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April - June 2008

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newsobserver.com

Aiken is on His Way to New CD

Aiken is on his way to new CD

By Matt Ehlers, Staff Writer

For a man who loves to brag on his hometown, Clay Aiken has barely seen Raleigh in recent months.

Since the beginning of the year, the former "American Idol" contestant, pop hitmaker and Broadway star has spent exactly one night in his own bed. It was a couple of weeks ago, when he flew down from New York on his day off, just to see home for one evening.

So after he finishes promotional duties for his new album, "On My Way Here," which comes out Tuesday, Aiken, 29, plans to spend the summer in the Triangle. Touring will have to wait.

"I'm going to enjoy the backyard a little bit," he says on the phone from New York.

The last few months have been extremely busy for Aiken, as he just finished a 15-week run in the role of Sir Robin in Broadway's "Spamalot." He spent his days in the studio working on the album and his evenings at the theater.

"On My Way Here" is Aiken's first album of original material since 2003's "Measure of a Man." It's also the first album in which his label, RCA, gave him control over which songs to sing.

"Measure," which included the hit "Invisible," featured poppy songs intended for top-40 radio. This time around, the self-described "Barry Manilow II" chose songs he felt were a better fit. The title track is a mellow yet contemporary song that would fit the play-lists of stations such as WRAL-FM.

The album features eclectic sounds, he said, from pop to a bit of R&B, as well as a couple of songs with big string parts, which he called "almost orchestral."

But lyrically they have a common thread. Aiken chose songs that he thought people could relate to.

"I wanted to find songs that, lyrically, could be universal," he says.

A certain freedom comes with choosing his own songs, but it brings some responsibility as well. Aiken, though, doesn't feel any added pressure.

"The truth is, if this does beautifully, excellent. If it doesn't, at least I can't blame anyone else."

Anyone else, say, like the record company.

"They've always tried to fit a square peg into a round hole with me. This time they said, you know what, 'just let him do what he wants to do.'"

He believes it worked.

"We finally put a square peg into a square hole, because we were allowed to do what we felt most comfortable doing."

Wait. Has Clay Aiken admitted that he's square?

He burst into laughter.

"Have I ever said anything different?"

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charlotte.com

Five Questions for Clay Aiken

Posted on Sun, May. 04, 2008

Five questions for Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken has had a busy four months. Since January, he has juggled performing on Broadway for the first time with recording his first album of original songs since 2003. "On My Way Here" hits stores Tuesday, just two days after Aiken wraps his role in "Spamalot." The album chronicles the past five years for the "American Idol" runner-up. Aiken, a former UNC Charlotte student and Raleigh native, spoke to the Observer recently from his N.C. home before hopping on a plane back to New York a few hours later.

Why the five-year wait between your last album of original material? "We had label folks who had certain ideas. They wanted to do the Christmas album, then the cover album, and had certain marketing ideas."

What makes this album special? "It's something I've been wanting to do for five years, and that makes it plenty special. There's a song on it called `On My Way Here.' We found that song, and the lyrics just really struck me. We already had songs chosen, but we scrapped them because we loved this song. The lyrics are really kind of powerful and almost personal."

Would you perform on Broadway again? "I've had a great time. Would I seek it out again? I don't know. I loved the atmosphere and it's a nice little community the show is a part of."

If you had a day to spend in Charlotte, where would you go? "I like the University area because it reminds me of home."

What's next on your plate? "I'm going to take some time off, actually. I've not had two days off in a row since October. I'm looking forward to doing nothing. I'll be back in Raleigh at the end of May. I'll be taking a trip for UNICEF in the summer. But I'm going to take several months off this year because you know how lovely and breezy and cool the summers are in Raleigh. I haven't experienced that in a while, and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to handle it."

sarah aarthun

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Detroit Free Press

Fresh Thoughts on New Music

Fresh thoughts on new music

BY BRIAN McCOLLUM • FREE PRESS POP MUSIC WRITER • May 4, 2008

Perhaps no singer has been custom-made for "American Idol" like Clay Aiken, a guy enamored of the big, warm-and-fuzzy middle of popular music, where saccharine sentiments roam and supersized melodies rule the day.

"On My Way Here" (RCA, **) the 29-year-old star's fourth album, is exactly the album you'd expect Aiken to make in 2008. Having ceded the radio-hit throne to "Idol" peers such as Kelly Clarkson, the second-season runner-up unapologetically sticks with the midtempo adult-contemporary sound that seems to be his natural calling.

It isn't quite elevator music, but "On My Way Here" is a safe record -- a dozen tracks of perfectly pleasant pop that hews to the romantic side while occasionally embracing bigger themes ("Weight of the World," "Grace of God"). The album's uplifting title track, penned by OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder, is the album standout, a Disney-film sort of anthem lovingly lathered in strings and acoustic guitars.

All is just a platform, of course, to spotlight Aiken's voice, and fans will be happy to know his tenor remains in typically limber form, emoting tenderly before soaring open-throated on ballads such as "The Real Me" and "As Long As We're Here."

This is all just a gracious way of saying that the album finds Aiken succeeding in his chosen domain -- but that domain is still a place teeming with musical clichés, hammy performances and greeting-card verse. Aiken's Claymates may be pleased with the effort; the world at large is unlikely to be moved. In stores Tuesday.

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New York Post

Over "Idol"

OVER 'IDOL'

CLAY AIKEN SAYS SHOW THAT LAUNCHED HIS CAREER IS TOO SLICK

By DEBORAH STARR SEIBEL

May 4, 2008 -- Clay Aiken doesn't have time to watch "American Idol." But the season two runner-up says that even if he did, it wouldn't be on his must-watch TV list.

"I would never in any way negate the fact that it's put me where I am," says Aiken, who will wrap his Broadway run in "Spamalot" on Sunday and drop his fourth album ("On My Way Here") on Tuesday. "But I miss the innocence of 'Idol' of seasons one, two and three."

That innocence, he says, was expressed in the raw, unpolished look and lack of experience of the kids who were competing.

"Me, Ruben (Studdard) and Kim (Locke) had no chance [in the record industry]. We were all misfits in some way. If you look at Ruben and me, we looked like a really bad version of Laurel and Hardy."

Aiken says it bothered him when he heard that one of this year's contestants - Carly Smithson - already had a record deal. And that another, frontrunner David Archuleta, won the junior version of "Star Search." Says Aiken, "After Fantasia left, and after Kelly [Clarkson] won her two Grammys, I feel like it's been a little more polished, not the boy and girl next door that America wanted to help."

Aiken has sold six million albums, despite the fact that, with his emphasis on power ballads, he gets little radio airplay. "I'm not cool enough to be on the radio," he says. "Even with the first album ("Measure of a Man") five years ago, people were trying to put me in these [cool] clothes and get me to sing certain songs. And I said, 'You know what? There's a point where you become a caricature.' On tour, I'll do 'When Doves Cry' or 'Baby Got Back.' But they're done tongue in cheek because I know for a fact that I could never sing them."

But he can sing Broadway. Reminded that "Idol" judge Simon Cowell predicted that after the show, Aiken could have a huge career on the Great White Way, Aiken says, "At the time he said it, Simon meant it as an insult. But if you can do Broadway, you can do anything. Simon can kiss my foot."

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denverpost.com

Clay Aiken Finally Has a Record (Sort of) of His Own

Clay Aiken finally has a record (sort of) of his own

By Ricardo Baca

Denver Post Pop Music Critic

Article Last Updated: 05/02/2008 09:23:56 PM MDT

What is the measure of an artist?

When it comes to Clay Aiken, you certainly can't tell from 2003's "Measure of a Man," a CD released just five months after he lost to Ruben Studdard on "American Idol."

"When that first album came out, the music on it was predetermined before 'Idol' was even done," said Aiken, who has a new recording due this week. "At the time, I was just so excited that I had this opportunity, I was like, 'I'll sing "The Crawdad Song" if you want me to!' "

Aiken didn't write any of the songs on "Measure," but his cooing delivery made him an even bigger star in the adult contemporary world. And after sporadic touring, it was time to cut another record — this one a holiday CD. "Merry Christmas With Love" was released a year after "Measure," and six weeks later it reached platinum status.

It goes without saying that selling a million copies of a holiday record is uncommon territory, the kind typically reserved for Kenny G and Celine Dion. Then again, Aiken fits in nicely with that crowd.

But even with Aiken's birdlike "Winter Wonderland," we still didn't know him.

After that one, he thought: Nowis the time for my "me" record. Little did Aiken know that mogul Clive Davis had different plans for him.

Two years after the Christmas record came "A Thousand Different Ways," an album of familiar covers from Richard Marx ("Right Here Waiting") to Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)."

"They wanted me to sing songs people knew, like what I did on 'Idol,' " Aiken said. "It was stuff that people recognize. And it made sense in some ways to say, 'You sang Richard Marx on "Idol." Sing it now.' But it wasn't what I really wanted to do. . . . I was miserable. I fought to get four original songs on the album."

Fans and critics were in awe that Aiken had released three incredibly impersonal records in three years of being a ubiquitous pop-culture idol and punching bag. But what Aiken took from the "Thousand Different Ways" session was a friend — and a producer.

While working on the covers record, Aiken hit it off immediately with producer Jaymes Foster. Together they agreed to work on his next album, his first personal statement as a pop star, five years after we met him. And that's where we find Aiken now, introducing "On My Way Here," in stores Tuesday, as a document of the singer's life.

The record is heavy on the melodramatic ballads and light on substantive songwriting. Apparently the new Aiken isn't all that unlike the old Aiken, as they're both achin' for bombastic slow jams that walk the thin line between light R&B and adult contemporary. They're wallpaper.

But a lot of people still like wallpaper, especially when it's representative of Aiken's journey as a celebrity.

"In the last five years, I've gotten more used to saying no," Aiken said. "I'm almost 30 years old, and now it's not frightening for me to tell people no. You learn to stand your ground."

While Aiken says "On My Way Here" represents the last five years of his life, he again didn't write any of the material. The singer said he's "not great" at songwriting and that he'd rather "let the people who are experts in that field do what they do, and I'll do what I do."

The lead single and title track on the new record was written by a Denver musician, OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder. When Aiken and Foster came across "On My Way Here," it resonated so much with the artist that they scrapped most of the previous songs they'd demoed and started anew.

"When we heard that one a year ago, we changed the whole direction of the record," Aiken said. "We had no theme before. We were just going to make an album. But with this song, everything rang so true. Right there we started looking for songs that talked about something that I had experienced in the last five years or something that explored a feeling I'd had."

The process of finding the right songs wasn't easy. Aiken estimates he listened to 500 demos and that Foster listened to 10 times that many. "It's a long process," Aiken said. "For us, it lasted three years."

Even if Aiken didn't write much on the new record, his fans have a better idea of his plight and personality now than they ever did before. And for a guy like Aiken, whose character and lifestyle is pondered daily on blogs, TV shows and stand-up bits still, that's saying a lot.

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University of Delaware Review

Clay Aiken -- On My Way Here Reviewed

Clay Aiken - On My Way Here reviewed

By: Brian Anderson

Posted: 5/6/08

On My Way Here

Clay Aiken

RCA Records

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

In his fourth studio release, titled On My Way Here, Clay Aiken continues to impress listeners with a soothing voice, sweet lyrics and overall solid songs. Albums like this make it clear why the former runner-up of American Idol is still putting out records - he's talented.

Aiken's first single off the album, title track "On My Way Here," is somewhat autobiographical about growing up and learning from the past. Written by OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, the song is a great way to promote and start an album.

"Where I Draw The Line" is clearly the best track off the album although each one is worth more than one listen. "The Real Me," written by Natalie Grant but sung by Aiken, also adds to the album as a whole.

On My Way Here is filled with easy-listening songs. Whether you're a Claymate or not, his newest effort is definitely worth a listen.

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washingtonpost.com

Aiken Finds His "Way"; Diamond is Right at "Home"

Aiken Finds His 'Way'; Diamond Is Right at 'Home'

By Allison Stewart

Special to The Washington Post

Tuesday, May 6, 2008; C05

Of all the "American Idol" contestants, Clay Aiken has always been the most suspiciously pliable. His post-"Idol" debut was a respectable prefab adult contemporary collection, but he stumbled hard with its official follow-up, "A Thousand Different Ways," a collection of the-record-company-made-me-do-it covers of Bryan Adams and Mr. Mister songs (among others) so flawlessly bad, so devoid of personality, it's hard to imagine that Kelly Clarkson would have consented to record such a thing on her first day off the bus.

Like Neil Diamond (whose latest album, "Home Before Dark," also arrives today), Aiken intends his new disc, "On My Way Here," to be a career-defining work of autobiography. Aiken's whiz-bang team of producers and songwriters has crafted a declaration of independence that sounds a lot like the one created by the producers and songwriters of his first disc. But it's better, and livelier, than anything else he's done, a baseline adult contemporary album that occasionally expands to include synthy R&B ("Weight of the World"), lite rock ("Ashes") and hooky pop (the title track, written by OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder).

Aiken has always seemed more interesting than his material and his public would allow for: beatific in voice, prickly in personality. At its best, "On My Way Here" is a recessive blend of sweetness, piety, confusion and barely concealed resentment that occasionally, if unintentionally, bares its teeth. The subtext of every song seems to be, How did I wind up here? Or, alternately, What do you want from me?

Aiken may sing through gritted teeth, but Diamond, who found himself similarly adrift in schlock during his post-"Jazz Singer" years, always seemed to enjoy himself immensely. At least until he met producer Rick Rubin, who rescued Diamond from his rhinestone leisure-suited purgatory more than a decade after working similar magic on Johnny Cash.

Their latest collaboration, "Home Before Dark," is a follow-up to 2005's stark and nifty career resuscitator, "12 Songs." Like its predecessor, it's steeped in the sort of somberness Rubin confuses with authenticity, though Diamond now occasionally seems more exuberant and less straitjacketed. He sounds more like Neil Diamond -- and less like Neil Diamond trying to sound like Johnny Cash trying to sound like Neil Diamond. Though Rubin is accompanied by a band that includes two Heartbreakers, Dixie Chick Natalie Maines -- on the perfunctory but pretty duet "Another Day (That Time Forgot)" -- and a string section, "Dark" still feels as stripped-down and immediate as "12 Songs," even when a bigger sound might serve it better.

"Dark" features a similar mix of love songs, homespun homilies and tales of woe, in roughly similar proportions: "Don't Go There" is one of a host of advice-dispensing ballads; "Pretty Amazing Grace" is one of several "I found love again! And I'm pretty old"-type ballads; the record opening "If I Don't See You Again" couldn't offer more tomblike gravitas if it had been sung by Tommy Lee Jones.

On its best track, "Act Like a Man," Diamond addresses the difficulties facing male musicians who follow the charts instead of their hearts ("Song maker/You heartbreaker/You faker/You better stop it while you can"). Clay Aiken could probably sing the heck out of it, if given half the chance.

DOWNLOAD THESE: Aiken: "On My Way Here," "Ashes"; Diamond: "If I Don't See You Again," "Act Like a Man"

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Gather's Interview with Clay Aiken

Gather's Interview With Clay Aiken

by Music Editor

May 06, 2008 03:03 PM EDT

views: 3

Last week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Clay Aiken. We asked him as many member questions that time allowed. Enjoy!

Gather: Robin Noack asked, "I was just wondering what made you start this foundation. Was it because of a personal experience or someone you know?

Keep up the good work!"

Clay: Well it was a kind of a combination of both. I taught special ed for a couple of years and worked with kids with disabilities. At the same time I also ran a summer camp in Raleigh for several years as well, and the powers that be at that camp who had more control than me found it difficult to include kids with disabilities into the camp programs because they didn't have the resources. We didn't have the training staff or the ratio to allow kids with disabilities in and so that was always a sticking point for me.

One of the intersections of my special ed career and entertainment career came from a lady whose son I was working with and she was the person who convinced me to try out for American Idol. When I did that the YMCA became something that I would talk about on Idol and in a very short amount of time the YMCA had $50,000 worth of donations and I said WOW - if I can do this just based on that than lets start talking about things that are really important to me. And that's how the Bubel Aiken foundation started where I could take on problems that were important to me.

Gather: Karen M. asked "As for UNICEF I would be interested to know of the locations that you have visited; which is the first one that you would you like to return to for a follow-up visit? Why?"

Clay: I've been to Indonesia, went there after the tsunami, I've been to Uganda in the same year to see the effects of the war and that was one of the most devastating things I've ever seen in my life. I went to Afghanistan last year for what UNICEF was doing there, and spent this past Christmas in Mexico.

Gather: "Any that you would like to do a follow up visit to?"

Clay: Well it's hard to know. They don't send people for fun and it's not an easy trip. It's to raise money or awareness and if I have done that then great. But if I went and wasn't able to raise money than there would be no reason to go back. In Afghanistan, if we were able to raise money then they would not send me back to do a follow up. UNICEF likes to really spend their time and resources where it is needed the most. I do plan on doing a trip next month to another country.

Gather: Jean A. asked, "You have recently mentioned that you may be going on a UNICEF trip this summer...can you talk anymore about that? Your trips to Banda Aceh, Uganda, Afghanistan, and Mexico brought so much awareness about the plights of others around the world. I'm looking forward to your next trip!"

Clay: We usually don't talk about trips before I take them for security reasons. While we don't say where we're going, but of course when we talked about Mexico, its ok, but typically they like to send me places where they are scared that they could lose me so we don't usually don't talk about where I'm going before I go for those reasons.

Gather: Dawn C. asked, "Clay, I recently read some success stories about service dogs helping children with autism. With your love for dogs, do you think the BAF might do work in the future with organizations like 4pawsforability? Did Mike Bubel have a dog? Congratulations on your new album!"

Clay: First of all BAF does not focus on just autism, we try to be as universal as possible and work with all different disabilities and disability levels and get them into as many fitting programs as possible. We take a hard look at every single grant and have a strict rubric for grant applications to make sure that they all fit into our criteria. It's not enough to work with specific disabilities. It's all based on the characteristic of the need and the grant application and to make sure that we fit everything together as best as possible.

Gather: Sandy P. asked, "Do you get to go to any of the camps and participate with the kids. I hope so, I know how much you love and care about them. I hope you get to enjoy their joy at times."

Clay: I have done that a few years ago and we tried doing them last summer but I was on tour. We want to try to do some more of that this summer. I miss that part of my life. At the same time it can tend to be a distraction and that's not what I want to cause. It's not beneficial to disrupt the routine, but participating and interacting is something I love to do.

Gather: Chae M. asked, "Clay, you say that as a UNICEF Ambassador, your biggest focus is helping raise awareness of what's going on in the world. When you went to Uganda in 2005, you said "I'm thinking of composing a song about the plight of (Internally Displaced Persons) in northern Uganda. We should think of creative ways of sensitizing the international community about the crisis. It's unfortunate that such a tragic situation is not adequately publicized.

"My faith...my belief... God places a person to do things in a certain way. Each person has certain responsibilities, which they can fulfill in a way they choose."

What way have you chosen as a musician to help raise awareness? Have you found a song that speaks to your UNICEF experiences?

Thanks for your service."

Clay: I actually have, one that's on the next album that I actually found when traveling to Indonesia and found the lyrics to be very universal but they speak to that theme without question. The name of the song is As Long As We're Here.

Gather: Peggy B. asked, "We all how difficult it is for a relatively new foundation to raise sufficient funds, and you know your fan base tries to support BAF as much as possible, but have you been able to sign on any corporate sponsors? If so, can you tell us what some of them are. I would like to give my support to them, as much as possible, as I am sure many others would.

Thank you for your time."

Clay: A lot of corporations have philanthropies that are already built into their corporate entity. We found a few just recently but we're still in talks with them.

Gather: Debra B. asked, "Hey there Clay--just wondering what book are you reading right now? And do you have a favorite book from your childhood that you would love to read to your own children someday?

Keep up the good work! You have an awesome voice and a good heart. =)"

Clay: I'm actually not reading anything right now, but recently bought my favorite book from when I was a kid which is The Magic Hat of Martimer Wintergreen by Myron Levoy.

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New York Post

Aiken Back

AIKEN BACK

By MAXINE SHEN

May 6, 2008 --

ATTENTION all Claymates: The second-place finisher in the second season of "American Idol" is finally putting out his second album of original tunes.

Between releasing his 2003 double-platinum debut, "Measure of a Man," and today's "On My Way Here," Clay Aiken released a Christmas album, a disc of cover songs and a Wal-Mart exclusive Christmas EP - and, as of Sunday, completed a 31/2-month stint in Broadway's "Spamalot."

And just so you know, the five-year gap between original albums wasn't Aiken's idea.

"We had a Christmas album [the 2004 album 'Merry Christmas With Love'] come out right away, then we kind of got sidetracked," the 29-year-old says.

"Since the Christmas album did so well, I think the label thought, 'Hey, well, we don't need to be on the radio necessarily, let's just do songs that people know and let Clay sing them.' "

He admits that the cover songs were "not my favorite thing in the world to do, but we did it and we made the best of it."

When the suits started talking about a new record, "we really just pushed and said, 'Listen, that's fine and all, but I really want to do my own thing,' " Aiken says.

"On the first album, many of the songs were picked for me, or we picked it because it had a great hook. [This time] we tried to find lyrics that were powerful and meant something." He sings about everything from coming of age and relationships to self-introspection and being in the public eye.

Interesting, then, that Aiken wrote just one song on the 12-track album, preferring instead to record songs written by the likes of OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder (the title track) and contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Natalie Grant ("The Real Me").

The one song Aiken wrote, "Lover All Alone," only happened because his executive producer, Jaymes Foster, forced him to do it after getting her brother, David, to whip up some music for Aiken.

"I'm not a songwriter, I'm a singer," Aiken says. "I know what I'm good at, and I know what I'm not good at - we'll leave the writing up to the experts."

Another thing Aiken intends to leave to the experts is dancing. Although he got some practice while playing Sir Robin in "Spamalot," don't expect to see him bustin' a move during future concerts.

"Dance requires a lot more natural skill than choreography, which means you can follow directions and put your leg where someone tells you too," Aiken says.

"I don't have enough rhythm to be able to move my body naturally in a way that dance would require. I don't think there'll be dancing in any shows at any time soon - or at least, not by me. We want people to stay in their seats."

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ABC News

Nightline Playlist: Clay Aiken

Nightline Playlist: Clay Aiken

The Award-Winning Singer and Broadway Star Shares the Songs That Inspire Him

By DEBORAH APTON and CHRISTINA CARON

May 8, 2008—

Long before he starred in Broadway's "Spamalot," Clay Aiken was a performer. Some might say he always knew his audience.

One day during a trip to the North Carolina coastline, Aiken and his mother came across a Christian puppet show on the boardwalk. The performers were singing "Kum Ba Yah" and asked if anybody wanted to sing along.

"At five years old I threw my hands up and I was like, 'OK, I'll come sing,'" Aiken said. "And they said, 'Sing whatever you want to,' and my mom said she was paranoid, petrified, that I was going to sing "Islands in the Stream" at this little Christian puppet show and embarrass her. But I think I sang something like 'Jesus Loves Me.'"

When all the other kids were proclaiming "I'm a Little Teapot," young Aiken favored "Islands In The Stream," by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, after hearing it on the radio.

Today Aiken, 29, still knows how to please a crowd and remains the most successful of the male "American Idol" contestants. His first three albums played it safe, with few original songs and lots of crowd-pleasing covers. Critics complained Aiken wasn't revealing enough, and after belting out Brian Adams and Mr. Mister, Aiken himself has admitted that it was tough for him to make a statement via repackaged music.

But unlike his previous albums that conform to a particular genre, Aiken considers his newest album, "On My Way Here," which arrived in stores this week, to be an eclectic mix that reflects his personal style. Aiken only wrote one song on the record, "Lover All Alone," but selected the remaining songs to represent experiences he's had in the past five years.

"I feel kind of lucky that we're in a position where I don't have to make everything sound the same on the album so people can say, 'Oh he fits in this category or this category.' We've been kind of lucky to do what we want to do and kind of test the waters in different places," Aiken said. "I mean, there's so much I like to sing and there's so many different styles I think are fun and worthy of being performed. So we don't let ourselves get pigeon-holed too much. We spent a lot of time making sure that we just found songs that we good for me."

Aiken's First Audition

Aiken says he has been singing even before he can remember.

"My mom says that I sang from the time that I was 18 months old, which I don't necessarily remember," he said. "I remember auditioning to be the mascot for a local high school's 'Queen of Hearts' dance when I was 5 years old& Probably the first thing I ever won; only thing really."

In 2003 Aiken did, however, come very close to winning "American Idol," the most well-known singing contest in the nation. As one of the two finalists left standing, Aiken lost while Ruben Studdard walked away with the coveted recording contract.

Since then, Studdard was dropped by his label after a disappointing performance on the music charts, while Aiken's albums went platinum. After receiving several prestigious honors from Billboard and the American Music Awards, Aiken has sold more albums and had more No. 1 songs than any other "American Idol" alum except for Kelly Clarkson.

Aside from his impressive vocal range, Aiken is best known for his work with special needs children. In the 1990s he directed a YMCA children's camp and majored in special education at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.

Fame has provided Aiken with a new platform for the kids he wants to help. In 2003, after becoming a household name to "American Idol" fans, he created the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, an integrated program for children with and without developmental disabilities.

Given Aiken's passion for teaching and community outreach, it's not surprising that one of his favorite songs serves as a reminder of the summer camp Aiken used to run.

Watch Clay Aiken's interview on "Nightline" tonight at 11:35 p.m. and check ABCNEWS.com on Friday to find out which songs top Clay Aiken's playlist.

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The Other Door: Kansas City Star's American Idol Blog

Clay Aiken: No Desire to Watch Idol

May 09, 2008

Clay Aiken: No desire to watch 'Idol'

Five years ago this month Clay Aiken became one of mainstream television’s most famous runners-up when he finished second to Reuben Studdard in Season 2 of “American Idol.”

Since then, Aiken has parlayed his “loss” into profitable success and mainstream popularity. You could say he’s gone from “American Idol” to Eric Idle. In January he joined the cast of the Broadway musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” playing several roles, including Sir Robin (the role played by Idle in the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”).

From New York recently, as he was getting his hair cut, Aiken, 29, talked to The Star about his Broadway show and his new album, “On My Way Here,” which is due in stores today was released Tuesday.

What did you know about Monty Python before you took this role?

Nothing. I thought “Spamalot” was about unwanted e-mails. The first time I saw the musical, I was like, “Uh, really?” I mean, it’s not like “Wicked” or anything like that. It’s completely different. The second time I saw it I laughed so hard …

Why Sir Robin?

It’s the character they suggested, probably because there are so many similarities. He’s afraid of everything. He’s a bit of a chicken.

Talk about what you wanted to accomplish when you went into the studio to record the new album.

We’ve wanted to do an album of original material because it has been five years now since the last one. That was the goal: to do songs that could become ours. A majority of the process came down to finding songs that fit me more than songs that pushed me to be something. On the last album we spent a lot of time trying to put square pegs in round holes.

Why did you settle on Kipper (Marc Eldridge) as your producer?

We decided we wanted just one producer so that sonically there would be continuity across the board. For me it’s about finding someone with the personality and the vibe that I can work with. So Kipper and I met, and In addition to being very talented he’s just one of the easiest people to work with. He’s very fun and laid-back. When you have to be in the studio with someone for hours every day, it makes it a lot easier. Plus he’s got skills.

Did he help you find songs?

Yes. We all found songs. These are more eclectic than anything I’ve done. I could pretty much tell right away whether one was going to work. It might have been a great song, but if it didn’t fit my voice or if it wasn’t believable for me to sing it, we didn’t use it. We wanted organic stuff, songs that allowed me to sing the best I know how.

Is there a theme to this album?

We found the song “On My Way Here,” written by Ryan Tedder of One Republic. It’s a song about the kinds of things people learn that make them who they are. Once we had that song, We wanted the entire album to wrap around that theme, to speak to a situation that I had been through or that people go through in their 20s when they’re trying to find themselves. So we spent a lot of time first looking at lyrics, then focusing on the sonic aspects and the melodies.

What will listeners notice about this album that is so different from your other albums?

I hope it’s the lyrics. The songs are more like me. I hope it sounds less like I’m trying real hard.

Is the production radically different?

I’m an idiot when it comes to that stuff. I’m not going to lie to you. I left it all up to the producer. I might say, “I really love that guitar sound; can you pull that up in the mix?” But it has ballads with orchestras and some rock stuff, like what Kelly (Clarkson) did on her second album. We cover the entire field.

Is a tour in the works?

I finish “Spamalot” on May 4, right before the album comes out. But I haven’t had two days off in a row since October. It would be impossible to put out the album and then tour next month. So I’ll take some time off. Who knows, maybe through the end of the year. I’ll probably tour for UNICEF this summer, but I’m looking forward to sitting down and sitting still and not doing things like getting my haircut while I’m doing an interview.”, which is what I’m doing right now.

Have you been watching “Idol”?

The last time I watched was the season Carrie Underwood won. I haven’t had the time, nor have I had the desire. It’s a different show now.

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Billboard

On My Way Here

On My Way Here

CLAY AIKEN

Producer(s): Kipper

Genre: AC

Label: RCA

Clay Aiken readily admits that despite massive retail and touring success, radio has never been a particularly tight ally. So he recorded "On My Way Here," his first new album of original material in five years, with an eye on simply finding songs that fit him—and lo and behold, the title track could well be one that AC radio embraces. First, it's co-written by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, who has worked with Leona Lewis, Natasha Bedingfield and dozens of other hitmakers. Second, the lyric offers that rare message you actually listen to: "I've seen the best, the worst/I wouldn't change what I've been through/I've touched the sky, hit the wall, but did what I had to/On my way here." Aiken was so moved by this song that it locked in an album theme about growing up and lessons learned. The singer might be accused of excess bravado in the past, but here, he delivers a restrained performance, still ever-emotive. Claymates—who proved tenacity by supporting en masse his just-wrapped Broadway run in "Spamalot"—will be reduced to tears, but even those who have dismissed Aiken in the past will find this "Way" convincing. —Chuck Taylor

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ArtistDirect

Interview: Clay Aiken

Interview

Clay Aiken

Wed, 14 May 2008 17:28:00

The former reality TV star gives a glimpse into his past experiences and his advancing career

Clay Aiken is a guy who proves that winning isn't everything. After getting his start as the runner-up to Ruben Studdard in season two of American Idol, his success and stardom has far surpassed the "winner" America chose at the time. To date, Aiken has sold well-over a million records over the course of his three-album career. And with his latest album of original material, On My Way Here, he is poised to sell even more copies—and not just to his devoted, and somewhat obsessive, fans, who call themselves his "Claymates."

Before a performance of the Broadway hit Spamalot, where Aiken stars as Sir Robin, we caught up with the double threat (he's a self-confessed terrible dancer) to talk about his new album and current Broadway experience. In the course of our interview we found that Aiken is a straight-to-the-point, no-nonsense kind of guy, who knows what he wants and gets the job done.

So, how is Spamalot going for you? You must be so busy right now.

Almost over. I'm busier now with album stuff, but I've got 7 more shows.

Are you going to miss it when you're done?

I'm sure I will to some extent; it's been a lot of fun. It's been a great experience. I'm glad I did it. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

Did you find that when you started that show that you had to retrain yourself to be a Broadway performer, as opposed to just a singer or a pop star?

Yeah, as far as being on stage though, the only difference is that you have to communicate with the audience—when it comes to being in a show like this. I mean, training for me was more like getting my body the way that they wanted.

I've heard you say that you're not the best dancer.

Oh, I still am not. I've learned how to cheat, how to fake it pretty well.

All you need to do is "sell it." Now you're focusing on the album, but would ever go back to theater or Broadway in the future?

I think it's a possibility. We're not looking for it, but it was quite a joy.

When you were working on the record, you were simultaneously doing the show. Do you think that your Broadway experience somewhat shaped or influenced the new record at all?

Well, probably not at all.

You can keep it separate?

Oh, yeah. They're very separate.

Your first single, "On My Way Here," was written by Ryan from OneRepublic. How did you find that song? What made it stand out to not only be the lead single but the name of the album? Is it at all because of the success of OneRepublic?

Well, we found this song the same way we found all the other ones. We found it through a publisher and it had some great lyrics and a great message to it, and it was something immediately that I saw on the album.

Did that set the tone for the other songs that you chose for the record?

Absolutely. When I think about the theme for the whole album, this song pops out, and the experiences and all that. We decided that we wanted all the songs on the album to take up that same tone. All the songs are kind of about someone growing up and going through experiences and finding out who they are.

You've said that the album is kind of a road map of the past 5 years of your life, chronicling how you got to where you are now. Is it a very personal record in that respect, or can other going through a their own "coming of age" relate?

It's both. It's a coming of age [album]—coming to what an adult is record—and as much as it is now, I'm doing the same myself. There are parts of the songs that are very personal.

You're 29, right? So you're on the eve of 30?

Unfortunately, I am.

Did any feelings of getting older affect the album? Are you nervous about turning 30 at all?

No, I don't think so.

You get your songs from your publisher and pick and choose form what you're given, but is there any musician in particular with whom you'd like to work?

No.

Well, then as a singer who uses what someone else has written, do you ever have any ambitions to write on your own—Or with a team; even something as simple as writing your own lyrics?

No. I kind of feel like there are people that write that. Let them do it. There are people who do that and they do it for their own personal gain. They want to write a song so they can make a little more money and get a few more points on their album. I don't' care to do that. I'd rather have 12 great songs than two great songs written by other people and 10 great songs written by me.

Right. Most singers are just a vehicle, but then you get some singers who do feel like they can write their own songs and they'll be great! But those are usually the flops.

Right. In theory.

Another song that stuck out was "The Real Me" by Natalie Grant, who is a Christian musician. Apparently when you heard it, you said, "that's about God." You grew up a Christian, and most people know a little about your faith and convictions, but do you feel compromised turning it into a romantic song as opposed to a worship song?

They all mean the same thing to me; they definitely will for other people to. It's not a love song either. Other people think it's about their mother or their dogs.

So, it doesn't matter how it's perceived, even if you want it to come across a certain way?

Absolutely. It should all be interpretable.

Your producer brought songs to you that you called "left of center." Most people perceive you as clean cut, but where do you feel like you fit in pop? It's a genre that is constantly changing its standards. Do you feel like you need a bit of edge to stay relevant?

I'm totally happy where we are. I think that the biggest trap that people can fall into is trying to sing songs that are[n't] great [for them], and not finding songs that are great for them. I think that's what we've finally done on this album. We've done the best we can to make sure that the songs that we've found were good for me.

The album has a lot of variety: jazz to your standard pop and some rock. Are you trying to show off your versatility and range? How does Clay Aiken find a song that is going to suit you well?

We don't. We find a song we think is good. And then it's just kind of gut instincts, really. I think we found songs this time we thought were great songs, and then we'd sing through them one time—and then, you know what? That would be good for someone else; it doesn't fit right for me. It's got to be right, and it's got to be believable.

Well, now you're a pro at being believable with all your acting experience.

It's not about knowing. That's the thing! It cannot be something that you're acting.

WelDo you find that since you have more acting experience now that it's hampered your genuine approach to singing?

You know, it's not something that takes much thought. It becomes natural. It either hits me, or it doesn't. If I have to try too hard, then we shouldn't be doing it.

You've refered to American Idol as high school, and keeping it in the past and using that learning experience. It seems that now the kids get a lot more scrutiny with the emergence of gossip and celebrity blogs, where anyone can be a critic. How did you deal with that when you were on the show?

I would think that anyone that thinks they had it harder than we had it—if you think that this American Idol now is more pressed than American Idol in season two—I could not speak for them.

So you were the guinea pigs?

We had two people who were kicked off our show. We had two other people who had mug shots put online. It was the biggest press shoot of American Idol ever since the beginning—and it's never been bigger. Our show was much tougher! We didn't have a band to sing to.

—Danielle Allaire

05.14.08

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AOL Sessions

Clay Aiken: Inside Story

Scroll and look for "The Story" tab on the right hand side...

Clay Aiken epitomizes what 'American Idol' is capable of. The former special-education teacher is now a multiplatinum recording artist, but he doesn't consider himself a musician. He is an entertainer, a role he is very comfortable with when he visits the AOL studios in Beverly Hills to perform songs from his new album, 'On My Way Here.'

A natural when the cameras are on, Aiken displays the inner ham he says has always been there. And that comfort has only been heightened during the five years between original albums by his role on Broadway in 'Spamalot' and multiple TV appearances, including variety shows like 'A Clay Aiken Christmas.' Following his performance, Aiken spoke with AOL about the new album, his growth in the past five years and his unashamed lack of musical expertise.

AOL: How did you approach picking the songs for the album?

CA: This particular album was different in that we went for songs based on lyric content first as opposed to finding songs that were based sonically the same. So every single song kind of has a different vibe to it. You got the ballads that are kind of jazzy, and you got the rocky stuff and you got the R&B-type flavor in some of the songs. Some of them are songs I've never even done that style before; 'Everything I Need,' for example, is kind of a departure for us.

AOL: Can you pick one or two songs that stand out for you and tell us what it was about those lyrics that really appeal to you?

CA: In general, the idea was to find songs that spoke a little bit about the maturing process and the process of growing older and growing wiser. We haven't done an album of original stuff in five years now, so having the opportunity to find songs for the first time in five years, we wanted to make sure we said something. 'On My Way Here' is an example of a song that talks about how you become who you are and you learn about yourself and you grow wiser based on experiences you have. And so that song kind of became the umbrella for entire album and the theme.

So the other songs speak a little bit about, not necessarily just for me but things that people go through that make them who they are. 'Where I Draw the Line,' [which] we did today, talks about being hurt and being scorned so much that you kind of shut yourself off from trusting people and whether you want to interpret that in a romantic way where someone's hurt you and you don't feel like you know how to love again, which I'm sure many people have gone through, or just in a broader sense about trusting people when you shouldn't have and now being more weary of trusting people. That kind of thing, of course, is something that people learn the hard way when they get into the entertainment field quite a bit. So that definitely spoke to us.

AOL: How did you find the songs included on the album?

CA: I don't write my own stuff. We allow people to do what they're good at, and we find talented people to do that type of thing. All the songs that really struck me were from songwriters who somehow figured out a way to say something that other people didn't quite know how to say. A lot of these songs really are interpretable. I can be singing them to one person and you might hear them sung to a friend or a love interest or a family member or your pet or to God, you know. And so one song in particular called 'The Real Me' means one thing to me, but to somebody else they may sing it to someone else, but the way that the songwriter wrote those lyrics, the second verse says, "Painted on, life is a mask, self-inflicted circus clown," and there are things that kind of catch you off-guard, that kind of make you go, "Wow, wait a second. That's a very powerful way to write a lyric." There are a lot of lyrics out there that are kind of trite and simple: clouds and butterflies and rainbows. It's when a songwriter can write something that so subtly punches you, those are the things that kind of resonate with us.

AOL: Going back, maybe growing up a little bit, who were some of the songwriters that did that for you?

CA: I laugh, because everybody asks me this all the time and I never have an answer to it, ever, and I won't have one today. I never thought I'd be a musician. I was not a really big music listener when I was growing up. When my mom had on the radio, I could hum along to and sing the words but never really found myself to be a fan of any one particular musician or an artist or a songwriter or an instrument or anything. I never thought music was going to necessarily be what I did, and here I am five years into it [and I] still don't really have anybody who I can gravitate towards and say, "Oh, this is someone I admire."

AOL: Was there any one song in particular that you used to hum along a lot to?

CA: I grew up listening to country, and I know that one of the first songs that I sang was 'Islands in the Stream,' which Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton sang. And it wasn't till maybe four years ago that I realized it was a Bee Gees song that someone else had covered. So I know almost nothing about music and I'm the first one to admit it.

AOL: Was there a moment then where you realized, "This is what I do; now I'm a musician"?

CA: No. I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I don't really consider myself a musician so much as I consider myself just an entertainer. And I hope that one of the things I do is sing, and I know that's probably the thing I'm most known for and that's perfectly fine, because I love to do it.

AOL: Was there a moment then where you realized you'd be an entertainer?

CA: I always thought that I was that. To some extent, it was probably always in me to want to be the center of attention and be a ham and make everybody laugh, smile, clap, boo or whatever.

AOL: Were you a big Monty Python fan going in to 'Spamalot'?

CA: I thought Monty Python was a person until I started the show, and then I was like, "Well, is Monty Python coming?" And they said, "No, it's not a person." So I was not a big fan. Actually, the first time I saw 'Spamalot' I went, "Very different." The second time I saw it, it was hilarious. So you kind of have to go into something like that and realize there's no plot, there's no point to this show -- it's just silliness. And now even after four months of being onstage every single night doing it, I would still find myself in the middle of scenes laughing on what was going on, because that show changes so much and it's always kind of fresh and new every night.

AOL: You've been very involved with different charities. Was there a point when you became aware of the amount of people you could reach?

CA: I don't know there's ever a moment for any of these things, 'cause it's all a process of figuring out who you are and what you're doing. Obviously, if you're in this position and you have a platform and you have the opportunity to speak about things, you take a look at anybody who's on TV or who's on the radio or who's in movies and they constantly have people who look up to them and they constantly have children who watch what they do and are paying attention to what they're talking about, and I think that's important. You can use it one way or the other. You can get drunk and get stoned and set that example, or you can set a more positive example, and I think that's a no-brainer, too. You don't want people to be in jail and say, "I learned from Clay Aiken how to rob that bank." So you try your best to set a good example.

AOL: If it weren't for 'American Idol,' what would you be doing today?

CA: I'll probably still be teaching. I have friends who are teachers and have their classroom stories that they talk about all the time, and I get a little jealous. So every once in a while I miss it quite a bit, so I probably would still be in the classroom somewhere.

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Channelnewsasia.com

Confessions of Former Idol Clay Aiken

Title : Confessions of former idol Clay Aiken

By :

Date : 29 May 2008 1053 hrs (SST)

URL : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/ent.../350642/1/.html

He’s had four Top 5 albums on the Billboard charts, but Clay Aiken still can’t shake off his days as the geek on American Idol.

“I think to some extent in the United States, you don’t really shed that Idol tag,” he said over the phone from Los Angeles.

“It’s such a huge show that you can’t escape it.

“But I got here being myself on American Idol, and I try my best on continuing to be here based on being myself,” he added.

“If you want to be good at what you do, you can’t slack off. You have to continue to try to do better. Anybody who assumes I’m here only because of Idol is wrong.”

Aiken’s latest album, On My Way Here, confirms that sentiment. Most of the songs, he said, are about “becoming and discovering yourself”, and learning life lessons rather than lessons “from a book in school”.

It’s something that the Raleigh, North Carolina, native has first-hand experience of.

“I never wanted to be a singer,” he admitted. “I wanted to be a teacher. So all this kind of happened as a blessing — to be able to take my hobby and turn it into my job. All the experiences, luck and blessings have come because we’ve been open to a lot of things.”

Still, he’s quick to point out that fame does have its drawbacks.

“Like I was out the other day with my friends just wanting to get some dinner, and we had paparazzi following us the whole time — that’s a pain in the butt,” he said, sighing. “It’s part of the job. I think you just have to learn to deal with it.”

“It” includes rumours that the 29-year-old singer has had plastic surgery and is actually gay but afraid to admit it.

“That’s what’s so great about America,” he said, laughing. “One of our valuable amendments to the Constitution — freedom of the press — is also one of the crappiest. You can write anything you want. You don’t need to have any proof or any truth to what you write.”

Lucky for Aiken, besides the surgery and gay rumours, he’s not exactly exciting tabloid fodder.

“I stole a car one time. At 15, you can drive as long as a parent is with you but one day, they were out, so I took the car out for drive by myself. That’s probably the most rebellious thing I’ve done.”

Yup, Clay Aiken stole his parent’s car when he was 15. Doesn’t exactly scream magazine sales.

“Nobody’s ever the same person everyday, but for the most part, I think I’m pretty nice and easy to get along with. But my manager will probably say that’s crap.”

Still, he does have a snippy side. “Last night, I was watching one of the way-too-many music awards shows we have and the live performances were almost unbearable to listen to. I think people just don’t realise how bad they are. It was really awful. People were off-key, and it was a ... mess.”

Has Aiken turned into a Simon Cowell? “No, but it was really hard to listen to. I was telling my friend: ‘Oh my god, if I were ever that bad, please promise to tell me.’ I hope I’m never that bad.” - TODAY/sh

On My Way Here is availableat all CD shops.

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People.com

Clay Aiken is Going to Be a Dad

Clay Aiken is Going to Be a Dad

by David Caplan

Originally posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 05:00 PM EDT

Clay Aiken is going to be a father, PEOPLE has confirmed.

"The story is true,” a rep for David Foster, told PEOPLE Wednesday, of the TMZ.com report that Aiken, 29, impregnated David's sister, music producer Jaymes Foster. "It is true Clay is the father. She was artificially inseminated by Clay. She's due in August."

The rep added of Aiken and Foster, "They have been friends ever since American Idol, when they worked together."

Foster also executive produced Aiken's album A Thousand Different Ways.

Aiken's reps have not yet commented.

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canada.com

Rumours Swirl Over Pregnancy of B.C. Music Mogul David Foster's Sister

Rumours swirl over pregnancy of B.C. music mogul David Foster's sister

CanWest News Service

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The sister of record mogul David Foster is certainly pregnant - but pop crooner Clay Aiken may or may not be the father.

Celebrity gossip website TMZ reported yesterday that Victoria resident Jaymes Foster is due in August with the former American Idol star's baby. But Foster's former sister-in-law says the rumour is "ridiculous."

"Jaymes is definitely pregnant, that much is true," said B.J. Cook, the ex-wife of David Foster. "I can guarantee that it's not Clay Aiken's baby."

Foster, 50, is a music producer who splits her time between Los Angeles and Victoria. She has worked with several artists, including Josh Groban, Michael Bublé and Aiken, 29, who is best known for placing second on American Idol in 2003.

The two met when Aiken's management company asked Foster to work on his follow-up album to 2003's Measure of a Man. Aiken told Jam! Showbiz the two "got along famously" from the beginning and called the producer "absolutely wonderful."

The two have reportedly become friends and U.S.-based TMZ says "multiple sources" have confirmed they are now having a baby.

"We're told Foster was artificially inseminated," the website wrote. "Clay is a lot more than sperm - we're told he will have an active role in raising the child."

However, controversy continues to swirl. Earlier, People.com quoted David Foster's agent, Bill Vigars, confirming the reports. Vigars has since denied making the remarks and asked People to pull the article.

Cook flatly denies the rumours. Foster is due in August, she said, but Aiken is not involved.

"She's been pregnant for a while, and kept it under wraps until we knew that everything was going to be healthy and fine," Cook said. "I'm sure she'll be interested to know people are saying its Clay's baby."

Calls to Jaymes Foster were not returned. When reached by phone, David Foster refused to comment on the rumours.

There has also been no comment from Aiken, who has been dogged by questions about his sexual orientation since becoming famous. Last month, Aiken told the television show Access Hollywood there was no need to address his questionable sexuality because people "don't want stuff like that pushed in their face."

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broadway.com

2008 Audience Award Winners Announced: Young Frankenstein Tops List of Fan Faves

2008 Audience Award Winners Announced: Young Frankenstein Tops List of Fan Faves

by Broadway.com Staff

Once again regular theatergoers have had their say, choosing the winners in the 9th Annual Broadway.com Audience Awards.

Young Frankenstein, the musical adaptation of the classic film comedy of the same name, won a total of five awards, including Favorite New Broadway Musical. In addition, stars Roger Bart, Christopher Fitzgerald, Sutton Foster and Megan Mullally were all honored in a variety of acting categories.

Tracy Letts' August: Osage County was named Favorite New Broadway Play, South Pacific was honored as Favorite Broadway Musical Revival and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof triumphed in two categories, Favorite Broadway Play Revival and a featured actress win for Phylicia Rashad. Next to Normal and The Receptionist were readers' favorite shows beyond Broadway, winning the top off-Broadway musical and category prizes.

Double winners this year included Gypsy star Patti LuPone, who won in the Favorite Leading Actress in a Broadway Musical and Favorite Diva Performance categories, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author and star of In the Heights, who was named in the Favorite Breakthrough Performance and Favorite New Broadway Song categories.

In the categories honoring long-running shows, Spamalot came out on top, winning Favorite Long-Running Broadway Show as well as prizes for replacement stars Clay Aiken and Hannah Waddingham.

Winners of the 2008 Broadway.com Audience Awards will receive trophies and be toasted at a private reception on Tuesday, June 2.

A complete list of this year's Audience Award winners follows:

Favorite New Broadway Musical

Young Frankenstein

Favorite New Broadway Play

August: Osage County

Favorite Broadway Musical Revival

South Pacific

Favorite Broadway Play Revival

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Favorite New Off-Broadway Musical

Next to Normal

Favorite New Off-Broadway Play

The Receptionist

Favorite Leading Actor in a Broadway Musical

Roger Bart, Young Frankenstein

Favorite Leading Actress in a Broadway Musical

Patti LuPone, Gypsy

Favorite Leading Actor in a Broadway Play

Patrick Stewart, Macbeth

Favorite Leading Actress in a Broadway Play

Jennifer Garner, Cyrano de Bergerac

Favorite Featured Actor in a Broadway Musical

Christopher Fitzgerald, Young Frankenstein

Favorite Featured Actress in a Broadway Musical

Megan Mullally, Young Frankenstein

Favorite Featured Actor in a Broadway Play

Raúl Esparza, The Homecoming

Favorite Featured Actress in a Broadway Play

Phylicia Rashad, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Favorite Diva Performance

Patti LuPone, Gypsy

Favorite Solo Performance

Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood

Favorite Onstage Pair

Roger Bart & Sutton Foster, Young Frankenstein

Favorite Ensemble Cast

Grease

Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Male)

Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights

Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female)

Sierra Boggess, The Little Mermaid

Favorite Replacement (Male)

Clay Aiken, Spamalot

Favorite Replacement (Female)

Hannah Waddingham, Spamalot

Favorite New Broadway Song

"In the Heights," In the Heights

Favorite Long-Running Broadway Show

Spamalot

Favorite Long-Running Off-Broadway Show

Forbidden Broadway

Shows with Multiple Wins:

Young Frankenstein - 5

Spamalot - 3

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - 2

In the Heights - 2

Gypsy - 2

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People.com

Fans Show Support for Clay Aiken

Fans Show Support for Clay Aiken

By Lesley Messer

Originally posted Saturday May 31, 2008 03:45 PM EDT

The "Claymates" are showing an outpouring of support after a rep for producer David Foster confirmed to PEOPLE that Clay Aiken is fathering a child with David's sister, music producer Jaymes Foster.

"OMG Clay Aiken is my Hero," writes one fan on claymaniac.com. "I love him and wish him the best of luck!"

Adds another on the same site: "Now today I almost choked on my sandwich, Clay is going to be a father? And in three months? It blew me over. All I can say is 'Congratulations!' That is going to be one handsome and talented baby."

Still, there were some doubts: "How can he have time with his baby if he's always on a busy schedule. Like tours, CD releases, talk show. Life becomes crazy with a baby."

"I don't know what to say – I am shocked and awed," another person wrote. " I don't know what to think. It is going to take me a while, but I do feel a little different about it."

Still, the majority of comments on fan sites and blogs were positive.

One person in the Claymates Yahoo group gushed, "I think the child would be so lucky to have them as parents. ... This is their business and we should not be judging Clay or Jaymes."

The page dedicated to Aiken on popular music widget iLike had also had supportive comments. Writes one fan, "Wow ... I am kind of shocked. But Clay always wanted to be a father so good for him! It was just sudden news, I am still shocked ... I wonder if his kid will inherit his pipes!"

Adds another: "Here's a toast to Clay and Jaymes for the healthy arrival of their baby in August. This baby will be loved, however it came to be. "Lover All Alone" is a great collaboration with David Foster – and this will be a great collaboration with his sister Jaymes. Congrats!"

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Associated Press

Stars Perform for President at Ford's Theatre Gala

Stars perform for president at Ford's Theatre gala

By NATASHA T. METZLER – Jun 1, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — Broadway came to the nation's capital Sunday night during a gala for the Ford's Theatre attended by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush.

Actor Hal Holbrook, country music singer Trisha Yearwood, former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken and other stars performed songs and spoken word pieces from the musical "The Civil War" at the National Theatre, which hosted the event because the beneficiary theater is under renovation.

"Laura and I have been coming here now for eight years to the Ford Theatre gala and this is by far the best," Bush said after the performances. "It's such an uplifting performance and a reminder of what a great president Abraham Lincoln was."

The musical, which premiered in Houston in 1998 before opening on Broadway, follows the course of the war from multiple perspectives.

The spoken word selections invoked Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Lincoln among others. Holbrook read several selections.

Yearwood performed two numbers: "If I Should Lose My Way" and "The Honor of Your Name." Aiken sang "Sarah."

Other performers included actor Avery Brooks, musician Larry Gatlin and author Maya Angelou.

Angelou was one of the evenings two recipients of Lincoln Medals.

Actress Ruby Dee also was honored with a medal. Her daughter accepted it on her behalf.

"The Lincoln Medal brings Abraham Lincoln's legacy to life by recognizing his wisdom and vision in the work of today's leaders," the first lady said when introducing the recipients. "It honors those who through their accomplishments or personal attributes illuminate the character of our most beloved president."

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People.com

Pals Say Clay Aiken Will Be a "Good Parent"

Pals Say Clay Aiken Will Be a "Good Parent"

By Mike Fleeman

Originally posted Tuesday June 03, 2008 03:40 PM EDT

Clay Aiken's friends are sending him support and good wishes after hearing news that he's going to be a father with music producer Jaymes Foster.

"Congratulations, Clay!" says American Idol alum Jennifer Hudson. "I think he will be a good parent."

Actor Eric Roberts and wife Eliza says their close friend Foster – the sister of music producer David Foster – pulled them aside at her 50th birthday party in Los Angeles in March to tell of her pregnancy with a friend, whom they later learned was the 29-year-old Aiken.

"This is a story of two people, who perhaps not typical as parents – whatever typical is – or at a stage of life typical for parent, want to have a child to love and to experience parenthood," Roberts says. "These people have the best foundation of all to share such an important task, which is a strong, abiding friendship."

Foster, who has been friends with Aiken since they worked together on Idol, was artificially inseminated, and is due in August, a rep for her Foster's brother tells PEOPLE.

Eliza Roberts stresses: "People should understand: It's not like he's the donor and she's the surrogate. These are two people who made a very loving decision to have a baby together."

Talked on Bus

Former Idol contestant Carmen Rasmusen, who toured with Aiken after the second season, says, "I've always thought Clay would make a great dad. He's great with kids. ... He's accomplished a lot in his career, so it's probably a good time for him to be a dad."

While on the tour bus, Aiken would talk about wanting to become a father, Rasmusen says.

"I remember him saying, 'I can't wait to be a dad and have a family and have my own kids,'" recalls she. "He really was looking forward to being a father, even five years ago. I thought it was so cute that that was a priority for him."

• Reporting by MOLLY LOPEZ, TIFFANY McGEE and PAMELA WARRICK

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happyherald.com

Clay Aiken: a New Stage in Life

Clay Aiken: A New Stage in Life

By Liz Sterling and Stacy Carchman

You may remember Clay Aiken as the runner up on Season Two of American Idol. IN the past five years, Clay has blossomed into so much more than simply an American Idol. We caught up with Aiken when he was on the set of Spamalot, the Broadway show where he debuted this past January. He is playing the part of Sir Robin and thoroughly loves the experience.

The atmosphere was chaotic and it was close to curtain time, so when we spoke, there was a cacophony of sounds that were echoing almost as loud as the performance itself. Yet Clay committed himself to staying grounded and focused. It is evident that determination is one his great gifts and so is being real. It is clear that fame and notoriety has not changed who he is or how he perceives the world. He attributes part of this to his choice to move back to his hometown in North Carolina and to leave California behind.

“In the past five years,” Clay said, “I have learned a lot and feel that the importance of having faith in yourself is really important in this industry. People are very critical about how you look and how you talk and how you sing,” he continued, “You have to be comfortable with who you are. When faith wanes, it is important to have a great group of family and friends to draw upon.” Clay also said that he has been through a lot of strained relationships. He had a biological father that was an alcoholic and abusive, and he lost a sister to suicide. This was one of the most impossible things to come to terms with, because many times people who are suicidal do not share their feelings and so the suicide seems to come out of nowhere.

One factor that has helped Clay overcome his obstacles is resilience. He said, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger and we never get more than we can handle.”

Clay recently released a book entitled, Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life. He believes that we all have music in our lives. It is not about singing, but about finding out what you are best at. Everyone can “sing” in some way.

Clay’s prescription for “flowering” our creative and artistic abilities, is to take a look at the people around you and take inspiration from the people you are closest to. “It is not always about performance art, but about receiving positive energy from people with positive spirits,” he said. “Sometimes we can see someone’s spirit, and those are the people that get me through the day, especially on Broadway.” When we talked about Broadway, he noted that being on Broadway was much harder than being on American Idol.

Broadway was not necessarily where Clay thought he would be, but Broadway took him out of his comfort zone, where he not only would have to sing, he would dance, act and be “silly.” He feels that he is open to new opportunities and does not want to be “pigeon holed.”

Clay determines what to invest in emotionally, spiritually, and energetically by trusting his gut. He makes natural decisions. “If something smells like fish, it probably is,” he said. “If I have to debate a decision too long, it is not a good decision.”

Clay is also altruistic. He found the Bubel/Aiken Foundation in 2003, and received a U.N. ambassadorship in 2004. The mission of the foundation is to bridge the gap that exists between young people with special needs and the world around them. They support communities with inclusive programs. They help to change the life experience of children with developmental disabilities.

On May 6th, Clay’s new album, “On My Way Here,” will be released. He said, “Each son on the album reflects a lesson learned or something I have experienced, something I have gone through on my way here – to where I am now.”

As Shakespeare said in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage,” so remember, you are the star of your life; live large and enjoy this beautiful month of June!

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Reuters UK

Clay Aiken Appeals for World Attention on Somalia

Clay Aiken appeals for world attention on Somalia

Wed Jun 25, 2008 4:05pm BST

By Guled Mohamed

HARGEISA, Somalia (Reuters Life!) - Clay Aiken appealed on Wednesday for the world not to forget Somalia, where conflict and hunger have created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Aiken said U.S. and international interest in Somalia had been minimal since failed military intervention in the early 1990s.

"There hasn't been much discussion of Somalia since the early 1990s in the U.S.," said Aiken, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, on a visit to Somalia. "The American population kind of got a bad taste of Somalia in the early 90's and hasn't really had much interest in the country since."

Somalia has suffered relentless civil conflict since the 1991 toppling military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

In the latest cycle of violence, an Islamist-led insurgency against the Somali government and its Ethiopian military advisers since the start of 2007 has killed thousands and made one million people homeless.

"It's the most dangerous place for a child to be," Aiken said. "In the lower part of the country, southern part, I feel it's a more desperate situation than any place we've ever been."

Aiken, 29, who was traveling on behalf of U.N. children's agency UNICEF, was in Somaliland, a relatively peaceful northern enclave of Somalia that has declared itself independent but not been recognized internationally.

While there have skirmishes with neighboring province Puntland, Somaliland has functioning political institutions.

"In Somaliland, you really do have a sense of people who really want to help themselves, who want to do better, who want to effect change for themselves, that is very hopeful," he said.

Somaliland authorities hope a high-profile visit like Aiken's may bolster their case for world acceptance of their separation from Somalia.

For 12-year-old, Ubah Mohamed, her wants were simpler.

"I understand he is famous. I hope he will give us food and build a school for us," she said, near to a refugee camp.

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