Aiken Spills Beans About New CD

COOL BEANS -- Clay Aiken's hometown station, WRAL-TV of Raleigh, NC, helped him spill the news about his upcoming CD in a special report by Lynda Loveland. WRAL Photo by Geof Levine.

Thrills Fans with CD News

Clay Aiken Spills the Beans

Days later, it still feels like Christmastime in Clay Cyberspace with the extensive revelations about the singer's new CD and the backstage glimpses at the Shubert Theater provided in Lynda Loveland's special reports aired on WRAL-TV this week.

Non-stop viewing of the the info-packed videos on the Raleigh station's website has been augmented by the fandom's innate nature to ferret out additional details once given a sampling of song titles, the probable album theme, and the producer's name. After the WRAL preview, the May 6 drop date seems light years away.

Parts of
Clay Aiken Spills the Beans About Upcoming Album are printed below. Three videos in the sidebar are not to be missed and also can now also be viewed at Yahoo and at AOL.

At the WRAL site, look for these the videos about Clay's new CD:

* WRAL Exclusive: In the Studio with Clay Aiken
* WRAL Exclusive: Clay Aiken Spills the Beans About New Album
* Clay Aiken Spills the Beans on Upcoming Album

WRAL Screen Caps by Claystruck

Album on its Way Here

NEW YORK -- Raleigh native Clay Aiken is a busy man these days, performing at night on Broadway as Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot" and working on his upcoming studio album during the day.

It's been five years since Aiken put together an original album, or one that is, he says, at least 95 percent original. [snip]

The songs had to meet two qualifications.

"They have to be something I'll enjoy and that I can do well," Aiken said. "And at the same time, they have to kind of fit into this common theme of 'On my way here.'"

"On My Way Here" is one of the tracks and might end up being the album title.

Aiken was working on that song and another the day he invited WRAL's Lynda Loveland to the recording studio. The second is called "Ashes". [snip]

For the first time, Aiken's album, which he hopes will be released sometime after May, is being produced by one person. He kept that person secret, until now.

Known only as Kipper, he is from the United Kingdom and might be best known for producing a Grammy award-winning album for Sting.

"We wanted to find someone who had a great reputation and had done stuff in the past that was kind of edgy and current," Aiken said.

Kipper is coming up with a new sound for Aiken and even wrote a song for him that's got a bit of an R&B vibe to it.

"We've captured some really great moments," Kipper said. "I'm very optimistic we're going to have a record where people will go, 'Is that Clay? Is that Clay Aiken?"

From WRAL's report, fans have constructed a tentative playlist that includes the following songs:

On My Way Here
The Real Me
Lover All Alone
Everything I Don't Need
Sacrificial Love

Yollie950, a CA fan, created a montage with the partial song clips that can be viewed at YouTube: New CD Song Cuts.

Here are Sendspace downloads of two WRAL videos:
Clay Aiken Spills the Beans (16 minutes, 101 MBs) and Album News.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude features the graphic designs and photographic talent of five visual artists, including Amazing_CA, photo by Scrpkym, 1; Amazing_CA, photos by Toni7babe, 2; Cindilu2, March calendar, 3; Artz11, photos by Toni7babe, 4; and Amazing_CA, photo by Scrpkym, 5.

WRAL Takes Fans Behind the Scenes

Aiken Reveals Backstage Secrets of 'Spamalot' , Clay escorts Loveland and the Raleigh TV crew on a tour through wardrobe, the wig room, the pit orchestra's "shoe box," and his tiny dressing room. Scenes from the show are also included.

The story and video appear on the WRAL website, and the video can also be viewed at the Yahoo and AOL links above. To download, here is a Sendspace of
Spamalot Behind the Scenes.
Backstage Secrets of 'Spamalot'

NEW YORK — From singer to actor, Raleigh native Clay Aiken is taking a spin on Broadway in "Monty Python's Spamalot.” He plays several roles, but mainly Sir Robin.

In WRAL-TV's backstage tour of the Shubert Theatre includes the Wall of Fame, his "spacious" dressing room, as well as scenes from "Spamalot."

The role was modified a bit for Clay. There is even a reference to American Idol, which launched his career, in the line, "I'll be the idol of my age."

Although he initially worried about how the other actors would treat him, Clay said everyone has been really great.

Clay's final performance in “Spamalot” will be May 4.

Recaps Soar Through Clay Cyber

My friend Sally and her son flew home Friday following a three-day trip to New York City during which they attended two performances of "Spamalot." With front row seats on the floor Wednesday and on the mezzanine Thursday, Sally said they thoroughly enjoyed seeing the show from two very different perspectives.

Through intermission and post show phone reports, I shared her observations with a couple of message boards. Faster than a speeding sword, swallow, or coconut, they bounced from board to board. These are excerpts from our brief recaps:

Sally took her opera glasses to catch Clay's expressions and couldn't believe all he does with his face.

Clay really is one of the best of the non-dancers and is very light on his feet. He "soiled his pants" like a pro and has the moves down perfectly.

Clay is very comfortable in the roles, and there's no hesitation. He looks like he's been doing the show for a long time, and he really seems to be enjoying himself.

Btw, Sally was only able to use her opera glasses sparingly because her son kept them glued on the beautiful and talented "Lady of the Lake," Hannah Waddingham.

Week in a Nutshell

Rainlover succinctly summed up the celebratory mood from the week's "bean-spilling" reports, as well as the anticipatory atmosphere for the coming months, with this little ditty at Clayversity:

New CD
Excitement Rivals

Month of May
All New Songs
Back on Top
Where He Belongs

Clickable Graphic by Sally

Our Butterfly Kai

In the previous blog, readers politely informed me that a special someone was missing. Reminiscent of the famous images of children by
Anne Geddes, Sally turned grandson Kai into a beautiful butterfly on a constellation background in this latest graphic.

It seems the males in any species are blessed with the most brilliant colors.

This Saturday-Sunday American Idol Rewind 2 telecast features Disco Week during which Clay sang "Everlasting Love." Check your local listings for air times.

This clickable by Fountaindawg recalls scenes from 2003's two-night disco competition.

Clay at Disco Week

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


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More Praise for Clay on Broadway

THE WHOLE PACKAGE -- This beautiful graphic by Amazing_CA blends two aspects of the "Spamalot experience" enjoyed Clay Aiken's fans with a stage photo by Joan Marcus and Toni7babe's shot during a post show autograph signing in Shubert Alley.

Dancing Aiken's New Grail

Newsday Critic Lauds Sir Robin

What could be finer on The Great White Way than a second major review lauding the talents of Clay Aiken as "Spamalot's new Sir Robin?

Posted Monday by Linda Winer at Newsday, here are excerpts from the article:

Clay Aiken fits as Sir Robin in Spamalot

Hey, it's not dead yet. In the words of one of the supremely goofy bad-taste delights from "Monty Python's Spamalot," the musical may be approaching its third year at the Shubert Theatre. But the thing's not dead yet - in fact, not even close.

Forgive our suspicion that "Spamalot" might have reached the uh-oh point in its heretofore long and happy run. After all, Clay Aiken, unknown until he was the runner-up in the second season of "American Idol," had been cast, with alarming hoopla, to play Sir Robin and assorted zanies - in a British accent, in a role created on film by (author, lyricist, co-composer) Eric Idle himself and recreated on Broadway by David Hyde Pierce.

We know that Fantasia, Aiken's fellow breakout survivor from gladiator TV, had a phenomenal stage debut last year as a replacement for the star in "The Color Purple." But what are the chances that another newbie from the South with zero stage experience would be able to slip into a high-maintenance Broadway hit without dragging it down like a boulder tied to its soft shoe?

So it's excellent news for Aiken and "Spamalot," not so good for drama schools. Aiken is a charmer. With his aging cherub face and a frizzle-pageboy wig, he goes sweetly and deftly Medieval on Broadway - a world described in the show as "a very special place with people who can sing and dance, often at the same time."

And so he does, frequently at the same time. Aiken blends into the sophomoric adorableness of the show, even toying with his own girlish charisma at a piano topped with a Liberace candelabra. His voice has range and color. He dances with a childlike skip, he yodels and sings falsetto and gets through the scenes when Robin "soils himself" with no visible humiliation. This is not a debut for cowards.

Newsday Scan
from Dancermom2

An Icon Who Can Dance

Clay has got to love all the talk about his dancing abilities. Promoted to "icon" in the clickable article above, he has received compliments for his acting, singing range (yodeling and falsetto), as well as his dancing.

Mind you, I haven't seen the show - just read a gazillion fan reviews. Isn't that a Menorah on the piano ... with the Star of David above? After all, this occurs during Sir Robin's big song, "You Won't Succeed on Broadway if You Don't Have Any Jews."

As for the "aging cherub face," the AI2 runner-up has become a man. Then, too, maybe the reviewer caught one of Clay's tours and heard him bemoaning the fact that at 29, he's getting old, LOL!

Every fan has a favorite line from this review, and Lovethatguy at Clayversity put a couple together: "He's a dancing fool with no need for drama school. "

I can't tell this writer how much Clay's fans have enjoyed the "alarming hoopla." Take notes, RCA, and duplicate the hoopla in the new CD promos!

LINDA WINER is chief theatre critic and arts columnist for Newsday , which she joined in 1987. She also has been adjunct associate professor at Columbia University since 1993. Ms. Winer was theatre and dance critic -- and also covered music -- for the Chicago Tribune from 1969 to 1980, then was a critic at the New York Daily News for two years and critic-at-large at USA Today for five years.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude spotlights happenings at "Spamalot," a collection of Linda Huber's drawings of Clay, and more. Featured are graphics by Amazing_CA, photo by Scrpkym, 1; Cindilu2, 2; Cindilu2, photos by Toni7babe and Scrpkym, 3; Amazing_CA, photos by Toni7babe, 4; and Ambassador of Love, drawings by Linda Huber, 5.

Recaps Share Spam Adventures

Message board recaps of Clay's performances -- and the experiences of those attending "Spamalot" -- not only transports fans back home to the Big Apple, but also provides interesting asides to the whole adventure. This is from a recap by kwhite1022:

When we were at the box office getting tickets, there were two women in front of me trying to coordinate a trip to see the show. I was kinda wondering if they were fans, but didn't want to interrupt them. When they settled on a date in April, one leaned over to the other and whispered in her ear, to which the other said to the guy helping them, "Will Clay Aiken still be here then?"

I leaned over and said, "He is here till May 4." She laughed and said thank you, and the shy one said she was too embarrassed to ask, I told her to never be embarrassed about Clay. They were too cute!

When we got up to the window looking for seats, the same guy, of course, had me pegged as a Clay fan and started telling us where our seats would be, saying, "I know you'll wanna be on the right because that's where the best view of him is."

The "Spamalot" crew so has us pegged!

Clickable by Claystruck

Clay Blogs About His Fans

A special Monday feature on the Monty Python site his Clay's Spamalot Blog in which he answers a different question each week. Accompanying our replay is a Claystruck's graphic of Shubert Alley stage door scenes captured by Toni7babe.

2.25.08: What has been the response from your fans about you heading to Broadway?

I really am so lucky to have THE most amazing fans in the world, I believe. Not only are they supportive of the music and the touring, they get passionate about seemingly everything I do. From music to TV to charities. They have been unbelievably supportive. I know that Python fans are EXTREMELY loyal and enthusiastic. It will be interesting to see the “Claymates” in Python-land!

So Much for 'Diamonds in the Rough'

From the Wichita Falls, TX, Times Record comes an interesting article about American Idol past and present entitled Come Back, Sanjaya!

There are several Clay mentions in this comparison of the current Idol roster of contenders with its many seasoned performers to the "diamonds in the rough" of years past.

O, Sanjaya, wherefore art thou?

I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that this season’s “American Idol” contestants are, first of all, part of The Beautiful People tribe. They are camera-ready, fashion savvy and irritatingly cute and in shape, meaning audiences won’t get the sheer joy of seeing a diamond in the rough go from geek to chic.

I just want a Clay Aiken to root for, by golly!

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

As a rule, I don't answer the telephone when I am teaching music lessons. However, Tuesday afternoon two students who normally take piano at a school in another city were coming to my house for makeups. Sure enough, the first student got lost and had to call for additional instructions. To be safe, I brought a mobile receiver to the piano.

Five minutes before completing the final lesson the phone rang. Something about the "ring" told me this was Sally calling from New York City. She is there to see Clay in "Spamalot," but the call was not about that.

Nope, my friend needed to know the Textism code for posting a small siggie in her comment at the OFC. Imagine the look on the mother’s face as I instructed, "Asterisk, space, exclamation point, URL … etc," LOL!

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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High Praise for Aiken in 'Spamalot'

FIND YOUR GRAIL -- Clay Aiken receives high praise as Sir Robin in the Broadway show "Spamalot." Graphic by Cindilu2, photos by Joan Marcus.

New CD Makes Headlines, Too

AP Drama Critic Applauds Clay

When the AP drama critic's amazing review of Clay Aiken's "Spamalot" roles started hitting the wires at 2:42 p.m. Friday, this blog flip-flopped its lead story. This longtime CA fan could not resist ...

Team player ... fits seamlessly into the extended high jinks of "Spamalot" ... gets the goofy humor and goes with the flow ... exudes the physical buffoonery ... radiates a delightful benign bewilderment ... a native North Carolinian with a credible British accent!

Your fans couldn't be prouder, Clay! Bravo and a colossal, resounding Standing-O

Clay Aiken Deftly Acts Supremely Silly

AP Drama Critic

Let's clear things up right away: Clay Aiken can handle supremely silly.

That's not an inconsiderable talent when you are appearing in something as daffy as "Monty Python's Spamalot," the madcap medieval musical that has just added the "American Idol" alum to its cast.

We knew Aiken could sing. "Idol," television's favorite trial-by-fire, proved that. So it was only natural that Broadway, eager for new faces that might sell tickets, would call — just as it did for Fantasia, Frenchie Davis, Constantine Maroulis and others from "Idol."

But don't go expecting a star turn. Aiken is a team player — and that's meant as a compliment. The ingratiating performer fits seamlessly into the extended high jinks of "Spamalot," which has been running at the Shubert Theatre since March 2005.

The guy gets the goofy humor that is the Python trademark and goes with the flow, most prominently when he is portraying the perpetually petrified Sir Robin. It's one of three roles he plays in the musical.

Aiken also exudes the physical buffoonery that underlines the cartoonlike nature of the characters and their quest to find the Holy Grail. He radiates a delightful benign bewilderment. What's more, for someone born and raised in North Carolina, Aiken does a credible British accent.

The entire article can be read in many arenas, some of which include CBS Showbuzz, Yahoo News, International Herald Tribune, and MSN Entertainment.

MICHAEL KUCHWARA has been the drama critic and drama writer for the Associated Press since 1984. Before being named to that position, he worked for the AP in Chicago as a general assignment editor and reporter and in New York on its General (now the National) Desk, the main editing desk for national news. Born in Scranton, Pa., he is a graduate of Syracuse University. Kuchwara also has a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Kuchwara is a past president of the New York Drama Critics' Circle.

Celebration Planning To Begin

With the recent barrage of articles about Clay's upcoming CD release in May, the song "Dancing in the Street" has been boogieing through my mind all week.

Besides the media spurt, I have read The Celebration Team's report announcing that a huge brouhaha is in the works for the Virgin Megastore of Hollywood, CA.

The marketing director at VM-Hollywood knows a good thing when she sees it. The info has already been forwarded to Sony, and -- for sure -- there will be a super sendoff for Clay's new CD ... and plenty of "dancing in the street"!

Stay tuned, as the Celebration Team's website will be operational in about a week when some serious party-planning gets underway.

Meanwhile, it's great to read and hear about the CD in so many media centers. This representative blurb is from the "Scoop" section (p. 26) of the March 3 print issue of People Magazine and is accompanied by the chicken picture from "Spamalot."

Photo by Joan Marcus

Dishing With Clay Aiken

The Idol singer, 29, is starring on Broadway in Monty Python's Spamalot. He chatted with Scoop about:

: It's smart, intelligent and almost highbrow humor. The punch lines don't slap you in the face. But for someone who's not a dancer, it's kicking my rear end!

: We're hoping [to release it] May 6. In the past five years, I've learned a lot about life. I would like to wrap a lot of the music around that theme.

Last time I came out with dark crazy hair. We don't have any plans this time. But I've got the red wig...

AMERICAN IDOL: It's something I wouldn't be here without. But I haven't watched it in three years. I've got other things to do!

CD Release in the News

CD announcement stories are everywhere, too. See People Online, TV Guide, ET Online, The Insider Online, and Reality TV Magazine.

Next week WRAL-TV will run a Linda Loveland special report from New York City about Clay on Broadway.

Here are two brief Sendspace downloads of the station's Thursday announcements about the new CD: Album/Spamalot/Jukebox and Album/Spamalot/ATDW.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude represents the talents of eight visual artists, including ABeautifulMind, photo by FiveGoldens, 1; Artz11, photos by Scrpkym, 2; PinkCocoa, photo by Joan Marcus, 3; Amazing_CA, photo by Toni7babe, 4; and Amazing_CA, photo by Scrpkym, 5.

A Little Bit Country

Don't forget American Idol Rewind 2 this weekend. This is Country Week, and Clay performed "Someone Else's Star." He received a standing ovation from judges Randy, Paula, and Olivia Newton-John. Simon disagreed.

Check local listings for the Saturday-Sunday telecast.

Clickable by Fountaindawg

Fever Joins Frog on Friday

I have had a frog in my throat off and on for the past month. Every time I think I'm finally over it, the tiresome croaking returns. No cold, no fever - just laryngitis. Friday, however, a fever accompanied the squeaky squawk; so I spent part of the morning scheduling makeup lessons for my afternoon students via email.

Since I had the luxury of not having to talk about quarter notes and such, I decided to tackle my malady head on. All day I kept spiced tea and cider spiked with lemon juice nearby. For lunch, I made a bowl of chicken soup to make any mother -- Jewish or otherwise -- proud.

Since I didn't start the soup from scratch, I'm sure I lost points there. Instead, I spruced up a can of Healthy Choice with extra vegetables and red pepper flakes. My own mother believed that onions could cure anything, and she would have approved of my concoction.

With the appearance of a fever, I took a couple of unused antibiotics from January and hoped the combination of home remedies would jump-start the cure.

This would have been the perfect day for my new assistant to write a blog, but he's still enjoying his computer training and may even have set his sights on a higher position.
Little does he know his first task will be cracking the Textism format!

CEO Kai "working it" with his cell phone. Graphic by Sally.

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


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Aiken Shows Off New Moves

BRAVO, CLAY AIKEN! - Amazing_CA incorporated a handsome photo by Scrpkym, as well as scenes from the 'Spamalot' stage in this graphic. Bravo, ACA!

A Mailbag of Treasures

Clay, Quiana Capture Big Apple

What a busy weekend in the Big Apple! Quiana Parler, longtime friend, colleague, and backup singer with Clay Aiken for tours and other performances, was in town to see "new moves" the man is sporting as Sir Robin in "Spamalot" and to belt out a tune herself.

Quiana attended Sunday's show and accompanied Clay for the stage door gathering in Shubert Alley following the final curtain. Clay's fans are hers, too; so there was a "homecoming" atmosphere as she greeted old friends from the concert trail.

On Monday, Clay was in the audience as Quiana was featured on the song "Just Move On" in the one-night musical Big Tent, the Tammy Faye Bakker story, at the Metropolitan Room.

Big Tent was co-written by Ben Cohn, Sean McDaniel, and Jeffrey Self. Quiana received a standing ovation for her song, which you can view at YouTube: Just Move On.

In the left clickable below, Clay joins singers Jenny Hill and Quiana for a picture shoot after the Big Tent performance (photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy). At right, Quiana smiles for the camera and greets the stage door crowd at the Shubert (photo by Mustbeeme).

Clickables by G.R. Keddy and Mustbeeme

For more Big Tent coverage, see Keddy's story at Broadway World.

City Guide Spotlights 'Spamalot'

A Feb. 19 addition to the Activity Planner of New York City's online City Guide is a feature about "Spamalot": And Now for Something Completely Silly ... Monty Python's Spamalot. Here are excerpts:

Knights without horses prancing to the clip-clopping of coconut shells; an empty-headed King Arthur searching for the Holy Grail; a killer rabbit (and a giant wooden one that serves as a Trojan Horse for the Middle Ages); a nasty and flatulent French Taunter defending his castle against the Brits; and a gaggle of fearsome Knights who say "Ni!" - these are only some of the elements that ensure Monty Python's Spamalot status as Broadway's most slaphappy musical ever.


One of those woolly-tighted knights is being played through May 4 by Clay Aiken, the runner-up in 2003's "American Idol," whose various parts include the neurotic and cowardly Sir Robin. Aiken has drawn his own largely female fans - the "Claymates" - who are besotted by whatever he does onstage at the Shubert.

"It's hilarious," said Waddingham. "He's so sweet about them backstage. He says, 'Ah'm sorry, they're embarrassing me, y'all.'" She went on to add, "He's taller than I thought he was and he's also quite strapping. I expected him to be 5' 6" and quite puny."

Aiken, who sang the inspiring "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on the "American Idol" finale (losing to his arch-rival Ruben Studdard, who has yet to make his Broadway debut), sings far less-moving lyrics as Sir Robin. "You can sing, you can dance, and you won't soil your pants, in your white tie and tail," he tells his non-voting Shubert audience. "Find your Grail... Find your Grail."

From Broadway Bears Raises $127,000 for BC/EFA; Spamalot Bear Is King.

The Spamalot bear – signed by Clay Aiken and David Hyde Pierce – raised the most money at the annual Broadway Bears fundraiser, which was held Feb. 17. The Spamalot bear brought in $17,000 for the annual event, which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Other top money-makers were the Lion King Pumba bear ($9,000), the Cyrano de Bergerac bear ($8,000), The Little Mermaid bear ($5,000) and the Wicked bear ($5,000).

PHOTO INTERLUDE -- Featured in this clickable interlude are graphics and photos of eight visual artists, including ABeautifulMind, photo by Katy4Clay, 1; Cindilu2, 2; Amazing_CA, photo by Butterflyshine, 3; Dev11588, photo by Toni7babe, 4; and Amazing_CA, photo by MadamePresident, 5.

Comments Complete Blogging Cycle

Reader comments about various journal topics complete the blogging circle and often add a new or different perspective. With each entry, I almost always learn something from what you folks write back.

Representative of the remarks that many leave at both the OFC and at the Carolina site, these are gems most readers miss. This mail bag includes comments from the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Great Britain, and Denmark.

LAP & LACIE, Socks, Dudes, and Socks

SANDY (addressing L&L): It is so nice to see that you two have taken charge of this blog. Welcome back! I always look forward to your insight in the Clay Nation. Once again I see that you have not disappointed us fans.

BARB55: I laughed as I read Lap and Lacie's conversation. I can tell that Lacie just loves Clay! She's convincing me to order some of those embroidered socks.

SOCKS NOTE: In her new OFC blog, Rosa reports she has sold a total of 50 pairs of Socks for TBAF. Info and pictures about this fundraiser are in the 2/16 entry here.

AMAZING_CA: Love the LAP & LACIE topics, but the main highlight is the cute dude, Kai. Very cool graphic from Sally!

SALLY: LAP and LACIE quoting Buddha, textism, our gorgeous Singer Man, and the cutest dude evah!

Spamalot, AI Rewind, and Clay

CLAYGACHIC: It’s great to hear all of the wonderful comments on how well Clay is performing in Spamalot. Of course we all knew he would do an outstanding job. Enjoyed all of the beautiful blends that were on your full blog.

SALLYROX: I can’t wrap up my evenings without first surfing the net to get the latest update, clack and videos from the many talented Claymates’ contributions. And my daughter’s favourite tease …”Having your daily dose of Clay, Mom?” You bet!

SALLY: I played the catapult game [from Cha Cha's SPAMALOT site] several times. What fun! Flinging cows, chickens, and even a hand-grenade! I did better the first time, and the game is like “Spamalot”... totally senseless fun.

CINDILU2: Last week's Rewind was especially fun for me, as that was the very first time I laid eyes (and ears) on Mr. Clay Aiken. It's almost funny to think now that there was a time that beautiful voice wasn't a part of my life.

Textisms, New OFC Formatting

These two comments sum up hundreds more!

GALADRIEL: As Galadriel, Queen of the Elves, I will give half my kingdom to the one who figures out how to put backgrounds on the blogs.

ASHES2: I’ve spent the last 1 1/2 hrs messing around it and got all excited - again! But &#@( x%x $^ it was a waste of time as usual. Read more about the program, needing plugins, etc. Maybe they don’t have all that stuff here? I’m tempted to go out in the 30 below day to cool off!

Valentines, Water-Logged Week

CLAYRIN: Happy Valentine Day! The animated cartoon is very cute, throwing chocolates in the sky and eating. In Japan, usually women give a chocolate to men to express thanks. Some women give a chocolate to declare their love.

DEBS33: Your "Where There's a Will" story made me smile. (NOTE: The piano student in this story made it home from her lesson in record time and, with her trusty hair dryer, saved all but two books of the water-logged music.)

MADAELYNN: Candy hearts have a special place in our hearts, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel. They look good in Clay AND Kai pictures! Good to hear that your student was able to revive most of her music.

SANDY: Sorry to hear about your appliance woes. It always seems that once one thing starts breaking down, then others follow suit. It’s as if they talk to each other…”well if you can get fixed, then so can I”…LOL! But it’s also amazing how attached we become to these wonderful inventions!

BARB55: Your lead graphic by Sally, as well as the others, are beautiful and just perfect for Valentine's Day.

BIKERGIRL: Kai is sooo cute. I bet in some years lots of girls will want Valentine cards from him.

Special Note from a Friend

ClayNation, one of the founders of the Clayboard, emailed her remarks and asked that I pass along greetings. In December, ClayNation experienced the unexpected, sudden loss of a dear loved one; and she and her family have been coping with this reality. She misses everyone and thinks of Clay friends daily.

I wrote back that she and her family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Kai's Famous 5-T Carolina Jersey

SANDY (aka Grams4242, who sent Kai the Tar Heel shirt): What do you mean my shirt's too big? This is the style today, Mom! Get with the times! I am laughing so hard as Kai looks so cute. I’m imagining your daughter trying to get the shirt on him and he probably has this look that says "What are you doing to me?" It’s all good though, and I’m looking forward to seeing the "then and now" blog in 2010, LOL!

GALADRIEL: Kai will grow into that shirt in no time, and you will be trying to find a size 6. Somehow, I think Grandma will find a way. I wonder if the Knights of Ni will keep Clay up on the game score?

Kai prepares his first blog. Graphic by Sally.

New Assistant in Training

Grandson Kai has three favorite toys -- an old cell phone, a "retired" computer keyboard, and the TV remote control. He definitely enjoys pushing buttons.

In Sally's graphic, five-month-old Kai is pictured above with his cell phone and "computer" hard at work gathering news for his first blog.

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's lead graphic:

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


P.S. Kai appears to be a chip off his granny's block as these thumbnails indicate. On the left is Grandma Caro at 16 working on a newspaper back in "typewriter days." On the right is five-month-old Kai with his "computer" and cell phone.

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Spam Reports Via Aiken Network

FIND YOUR GRAIL -- Clay Aiken is Sir Robin in the Broadway show "Spamalot." Graphic by Cindilu2.

LAP & LACIE in Charge

Clay Fans Tuned into 'Spamalot'

Not only are Clay Aiken message boards enjoying after-the-show recaps, but intermission cell phone reports are keeping fans back home in the know as they check off the days before their own trips to New York to see their favorite singer in "Spamalot."

LAP (laptop): So what do you think of that lead, Lace? I don't usually have to write these things; I just punch out the words.

LACIE (external hard drive): Not bad, Lap. You think we should get this show on the road?

LAP: In case y'all are wondering what happened to Caro, she is lost in a labyrinth of links, trying to solve the new Textism codes for the OFC blogging community.

LACIE: That and cheering the Tar Heels to victory in Saturday's basketball game! HEEE!!!!!

LAP: So we're jumping in here before the three-day routine takes a nosedive.

LACIE: We do seem to have a few fans who get excited when we handle an entry from time to time.

LAP: Nothing like the "HE BLOGGED!!!" lightning rod excitement resounding through the message boards when Clay drops by, mind you; but we seem to have a following.

LACIE: Maybe Caro, Ashes2, Lisa1068, and Galadriel will have figured out the Textism lingo by the time we are finished. For some reason, the format that is supposed to be so simple is tougher than HTML.

LAP: I think they have adopted this motto from Buddha: "Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it."

LACIE: That sure sounds like the Textism Gang, working with all their hearts trying out codes in comments and blogs. For fan club members, their findings are assembled in the second post of the Forum for Bloggers 2 on the OFC message board. Here are some links if anyone wants to join the task force:

Nature Work
Koders Code Search
Textile Threshold
Textile Reference Manual

Hofstra Chronicle Reviews Clay

LAP: Meanwhile, we'd better apply a little Buddha to this blog. This week the Hofstra Chronicle online posted a bit of a "Spamalot" review: Clay Aiken Joins 'Spamalot' Cast.

David Hyde Pierce has been replaced by someone just as recognizable, if not more: "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken, making his Broadway debut. His part isn't very large (he plays Sir Robin, among other roles), but for him, they've added verses of songs here and there, as well as a number of lines.

He sings well (unsurprisingly), is a solid dancer (the "Fiddler on the Roof"-inspired "You Won't Succeed on Broadway if You Don't Have Any Jews" is a show-stopping highlight) and nails almost all of the jokes.

LACIE: A Variety sales update shows "Spamalot" with a hefty box office boost:

Broadway began to shake off the winter doldrums last week, with sales rising for most shows on the boards. Nice six-figure boosts were seen at "Monty Python's Spamalot" ($623,348) ...

LAP: We're bookin' through Caro's notes. What else do we have, LACE?

Touring Sir Robin Blogs About Clay

LACIE: Dating all the way back to Jan. 20, here is a blog entry about Singer Man's Sir Robin role on Broadway, Feat of Clay, written by James Beaman, a professional actor currently playing the same part with the US touring company.

LAP: This is just part of Beaman's blog, but the entire entry is a great read:

Okay, so how, you may ask, do I feel about Clay Aiken playing the role of Sir Robin on Broadway? First, let me say that there is a definite buzz about it around the theatre here for sure ... [snip]

While it surely has not been lost on the producers of our show that Clay will be good for business during the slow months of this, the third year of the Broadway run, I also know the creative team are people with integrity and very high standards.

I am sure that Clay had a very strenuous rehearsal process and that every aspect of his performance was worked on and guided by expert hands. Reading the interviews with Clay, and hearing about his aching muscles and exhaustion, all I could think was, brother, I feel you!!

LAP: For my sidekick and all you other female fans in a constant fog, here comes the Clay interlude.

PHOTO INTERLUDE -- Featured in this clickable interlude are recent stage door photos from Shubert Alley by NoFancyClothes, 1; Butterflyshine, 2; Toni7babe, 3 and 5; and Invisible926, 4.

Walk the Walk with TBAF Socks

LACIE: (fanning self) Whew, my engine is smoking. I doubt I'm good for much more.

LAP: Sheesh, Lace! You're just like all female CA fans. We have an important announcement from OFC member Rosaratana about a fundraising project for The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, so rev back down.

Sponsored by The Aiken4Clay Together for Inclusion Beta Alpha Chapter, TBAF Embroidered Socks Project sports a couple of clever slogans advertising the anklet sock wares supporting the Foundation:

Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk in these white anklet socks embroidered with TBAF!

Why wear Nike or Adidas when you can wear CLAY?

The selection of "Peds" anklet socks can be purchased with "CLAY" embroidered in black, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or burgundy in women's sizes 4-10. Embroidery thread colors for the white anklet "TBAF" socks include black, teal, and lime.

Coordinated by Rosa Shurtz, the fundraiser, which began on Feb. 1, runs through June 15. All proceeds benefit the Foundation. For more information and to place an order for either or both style stocks, contact Rosa at the
Aiken4Clay website.

LACIE: You know I have to have one of each -- TBAF and CLAY -- wrapped around me. I do have an ankle, don't I?

LAP: Watch it, girl; this is a PG-13 blog. Gear down that hard drive.

LACIE: So many colors to choose from. Definitely one of each!

Yo, message from Kai's Crib! - Graphic by Sally

AIR Features Movie Music

LAP: Grandson Kai, five months old on Sunday, says to remind you not to miss this weekend's American Idol 2 Rewind, live or via download. The theme for the Saturday-Sunday show is "Music from the Movies" and features guest judge Gladys Knight. Even Simon was nice!

LACIE: Singer Man (sigh!) performed Somewhere Out There, one of Caro's favorite songs. That's the first time Kai's grandma saw Clay on Idol, and she voted double-fisted from then on.

LAP: That night Gladys Knight said to Clay, "There is something magical about your voice ... something exceptional is going to happen to you."

LACIE: And, you know, she was right!

LAP: That's it for us. Hope we've entertained and informed.

LACIE: Below is a clickable wallpaper of Cindilu2's opening graphic:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Aiken Interview a Must Read

CLAY AIKEN - Portrait of a Valentine. Graphic by Sally.

Broadway Article Tops with Fans

Spamalot's New Star Speaks Out

The buzz around Clay Aiken message boards is not so much about Valentine's Day, but an extraordinary interview on Clay's the Thing! Spamalot's New Star Speaks Out.

In only two days, some fans can quote lengthy passages from memory. All who have read it have favorite paragraphs, lines, replies. One of the best Aiken interviews ever - and, for sure, the best since the singer-actor stepped onto the Broadway stage Jan. 18 as Sir Robin in 'Spamalot' - Kathy Henderson's article has the Clay Nation grinning.

Here is the lead:

Everybody knows that Clay Aiken can sing, but—surprise!—he can also hold his own on a Broadway stage. To be more precise, he can hula, ogle scantily clad girls, discuss flying coconuts in a British accent, pretend to poop in his tunic, do a Cossack-style line dance and perform a lightning-fast patter song ("You won't succeed on Broadway if you don't have any Jews") without dropping a syllable.


The truth is, Clay is smart guy who knows what works for him, and he was shrewd enough to realize that Spamalot, in its own nutty way, would be a good match for his talents and his sunny sensibility. "If somebody said to me, 'Who in this cast has never done theater?' he is the last person I would have chosen," says Hannah Waddingham, the Olivier Award-nominated British musical star who joined the Tony-winning musical as the Lady of the Lake the same night Aiken debuted. Three weeks into his run, Broadway's new Sir Robin shared his impressions of life in Spamalot.

Questions Run the Gamut

A three-pager online, the interview answers such questions as:

How did you feel after your first Broadway performance? ... So, who talked you into coming to Broadway? You didn't have to audition, or try out a British accent?

Is it fun to sing the show's politically incorrect song about Broadway shows needing Jews to be a success? ... What are you enjoying most about being on Broadway? ... What's been the biggest surprise?

How does eight Broadway shows a week compare in difficulty to ten weeks of competition on American Idol? ... Are you surprised that so many American Idol alums have turned up on Broadway?

How do you see your career progressing? ... Will you continue to do covers or record new music? ... Where are you on the spectrum of, say, a singer like Michael Buble vs. the kind of pop music they play on a top-40 station?

You were a teacher before American Idol, and now you're involved with UNICEF. Do you see yourself performing for the rest of your life, or could you walk away and do something totally different?

Substance AND Soundbytes

Oh, there are sound bytes galore, but there is plenty of substance in Ms. Henderson's questions and Clay's responses. Some examples ...

People on Broadway are, without question, the most talented people in the country because they're doing seven things at once! They're dancing and they're singing and they're acting and they're speaking in tongues and they're playing piano and tapping. I mean, if Simon uses that as an insult again, he can kiss it!

When I'm singing a song onstage in concert, I'm wondering what I'm doing for dinner. I'm like, "Oh wow, look at that person in the third row. Does she know her buttons are not in order?" ... I can critique myself as I go. Here, I'm still thinking about "OK, left, right, jump, left, up, down, left, left, switch, switch, flip, turn!" I don't have enough brain cells left over to consider whether or not I'm doing it well.

... once you try to cater to the radio stations, you stop catering to (a) the listener and (b) me. If you try to make the music fit what you think radio is going to want, you're going to miss the mark. But if we just go out and do what we do well, then it's going to be natural and maybe radio will like it. It's not something that I'm averse to; I would absolutely love it if it happens, but it's not something to work toward at the expense of doing what we want to do.

Kudos to Ms. Henderson for an awesome interview and for letting Clay have his say!

Bottle Dance cap by ClaytonAikenFan86

Fox Promos Clay in 'Spamalot'

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning Fox stations across the country featured a segment about Clay's debut in "Spamalot." The lead-in on LA Fox-11 was, "He was never crowned an American Idol, but Clay Aiken has gotten the Holy Grail of Broadway."

Clay said his AI days were a challenge but nothing like the grueling schedule of musical theatre. In the brief interview, he credited Idol for his success.

For the complete New York version, view Idol on Broadway at the Fox site. Three broadcasts of the news segment from Atlanta to LA can be seen at
You can download the LA spot with this Sendspace: The Idol of My Age.


Cha Cha Trusty's Claymatized website is currently featuring SPAMALOT ~ The Story and Lyrics.

Inspiration for
the Spamalot project was, of course, Broadway's new Sir Robin; but the compilation features much more than "What a Difference a Clay Makes."

You know you're in for a ride with this fun subtitle: SPAMALOT: A His-Story - The Story of His Spamalot - Oh, Soddit - Here's the Poop!

The show's history, songs/lyrics by act, photos and videos from various production locations, and countless links fill the site before the final gauntlet -- SPAM, a very silly catapult game of fun.

Plan to spend some serious time as you "research" the veritable feast of Spamalot at Claymatized.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured in this clickable collection are Valentine graphics and photos of seven visual artists, including ABeautifulMind, 1; Amazing_CA, photo by Toni7babe, 2; Claysmelody, photo by PermaSwooned, 3; Ambassador of Love, 4; and Amazing_CA, photo by Butterflyshine, 5.

Clay Moves to #3 on Lycos 50

In his 239th consecutive week on the
Lycos Top 50, Clay jumped to third in the "most searched" listing.

Only poker and golf topped Singer Man, who moved up three rungs from #6 the previous week.
His subheading of "Broadway Star" is most fitting.

Clickable Lycos 50

Greetings, New Carolina Readers!

Carolina On My Mind welcomes new readers from Portugal, South Africa, and the Canary Islands as the countries keeping up with Clay Aiken news at the Blogspot journal now totals 42.

According to the Carolina site's ClustrMap, which registers computer locales, the countries by continent include:

AFRICA: Canary Islands, South Africa

ASIA: Saudi Arabia, India, Oman, Micronesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong-China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines

AUSTRALIA: Australia, New Zealand

EUROPE: Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania

NORTH AMERICA: Canada, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador

SOUTH AMERICA: Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia, Chile

Special thnx to Ron Kanipe for helping this musician decipher the geography of the map's red dots. It is amazing that
people from around the globe are dropping by the Carolina blog to read about Clay!

Grandson Kai has our final word. Graphic by Amazing_CA

Happy Valentine's Day, Clay Nation!


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