orientation, all leading to the first day of classes with students.

I have read with interest -- and occasional wistful memories -- teacher reports of preparing classrooms, curriculum, bulletin boards, and even sharing the preview samples from Clay Aiken's upcoming CD, A Thousand Different Ways, over the intercom during the workdays. Standing-O for 4evrgonzo, who interested several staff members in purchasing ATDW in this manner!

An 8/29 story -- Clay Aiken Fans Generating Giant Buzz Online About New Album -- in the Raleigh Chronicle provides an excellent overview of the activity surrounding the 9/19 debut of ATDW, highlighting various fan club sites, the CD release parties, and Clay's current list of TV appearances:

9/15 - Tonight Show with Jay Leno

9/19 - Good Morning America

9/22 - The View

9/26 - Jimmy Kimmel Live

Dangerous Shower Maneuver

Returning to my fall story of 10 years ago, a couple of weeks prior to freshmen orientation I stepped on a piece of soap while showering in the bath tub and, being extremely limber, inadvertently lunged into a full-fledged split that ended abruptly with an indisputable thwack as the tub ran out. For the first time in my life, I had a broken bone, unfortunately in my right leg.

I gingerly crawled out of the tub, carefully hobbled to the telephone, and called my sister, who had broken her ankle the previous spring. She, or course, told me to call my doctor. Later that afternoon, as arranged by my primary physician, my brother-in-law drove me to an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Murphy.

Orthopedist Renders Tough Verdict

The broken femur was x-rayed, set, and firmly encased in a cast. I was told to put no weight whatsoever on my right foot and that most likely I would not be able to drive or climb stairs for six weeks. Impossible! All my middle and high school orchestra classes rehearsed on the second floor of their respective schools.

This was approximately 10 days prior to orientation for a very talented, carefully recruited incoming freshmen class of fiddlers. In the 1950s and 60s, Grimsley High School's orchestra was unrivaled in the state of North Carolina. However, when I arrived on the scene, the program had dwindled from a 96-piece full symphony to approximately 14 string students. For three years, I had worked diligently at the primary feeder, Kiser Middle School, building award-winning ensembles in the 6th - 8th grades. The fall's 35 incoming frosh represented the fruition of that process.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Today's clickable interlude features the talents of five visual artists -- ABeautifulMind (1); Ambassador Of Love (2); Cindilu2 (3); Amazing_CA (4); and Claystruck (5).

Wheelchair to the Rescue

The first thing I did to keep weight off my leg was use a wheelchair that a fellow teacher located at her church. I sat on the side of the tub for sponge baths and literally never touched the floor with my right foot. Other times, I held my right leg off the floor and hopped on my left foot with the aid of a walker.

Following about 10 days of this, I returned to Dr. Murphy's office for an x-ray progress report. Bewilderment filled the face of the physician's assistant as he scoured my pictures. Finally, he rendered this verdict: "Nothing has changed."

I immediately thought the worst and was silently screaming "Oh, no!" when he clarified that this was good, very good. The bone, meshing and healing quite nicely, had not moved even one tiny bit. I was fitted for a boot, and Dr. M concurred on the step-climbing, but no driving for six weeks.

Bumming Rides Everywhere

Despite having to hustle rides to and from school, not to mention BETWEEN schools twice a day, I was anxious to start the new year. Since I am barely 5' short, another friend located a set of junior crutches that helped immensely.

On orientation day, I greeted my 35 freshmen string students from my rolling desk chair, welcoming them to high school and outlining goals and requirements for the school year. By graduation, I had taught most of these musicians for a total of seven years. In that time, not only does a student become one of your own, but together we helped put the Grimsley Orchestra back on track.

The frosh, combined with the upperclassmen string players, eventually totaled 60-plus with a full orchestra of 85-plus. Together we delved into the school's phenomenal music library, the envy of many surrounding colleges.

I'll never forget one spring when an adjudicator, a college professor whose wife had directed this same orchestra program many years earlier, greeted me afterwards with a bear hug and the excited declaration: "I can't wait to tell my wife that Grimsley is back!"

And we were. Have an awesome school year, all!


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Medley Inspires Blog Potpourri

ACRONYM CLASS -- Graphic artists like Cindilu2 have begun "tutoring" the Clay Nation with beautiful designs of the individual tracks from A Thousand Different Ways.

A Little of This 'n That

Medley Inspires Blog Potpourri

Except for the stunning graphics featured, this blog represents a sundry medley of ordinary experiences, truisms, quotes, and information that hopefully qualifies somewhere between a savory soup and an entertaining potpourri.

Many of us whose seasoned chassis has zoomed light years past our 20-30 year-old mindset often find ourselves baffled as previously nimble limbs and efficient organs succumb to the plunders of time. Unfortunately, human body parts are not as easily replaced as those of a waning car or kitchen appliance.

My friend Terri and I discussed this subject Friday night when I delivered an overnight bag for her unexpected hospital stay following a routine procedure to expand her esophagus, a treatment she must undergo periodically. This weekend, however, her body reacted with a full-blown asthma attack; and an overnight stay was immediately prescribed.

An Expensive One-Night Visit

Since the fiscal year is in its infancy with the designated insurance deductible as yet unmet, Terri's bill for being monitored (i.e., awakened every four hours for vital checks) will prove astronomical. In addition, she has been ordered to stay far away from spicy foods -- that in itself would kill me! -- as well as chocolate and iced tea. The latter is truly painful for a southerner!

Most hospitals here have a policy of escorting a discharged patient to the door with a chariot ride via wheelchair. The minute my friend knew I was en route to complete her rescue, she marched to the nurses station with her bag, informed the staff she was leaving, and asked if anyone wished to accompany her downstairs. Sure enough, when I drove up, she -- and her assigned nurse -- were chatting in the breeze on a bench right outside the front door. Before I could stop the car, the patient was opening the passenger door.

I have been quite limber all my life, and my band students always delighted in the teacher's occasional demonstration of her uncanny ability to do a perfect split. Those were the days, as I could hop right back up on the podium and move on to the next rehearsal number in the blink of an eye. Merely a fond memory now.

The lesson or truism from this sequence? If you still have youthful body parts, savor the moment and treat them with extra special care.

Watched Pot Never Boils

Most folks are familiar with this old saying: "a watched pot never boils." When friend Terri called to tell me her dismissal was imminent but dependent upon a doctor's signature, I put my computer at rest, dressed, finished a marketing list, and still had time to spare.

Not one to pace or watch the clock, mainly because I'm usually running late getting ready, I decided to check message boards while I waited. No sooner had I fired up my computer when, of course, the pot boiled in the form of the expected phone call. And, thus, the hospital caper was off and running!

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Today's clickable interlude features five gifted visual artists who are creating graphics for the ATDW album, as well its individual songs. They include Claystruck (1), Cindilu2 (2), Shyeyewitness (3), Katt45 (4), and Amazing_CA (5).

Quote Stash Yields Five Jewels

During the past couple of weeks, Clay Aiken fans have enjoyed non-stop playing and sharing links/downloads for the single Without You, as well as the 30-second snippets from the playlist for this singer's soon-to-be-released A Thousand Different Ways. From my ongoing quote stash, this collection begins with one by the man himself:

Clay Aiken (speaking about his CD's executive producer Jaymes Foster in the album's official press release): Jaymes told me, 'Stay in your lane, but remember it's okay to swerve a little and see where it takes you.' That's exactly what we did."

Roxluvsclay (from Clayversity): Fourteen snippets of Clay is better than any full album out there!

Lakelady (describing her friends' reactions to three ATDW songs at CV): They loved them! It seems that when they recognized the songs (i.e., covers), they got excited and said they wanted the CD. Despite all the angsting that has gone on amongst fans, the covers may do really well with the CD buying public. Not to mention that great voice. One friend mentioned, without my prompting, that Clay can sing anything!

AprilJoy (CV): Thursday I met with my cousin-in-law, who is almost 28 and fairly "hip." She's never really been a fan, but appreciates Clay's voice. I just happened to have the clips of his new stuff in my car. Her reactions were priceless -- from "Oh, oh, that song!" to "Wow, perfect song for him to do!" She almost died after hearing EIDIDIFY.

My cousin said she would buy this CD because SHE ALREADY KNOWS MANY OF THE SONGS. I think that will wind up being a huge selling point for many folks who don't venture out and buy CDs because often you only get one good song. And she's coming to our CD release party now, too!

Newbird (CV): I just returned from picking up my 13-year-pld from her Girl Scout meeting. I had my BAF shirt on, and one of the girls asked me what The Bubel/Aiken Foundation was. I told her about the foundation and then she said, "Clay Aiken is hot! I'm sorry, he really is!" She said she never liked the spikes and that the new hair style is great. I told her he has a new CD coming out next month.

Tune Into Clay Blogs for the Latest

With ATDW promo really starting to roll, TV and holiday performance dates are filling calendars while Clay media reports stream across CA message boards. To stay on top of the latest news, tune into Clay's Daily Double. When Clay news happens, this blog updates -- often several times a day.

While you're in the CA community at Blogspot, take a tour of the varied, well-written journals penned by dedicated Clay fans. Depending on the template, there is usually a Blogroll in either the left or right column that allows you to link from one to the other.

To get started, here are a few journals and their current topic:

A Southern Girl's Guide to Almost Anything: "New Date to Mark on Your Clay Aiken Calendar"

Excuse Me While I Take a Moment: "Hide the cats! Ditch the wedding band! Clay's coming over!"

Lyrichord's Music Musings: "The VOX Is a Drug"

Something That Really Happened: "American Idol on the Radio"

There Was a Man: "Sing a Song (Or Fourteen)"

So drop by, take the Blogroll tour, and perhaps leave these folks a comment either with a Blogspot screen name or as "Anonymous" if you have not registered at the site. You will be amazed at how many Clay friends you encounter!

These are exciting times for the Clay Nation; and, appropriately, I located at the last minute the final stitch for this patchwork assortment in some thoughts by Leslie42 in her current OFC blog: Don't let little moments like this sneak away. Grab on ... and hold tight ... with both hands!


You can download a wallpaper version of the opening graphic at Forever Clay.


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Fans Log ATDW Excitement

THE NEW LOOK -- Claystruck captures three versions of Clay Aiken's new look in her clever cube design for A Thousand Different Ways.

Rave Reviews, Take 2!

Fans Log ATDW Excitement

With RCA orchestrating a well-organized media campaign for Clay Aiken's soon-to-be released CD, A Thousand Different Ways, his fans are generating excitement with an acknowledged marketing ace -- word of mouth.

This is not an album of covers. This is a vocal sculptor whose every musical nuance is an emotional original. I know these songs -- just as we all do -- but I found myself drawing into their nucleus as he sings .. .because he puts something there that is totally unknown. Then he builds on it, going places that singers just don't go. -- Calliek

Very few of us can describe with such exquisite beauty Calliek's word pictures of CA's vocals on this CD. However, armed with links/downloads of the Without You single and the 30-second snippets from the album's playlist at Sony, fans have reported remarkable reactions by friends, relatives, and associates with whom they have shared the previews.

Starting with an 8/18 mailbag comment by Cindilu2, whose graphic designs often decorate this journal, this overview features unexpected responses from a former RCA promo specialist, casual fans, as well as heightened fervor from the younger crowd. This blog's second foray into message board reports represents only a smidgen of the enthusiastic feedback fans have posted at Clayversity, Clayboard, and Clay Freedom.

Perhaps there will be more Not.Just.Us stories in the reader comments. Meanwhile, enjoy!

Clay Owns 'Without You'

Cindilu2: Harry Nilsson's version of Without You has long ranked high among my all-time favorite songs. I don't think I've ever made a mixed CD that didn't include it. It's in the most-played songs list of my not-an-iPod. And after hearing Clay's full version? I deleted Harry's from my player. I don't ever need to hear another singer perform this song. Like Solitaire before it, WY now belongs to Clay Aiken. Perfection!

Karma4Clay: My father worked for RCA Victor in promotion and management, so I wanted to pick his brain about Clay's promo. For the record, he has not been overly enthusiastic about Clay in the past, kind of an eye roller about my "hobby." So I IM'd him and asked about going for adds with a lead single and time frames in regard to drop dates.

He's not a very good typist; so after about two responses, he called me up. First, he says the time frame for promo varies greatly from artist to artist. For someone like Clay who can generate a lot of buzz easily, it's not that unusual to wait closer to drop date. Also, he said RCA would be crazy and stupid not to capitalize on Clay's popularity -- and that they are neither.

For kicks while we were on the phone, I gave him the link to Clay's MySpace so he could give WY a listen. At first, he wasn't that interested in hearing it until I told him it was cover of Harry Nilsson's WY. Next thing I know he's sputtering, "That was my record! I promoted that; I worked with Harry!" So NOW he's very interested in hearing Clay's version.

When he finished listening, he said "Wow! That's really good! [Imagine dazed tone of voice] It was a really good treatment of it. Not that different from Harry's arrangement but powerful. Really, really good." [Floored Daughter on other end of phone? Remember, this is the Eye Roller!]

Then he added, "Hey, times have changed since I was working; but I think this could be a HUGE record for Clay. Great production on it and there's a whole generation that's never heard the original."

My father bookmarked Clay's link and before we hung up, he asked when the drop date was again and told me to let him know about any appearances!

Diary of a Clayversion

JerseyGirl: I finally have a NJU story! My sister likes Clay, or at least she lets me go on and on about Clay. Anyway, I talked to her last [Friday] night and told her to go to give a listen to the new song. This is what I woke up to this morning:

EMAIL #1 (12:30 am): Well, he's sold two CDs here, maybe three. I loved it, and I'mgetting one for school and one for home, MAYBE a third for someone else, I have to listen to all the songs first. I'm going back for a second listen.

EMAIL #2 (1:30 am): I have got to go to bed!!!! Why did you tell me to listen? That is a great song. I went to the message board and was going to send you a note, but I didn't know if this is the one you post on. I'm going to go and have one, maybe two or three, more listens to this song that I always liked and turn in. I now wish I can take the computer to my room and listen over and over. Thanks a lot.

EMAIL #3 (1:45 am): Can you believe I now have Clay in my favorites???? Is he going to switch songs on this site??? One more listen then I have to go to bed.

suz4omc: I took the mp3 of the snippets over to a coworker's desk Tuesday, put it on her computer, and told her she needed to listen to them with her headphones. A few minutes later she walked into my office and said, "Looks like I will be buying my first Clay Aiken album!"

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Today's clickable interlude features graphics by these talented visual artists: Katt45 (1, 5); Amazing_CA (2); Claystruck (3); and Cindilu2 (4).

Teen Jaw-Dropping Reports

ClayRocksMySocks5230: I have let several people hear WY, and the most common reaction is that of jaws dropping like a ton of bricks to the ground.

One of my favorite comments came from my music teacher. She's a professional; and I value her opinion, musically and otherwise, and wanted to hear what she had to say. When she heard WY, she shook her head, dumbfounded, and said "Now THAT'S how you sing a song! Phenomenal!"

Another came from one of my friends who has always liked Clay and tolerated my 24/7 Clay talk. She responded “There’s just something about his voice that sends shivers down your spine. I can’t really explain it. But rarely have the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, like this. Play it again, please, again and again!”

My sister, who is meticulous with regards to music, says that doing some covers is a good move on Clay's part because he has -- time and time again -- proven that he can take any song, "Aikenize" it, and just sing it to pure perfection!

"Besides," she says, "Tthat's the trouble if you are a mad-talented singer like Clay [and this is me agreeing with him in thinking that they don't make songs like they used to!], it’s hard to get songs that will REALLY do that VOICE justice. If he can't find any new songs that are good enough to showcase that powerful instrument of his, then going to the past for songs that WILL is the thing to do. Why settle for second-best when you've got one of the most excellent set of pipes in music history?"

Hot New Look Makes Impact

thudsforclay: My daughter had several friends from high school over this week. One girl, who had never been to our house before, walked by my computer with the "library pic" as my screen saver. She asked my daughter, "Who is that hot, sexy guy?" When she was told "Clay Aiken," she said she really liked him. Of course, I informed her of the new CD and date of release. I think this CD will garner Clay many new younger fans.

xxclayzpricelessxx: I have the same picture as a magnet in my locker. My friend looked at it and asked, "Who's that?" I replied, "Clay, of course! She gave me this look like 'You gotta be kidding! That's CLAY?!?' HOTNESS + AMAZING VOICE = A HIT

LeenieIZ: I just got home from being a summer camp counselor in New Hampshire. I was in charge of a cabin of 14 girls between the ages of 12 and 14. I overheard a conversation they were having, and it was about Clay. I stepped in and asked if they liked him, and they said they thought his new look was REALLY HOT! They were pretty excited about the new CD!

xMakeMeFeel1tx: I don't know about America; but here in the UK, if you have an Emo-ish haircut, you're sure to go far. Clay's always been cute; it just takes time to realise it sometimes.

Clickable CD by ABeautifulMind

Here's to these exhilaratory celebrations of Clay Aiken's dynamic new look and incomparable vocal sculpting continuing on their global track!


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Friend Makes Beautiful Music

HERE YOU COME AGAIN -- Cindilu2 has created a beautiful animation to celebrate one of the cuts on Clay Aiken's upcoming CD, A THousand Different Ways.

An Example of 'Attitude'

Friend Makes Beautiful Music

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than the facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home.

The remarkable thing is, we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our Attitudes. -- Charles Swindoll, American writer and clergyman

If I didn't know better, I would think Charles Swindoll was talking about my good friend Judi, who, despite being confined to a wheelchair the last few years of her life, proved she could do just about anything as well or better than everyone else.

Judi was first an "orchestra mom" for my middle school group in Nashville, later becoming a close friend. Always the first to volunteer for any assistance or driving assignment needed to facilitate the activities of the orchestra, Judi was an integral part of the success of the program.

With the youngest of three children safely ensconced in college, she and her husband sold their home in Tennessee and enjoyed traveling throughout the country in their RV. We lost contact during those years; but when my former orchestra student graduated magna cum laude and sent me a copy of her speech, I learned that her parents had eventually landed at her mother's family homestead in Omaha, TX.

By then, Judi had developed a rare strain of muscular dystrophy that kept her wheelchair bound. However, this did not stop her from making the very difficult journey to witness her youngest deliver a very special graduation speech.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This clickable graphic interlude features the artistic talent of four Clay fans -- ABeautifulMind (1), Amazing_CA (2, 3), Invisible926 (4), and Katt45 (5).

Internet Biz Renews Friendship

Among the many products I market through an Internet-based business are delicious protein and meal replacement bars. My former violist had shared with me contact info for her parents; so in the spring of 2003, I included Judi in the mailing of some samples to friends and family.

I will never forget the immediate email response I received from Texas: "I have diabetes, and that's the first CHOCOLATE CANDY BAR I have had in years!!! Where can I get some more of these wonderful LEGAL BARS?"

We discussed the pros and cons of purchasing products as a client or forming her own business. Judi chose the latter and proceeded to set up her own circle of clients and business owners while ordering the meal bars for herself.

Cheering for Clay Together

A side benefit of our renewed friendship that spring was the fact that Judi and I were cheering for the same phenomenal singer from North Carolina on American Idol. When Clay Aiken was named runner-up but also given a recording contract, I began reading message boards and kept my friend informed of his activities. Every time I burned a CD and made a tape of Clay's music to share with my mother, Judi got one, too. She and her husband, both lifelong songwriters, were huge fans of Clay's voice, as well as his charitable endeavors.

Meanwhile, I sent my friend various tools; and her Internet business was thriving. In turn, she emailed regular reports to be shared with our upline. One night in September I was asked to read part of Judi's report at our weekly meeting in Raleigh. Paraphrased, her message was this:

"Because of my confinement, I cannot attend workshops or introduce the business to others out in public. However, if I can build this business from a wheelchair with a phone and a computer, then anybody can become a successful IBO."

Standing Ovation From a Distance

When I finished, you could have heard a pin drop in that room followed by spontaneous applause, which I later relayed to Texas. I don't know if Judi ever read Charles Swindoll's words about attitude, but she lived them every day of her life.

In October, her struggle with MD landed her in a Texarkana hospital where she listened to Clay's music and sold her nurses on him, as well as her Internet business. In the hours leading into Oct. 14, the day Measure of a Man went on sale, Judi lost her battle to MD.

"The remarkable thing is, we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."

With the countdown to A Thousand Different Ways under 30 days now, I think of my friend often. With open arms, she would have played on the string she was dealt, embracing Clay's new CD and all that he has accomplished in his career.

And in her own special way, she would have shared all this with everyone within her network. In the spirit of Judi's gift of communication, here is the link to listen to snippets of all 14 songs from ATDW at Sony Music Store.



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Fans Share Single With Others

A THOUSAND WAYS -- Like other graphic artists, Amazing_CA has created numerous blends and graphics from a handful of current poses. In this one, she showcases the "library picture," as well as screen caps from recent entertainment shows.

Rave Reviews for 'Without You'

Fans Share Single with Others

Visit any Clay Aiken message board, and the dizzying excitement for Without You, the first single from the soon-to-be released A Thousand Different Ways, shines through in post after post: "Glorious .. gorgeous ... sublime ... masterpiece ... blown away ... vocal prowess ... phenomenal ... an altering experience."

Other noteworthy reflections include: "Artistically interpreted and magnificently performed with those vocal dynamics ... WY really showcases Clay's voice. If we who have heard him a million times are taken aback, just think of those who haven't heard him recently ... This song is forevermore Clay Aiken's!"

JennaZ (Clayversity) penned this graph Thursday night: In this song, Clay proves that he can do what so many others can't. He can really sing -- with power, expression, and conviction. This is a showstopper, and I'll bet it will be extraordinary live.

If you haven't heard the full studio rendition of Without You, forget passing go and collecting $200. Just get cracking to Clay Aiken's MySpace page or Clay and listen for yourself to the song that has inspired these extraordinary comments from fans, as well as those with whom they have shared the link.

Enthusiasm Not.Just.Us!

The enthusiastic reactions to WY that Claymates have received from family, friends, and acquaintances of all ages would easily fill 10 blogs. These are just a few of the reviews collected at Clayversity Thursday evening:

Workingforclay: I teach 11th grade American History. The last 15 minutes of class, when the students had started their homework, I played Without You. They absolutely loved it. In fact they wanted to know who was singing and, when told, said he really rocked on AI. They even wanted to hear it again. I am so pumped!

Demeter added this comment from another board: So, there's a guy I work with (early 30s, married) who tolerates my fandom and lets me swoon about Clay without making fun of me. Anyway, I just played WY for him, and he said:

"Wow! I still have a hard time relating how he looked early on with the voice that comes out of him. I know he's good, but I still always expect the shallow kind of pop stuff you hear on the radio to come out of him because that's all you hear from pop stars, but he sings with so many layers and richness and depth. It's like nothing else you've ever heard. When he sings that song, it's not like anyone has ever sung it before. It's just his and sounds like he's owned it forever."

Grammiel: I just came in from the hairdressers. I had to leave my copy of WY there. I took it to play for my hairdresser of many, many years. As it started playing, he sat down and didn't move until the entire song had played. He looked at me and said, "That song is going to be a HUGE hit!"

ShakinAiken4: I started school yesterday, and I have a folder I carry to all my classes that has the library picture on it. A lot of people grabbed it, stared at it, and asked me who it was. I answered, "You know me. Who do you think it is?" For most of them, their eyes got wide and their mouths dropped open. They can't believe Clay looks like that! All of them said that the new look is an improvement, many claiming that he's now hot.

One guy, who has always made fun of Clay, walked into class with an identical haircut and looked at the picture. After I told him who it was, he stared for a few more seconds, then wordlessly placed the folder back down. Not a word! That's huge for him. These are all 13/14 year-olds, btw.

Rcknrllmom: My 14-year-old loves the song. She played it for one of her friends who also loved it, kept saying "wow," and now plans to buy the CD.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This blog's clickable interlude features the beautiful visual creations of five talented graphic artists -- Amazing_CA (1), Cindilu2 (2), Katt45 (3), ABeautifulMind (4), and Hotforclay (5).

Co-Workers Spreading the Word, Too!

Coopersgirl: Today I emailed some of my co-workers Clay's MySpace link, and they were freaking out. One of the ladies, listened to WY four times. She put an out-to-lunch sign on her door and turned off the lights. LOL, in the dark with Clay! She also sent the link to a ton of her friends. The way of the Internet!

Hanapepe: Anybody else unable to hear traffic noises because of the iPod earphones stuffed in their ears with WY playing on repeat all the way to work? Please tell me I wasn't the only loony driving to work this morning!

Yesterday one of the college students who works for me exited my office singing the song. Also, I got a great reaction from a non-Internet-connected male friend when I sent him the MySpace link. I got him and his wife tickets to the JNT2, so he likes Clay's voice but is definitely a casual fan. His response to me after hearing WY was: "Thanks for the song. I kept listening to it OVER AND OVER AND OVER!"

Lindylo: I play (actually blast) WY on repeat on my iPod through my car speakers all the way to work and home -- eight times each way.

Amazing_CA: Two office mates are already planning to purchase the album. They heard Without You, and all they could say to me is that his voice is just beautiful! Another office mate also said she had goose bumps when listening to that amazing voice.

Rainlover: I emailed the link to Clay's MySpace to a close friend who works in a large office complex. She is personal assistant to the gentleman who owns the company, so she can pretty much do as she pleases. She's been playing it over their PA system and said she can't get any work done for people coming in wanting to know: "WHO IS THAT SINGING THAT SONG?" She's telling them, "Clay Aiken -- and his new CD with that song on it will be out Sept. 19!"

AprilJoy, 23, a collegian who also posts at CV, reflected: I just now got the headphones out and listened to WY the way it needs to be listened to. I have chills and tears. I forget about promotion. I forget about radio. I forget where I am. I forget everything but what I can feel in my soul. The notes shoot straight into your heart like daggers. His voice, his pain, it breaks you, and he makes you his. More than that, the listener BELIEVES that he can't live WITHOUT YOU.

A Texas friend, who has lamented past recordings when instrumentals covered Clay's voice, sent me this email after listening to the new single: You are oh so right about Clay's WITHOUT YOU -- the voice is back! Just "fabulucious"! One of my all-time favorites B.C. (Before Clay)! In some places, his voice sounds as if it's turning somersaults.

Clay fans have always been a bonus marketing arm for publicizing their singer's CDs, performances, and charitable endeavors. Bet RCA Records doesn't mind at all!


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Clay Train Itinerary Ramping Up

POSSIBLE COVER -- When Wal-Mart online used the above photo for their ATDW display, Clay fans automatically assumed this might be the actual album's cover. With word to the contrary, we are still on "cover watch."

Clickity-Clack, Clickity-Clack!

Clay Train Itinerary Ramping Up

Can you hear that "clickity-clack, clickity clack" steadily getting louder? With the release of A Thousand Different Ways little more than a month off, the Clay Train's dance card is filling up. These are just a few of the highlights from this week's itinerary:

Clay InStyle's Sexiest Singer Again!

Justin Timberlake's CD may be titled "Future Sex/LoveSounds," but CA fans firmly believe our man is the one who has brought the sexy back.

InStyle - Click 2x

Voting took place in May, and Clay has held InStyle magazine's "Sexiest Singer" title for three consecutive years. Most likely the "baggage" mentioned in the blurb beneath the AI5 photo refers to the show that gave him his start, but there's no complaining about these results, which appear on Page 482 of the September issue on sale now:

Crooner Clay Aiken: Who doesn't have baggage? We'll just say this: It's his third consecutive win, and, no, our servers weren't hacked by "Clayheads." Not to mention you voted after the hairstyle!

CLAYHEADS?!?!?! Meanwhile, three years in a row -- WOOHOO!!!

Notes From Entertainment TV

* THE INSIDER: Results of another text-messaging poll -- Which music star would you want to perform at your reception? -- wer revealed on Wednesday night's telecast. Clay -- who else?

* ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT: The InStyle poll results -- Who's Sexy Now? -- with Clay from the AI5 appearance are featured on Wednesday's telecast, as well as the ET web site.

Meanwhile, at ETonline, fans are correctly answering the query: Who is the sexiest male celeb? Clay is currently winning by a landslide over Jake Gyllenhaal, Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, and Johnny Depp -- and you can still vote!

ATDW To Be in Soundcheck Spotlight

In the very near future, A Thousand Different Ways will be spotlighted on Wal-Mart's Soundcheck, both in stores and online, allowing fans to view and download behind-the-scene footage from the album-making process, interviews, and performances.

Soundcheck can be viewed at no cost, though there is a small fee for downloading the video. The current Wal-Mart Soundcheck features Five for Fighting and includes six songs "a la AOL Sessions" plus an interview.

Wal-Mart also airs the Soundcheck performances on TVs in the store's electronics department. CA fans are already planning Wal-Mart lunch breaks to watch Clay's Soundcheck on giant 52" TV screens. Reckon we should warn Wal-Mart of an upcoming Claymate invasion?

Top 40/Pop Betting on Clay

At Top 40/Pop, Bill Lamb penned a brief history of Clay's musical career, discussing the release of ATDW and providing a track listing complete with sound clips of the original performers of the 10 covers. I especially like this paragraph:

While collections of covers can be a risky proposition, and, in overall pop history, they don't have a good record of sales or critical acclaim, the covers album "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties" brought Barry Manilow back to the top of the charts earlier this year and Rod Stewart has turned covers into a franchise. Perhaps this is just what Clay Aiken needs to focus attention on his tremendous vocal instrument. With the legendary Clive Davis at his side, I wouldn't bet against him.

Even though this piece appeared on the 8/3 press release day, comments continued way beyond the publication. Making a very good point that bears more discussion is this one by June:

I don’t think Clay Aiken is making any mistakes here as he will have a tremendous appeal to the younger folks (18-30). The trend now across college campuses is the 70s and 80s music, and Clay is giving them exactly what they want! I wish him the best!

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This blog's clickable interlude features the beautiful visual creations of three talented graphic artists -- Amazing_CA (1, 2), Cindilu2 (3), and ABeautifulMind (4, 5).

AI Magazine Reprises Finale Surprise

The phenomenal AI5 Finale moment involving Clay and Michael Sandecki, the CA wannabe from this season's Idol auditions, receives full-page treatment in the Fall 2006 issue of the American Idol magazine on news stands now.

Michael Sandecki, labeled as "Faiken Aiken" when he appeared on the American Idol Finale with Clay on May 24, was interviewed by the magazine in the article, "Having an Aiken Breakdown":

AI Scan - Click2x

Sony BMG Sound Advice Survey

Many fans have registered to complete the Sony BMG Sound Advice Survey:

Will you be definitely buying in the first week, probably buying in the first week, buying at some time, probably not buying, or definitely not buying new releases of Alan Jackson, Ludacris, Jesse McCartney, AudioSlave, Mario Vasquez, Clay Aiken, John Mayer, Tony Bennett, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Lloyd Banks, Janet Jackson, Chingy, Fergie and Elton John.

The description for CA reads like this: Clay Aiken: American Idol's biggest second-place finisher brings out a collection of love songs, both new and old. (Release date: September 19).

In the past, Claymates have put our singer at the top of the list on such queries as:

* If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one record, which would it be? Clay Aiken's Measure of a Man

* Who must you see perform live? Clay Aiken

More no-brainers!

Kimmel Date Sold Out!

There is no better chemistry on TV than when Clay joins Jimmy Kimmel on his late night talk show, and the two will be together again soon as CA is scheduled to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live Sept. 26.

Within hours of this news hitting the fan boards, the JKL site had a bold red missive: THIS DATE IS SOLD OUT!

Lycos50 Leap for Clay

With all the buzz surrounding ATDW, Clay last week bolted from #32 to #17 on the Lycos 50. Then, for his 162nd consecutive week on the elite chart, our singer slipped one notch to #18. Fans, however, are currently searching with Lycos to rectify the step back.

MySpace holds the week's #1 slot, and one wonders if the new influx of pages by CA fans helped boost this online community from its previous #3 position.

Music Prof Responds to RS Blogger

Monday Elizabeth Goodman wrote a brief blog entitled Clay Aiken to Release Most Cynically Pop Album Ever? for the Rolling Stone web site. In her piece under "Rock&Roll Daily," Goodman knocked the CD covers plan, Clay's new hairdo, and -- well -- you get the picture.

As a music teacher, I am particularly fond of one of the earlier responses to the Goodman blog:

I’m 30, male & a music professor at a small east coast college. I have a lot of talented students, but if I had just one with the unique voice of a Clay Aiken, I would be over the moon. We’ve played some of his recordings in class & the live ones surpass the studio versions by far. I would say see him live first & then judge. His Jukebox Tour was phenomenal & if this CD is anywhere near the energy & emotion of that tour, it will be a huge hit.

My students are all fans, young men & women, because they as performers realize artistry & they hear it in spades in Clay’s best work. He is the modern-day equivalent of a Sinatra or Bennett & for what it’s worth, it’s my opinion that the musical landscape in America is ready for a truly amazing entertainer of his caliber. Someone, another male fan, wrote a couple of years ago that Clay has the potential to become something of a cross between Beck & Bobby Darin & I totally agree.

I fully expect the next album to be packed with a lot of great original music after he succeeds with this particular Favor To Clive Davis CD. I already happen to know several top songwriters who want to get a track on Clay’s next album. It’s not only money in the bank for them, but they can be assured that their songs will receive the classy treatment they deserve.

**Clickity-Clak, Clickity-Clack** -- the Clay Train is definitely on a roll! Another awesome week for a very special singer and his fans in the Clay Nation!


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TBAF, CD Parties Highlighted

Cindilu2 entitled this beautiful graphic "SSS," as it incorporates repetitious adjectives in the background -- sexy, smart, sensual, smoldering, sweet, stunning. S.O.S. works, too!

GoodSearch 'Charity of the Day'

TBAF, CD Parties Highlighted

NOTE: GoodSearch info updated at 7 a.m. Tuesday, 8/15/06.

Surfing the Internet with GoodSearch was high priority for Clay Aiken fans Monday, Aug. 14, as The Buble/Aiken Foundation was the designated "Charity of the Day" with this Internet company. In 24 hours Monday, $20.10 was added to TBAF coffers, besting the amount generated in the year's first four months and almost matching funds raised in May via GoodSearch.

, a company that enables participants to fund hundreds of thousands of charities and schools through the simple act of searching the Internet, was founded in Nov. 2005 by brother and sister Ken and JJ Ramburg and dedicated to their mother, who lost her battle with cancer. Active in a number of charities, the Ramburgs wanted to provide an easy way for people to support their favorite causes.

Last year, online advertising generated $9.6 billion in revenue. Utilizing Yahoo technology, GoodSearch distributes a portion of its ad revenue (about a penny per search) to charities or schools selected by users each time they use the site.

If you have not already added the GoodSearch toolbar to your browser with TBAF as your chosen charity, this is a great time to do so.

This insignia appears on the main page at GoodSearch, designating TBAF as Monday's "Charity of the Day" and linking surfers to the site. As most CA fans know, TBAF was founded to provide services, awareness, and financial assistance for facilitating the full integration of children with disabilities into the mainstream life environment.

TBAF Three Years Old

The Bubel/Aiken Foundation grew out of the relationship between Clay, Diane Bubel, and Diane’s then 13-year-old son Mike, who had been diagnosed with autism. Clay met the Bubel family while pursuing a career in special education. Following his run on American Idol, Clay officially announced the creation of TBAF on July 28, 2003.

Anyone who links to TBAF via GoodSearch Monday can read of the work being done, including four very special accounts under Our Stories: A Lesson Worth Living, The Group Shot, The Cheer of the Crowd, and The Heart of a Child.

What Clay Fans Can Do

You can add the GoodSearch toolbar to your browser in a snap. In addition, forms are available at the site to email others asking them to do the same in support of TBAF.

To date, only $648.30 has been raised for TBAF via GoodSearch, but Clay fans can make those numbers change. Thursday night the OFC membership rolled past the 12,000 mark. If 100 people complete two searches a day through GoodSearch for a year, TBAF receives $730; 1,000 people doing the same equals $7,300; 10,000 people completing two searches a day and the total is $73,000.

Suggestions from GoodSearch for getting the campaign rolling include:

Email 20 friends and/relatives telling them about this charitable search engine and asking them to either download the GoodSearch toolbar and/or make GoodSearch their homepage, designating TBAF as the cause they support.

If you work in an office environment, ask the IT department of your office to download the GoodSearch toolbar onto everyone’s computer.

Those who have blogs can create an entry about GoodSearch and the Foundation.

The awareness raised at GoodSearch on Bubel/Aiken Day, hopefully, will continue to set records!

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This clickable interlude features graphics/blends by three visual artists: Amazing_CA (1, 5); Clayquebec1 (2, 4); and Ambassador of Love (3).

Fans To Celebrate New CD

Clay Aiken fans all around the globe are planning festivities in conjunction with the release of our singer's sophomore CD, A Thousand Different Ways. Most include fun-filled dinner parties the evening prior to the 9/19 CD drop, followed by a stroll to a nearby record store to purchase the new album at the magical midnight hour.

In October 2003, CD release parties were held in most major cities throughout North America and a handful of countries around the globe. This time the number of countries has increased, and an international message board was set up to coordinate times, locations, and contacts for the festivities at Clay Nation Central. Party plans began even before fans knew a release date; but with little more than a month to go, festivities are beginning to take final shape.

In northern Illinois, dinner at the House of Hunan will be followed by the all-important midnight adjournment to Tower Records when CDs can be purchased. Central Ohio, with freckled lemonade as the featured beverage of the night, and Kansas fans will be dining at Red Robin Restaurants, progressing to an 11 p.m. tailgate party in Walmart's parking lot prior to making purchases there.

Internet Fans Spreading the Word

Publicity -- getting the word to non-Internet fans, creating flyers for bulletin boards in various locations, coordinating activities with local radio and TV stations -- is well underway in most areas. Typical release party activities include games, goodie bags, giveaways, sharing CA music and videos with new and old friends. Many use this special time to fund raise for TBAF through the sale of Beads for Life, silent auctions, and other charity raffles.

Some music retailers like FYE in Tulsa have opted to bring the CDs to the party locale at the appointed time. Almost all will begin playing the CD throughout the store or restaurant sound system from 11 p.m. on. In several areas, the CDs are pre-ordered prior to the party, some with considerable discounts.

In Baltimore, dinner at an Italian restaurant will be followed by a party at Best Buy, which plans to donate CDs for the "CDs for the Troops" campaign.

Raleigh Sojourns Planned

No matter where they live, CA fans like to gather in Clay's hometown of Raleigh for important events. From as far away as Ontario, Canada, many supporters are planning the sojourn to "mecca" to fete the arrival of this much-anticipated CD.

Some Canadian fans are planning shindigs on the eve of the album release, while others are celebrating with a long luncheon the following Saturday, Sept. 23, i.e., Calgary at Tony Roma's and Toronto at the Hard Rock Cafe.

A few locations are still finalizing their party plans. The South Carolina Clay Fans asked this blog to run the following announcement:

ALL SOUTH CAROLINA FANS! PLEASE VISIT The SC CD Party Page! Come over, say hello, join in the discussion. WITHOUT YOU there is no party! Let's GET BUSY and have some fun celebrating in A THOUSAND DIFFERENT WAYS!!!

Anyone still seeking a nearby CD release party should refer to the Clay Nation Central web site. Won't be long before the good times roll in A Thousand Different Ways!


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