Fans Tune Into Taping Via Cellcert

Clay Aiken sings during Orlando concert. -- Photo by Toni7babe

'Fifth Grader' Cellcert CliffsNotes

Clay Competes for TBAF Camps

Clay Aiken's episode for the Fox show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" was taped Tuesday afternoon. For those unable to attend the taping in Los Angeles, a CA message board was the place to be.

Clay's winnings have long been earmarked for The Bubel/Aiken Foundation project entitled "100 Let's All Play Camps in 2008." Prior to the singer's appearance on the show, the foundation sponsored a "Fifth Grader Challenge" in which supporters pledged money for each of Clay's correct answers.

Pledge donations are being accepted here. At 2:30 p.m. Friday, the "Challenge" pledge total was $85,250.97 with an actual donation total of $10,522.50.

After teaching a couple of violin lessons Tuesday, I tuned into at least five "spoiler" threads to follow the happenings in California. Thankfully, there were no oaths of silence for studio audience members.

However, if you don't want to know the final result, skip out after the photo interlude. Countdowns in the Clay Nation are already ticking off the days until the show airs during November sweeps week.

Per message board protocol, emoticons dot this CliffsNotes version of Internet fans receiving reports from Tuesday's AYSTAFG taping ...

Looks like we have a while to wait, but I'm ready for the spoilers any ole time they start rolling in.

I'm so nervous, can't wait till we have some news.

We might be getting some live news any minute.

I hope so. The cellcerter is four rows from the stage.

Thank God for modern technology and the geniuses who know how to use it!

I believe she said she is in her purse now, the phone that is.

Yep, it entered the building in her bra.

If those attending are sworn to secrecy, do you think they could at least give us a "thumbs up" sign to let us know he did okay?

But that would be ambiguous -- would "thumbs up" mean he did okay or he looked great?! We should have organized a list of hand signals:

Left thumb up: Answered almost everything correctly.
Right thumb up: Answered almost everything correctly and was funnier than Foxworthy.
Both thumbs up: Won a million ding-dang dollars.
Both thumbs up and a fist pump: Won a million bucks and looked REALLY cute.
Both thumbs pointing toward waist: PANTS!
Finger tap, left side of nose: Wearing glasses.
Finger tap, right side of nose: Wearing NEW glasses ...

How about rubbing their hand over their heart if they still love him?

Twenty-four more minutes. Go, Clay, Go!!!

They are playing music, and it's "Yeah" by Usher. I wonder if Clay is in the Green Room dancing ... or singing.

Anything going on yet? Spoil me, spoil me!

True or false question for $2000. Correct!

For $4,000, how many times does the letter "r" appear in "error"? He answered correctly!

I think I'm going to be sick -- this is the way I felt during AI2. You know, I lost weight during that show worrying every week.

Clay's 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Armstrong, is there. The teacher said she is so proud if him.


He just picked another subject. "What is the official bird of New Jersey?"

Oh, Lordy, this is giving me a nervous breakdown.

It's the eastern goldfinch! Google is my friend.

[Fans proceed to post all the state birds. Very educational afternoon!]

He got it right!!!

OMG, this is nerve-wracking. Did he use his "save" or one of the "cheats"?

Don't 5th graders look up everything on the Internet now? Why do people have to know facts?

He got it right! WOOHOO!!!

I'm afraid we won't get anymore information. They have sequestered the entire audience and are keeping them captive until November. Actually, we lost the cellcerter.

Even if we were getting a blow by blow description of the questions, Clay's reactions, his answers etc., I would still be waiting very impatiently for November so that I can see it on TV for myself.

Almost 300 in this cellcert thread -- you would think there was a concert going on!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Anyone who doesn't want to know the outcome of Clay's "Fifth Grade" appearance before November should bail during this clickable intermission. Included are Summer Tour graphics and photos by Amazing_CA, photo by PinkCocoa, 1; Scrpkym, Tampa photo, 2; Toni7babe, Orlando photo, 3; AnAmeraikenInTX, Tampa photo with a sepia tone, 4; and Amazing_CA, photos by Tasapio, 5.

On to the Big Finish!

He won $300,000!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Awww, he done good! The $500,000 question -- he said that he thought he knew the answer but that he could set up 30 camps with $300,000 and he didn't want to risk it. WTG, Clay!!!

Turns out he knew the answer, and it was a tough one. "Who wrote the Federalist papers with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay?" The answer was James Madison.

Awww ... he's doubly smart. Smart that he knew the answer and smart that he didn't risk the money. $300,000 for TBAF is incredible!!!

If you add in the money from the pledge drive, then TBAF is going to receive close to $400,000.

Smart men turn me on!

I expect TBAF will get another round of donations when the show airs in November, as Clay will have a chance to talk about the foundation to a national audience. This will be really good exposure for TBAF!

Can't wait to see the show! Nine out of 11 questions answered correctly, and he knew when to stop!

Yay!!! Now my family can eat!

I was planning to stay a "Fifth Grader" virgin, but life's too short.

Something just occurred to me: Clay Aiken just brought "Brainy Back!"

And if he did have to admit he wasn't as smart as a 5th grader, I bet he was cute doing it.

I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes and a silly ole grin on my face thinking, "Ladies, we certainly did pick a winner, didn't we?"

Did I mention how proud I am? Off to up my pledge amount to TBAF!

Even though he chose to stop, Clay gets the full amount (11 answers) from me for appreciating the "bird in the hand."

Post Show Recap Notes

It was great TV. Clay hammed it up thinking out the answers but did not drag it out. He was playful especially when he made a production about the math question. It basically boiled down to how much is 8 * 8, and he had himself so psyched and spooked that he started to doubt his answer and even figured it out again adding 8 plus 8 plus 8...... too funny!

"Mr. Christmas" got to answer a holiday-related question. Who wrote "A Christmas Carol"? Hint -- it is not Mark Twain! That was his helper's answer. In the next question for the Federalist papers when he was thinking about relying on this kid, Clay joked with the kid that "the Mark Twain answer kind of freaked him out." Again, big laughs.

Jeff Foxworthy, the host, seemed amused with Clay and said great things about him at the end: "I admire what you do onstage, but I admire you even more for what you do offstage." He said Clay is a "top quality human being." Then he looked him in the eye and told him, "You are a man of character." We all applauded madly as tears ran down my face.

Clay came across as very secure with his knowledge, very smart but not conscious of it. It was clear he knew or reasoned out the answers rather than guessed. He clearly played this game for TBAF and not for himself. When he was weighing whether to quit or keep going, he said, "Thirty camps... 2.5 camps... no question!"

At the end of the segment, two "suit types" clearly sought Clay out and embraced him. We were told they are the show's producer and executive producer, one of whom is Mark Burnett.

Other celebrities taping "5th Grader" segments Tuesday were singer Kellie Pickler, who won $50,000 for charity, and Regis Philbin, $175,000.

The children are picked for two questions each to help the celebrity. The contestant could ask the child what his/her favorite subjects are. Clay asked one little girl what she liked; and she said, "I like you."

When Clay hugged her later, her leg bent up in the back a la "Princess Diaries." It was so cute. She was over the moon.

She is not alone.

Below is a clickable of the opening photo by Toni7babe:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Revisiting Aiken's Tour Finale

ORLANDO 2007 -- Amazing_CA graphic, photo by Invisible26

A LAP and LACIE Collaboration

Recollections of Orlando Concert

Usually a final concert is filled with trickery, playful antics that performers and audience can enjoy. The vocals in the Orlando show were magnificent treasures; but for the most part, the laughs were the epitome of subtlety.

For days, LAP (laptop) and LACIE (external hard drive) have been reviewing highlights of the final show of Clay Aiken's Summer Symphony Tour. Here are their recollections ...

LAP: I wonder if Caro realizes this is the third day of her blogging routine. She seems rather involved with real life -- a new nephew, enrolling fall students, and whatnot.

LACIE: She did write the lead, but methinks we should take a look at her notes and see what we can assemble.

LAP: To be honest, we caught the blogging bug a few months ago, and we really would like another spin.

LACIE: It's not as if we don't know what's going on in Clay Land. If we're not watching clack, we're reading about it.

Orlando Clackapalooza Time

LAP: These past few days have been a regular Orlando Clackapalooza, so that might be a good subject for our blog entry.

LACIE: Btw, we just happened to catch Leroy1704's post at Clayversity and "borrowed" that term from her.

LAP: Last night, we both needed smelling salts when Caro stopped the clack long enough to watch a couple of movies, meaning LACIE went to bed early while I turned into a DVD player.

LACIE: LOL, I had about an hour's snooze before she checked on the vault alerts at intermission. "Right-click and Save" zapped me from a deep sleep to download mode in a skinny minute.

LAP: One of our favorite songs, "I Want To Know What Love Is," evolved from a gorgeous duet into a magnificent, classic trio in Orlando. Quiana [Parler]and Angela [Fisher] were very clever teasing and tricking Clay as to which would be his singing partner on this song. Each night in Orlando the poor guy had to guess, and in Orlando they both were!

LACIE: How about that ending? Be still, my heart! Clay improvised low register riffs with Quiana and soared into the higher altitudes with Angela. We need to stop talking and roll IWTKWLI.

LAP: Click on Irishbookgal's photo to link to IWTKWLI, posted at YouTube by kb0326 ... and watch for "Heartache" and "Pain."

Photo by Irishbookgal links to IWTKWLI

LACIE: (Fanning self) Lawd Jesus, I just can't get enough of that one.

LAP: Next up are three Not.Just.Us stories, two from the tour and one from real life. Hope you like these as much as we do.

Clay Impresses Theater Owner

DEEPSOUTHGURRL: In West Palm, a man in his late 30s sat next to me. He had treated a young couple to the show for her birthday, and they were sitting in front of us.He saw Clay on AI, thought he should have won; but that was it -- no concerts, no CD's, nothing since.

As the concert progressed, he was really enjoying it; but he never stood for anything. At intermission, I learned he is the owner of a theater in Delray Beach down the road from West Palm. He named some of the performers he has had and they were all names we know.

He was really into the second part, too. Then came The Classics segment; we all stood up and there he sat. I told him, "I'm sorry, but you have got to stand up now. You are going to miss it all sitting in that chair. Trust me." He said, "Yes, 'mam" and stood up. He clapped, he laughed, he danced.

By the time Clay did his "support your local theaters and arts" speech, this man was absolutely in the palm of his hand. He said "Wow, I have never heard a performer so supportive. I think this man is more outstanding than I could have imagined."

I really enjoyed his company, and he really enjoyed Clay Aiken!

Teacher Becomes 'One of Those'

MARGARET5828: At the Asheville concert, I sat next to a 30-year-old teacher who had been a fan since "Take" but had never been to a concert. She acted just like a teenager, jumping up, clapping, cheering, and having a ball.

She asked me where I was from, I told northern Indiana, and she said, "Oh, you're one of those." I assume she meant "crazy fan." I didn't say anything, just loaned her my binoculars on MOAM and LAA. She was a goner for sure. HEEE!!!

GAMBIE: The woman whose cubicle is next to mine knows I am a Clay fan and asks me questions every once in awhile. Yesterday I brought in my "A Thousand Different Ways" CD to listen to, and she wanted to see it.

I opened the notes so that she could she the poster on the back side. She grabbed it from my hands and said rather loudly, "MY, GOD! NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE FOLLOW HIM AROUND THE COUNTRY! WOW, THIS GUY IS JUST WOW!"

One by one they fall under the power of the Aiken.

Photos Highlight Special Moments

LACIE: We know the drill. It's time for a clickable photo interlude.

LAP: These are all from the Orlando concert. The fourth photo is when the "switcheroos" took place on "A Thousand Days." Sean [McDaniel] played piano, Jesse [Vargas] became the drummer, and Quiana did a fantastic imitation of Clay as he stepped into her backup role.

LACIE: The final picture was taken after Clay sang his special thank you to the fans, "Because You Love Me." What a guy! Oh, where's my hankie?

PHOTO INTERLUDE: These five clickables are snapshots of special moments during the tour's finale in Orlando. Included are photos by Okie4Clay, 1; Invisible926, 2 and 4; Irishbookgal, 3; and Brightstar, 5.

TBAF Fifth Grader Challenge: $82,961.97

LAP: Before we forget, we need to take care of a little business. As most CA fans know, Clay will be taping Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? at 11 a.m. PDT Tuesday, Aug. 28.

LACIE: The Bubel/Aiken Foundation is enlisting supporters to make a pledge for each correct answer Singer Man gives. At 10 p.m. Monday, the pledge total was $82,961.97.

LAP: Even though the taping is today and word will soon be out about Clay's performance, TBAF thanks supporters for their continued donations. The money is earmaked for the creation of 100 "Let's ALL Play" camps in 2008.

Detailed info about the challenge and the method by which fans can make a pledge is available at TBAF website.

Fan Provides Science CliffsNotes

LACIE: I certainly hope Clay has been studying for the "Fifth Grader" show. In case he hasn't noticed, Madaelynn posted two science lesson blogs about bats and insects.

LAP: They are tour-related, great reads, and super CliffsNotes for a singer preparing for "Smarter Than a Fifth Grader." Clay's fans really do have his back.

LACIE: According to the photos on my hard drive, they've got his front, too. OMG, where's that fan again?

LAP: Caro reviewed several news items and BAF fund-raisers in the previous blog. Anyone who missed them might want to take a scroll below.


LAP: Thursday night Clay won The Insider's poll asking which celebrity viewers would like to see on Dancing with the Stars.

LACIE: Clayboard's Renee4Clay was quoted on the show: "I just saw Clay Aiken on tour, and that man can move."

MOAM Vocals Outstanding

LAP: Getting back to the music, we thought the VOX was amazing during Clay's performance of "Measure of a Man," the title track of his first album.

LACIE: Clay really outdid himself on the Orlando rendition, and the audience showed him much appreciation with an extended standing ovation.

LAP: You can link to Spotlightlover's video of MOAM by clicking on this photo by Toni7babe:

Photo by Toni7babe links to MOAM

LACIE: Hope y'all enjoyed our Orlando reminiscences. We hope Caro appreciates that we wrote, coded, and uploaded her blog.

LAP: Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

LAP and LACIE: It's been real, Clay Nation. Have an awesome week!


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Flight Home Icing on Florida 4-fer

Summer Tour 2007 -- Amazing_CA graphic with photos by Toni7babe

Not.Just.Us Stories Shared

NC Fans Fly Home with Clay

The beautiful "I Want To Know What Love Is" duet that became a memorable threesome in Orlando, the moving rendition of "Measure of a Man" reaching emotional pinnacles, the predictable but unexpected moments of laughter and sadness of a final show are still primary topics in Clay Cyberspace.

The final notes of Clay Aiken's Summer Symphony Tour still spiral throughout the fandom as concert clack is in major upload mode.

Icing on the Florida 4-fer for three North Carolinians arrived seconds before take-off when Singer Man bounded onto their Delta flight home. This is the story of three fans -- Cindydoe, NCClayfan, and MAL -- who politely allowed Clay much-needed space but still managed to express their appreciation for the summer tour.

On Tuesday, Cindydoe and NCClayfan told their tale in back-to-back posts at Clayversity. No doubt many have already read about the incident, which has rightfully claimed a niche in CA fandom lore. Minus the emoticons, here is their commentary:

CINDYDOE: Clay was on our flight home!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

As we sat on the plane, NCClayfan had just said to me, "As long as that door is open, there is still hope." Ten seconds later, there he was! Of course, we didn't say anything, but he had to notice the difference in cabin pressure as the three of us gasped for breath at the same time.

I'm sure I'll have a bruise on my arm and leg tomorrow from the two Mary Ann's. He sat four rows behind us and across the aisle with Jamie. He was in the window seat. We did not turn around to stare; and that was hard.

Trio Sends 'Off the Chain' Note

When the stewardess came with drinks, we jokingly and quietly asked her if we could have Clay Aiken's cup. She said, "So that was him? I thought it looked like him!"

We wondered if he would be at baggage check, what should we say to him, if anything. We decided we would get off the plane as usual and give him his privacy. But,we did write a note on our Delta napkin:

Thanks for the tour. It was "Off the Chain!"

We got off the plane and asked the stewardess if she would the note to Clay; she said she would. We got to where he couldn't see us, and peeped though a tiny window and watched as he stood in the door of the plane and read "our" note.

Yes, we are 12 years old!!! That was certainly the icing on our sweet cake of a weekend!!!

NCCLAYFAN: He was on our plane, he was on our plane!!! We breathed the same air for two hours!!!

One ticket to see Clay Aiken -- $100.00
Four days of Clay in Florida -- Over $1000.00
CLAY AIKEN on your return flight home -- PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!

I was looking out the tiny peep hole giving a play by play, "He's in the doorway. She handed it him. He's reading it!"

After Clay read the note, he looked up, and I am pretty sure I saw a smile. He held the note in his hand as he went over to claim his bag that was on a rolling cart beside the plane. As he headed to the awaiting car, he still held our note in his hand.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude features tour memories by seven visual artists, including Amazing_CA, photo by PinkCocoa, 1; Ambassador of Love, photo by Snix, 2; Claysmelody, photo by Toni7babe, 3; Ambassador, photo by Toni7babe, 4; and Amazing_CA, photo by Shamrock, 5.

Throughout the past two months, fans have shared countless "Clayversion" and Not.Just.Us. stories in concert recaps. Here are five from the Atlanta and Florida shows.

Goose Bumps in Any Language

PLATINUM: In the Orlando handshake line, I was standing next to a woman who was just looking out over the lake at the lights and I said to her, "It's pretty, isn't it?" She responded that she didn't understand English.

Her husband speaks English and translated for me. He told me that they were from Venezuela and came to the US specifically to see Clay. His wife downloads all of his videos off the Internet and watches him on YouTube, too.

Through her husband, the wife told me she loves Clay and thinks he is beautiful. I asked what she thought of the concert, and she grabbed at her arm in an up and down motion. This must be the universal sign for goose bumps.

She only has "A Thousand Different Ways," so I got her e-mail address and will send her some of the extras I have at home. I can't tell you how thrilled she was to get a handshake!

Couple Blown Away in Tampa

SICLAYFAN: At the Tampa concert I sat next to a couple, the wife being a NJU fan. She liked Clay, had his CD's, but had never seen him live before. She tried for tickets for the IT but when she couldn't get floor seats, she didn't bother going. She had no idea Clay had toured since then.

Her husband pretended to be bored at the beginning, but at the end, he said he would definitely see Clay again. The wife told me her husband had worked for Clear Channel and as a result she had seen many, many concerts, but had never been to anything like this one. She was blown away.

Clay didn't mention his writing the lyrics for "Lover All Alone" before he started to sing, so I informed the husband, who was sitting next to me. He thanked me for telling them when it was over.

PLATINUM: In the long line waiting to get into Hard Rock Love, I was standing in front of a man who was by himself. We started talking, and I learned he was an exchange student from Jamaica who loved Clay on AI and wanted to see him. He thought Clay had a fantastic voice.

ROSEVIOLET: What a great tour. My daughter's sister-in-law, who is 14, went with us to the Atlanta concert. It's been a couple of years since she last saw Clay, and she had moved on. While looking at the book handed out at the venue, she turned to Clay's picture and didn't recognize him. When told that was Clay, she exclaimed, "Whoa! He's hot!"

When she read he was going to sing "Right Here Waiting," she got very excited. Apparently, that is one of her favorite songs. She just loved the Classics Medley.

After the concert we stood in line for the handshake; and after Clay touched her hands, she jumped up and down screaming and said she was never going to wash her hands. It was quite fun to watch.

Best Last-Minute Decision Ever

MUSKIFEST: I had a seat alone in West Palm Beach and ended up next to a cute girl in her 20's. It didn't take me long to find out she was a "Clay Concert Virgin." She said she loved him on AI, had heard some of his music since, saw him on the AI5 finale and thought his voice was great but hadn't really followed his career.

She asked some friends to go with her but they all did a "Sure, thanks, but no thanks" thing. At first she gave up. The day before the concert she suddenly decided to go by herself.

It was so much fun watching her soak it in, murmur "wow" in awe of MOAM and IWTKWLI, clap her hands raw, and basically succumb to the power of Clay!Aiken!Live! During intermission we talked; she knew about Clay's UNICEF and BAF work, and I was overjoyed at that. I explained some of the "inside jokes" happening on stage so she'd have a better context.

She loved the TV Medley and sang along with most parts. The Classics Medley had her guffawing. During "Because You Loved Me," a lady on the other side offered her a glow stick, which she waved along with the audience.

When it was over I asked her what she was going to say to her friends. Her reply? "I'm going to tell them that buying that ticket yesterday was the best last-minute decision I've ever made!"

This is a clickable of Amazing_CA's lead graphic:

News in a Nutshell

Below are five non-tour related happenings making the news in Clay Land:

TBAF 'Fifth Grader' Challenge

In conjunction with Clay's taping of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" on Aug. 28, The Bubel/Aiken Foundation is enlisting supporters to make a pledge for each correct answer the singer gives. At 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the pledge total was $73,108.72.

Deadline for pledges has been extended to Monday Aug. 27. Detailed info about the challenge and the method by which fans can make a pledge is available at TBAF website.

Want to own the original score from the Summer Tour's "Classics Medley"? Then link to the Inclusion Revolution Brigade's BAF-approved Ebay Charity Auction by clicking on the photo above.

The spiral bound score, autographed by Clay and conductor-arranger Jesse Vargas, is displayed in a glass shadow box. Current bid on the "Unexpected Symphony" is $1,125. Bidding continues through the end of August, and all profits go to TBAF.

Other items include a crafted purse signed by Clay, Faye Parker, and Diane Bubel (current bid of $255) and Clay Aiken's 2006 Joyful Noise Christmas Tour baton (currently $127.50).

Crooner's Christmas CD

Clay is featured with nine legendary artists on a special Christmas album at CD Universe, including Elvis, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Nat "King" Cole, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Andy Williams.

For the sale price of $4.78, this is a CD not to be missed. The first cut is Clay's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

Fourth Annual Craft Sale for TBAF

What can be better than shopping from home and benefiting TBAF? The foundation-approved online craft sale at Allicat Designs kicked off Aug. 18 will run through Sept. 18.

Among the craft items available are bumper stickers, note cards, waterproof bookmarks, t-shirts, pens, claytoon transfers, magnetic calendars, and Bead for Life earrings. Paypal payments are accepted.

Neil Sedaka, Still Keeping It Together

Clay will be among several guest performers joining singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka when he celebrates his 50th anniversary in the music business at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall on Oct. 26.

At the above link, you can listen to a National Public Radio Fresh Air interview in which Sedaka talks about his life as a performer and his career-spanning greatest hits compendium, The Definitive Collection.

During the show, he discusses the process by which he appeared as an American Idol guest judge on Season 2 and Clay's subsequent recording of his hit, "Solitaire."

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Final Florida 4-fer Shows Memorable

Clay Aiken performs at West Palm's Kravis Center.
Photo by Libby Volgyes, enhanced by Sally

Summer Tour Bows in Orlando

West Palm Lauds Clay Aiken

Throughout the Florida 4-fer, Clay Aiken & Company were greeted by enthusiasm and appreciation from media, symphony musicians, and fans old and new, orchestrating a memorable finale to the Summer Symphony Tour 07.

Reporting from Saturday's concert, next to last of the Florida 4-fer, Leslie Gray Streeter of the Palm Beach Post wrote that Clay is a both a singer and a showman. Below is part of her review, one of the best from the entire tour:

Aiken more than singer -- he's a showman

WEST PALM BEACH — Clay Aiken, whether or not you are a fan of his, is pretty much considered a good singer by most people who have ears.

You also may be aware that he has a gigantic following of fans, mostly female, who might best be described as enthusiastic. But until you have seen Clay Aiken, who has described himself as Opie-like, shake his slack-clad hips and belt out Naughty By Nature's extracurricular cheating classic "OPP" ... well, you just don't know anything about Clay Aiken.

Admittedly most of the crowd at the Kravis Center on Saturday already knew more about him, as many of them are Claymates, the American Idol runner-up's devoted fan base and staunch defenders against criticism of his aforementioned Opie-ness.

But even the uninitiated would have to be blind not to see that Aiken - who has an amazing range and was vocally flawless - is that rare celebrity who is both a singer and a performer, equally, even though, as he pointed out, "I am not cool." [snip]

But because Aiken revels in that, he transcends even the goofy moments into genuine entertainment, like with his cover of Bad English's "When I See You Smile." He is so uncool that he sort of is. And that's a talent.

The remainder of the Post review and comments can be read here.

West Palm Beach Slide Show

The photo below by Fivegoldens links to a slide show of West Palm Beach pictures taken by fans Saturday at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. The show, with options for gallery and steam views, also features photos by Scrpkym, Jtgranny, Mad4clay, Toni7babe, Leslie42, and Libby Volgyes.

Photo by Fivegoldens links to West Palm Slide Show

Reviewer Somewhat 'Clayverted'

In her blog Sunday morning, Streeter continued writing about Singer Man: CLAY AIKEN: THE AFTERMATH! The entire entry with comments can be read at the above link.

So you're going to be Clayverted!"

More than one Claymate, or hopelessly devoted fan of singer, humanitarian, near-American Idol and cultural phenomenon, decried that by the time Clay's show at the Kravis Center was over, I would be one of them, ready to don the T-shirts, join the Internet groups and plan my vacations around Mr. Aiken's concert schedule.

So now? I'd gladly see him again, because he was great. Do I see me wearing a Clay T-shirt or traveling to see him or joining a huge network of Clay fans ... Uh ... don't kill me, but not really. I'm a fan now, but not one approaching the heights of what I've seen in my week of Claymate exposure. But I get it now, now that I've seen Clay Aiken and found him wonderful.

A Week of Clay in West Palm

During a week of pre-coverage leading up to Saturday's concert, the Palm Beach Post spotlighted four Clay Aiken Fans. To link to all the featured fans and their comments, see "Days of Clay" in the "Recent Entries" sidebar.

Accompanying Sunday's Palm Beach review is a photo gallery of pictures by Libby Volgyes entitled Clay Aiken in Concert. An example is this blog's lead photo.

Following Saturday night's show, James, a 38-year-old male blogger, posted this entry in his My Space blog:

Hi friends...I just came back from watching my first "Clay Aiken" concert here in West Palm Beach...The boy can sing...And he has a sense of humor...He should advertise his concert as more of a "variety" show...I truly think the guy can sing, dance, tell jokes, rap, and actually act cool...I went to the concert expecting to leave bored; however, I was highly impressed...I give it 4 out of 5 stars...

Tampa Slide Show

The Tampa Slide Show begun in the previous entry has expanded to 28 photos from Friday's concert. Photographers represented include Toni7babe, Scrpkym, FiveGoldens, Irishbookgal, and Tangerinee. Toni's photo links to a show with a choice between gallery and fading views.

Photo by Toni7babe connects to Tampa Slide Show

Tour Closes at Hard Rock Live

Phenomenal vocals, playful banter, and pensive farewells marked the final bow of Clay & Company's Summer Symphony Tour at Hard Rock Live - Orlando Sunday night. The venue was packed with faithful fans and newcomers alike, while thousands around the globe listened via cellstream to an entertaining but emotional finale.

Here are the opening graphs of Matthew J. Palm's Orlando Sentinel review, Clay Aiken packs surprises into a goofy night of fun:

The show, the final stop of Aiken's current tour, was full of surprises -- most of them surreal. I really never thought I would see hip-hoppy "O.P.P" mixed with Kenny Chesney's "She Thinks my Tractor's Sexy" in a medley backed by violins and cellos. Strangely enough, the more goofy things got, the more the show clicked. [snip]

The night was well-stocked with cover songs, which make up the bulk of Aiken's latest album, A Thousand Different Ways. Some suited him better than others -- the soaring "Without You" (most recently a hit for Mariah Carey) showcased his tremendous upper range.

The complete article and comments can be read at the above link. You can view six photos by OS photogapher Hilda M. Perez at Clay Aiken Concert.

Orlando Slide Show

The Orlando Slide Show features photos from Sunday's closing concert. Photographers represented include Invisible926, ClayGlo, Toni7babe, and Brightstar. Invisible's photo links to a show with a choice between gallery and fading views.

Photo by Invisible926 links to Orlando Slide Show

What a ride Singer Man has taken his fans on this summer! Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Tour Plays Hotlanta, Florida 4-fer

Clay Aiken performs at Chastain Amphitheater. - Photo by Lindspe.

Clay & Company Begin Florida 4-fer

Hotlanta Lives up to Forecast

Hotlanta lived up to its nickname as Clay Aiken & Co. performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in sweltering triple-digit temperatures with a heat index through the roof at Chastain Park Amphitheater Wednesday night.

Although 4,000 seats were sold, many season subscribers stayed home due to the oppressive weather and an orange air quality code. The estimated 3,000 in attendance, nevertheless, were rewarded with an entertaining evening of beautiful singing and hilarious banter from Clay and the musicians onstage.

Clay in Chastain spotlight. -- Photo by Allen Sullivan

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's covered the concert in an American Idol blog, Clay Aiken Live! This is an excerpt from Rodney Ho's review:

Sure, the dorky season two runner up still seems to appeal to a certain type of middle-aged woman, but the man truly has incredible pipes and sounded great. Clay doesn’t take himself too seriously, joking numerous times about the heat and being quite gabby throughout the concert.

“What’s with the humidity?” he said early on. “They didn’t give us fans! The only breeze are the bugs flying by our faces. One got stuck to me.” A fan handed him a freeze pop. He stuck it on his forehead, then noticed while singing “When I See You Smile” that the pop was sugar free. “You think I’m getting fat?” he cracked.

The accompanying slide show of photos by Allen Sullivan can be viewed at the AJC's Access Atlanta. More pictures are available at Sullivan's site, Photo Shelter.

Clay talked with a teenaged girl whose sign proclaimed she had chosen his concert over a car for her birthday, teased her mother, and then dedicated "Without You" to the teen, changing up lyrics to fit the circumstance: "I can't live, if living is without a car/I can't live if I can't get anywhere."

Another gal received a kiss on the cheek from her favorite singer. Despite the heat, all were entertained. The closing number, "Because You Love Me," was accompanied by a sea of glow sticks.

Ft. Myers a Hoot from the Get-Go

The Ft. Myers concert was Clay Aiken doing what he does best -- sharing his amazing pipes as well as his comedic, improvisational skills. After scrunching around on his stool imitating a videographer's gyrations for "making sure the clack doesn't skip around," the singer borrowed her front row camera and gathered footage of his backup crew.

The fan didn't miss a beat and pulled a backup camera out of her bag to continue filming the show. ["She's got a whole Radio Shack in her purse!"] Here is a Sendspace download of the scene as videoed by Clay and one of this fandom's most revered "clack goddesses": Camera Banter.

This Ft. Myers Slide Show features pictures by photographers LynninNJ, SmartyPantsSuz, FiveGoldens, and Scrpkym. The photo links to a show with a choice between gallery and revolving views.

Photo by LynninNJ connects to Ft. Myers Slide Show

The Ft. Myers lighting person must be a Claymate. After several attempts to keep the spotlight on Quiana for her solo, Clay walked across the stage and joined his backup singer on her stool.

According to Wandacleo, among the many humorous shenanigans throughout "When the Lights Go Down" was the appearance of Clay's hand from behind inspiring the audience to bring on the applause. Not that it was needed!

In her recap, SmartyPantsSuz reported that Clay impressed several of the venue's ushers, who said they really enjoyed the show. One woman in particular -- "she's a goner!" -- gladly shared her address so Suz can send her DVD's of other shows. As always, the venue staff was amazed at the enormity of the busline following the concert.

Photo by Toni7babe links to Tampa Slide Show

The Tampa Slide Show above features pictures by photographers Toni7babe, Scrpkym, FiveGoldens, Irishbookgal, and Tangerinee. The photo links to a show with a choice between gallery and fading views.

Four Florida Shows Indoors

Though Florida is experiencing the same stifling heat wave as neighboring Georgia, the tour's last four concerts are, thankfully, air-conditioned venues. All begin at 8 p.m. EDT, except Fort Meyers, which was slated 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 16 - Fort Meyers - Mann Performing Arts Center
Aug. 17 - Tampa - Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
Aug. 18 - West Palm Beach - Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
Aug. 19 - Orlando - Hard Rock Live

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Graphics and photos from the Summer Symphony Tour are featured in this clickable interlude. Visual artists represented include Amazing_CA, photos by Toni7babe, 1; Luvbenmeg, Atlanta photos, 2 and 4; Claystruck, photos by Toni7babe and Shineinnc, 3; and Amazing_CA, photos by Snix, 5.

TBAF 'Fifth Grader' Challenge

The Bubel/Aiken Foundation co-founder will tape an episode for a celebrity edition of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" on Aug. 28. The Fox show, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, will air at a later date.

In conjunction with Clay's appearance, TBAF is enlisting its supporters to make a pledge for each correct answer the singer gives. Deadline for pledges is Tuesday, Aug. 21. Detailed info about the challenge and the method by which fans can make a pledge is available at TBAF website.

Beyond the amazing exposure the show will bring, the Foundation will receive at least a $25,000 donation from the show. Anything beyond the $25,000 that Clay earns by answering "elementary" questions will also be donated to the Foundation.

He will need to answer six questions to get beyond the minimum. Eleven questions correct means the Foundation will receive a $1 million check from the show.

The Foundation is asking for pledges for each correct answer Clay gives on the show. Whether it's 50 cents or 100 dollars, every amount will help us get closer to our goal of 100 Let's ALL Play camps in 2008.

A news story about the event has been picked up by the Associated Press and is making the rounds at various media sites.

"We're excited about Clay's appearance on the show to fund raise for the Foundation. Fox has given us a great opportunity to move closer to our goal of 100 Let's ALL Play camps in 2008. Clay's appearance will also gain exposure for our goals of full inclusion.

"Of course we're hoping to win the million, but Clay's being part of their hit show will be great for the Foundation either way," said Jerry Aiken, executive director, TBAF.

Neil Sedaka -- Clickable

Clay To Sing for Sedaka Special

On Oct. 26 Clay will join an impressive lineup of performers appearing on Neil Sedaka: 50 Years of Hits at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall.

Billed as a concert of Sedaka's songs performed by "Neil and many friends," the evening will honor the singer-composer. All of the net proceeds will benefit the Elton John Aids Foundation.

For more information, see Lincoln Center.

Two Songs Approved for New CD

As important as concert recaps are the Meet & Greet reports that participants share with fans on various CA message boards. These are paraphrased highlights from HippoGA's Atlanta session:

Clay could have a new "covers" CD out tomorrow, but an agreement has been reached to let him make the album he wants. His executive producer received word on Wednesday that two songs they submitted have been accepted, and he was very happy about that.

Asked how he and Jimmy Kimmel became such good friends, Clay said he heard the talk show host had made jokes about him. When he was asked to be on the show and was such a good sport about the famous fight scene, they became friends immediately.

Other talk show hosts -- among them Conan O'Brien -- have asked Clay to do a similar scene, while various celebrities have requested that Jimmy Kimmel stage a similar skit. Both have refused.

Of the experience, HippoGA summarized: Great memory! Love the new meet and greet format. Chitchatting with a friend who is interested in what you have to say. I'm still grinning!

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


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