Thursday, August 28, 2008

Redefining Clay Aiken

Five years ago, a skinny, bespectacled guy auditioned for American Idol. He was a college student studying to be a Special Education teacher. That should have told the world that he was something different, and it did. During his run on Idol, people saw many different things about Clay Aiken. Some saw a very naïve boy, sweet and very gentle. Others saw a child who needed their care. Many assigned traits and preferences to him without knowing anything about him other than the one dimensional character they saw twice a week for five months. Many defined his religious and political beliefs based on two minute interviews for the show, and then decided his beliefs where exactly like their own. Some people caught on to the fact that he had a biting sense of humor when they saw the Jaded Journalist interviews, while others missed that completely.Over the last five years, bits and piece of the real Clay Aiken have become known, or as well as we can know someone from their public actions alone. The private Clay Aiken is still unknown to us, his fans, admirers, and detractors. Some people in all three of those groups have been busy assigning personality traits to him faster than the early fans did.The early group of fans who believed that Clay was a naïve, childish little boy had a rude awakening when a picture of Clay and a certain make-up artist was found on her website. The picture would not have been enough to raise an eyebrow if it had been anyone else, but it was Clay, who was pure as the driven snow. In spite of the fact that he repeatedly told fans that he was no saint, people still screamed that he was not a Christian, not what they thought he was, and they couldn’t support such a guy, who by the way, was perfectly normal. Somehow, their religious beliefs had been transferred to Clay, and he had not lived up to the assignment for them.The child that needed a million mothers to care for him disappeared when Clay walked onto the stage of the Jimmy Kimmel Show for the first time. He walked into hostile territory and held his own with them, and won the respect and friendship of Jimmy Kimmel. Some of those mothers were disappointed because he really didn’t need them to tuck him in bed at night in his footie pajamas. Young he was, but not a child.Probably the most eye-opening look at the real Clay came during the tours that began in 2004. Here was the consummate entertainer, the comedian, a man with a bawdy sense of humor, no saint, but not dirty in any way. However, some took offence because this wasn’t suitable for Sunday church services. His quick wit and intelligence shown during the tours, and many people realized what a gem he is on stage, while others found room to criticize.The latest group to jump off the fan bandwagon or onto the critical bandwagon, are the ones who planned his personal life for him, picked out his ideal wife, or in some really insane cases, boyfriend, planned his 1.9 children, and were all ready to see the Aiken’s live happily ever after. Clay did the unthinkable. He choose the mother of his child without any input from the public, he did not share with them that he was going to be a father, he did not tell them that he was planning to raise a child with “best friend” Jaymes Foster, and worst of all, he still hasn’t clarified his relationship with her! How could he do this to them!!!! Doesn’t he realize that he has shattered their dreams???It is a shame that some people liked their one dimensional person so much better than the real Clay Aiken. Here is a man, not boy, not child, who has a great sense of humor, is a very good actor, is compassionate and caring of the worlds lost children, intelligent, well read, and highly respected by those in the industry who have worked with him, wonderful singer, who lives his life as his religious beliefs dictate. And there are some who don’t like this man, because he didn’t do it their way!
Written by tnmtmama
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Monday, August 25, 2008



Recently I came across a little book of wisdom called The World According to Mister Rogers, Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers. It’s a cute little book, published in 2003 shortly after his death, containing some of Mister Rogers’ thoughts on living life. As I was reading the book, my mind kept returning to Clay Aiken and how he lives his life.

Clay frequently expressed admiration for the ideals of Mister Rogers, revealing “You know who I idolized? Mr. Rogers. Is there a market for the next Mr. Rogers? Because I'd love to do that. I'd much rather be quiet and important like him than live large and be some useless celebrity.”

Mister Rogers, of course, was a celebrity, best known for his TV show “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” his sweaters, and his advocacy for children. Clay Aiken is also a celebrity, famous for a different kind of TV show and his advocacy for children and he has been known to wear a sweater from time to time. While they have these things in common, it’s even more remarkable to realize how closely aligned their philosophies of life are.

From the forward of The World According to Mister Rogers written by his wife:

He worked so hard at being other-oriented (not self-centered) that he’d often express himself by using the first person plural. He’d say, “We’re doing this or that.” It was almost always “we.” People might sometimes have wondered who else he was including. Perhaps he was simply making an effort to ensure that his colleagues and coworkers were equally recognized and valued for the work in which they all were so invested. That would’ve been Fred’s wish.

Saying “we” rather than “I” is a habit Clay Aiken has had since he appeared on American Idol in 2003. It’s his way of acknowledging the work of others in presenting a concert or releasing a CD.

Mister Rogers on success:

The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing . . . and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.

Anyone who has ever seen Clay Aiken perform in concert knows how much he loves performing. He commands the stage, interacts with the audience, sometimes stopping the concert to talk to audience members. His delight in his “job” is obvious.

Mister Rogers on gifts and disappointments:

The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.
How great it is when we come to know that times of disappointment can be followed by times of fulfillment; that sorrow can be followed by joy; that guilt over falling short of our ideals can be replaced by pride in doing all that we can; and that anger can be channeled into creative achievements . . . and into dreams that we can make come true!
Often out of periods of losing come the greatest strivings toward a new winning streak.

In Clay Aiken’s inspirational memoir Learning to Sing, Hearing the Music in Your Life, he was very open and honest about his life, his disappointments, his challenges, and the lessons he learned from them. His graciousness in the face of his defeat on American Idol served him well in setting the tone for his successful career.

Mister Rogers on Disabilities:

Part of the problem with the word disabilities is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other tings that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and if in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.
In every neighborhood, all across our country, there are good people insisting on a good start for the young, and doing something about it.

Clay Aiken has worked with and for children with disabilities for more than a decade. He has personally worked with children and with organizations to include special needs children in summer camps and other learning opportunities. His degree is in Special Education and he began the Bubel/Aiken Foundation to benefit special needs children. It is his heart and his personal calling and he has proven that joy can come from providing opportunities for children. While he has spent much time and effort on this endeavor, others in the world have chosen to denigrate him. Who has the real disability?

Mister Rogers on children:

Please think of the children first. If you ever have anything to do with their entertainment, their food, their toys, their custody, their day or night care, their health care, their education – listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of the children first.

In 2004, Clay Aiken was appointed UNICEF Ambassador for the Education of Children Worldwide. In that capacity, he has visited children in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda to ensure that children have schools and opportunities for learning. This is a responsibility he cares about deeply and he has personally raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for this UNICEF endeavor.

Mister Rogers on families:

I believe it’s a fact of life that what we have is less important than what we make out of what we have. The same holds true for families: It’s not how many people there are in a family that counts, but rather the feelings among the people who are there.

This is a philosophy that Clay holds dear to his heart. He considers his touring company his “touring family.” His fellow cast mates on Spamalot are his “Broadway family.” He makes all those around him into his family. In his personal life, he now has his own little family. Though slightly unconventional, Jaymes Foster and their son, Parker, are his family.

Mister Rogers on Choices:

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefuly your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.

Clay Aiken has always made his own choices based on what he feels is best for himself. I hope he continues to make choices for himself.

Although this book does not even contain 200 pages, it is filled with sensible advice. The most important message is:

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

Clay never had a chance to meet Fred Rogers but Mister Rogers' advice lives on in Clay Aiken.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008


Before Clay Aiken appeared on the second season of American Idol in 2003, he was only a local celebrity of sorts in North Carolina. He had appeared for years with his band Just By Chance in Benson and Dunn and with the Johnston Community College Country Music Showcase. As a child, he was a member of the reknown Raleigh Boys Choir and as a teenager, he performed with school and church choirs and at various weddings.

It was upon joining American Idol at age 23 that Clay Aiken became an international celebrity. Arguably, Season Two of American Idol was the best season of the realty TV show. The competition and rivalry between Clay and Ruben Studdard and the fans voting for each contestant made the show the blockbuster it is today. Clay appeared in every show of that season, ultimately becoming the second place winner with Ruben Studdard beating him out in a statistical tie.

In the five years since Clay's television debut, he has not stopped working. He has toured all over the United States and Canada, participating in ten tours for a total of 234 concerts. He has appeared in 126 performances in Spamalot on New York's Broadway. Clay has appeared on more than 50 television shows including Leno, Letterman, Regis and Kelly, The View, Oprah, Tyra Banks, Good Morning America, Today, two soap operas, numerous entertainment news shows including a stint as a reporter for The Insider, and acted on Ed and Scrubs. He has performed the National Anthem at The Capital Fourth, The World Series, and a NASCAR race. He cooked with Martha Stewart, Paula Deen, and Rachel Ray. He appeared in a Disney Christmas Parade, The Rose Bowl Parade and was the Grand Marshal for the Raleigh Christmas Parade. He performed on the Miss America Pageant and was a contestant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, winning $300,000 for the Bubel/Aiken Foundation. And he produced and performed in A Clay Aiken Christmas. Clay has appeared on more magazine covers, print interviews and radio interviews than can be counted.

Even with all these entertainment appearances, Clay has not neglected his charitable pursuits. After completing his degree in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte while touring the country in the fall of 2003, he founded the Bubel/Aiken Foundation to benefit special needs children. The foundation has awarded grants to numerous organizations to establish summer camps for the inclusion of special needs children with typically developing children. Clay has performed in numerous Galas to benefit the Foundation.

Clay was appointed a Unicef Ambassador for the Education of Children and has made several trips on benefit of Unicef, traveling to Indonesia shortly after the tsunami, to Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia, war-torn Afghanistan, and flood-ravaged Mexico. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Unicef.
Clay has appeared in numerous other charitable shows including David Foster Foundation Gala, Roslyn Carter Gala, and Broadway Cares and has performed for President Bush.

In the midst of all these activities, Clay has recorded and released four full length CDs, Measure of a Man, Merry Christmas with Love, A Thousand Different Ways, and On My Way Here, two singles This is the Night and Solitaire, and a Christmas extended play All is Well, breaking music industry records with sales. His inspirational book, Learning to Sing, Hearing the Music in Your Life, written while on tour, reached number two on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2004.

Clay Aiken will rejoin the cast of Broadway's Spamalot on September 19, 2008 for another round as Sir Robin through January 4, 2009. Clay, Jaymes (sister of Grammy winning composer David Foster), and their son Parker live in California, North Carolina, and New York City.

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Friday, August 22, 2008



Sony BMG and MBC have released a new music compilation CD entitled "Super Hero" to honor Korean Olympic players. Along with such artists as John Mayer, Backstreet Boys, Donna Summer, Daughtry, and Sara Bareilles, Clay Aiken's new single, On My Way Here from the CD of the same name, is featured. It has already been used in the promo for MBC Olympics broadcasting, being heard on Korean TV as Korean winners are presented their medals.

Sony/BMG executives said, "In order to find appropriate songs for the Olympics, we have gotten recommendations for songs from online users who love pop and executives from major label under Sony/BMG around the world for a long time. In that process,19 famous artists allowed their songs to be featured in this album. . . .There are many excellent pieces in the album so I dare say that this is the best compilation album yet."

Fans in North America can order the CD through

The cost is $17.99 and shipping to the United States is $3.99.

Check out Clay Aiken as Sir Robin in Broadway's Spamalot beginning September 19, 2008. Tickets may be purchased at

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Thursday, August 21, 2008


At 8:08 AM, on Friday, August 22, 2008, Parker Foster Aiken will be two weeks old. Parker is the son of Clay Aiken, shown above cradling his son outside of Durham Regional Hospital, and Jaymes Foster.

Since Clay blogged the announcement of the birth on his official fan club website,, on August 8, 2008, there has been no word from the family. How are Jaymes and Clay adjusting to being a family and having a newborn? Are they getting any sleep or is Parker keeping them up all night? Do they take turns caring for the baby at night or do both Jaymes and Clay rush to the baby's side? Are they experiencing all the joys of new parenthood? Is Clay still grinning from ear to ear at his son? Does he sing beautiful lullabies to Parker?

The Aiken Family will be moving to New York City in a few weeks as Clay prepares to return to his Broadway role in Spamalot. When Clay begins his role on September 19, Parker will be celebrating his six week birthday.

Happy Two Week Birthday to Parker Foster Aiken and best wishes to the new mother and father.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008


As most of the world knows by now, on August 8, 2008, Clay Aiken announced the birth of a son on his blog at his fan club website:

Hello All...

I know it's been a while. I'm sure you know, it's been a full full
summer. Sorry we haven't spoken in so long. But, I'm sure you know... I hate putting the cart before the horse. Not my way to tempt fate. But I wanted to stop by, if only for a second, so you could be the first folks I tell....

My dear friend, Jaymes, and I are so excited to announce the
birth of Parker Foster Aiken (No hyphens. One first name. One middle name. One last name.)
Parker was born at a hospital in North Carolina just
this morning at 8:08 AM. Wow... 8:08 ..08/08/08

Weighed in at 6 lbs 2 oz and measured 19 inches

The little man is healthy, happy, and as loud as his daddy.
Mama Jaymes is doing quite well also. The Aiken family, the Foster family, and the Parker family are all thrilled. We'll share more at some
point in the future. Love to you all!

Clay, Jaymes and Parker leaving Durham Regional Hospital three days after the birth.

The mother is Jaymes Foster (not James Foster) and, as Clay revealed in a concert a couple of years ago, “Jaymes is a girl.”

Along with being Clay’s “dear friend” and the mother of his son, Jaymes served as the Executive Producer of Clay’s “A Thousand Different Ways” CD released in 2006, his Christmas EP “All is Well” released for the 2006 Christmas season, and his latest CD “On My Way Here” released in May 2008. It is believed that she has been his “dear friend” for a number of years. In his liner notes for “A Thousand Different Ways,” Clay dedicated these words to Jaymes:

How we ended up on the same page in each others lives at the same time I may
never understand. What I do know is that I am thankful daily that God saw fit to
introduce me to someone as talented, wise and genuine as you. That you believed in me enough to take on this project with me and stick with it through so much has been one of the biggest blessings I've been given...But not as big as the blessing of having you as a trusted and indispensable friend.

Clay, Jaymes and David Foster, Jaymes's brother and Grammy winning composer and arranger rehearsing for Clay's October 2007 performance at the Neil Sedaka Tribute in New York City.

Clay and Jaymes at the David Foster Gala in Vancouver, 2006

Clay and Jaymes at Clay's Christmas Concert
in Charlotte, NC, December 2006.

Clay and Jaymes leaving the David Foster Gala

Clay, Jaymes and Parker will be moving to New York City in September for Clay to reprise his role as Sir Robin in Spamalot on Broadway. They will be there until January 4, 2009.

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Friday, August 8, 2008


American Music Award winner and UNICEF Ambassador for the Education of Children Worldwide Clay Aiken is a father. The 29-year-old crooner from Raleigh announced the birth of Parker Foster Aiken on his Web site's blog Friday. "No hyphens. One first name," he wrote. "One middle name. One last name."

Aiken's mother, Faye, told Raleigh TV station WRAL the child was born in North Carolina.
Aiken was a favorite of fans during the second season of "American Idol," where he finished a close second to Ruben Studdard. His album "Measure of a Man" went double platinum in 2003, and he made his Broadway debut this spring in "Monty Python's Spamalot."

The baby's mother is Jaymes Foster, Aiken's friend of many years and record producer. Their son was born at 8:08 a.m. Friday, and weighed 6 pounds, 2 ounces and was 19 inches long, according to the statement on the Web site.

"The little man is healthy, happy, and as loud as his daddy," Aiken wrote. "Mama Jaymes is doing quite well also."

Aiken and Foster live together in California and North Carolina.

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