Goblins Invade Clay Cyberspace

Bats and music accompany "Count Clay" in this handsome Halloween graphic by ABeautifulMind.

Thanks to Fandom's Artists

Goblins Invade Clay Cyberspace

BLOGGER FORUM: Monday we opened a FORUM FOR BLOGGERS in the Fan Club area of the Official Fan Club Message Board. I started the ball rolling with an overview from three entries previously posted to help others with what I have learned about HTML codes, picture posting, and various other suggestions. Links are being shared, questions asked and answered. Hopefully, as the thread grows, it will be an excellent source for new and veteran bloggers alike. Thank you for helping to spread the word and for adding your ideas to the forum! -- Caro

It's Halloween in Clay Cyberspace, and talented fan artists have outdone themselves -- from graphic and animated designs to message board banners, avatars, and greetings for the day!

Kudos to the artists, many of whom are members of Clayveristy's Paint Shop Pro Forum, who treat us to beautiful graphics of Clay Aiken year round! Hope you enjoy this visual tour of the Clay Nation on this Halloween Day 2006!

Three talented Clay fans -- Claysmelody (1,2), Amazing_CA (3), and Ambassador of Love (4) -- created these clickable designs of the Aiken in the midst of spooky locations and a lovely, but mysterious, lighthouse setting.

Claystruck, who created many of the Halloween dividers used in this blog, featured our favorite singer in four clickable "skeery" animated graphics for the season.

Clay Aiken message boards are famous for creative banners. Below are three designed for Halloween by Clayversity/Clayboard members Amazing_CA (1, 3) and Claystruck (2). The third banner currently heads CV's board. All are clickable.

Also adorning Clay Aiken boards are avatars reflective of the season. These examples accompany posts by Claystruck, Lindylo, and Katt45.

Colorful fall settings were applied by ClayQuebec1 (1), Amazing_CA (2), and ABeautifulMind (3) to these beautiful designs featuring the very popular publicity photo for Clay's December Christmas Tour.

From the Clay Nation, best wishes for a safe, fun, and very ....


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Holiday Commemorations Merge

SEASONAL BLEND -- Amazing_CA's graphic of Clay Aiken's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live seems the perfect way to begin a Halloween blog.

Merry Thanksgivoween!

Holiday Commemorations Merge

Due to their proximity on the calendar and the influence of commercial activity, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations have so effectively merged that the appropriate greeting for the season could very well be "Merry Thanksgivoween," as depicted in this clickable classic cartoon by Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press.

Clickable Cartoon

Halloween receives due respect in this blog's second act, while the opening curtain mirrors Clay cyber news from the merry convergence of fourth quarter holiday happenings.

With ghosts and goblins possessing Internet and real life terrains, Clay Aiken fans are already envisioning key events of the Christmas season -- an 18-city tour of CA performances with symphony orchestras [schedule at clayaiken.com], a limited edition EP -- All Is Well - Songs for Christmas -- to be released exclusively through WalMart, and a lineup of appearances running the gamut from talk shows to a soap opera promoting Clay's new mainstream CD, A Thousand Different Ways.

'All Is Well - Songs of Christmas' Cover

The minute the Official Fan Club posted info about the limited edition EP, All Is Well - Songs for Christmas, the CA community began some serious Christmas shopping with pre-orders via WalMart.

As every card-carrying Claymate knows, the track listing for this perfect holiday gift or stocking stuffer includes All Is Well, Christmas Waltz, O Come O Come Emmanuel, and My Grown Up Christmas List.

Music students and family are at the top of my pre-order list for this exclusive gem.

DOOL Promo Proves Phenomenal

The publicity garnered by the announcement of Clay's upcoming 12/22 appearance on "Days of Our Lives" in media outlets online, in print, and via the airwaves has been nothing short of phenomenal. A Google search Saturday afternoon yielded a total of 307k outlets with the news.

This AP article made the rounds in the press, as well as DOOL chat rooms:

NEW YORK (AP) - Clay Aiken is about to enter a world of back-stabbing, scandal and diva fits - and no, it's not backstage at "American Idol." He's taping an appearance on NBC's "Days of our Lives."

The 27-year-old Aiken will perform two songs, one from his new album "A Thousand Different Ways," and "O Holy Night" from his 2004 CD "Merry Christmas with Love," the soap opera's spokeswoman, Kellie Kulikowsky, told The Associated Press.

He'll take the stage for a private concert for Steve (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) at the club Dune in the town of Salem. The episode is scheduled to air Dec. 22.

Clickable 'November on Tyra!'

The greatly-anticipated airing of Clay's appearance on the Tyra Banks Show is being touted on the host's website, as well as in promos on current segments. To watch the preview, click on "Don't Miss November" at the above link.

New Applause for ATDW

Common Sense Media has posted an excellent review of ATDW, giving Clay's CD a 9+/10 rating.

On A THOUSAND DIFFERENT WAYS, Clay Aiken delivers covers of 14 romantic, sentimental, and mostly well-known love ballads. A CD like this requires a certain mood, as well as an absolute suspension of coolness. But Aiken does a beautiful job reinventing the love-ballad wheel ...

For those who aren't afraid of sentiment, these are smooth, lovely offerings, sung with passion and integrity and produced with loving care. Leave your hip-hop attitude at the door, and enjoy the sentimental stylings of a talented musical interpreter ...

Thursday a 24-year-old male banker from Jakarta, East Jakarta, Indonesia, penned his take on ATDW in an online journal, The Story Goes. Non-Blogspot members can leave comments as "Anonymous."

If you look at this title, you probably know it from Clay Aiken's new album. Yup, I just bought it and fell in love with it, forgive me if this album makes me nostalgic about those years when the songs were good and the voices of the singers were amazing ...

Texas Wind Wipes Out JKL

My mother-in-law, my newest Clayvert, and I watched our singer's TV Guide Channel Close-Up interview together, even though a Mapquest search shows we live exactly 1467.16 miles from each other. Her assessment: "Clay Rules!"

We tried sharing the re-airing of Jimmy Kimmel Live Friday night, but wouldn't you know -- West Texas experienced high winds, and the Midland-Odessa ABC station was literally blown off the air! I will be making MIL a DVD of that show because JK and Clay are just too good to let a Texas dust storm run interference.

We are both looking forward to a very interesting fall lineup of CA appearances and happenings:


10/28: TV Guide Channel Close-Up
11/2: The Megan Mullally Show (Taping 11/1)
11/17: Regis&Kelly Show
11/21: American Music Awards: Presenter
11/28: Release of All Is Well - Songs for Christmas
TBA: Tyra Banks Show
TBA: Dr. Phil Show
12/22: Days of Our Lives (Performance: EIH and OHN)
12/1 - 12/23: Christmas Symphony Tour

PHOTO INTERMISSION: Graphic artists have wasted no time creating variations of the beautiful photos released in conjunction with Clay's Christmas tour. This clickable interlude features the talents of four fans, including Cindilu2 (1); Clayquebec1 (2); ABeautifulMind (3); and Ambassador of Love (4, 5).

Halloween Happily Haunts Blogs

A brief tour of OFC blogs and Clay Aiken message boards quickly reveals that fan fetes of all things Halloween are out in full force.

So is our annual revelry and affection for spooky pumpkins, goblins, and haunted houses grounded in ancient pagan ritual, demonic worship, or -- of all places -- the church?

The word Halloween actually originated in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hollows Eve (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. In 5th century BC Celtic Ireland, the holiday marking the official end of summer, October 31, was called Samhain (sow-en), heralding the Celtic new year.

The Romans adopted Celtic practices as their own. In the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of other Roman traditions, among them their day honoring Pomona, Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which may be the precursor for the modern day Halloween tradition, bobbing for apples.

Trick-Or-Treating From Souling

The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On Nov. 2, All Souls Day, early Christians walked from village to village begging for soul cakes. The more soul cakes the beggars received, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the donors' dead relatives.

From Irish folklore comes our Jack-o-lantern custom. Jack, an evil, fun-loving man, made a deal with Satan that backfired; and when he died, he was denied access to both Heaven and Hell. To light his way through the frigid darkness, Jack was given a single ember, which was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip.

In the 1840s Irish immigrants brought their turnip Jack's lanterns to America, but found pumpkins far more plentiful.

Though some cults have adopted Halloween as their favorite holiday, it is important to remember the tradition did not come from evil practices. Today many churches sponsor Halloween parties, traditional pumpkin patches, as well as pumpkin-carving events and "haunted houses."

Halloween is as evil or as festive as we choose to make it.


Tar Heel Ghost Stories

As a North Carolinian, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the plethora of famous Tar Heel ghost stories. Just the titles are scary: Blackbeard's Queen Anne Revenge, A Colonial Apparition; Buried Alive; The Scull Hangs High; Bells, Books, and Rafters; The Headless Haunt; The Peg-Legged Ghost; The Greensboro Hitchhiker, The Devil's Tramping Ground.

For a Wilmingtonian, The Maco Light easily tops the list of popular ghost tales. Visiting the Maco Light was the theme of many an autumn hayride of my youth. Maco is located in Brunswick County, 12 miles northwest of Wilmington and in the past was a stop along the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

Briefly, in 1867 conductor Joe Baldwin was riding the last car of his train when it somehow became uncoupled from the engine. As he watched another train fast approaching his slowing car, Joe wildly waved his lantern back and forth in warning; but his efforts were in vain. The oncoming train barreled into the car, and Joe was decapitated in the accident.

Just seconds before the crash, Joe's lantern was hurled away by a mighty, unseen force, landing in an upright position. Shortly after the horrible accident, the Maco Light began appearing along the tracks. To this day, Joe's ghost appears swinging his lantern and searching for his head.

For some spooky reading, check out Tar Heel Ghosts or The Devil's Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mystery Stories, both by John Harden.


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Season's Soup Favorites Shared

DELECTABLE -- Cindilu2's beautiful graphic of Clay Aiken has little to do with cooking, but her design is certainly tantalizing.

With Clay Aiken Interlude

Season's Soup Favorites Shared

I have always told my friend Terri -- a staunch non-computer user and proud of it -- that Clay Aiken message boards cover the latest news as well or better than most networks. Natural disasters, weather, sports, who sang what when at the World Series, you name it -- the linear thread I read is often interspersed with the latest major happenings around the globe, local weather forecasts, and sports cheers and results.

With trees sporting autumnal, multi-colored splendor and message boards announcing that temps are dipping lower by the day (30 degrees in St. Louis and North Dakota, a brisk 27 in Chicago, 37 but rising in Florida, 42 in New York City, 37 in North Carolina), dinner menus are starting to reflect such cool weather favorites as soups, stews, and chili recipes.

Supper Over Key Signatures

A few years ago when my week included 55 private students and a growing family, my slow cooker was probably the most used appliance in the kitchen, making it possible for me to fulfill dinner preparation and an afternoon of music lessons at the same time. Enticing aromas from the trusty crock pot wending their way into the studio almost always had the later students thinking more about supper than key signatures.

No doubt this blog topic was inspired last week when I shared my Mexican Cornbread recipe with the mother of two young piano and violin students. I look forward to hearing their reaction to the dish printed below.

Kicking off this fall menu overview is Cabbage Bean Soup, family favorite from the beginning. The "framework" for this recipe can be found in the Harpeth Valley Elementary School Cookbook, purchased during a PTA fund-raiser years ago. Typically, I experimented with the original from the get-go. Since our family enjoyed hot, spicy flavors, I doubt I have ever prepared this soup the same way twice.

There are several variations available for Cabbage Bean Soup on the Internet. For example, the recipe can be prepared in a slow cooker (4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low). An array of substitutions can be applied, and some of my alterations are are provided within the ingredient list.


1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 to 1 pound low-fat ground turkey, beef, or meatless ground burger.
[My favorite combo is part grouund turkey and part turkey sausage, chopped. Just a little sausage adds a lot of flavor.]
1 large onion, chopped
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1 can (16 oz) can stewed tomatoes (Mexican, Italian, Cajun)
[Optional addition: 1 can tomatoes with green chiles]
2 (16 oz) cans red kidney beans [mix or substitute pinto, navy, black beans]
2 cups (or cans) water
1 can (16 oz) can tomato sauce (chunky, garlic, plain)
1-2 beef/chicken-flavored bouillon cubes or Better Than Bouillon equivalent
[Option: the original recipe called for 2 cans beef or chicken broth; if I use bouillon, I make up for the liquid with water.]
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Spices to taste: garlic, Italian seasonings, red pepper flakes, cilantro, etc.

Brown ground turkey or beef with onion in a skillet, using 1 T. vegetable oil. Cook until meat is well browned and crumbled. Drain fat; transfer meat and onion to a large pot along with all other ingredients except the cabbage. Cook for an hour and a half. Add the cabbage at the halfway point. Serve with cornbread or crackers.

Makes 10 servings, which -- for me -- means lots of leftovers that can be frozen and reheated in the microwave for lunches and/or dinners.


I was given this recipe by a dear friend in Odessa, TX, years ago. The 3x5 recipe card is now splotched from time and spilled ingredients, as I prepared this dinner often after being transplanted to Texas. The main dish consists of cornbread with a center of ground meat, onions, green chiles, and shredded cheese. A side salad with the cornbread dish has been a popular combo in our home.

At first, I prepared Mexican Cornbread as printed below. However, with time constraints as a teacher and mother, in later years I substituted with instant cornbread mixes. Prepare according to the mix recipe, adding the cream corn of the scratch version.


1 C. yellow corn meal
2 eggs, beaten
1 C. sweet milk
1/4 C. yellow cream corn
1/2 tsp. soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/3 C. vegetable oil

Mix all of the above well, and set aside; or do the same with the cornbread mix and cream corn.


2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 to 1 lb. ground meat (turkey, beef, meatless burger)
1 large onion, chopped
1 small can chopped green chile peppers
Grated 2% cheese

Saute 1/2 to 1 lb. ground meat and one large chopped onion with one T. vegetable oil. Drain on paper towel. Mix with one small can copped green chile peppers.

Grease the bottom and sides of a large iron skillet with remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Sprinkle with corn meal, and brown briefly to help form a crust. Pour half the batter into the pan. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over the batter. Add a layer of the meat, onion, and peppers. Pour remaining batter on top.

Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.

What does all this have to do with Clay Aiken? Nothing -- unless he wants to try an alternative to his favored tacos sometime!

PHOTO INTERMISSION -- This clickable interlude features the talents of photographer KarenEh (2) and graphic artists Amazing_CA (1, 2); Ambassador of Love (3); ABeautifulMind (4); and Claystruck (5).

November Appearances On Tap

Clay's TV appearances are entertaining and help introduce his music to others. Fans are looking forward to a variety of November promo dates, as well as a packed schedule of Christmas concerts with symphony orchestras throughout the eastern US.

Slated for this weekend are the Friday (10/27) replay of our singer's September appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Saturday's TV Guide Channel Close Up feature, "Clay Aiken -- A look at the life and career of this popular singer." Check local TV listings for these shows.

My mother-in-law, who missed the original airing of JKL -- but has heard all about it! -- is counting down the days until Friday. I really believe she is ready for her authentic Claymate card.

Excellent Promo for ATDW

One of the best promos around for Clay's latest CD, A Thousand Different Ways, can be viewed on The Hollywood Beat at Rock.com. While Clay sings "Without You," the announcer provides biographical info, including his CD discography, best-selling biography, and his work with UNICEF.I am planning to share this link with friends and relatives. All CA fans will enjoy this well-done piece on the "skinny guy with the great pipes from North Carolina ... a young man who clearly loves what he does."

'Clay Aiken: Music of the Heart'

One of the most thoughtful reviews I have read on ATDW is located at Beavers on Idol -- "Clay Aiken: Music of the Heart" by Cindy Wagner.

The OFC's own Hosaa incorporates her interpretations of the album's playlist, as well as her theories about the remarkable making and revolutionary marketing of this CD.

EID on Hong Kong Radio

According to Mediaguide, which monitors the panels of stations that report to Yes.com, two Hong Kong radio stations are playing "Everything I Do."

This is an on site clip from Hong Kong's Radio Channel 88.1.

Set List for Christmas in Connecticut

Multi-platinum recording artist Clay Aiken kicks off the Hartford Symphony Orchestra's new "Symphony at the Center" series with Music Director Edward Cumming and the Hartford Symphony.

Tuesday a news release and set list for "Clay Aiken: Christmas with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra" was released for the 12/12 concert in Connecticut. For a sneak preview, see the Hartford website.

Clickable WHUD Poster

Cooking for Just One

Though less time-consuming, preparing meals for just one can sometimes be a challenge. Always seeking ways to simplify, I created a winter soup recipe with that in mind. This oft-used "soup for one" plan was shared in an earlier blog at the OFC.

My by-words in cooking now are "simple" and "substitution," so feel free to create your own variations. Just be sure to share your findings, LOL! These ingredients can be multiplied to yield servings for any number of people. Preparation time for just me is under 10 minutes. SIMPLE SOUP for ONECook the following -- approximately 1/4 cup for the vegetables -- in a microwave-proof bowl for 2-3 minutes:


Cook the following -- approximately 1/4 cup for the vegetables -- in a microwave-proof bowl for 2-3 minutes:

Bell pepper
Frozen corn
Frozen lima beans
Three-inch link of turkey sausage, chopped*

* Variations here can be one inch of the turkey sausage and a portion of shredded chicken, just chicken, ground turkey/beef/meatless burger, etc.

Add these ingredients, and microwave all for another two minutes:

3 T. canned black beans (or another variety)
Half a can of Mexican-flavored stewed tomatoes (alternates include stewed tomatoes, Italian-flavored stewed tomatoes, etc.)
Water or small amount of tomato juice
Spices to taste -- I use cumin, red pepper flakes, and Mrs. Dash Italian seasonings
2-3 T. shredded 2% cheese on top

Result: Delicious one-dish meal fast!


One large baking potato
Bell pepper
Frozen or fresh broccoli
One serving of turkey sausage, crabmeat substitute, or meatless burger crumbles
Canned black beans
Heart-healthy margarine
Seasonings to taste: Mrs. Dash (Italian Medley, Southwest, Lemon Pepper), cayenne, etc.
Shredded 2% cheese (Mine is Mexican-flavored)

Wash, punch holes in the skin, and microwave the potato on a plate until done, about 6-7 minutes. Cut in half, and refrigerate one portion for another meal. In a bowl, microwave onion, bell pepper, frozen broccoli, and meat.

Drizzle 2 T. black beans (with juice) over the potato half. Dot with margarine. Spread the vegetables and meat over this, and top with shredded cheese.

Run the "loaded" potato back through the microwave for 1-2 minutes. If desired, add a dollop of fat-free sour cream.

Result: Another delicious, healthy meal-in-one-dish for one! Now that you know what's for dinner at my house, how about sharing your favorite cool weather recipe?

Have a great week, Clay Nation!


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Clay Aiken's Voice Sells ATDW

MULTIPLE CLAYS -- Amazing_CA has created a beautiful blend that is every fan's dream, a Clay at every turn.

Fan Promotion Continues

Clay Aiken's Voice Sells ATDW

Wherever you go, whatever you do,
I will be right here waiting for you.
Whatever it takes or how my heart breaks,
I will be right here waiting for you.

These lyrics from "Right Here Waiting" describe succinctly the current mood and motion on many Clay Aiken message boards. While our singer is taping TV spots and rehearsing for November and beyond, most fans continue to promote A Thousand Different Ways by sharing the CD with countless friends, relatives, and associates, many of whom have expressed surprise that the new album has been available for a month.

At the same time, the fan base is "right here waiting" ... for Clay to re-emerge onto the scene when his appearances resume in November and beyond.

The relevancy of this blog's diverse overview and the simple, elegant words of RHW collided in a "light bulb moment" Friday afternoon as I was driving home from a weekly teaching gig at East Davidson High School, contentedly listening to ATDW and maintaining the 70 mph pace sandwiched between two humongous eighteen-wheelers.

Click anywhere in Clay Cyberspace, and the experiences of Clayversity members SmartyPantsSuz and Trishcc reflect those of many fans. These Not.Just.Us stories demonstrate that some of the most effective promotion for ATDW is being powered one-on-one by loyal fans.

The Six-Hour Song

SmartyPantsSuz: Today I was sitting in my office and one of the guys I work with walked in, slammed his coke can down on my desk, and said quite loudly, "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!"

He explained that he had just been to Palm Springs and back, about three hours each way, and listened to ATDW the entire trip -- and it was my fault! I bought the iTunes version for him because I thought he would like "Lover All Alone." When he started out on the trip, he figured it would be a good time to listen to the song. He popped in the CD with the intention of skipping to the last song. However, as each song played, he found that he loved them and ended up listening to the entire album for six hours. His final assessment: "This album is AMAZING!"

People just need to hear the CD, and it will sell itself!

Suz also relayed about another incident with a manger in her workplace:

I gave CDs to a number of people at work. Today I received an e-mail back: "I just wanted to drop you a note to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for Clay Aiken's ATDW. I have been listening to it in my car, on my iPod, and on my computer at work. I love this CD. It is incredible. Thank you again and again!"

Clay, by virtue of his amazing talent, is Clayverting them one by one. It just takes a listen!

WITHOUT YOU -- Clickable graphic
by ABeautifulMind/KarenEh Photo

Recipient Cites 'Known' Songs

Trishcc: I gave ATDW to a male co-worker friend that I had Clayverted. He was very glad to receive the CD and remarked that he had listened to some of the songs via the link I had sent him. He was happy to see songs he "knew."

About a week later, this friend stopped by my office to tell me he plays ATDW in his car. He especially enjoys the fact that the whole CD is mellow and really great listening music. And he thanked me profusely.

Fans 'Claying It Forward'

In another incident, Trishcc described the experience of her sister, who has recently taken a hostess/function coordinator position at a popular restaurant catering events such as birthdays, weddings, and other festivities.

At one of the weddings, my sister noticed a beautiful video tribute to the bride and groom. When the groom's segment started, the background music was set to "Measure of a Man."

These are not breakthrough, earth-shattering stories. You never know who or how Clay's music is going to touch someone. That is why "Claying It Forward" is one of the best marketing tools that we as fans can be involved in.

If you want to help Clay in some small way, send ATDW to your local photographer with a small suggestion. Everyone at that restaurant heard Clay's GLORIOUS voice that day. Maybe your local bridal boutique or tux rental shop could use a beautifully sung gift of song suggestions for potential brides and grooms choosing wedding music.

Clay Aiken not only has enthusiastic supporters, but his fan base -- as always -- is creatively involved with promoting his new CD in a thousand different ways.

PHOTO INTERMISSION: This clickable interlude features the talents of four graphic artists, including Katt45 (1), Ambassador of Love (2), Claystruck (3, 4), and Amazing_CA (5).

So what's happening while fans are "right here waiting" and promoting ATDW? This is just a small sample from online and print media:

Ken Barnes Discusses Covers

Reflecting a query that fans and many music industry personnel have raised, Ken Barnes included the following Q&A in his 10/20 USA Today Listen Up blog:

What is the difference in Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, etc., doing covers, and Clay Aiken?

The difference, as I see it, is Barry and Rod are in the twilight of their careers (or the late innings, if that sounds more polite), at which time, when the desire, the drive, and the market imperatives for producing new material tend to wane, it's a perfectly acceptable (and, commercially speaking, in Barry and Rod's case, brilliant) career move to do covers.

But when you're a young, relatively new artist and have put out exactly one album of new material (and it's closing in on triple platinum-level sales), a covers album isn't such a great idea. It arouses suspicions that the album is just a filler, that you haven't been able to come up with any good new material. That may not be true, and in Clay's case it apparently isn't, as he's stockpiled a fairly sizable amount of new material. It also makes the artist seem prematurely old and past his prime when that, in this instance, is clearly not the case. All in all, a very puzzling career move.

Clay a 'Days' Fan

Apparently, CA is a fan of the NBC show "Days of Our Lives" and, as we have heard, will make an appearance on the show. There is a little hint in the 10/31 issue of Soap Opera Digest:


DAYS is looking to beef up its musical roster. Sources say the show is now trying to woo American Idol alum Clay Aiken. Aiken is reportedly a fan of the show.

Susy McNeil

Duet Partner Speaks Highly of Clay

Suzie McNeil, featured in the 10/18 issue of Entertainment World, described her experience as Clay's duet partner in glowing terms:

What’s McNeil been up to since her Rock Star experience? Well, for starters, she’s about to premiere her first solo CD. Since the release date is still yet to be announced, Suzie’s riding high in the meantime with a duet love song she just recorded for Clay Aiken on his new album A Thousand Different Ways. “I Want to Know What Love is” is a beautifully haunting, soulful rock ballad that makes a serious musical statement with its intense blending of voices and dramatic orchestration and arrangement.

EW: What was your experience with Clay on his album? You’re just such an unlikely pair. What did you think about the whole experience of recording the duet with him?

SM: I was honored to be a part of it. I have always been a fan, an admirer, of his voice. I think vocalists are really drawn to one another because we know what it’s all about and we know what the other person goes through. I’ve always thought that his voice is phenomenal, like world class. I can’t believe this man. I was saying at the party (she attended Aiken’s CD Release party on September 19th) that one extraordinary thing I noticed during my recording experience with him was that the producer was trying to tune or just make sure his vocals were up to scratch, up to industry standard. He was blown away by how “in tune” Clay’s vocals are. I thought that was amazing. As a vocalist I can only aspire to how perfect he is. I actually think I’m pretty good at it too, just not as good as Clay. I admire him so much.

Outstanding Bio on H&HS Web Site

Bios of the 21 members of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities have been posted on the US Dept. of Health & Human Services web site. Many on my mailing list just may need a copy of this outstanding Clay Aiken bio, which begins like this:

Clay Aiken became an international sensation in the wake of his appearance on the hit television show, ‘American Idol.’ In spite of his growing stardom, Aiken has remained steadfast in his desire to remain true to the simple values he learned as a child in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I still live in the town where I grew up,” he says. “I like surrounding myself with people I know and love.” It is this authenticity that his millions of fans have responded to, an almost supernatural earnestness that feels unconventional in the cynical world of today.

... and ends like this:

Mr. Aiken’s upcoming album A THOUSAND DIFFERENT WAYS expresses the many different kinds of love in the world, including his deep love for his fellow man, particularly the littlest ones among us. Where did such a driving need to help others come from? “The need for help!” he answers matter-of-factly. “You know, my mother has always been someone who urged me to help people in need Maybe that’s it. I don’t think it’s something you can learn. It’s just something you do.”

Well worth the read, the bio also appears on the new Clay Aiken.com, the singer's official RCA site where visitors are greeted by a stream of "Without You."

Clickable New Clay Aiken Site

Many fans continue to stream Clay's exclusive interview through Live@Yahoo. The link is also posted on the RCA site.

Golden Vox and Sundrop

Whew, after all that, I believe I'm ready for a Sundrop break! Eons ago, my sister and I survived 8 o'clock classes at East Carolina University with a sugar kick-and-half from breakfasts consisting of a honey bun and our favorite citrus-flavored soft drink. With the passing of years, our consumption has been somewhat reduced, however.

Every Friday after we finish teaching flute and oboe classes at East Davidson High School, Sis and I adjourn to a little country market for our weekly Sundrop break. I had enjoyed listening to ATDW via my iRiver on the 25-mile drive down; so during our post-rehearsal visit, I set the player on "Everything I Do" and handed it to her. I had a feeling the Celtic flavor of this beautiful arrangement would be a winner with the flautist.

Spot on -- Sis loved Clay's interpretation and the exceptional use of flute in EID! There's nothing like a cold Sundrop and the golden vocals of Clay Aiken -- a very special southern combo.

For those who havn't heard of our family's favorite soft drink, I recommend a tour of the Sundrop site. In addition to several interesting recipes -- "Crazy Uncle Randy," "Sundrop Stew," "Sun-Topic Cake," etc. -- all of which are new to me, we just may have located Clay's next bucket hat under the accessories link.

Have a great weekend, Clay Nation!


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