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ldyjocelyn

October - December 2008

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Official Clay Aiken Fan Club

Clay blogged on October 3, 2008, and he asked that it posted on all boards:

Killing the elephants in the room.

10/03/08

What a week or so this has been. In fact, it's just been two weeks since I started back to the Spam. Jerome and I were just talking the other day, though, about how the past two weeks have felt like a month. So much routine to get back into and yet so much routine and consistency to break. No doubt, many of you have been going through quite a bit over the past week or so yourselves. What a bunch of headline news we have had in the past 10 days! Wall Street falling to it's knees. Congress propping it back up. Two debates. Hijackers in Somalia. New leaders in South Africa and Japan. You'd think with all of the important events going on in the world, there would be plenty to fill up the pages of America's newspapers, websites and blogs without the need for information on the private lives of the country's singers and entertainers. But, alas, thats never the case. In fact for the last five years, I've found what seems to have been an inordinate amount of interest (not from the public, but from the media) in my own personal life. The questions never seemed to stop. Oh sure, they die down for a period, but they resurface. The wind blows another direction, and I do yet another interview worried that my personal life will become a topic of discussion. No doubt the birth of Parker would bring the same scrutiny, just heightened. It's an interesting time we live in. Gone are the days when entertainers could go about their lives without the invasion of privacy that we now see everyday in the form of paparazzi and internet tabloid bloggers. So, in the hopes of being able to sing and act (and dance poorly) and do what I love to do for a living while raising my son in a hopefully more private and accepting environment, I chose to go ahead and confront things head on. Yes, I would have preferred to separate my personal life from my professional life. I would have been just as happy to go on without discussing my orientation. But, it seems like that was not an option. Make no mistake, its not because I am ashamed. No, not for a minute. I haven't always been as comfortable as I am now, but I am without a doubt, proud of who I am and make no apologies for it. Instead, I would have been happy to have kept my personal life private for that very reason. Because it's personal life and I have always considered myself a private person. But, living as myself without discussing my sexuality publicly would have been as impossible. One chance to expose the truth would have been a payday for any greedy opportunist.

I went to American Idol, much like many of us did "back in the day". Naive. Unlike the contestants who join up today, we had no idea of the power and pull of Idol when we signed on. (I'm sure many of us season two folks like to think we are the reason the show got so big!!! ;-) ) There I was two months off of the biggest show in the country, sitting at a table with a reporter from Rolling Stone who was asking me every single question I would never think of. Twenty-four years old in the rest of America is a LOT younger and more naive than twenty four years old in the media business. So when this guy started asking me about things that I didn't really know how to answer for myself... things that I was not yet ready to admit to folks like my mother and my family.... things that I found intimidating and invasive, I responded in what I assumed was a benign way at the time. I attempted to "out spin" a professional. I wasn't as good as I thought I was. But, I have no regrets. The truth is, I don't apologize for the responses I gave to that reporter or any reporter over the past five years. I did make every attempt I could after that one interview to never say "I am not gay" or "I am straight". And I never said either. (some interpreted my vague answers to mean that... but I never said either) Some will say thats misleading. In truth, it might be defined that way. But, a better definition and a more accurate way to describe it for me, is a redirection and an attempt to change the topic to something that matters more. For some of you it won't be enough, but I can't apologize for keeping my personal business to myself. If someone feels that they were mislead, I can totally understand that viewpoint and apologize for that feeling, but I can't apologize for how I handled questions that affected me and my right to privacy.

In my opinion, sexual orientation is ALWAYS a private thing. I think the OVERWHELMING majority of people agree with that. Why in the world should someone's sexual orientation be a news item? Why should anyone care? Yet, for all we espouse as a society about tolerance and open mindedness we forget to allow folks the opportunity to be who they are without judgement. Making a decision to come out to family is a difficult and heavy decision. But, for every young man or woman who is struggling with it, it should be a decision that is made on his or her own schedule ONLY. It's never acceptable for anyone to make such a decision for anyone else nor to coerce someone to take such a significant step before they are ready. Not a friend, not a stranger, not the media. So, I waited until the time was right for me. For that I can't apologize either.

There are plenty of you who have anticipated this blog in hopes that I would "set the record straight" or "admit to lying for five years and apologize for it". For that small group of people, I am afraid I will have to disappoint you. My decisions over the past five years have been made with lots of deliberation and at times even heartache. Always with concern for folks who might feel mislead. Don't doubt that. But they have also been made as an attempt, not to hide my true self, but instead to allow myself the same liberties and rights that every single gay man and woman in the world should have... the right to determine for myself when I was ready to discuss my personal life. In as much as that, at times, was interpreted as misrepresentation, I feel badly. But I reserved that right for myself and I can't say I regret it.

I have endeavored over the past several days to allow folks to vent and express themselves as freely as possible without restriction on these message boards. There is no way to change a person's mind when you tell them they are wrong. We all, when backed into a corner, have a human instinct to swing. Having different feelings and opinions and viewpoints are only natural. The only way to deal with that is to accept everyone's right to disagree, and allow them to discuss their feelings. I always have, and I always will. That said, it hasn't been, nor do I imagine it will be, my intent to make the message boards or the OFC a clearinghouse or discussion zone for sexuality or such topics. I hope we can always continue to discuss the same things we have always found important. The need for inclusion for children with disabilities. The desire to make sure every child in the world has access to their basic needs for survival. And any other topics that will make our neighborhoods, our regions, our country and our world a better more acceptable place (where that relates to issues involving sexuality, I hope we are able to advocate, at those times for the acceptance of others)... and I hope we will all still use the message boards for the lively discussion of the need for better entertainment and music in the world!!!! ;-) That said, as of this posting, I have asked the moderators to archive the thread regarding the People magazine article and close it from discussion. For those of you who are still struggling, I encourage you to continue to talk to your friends and neighbors and fellow OFC members in the thread devoted to such support. It is not going to be as easy as accepting something over night, but I believe that we are on the right track. The moderators will resume their regular duties of moderating the boards in the fashion that they did prior to last week, and I (and hopefully all of us) will resume our routines in the same fashion as well. Talking about music, talking about potential tours and other performances and appearances, talking about me forgetting my lines of tripping on stage in Spamalot, and discussing with our friends how many times we have seen the show and will see it! (And... looking forward to the announcement of out Playbill contest winner!!!)

Finally, I will say that, also representative of most every other gay man and woman in the world, that I am not defined by my sexuality. No more so than each of you are defined by your sexual orientation. No more than a man or woman is defined by race or ethnicity. It is, simply, a small facet of the same person I have always been. Most of you realize that nothing has changed. I hope to continue being able to entertain you in the same way I have for the past five years. And I hope you will allow me to continue to inform you of the causes that I find important and entertain you with the music and performances I love. For I love and cherish you all. Yesterday, now and forever.

c

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people.com

Clay Aiken Says, "Nothing Has Changed"

Clay Aiken Says, 'Nothing Has Changed'

By Emmet Sullivan

Originally posted Monday October 06, 2008 12:45 PM EDT

Two weeks after Clay Aiken announced he is an openly gay man, the Spamalot Broadway actor has taken to the Web to explain his coming-out decision to his fans.

"I would have preferred to separate my personal life from my professional life," Aiken, 29, writes on his clayonline.com. "But, living as myself without discussing my sexuality publicly would have been as impossible."

Writing on various message boards, many Aiken fans expressed feelings of betrayal by the American Idol alum.

Aiken has no regrets about the way he handled his personal life over the past five years, saying he has "the same liberties and rights that every single gay man and woman in the world should have … the right to determine for myself when I was ready to discuss my personal life."

No Apologies

Discussing himself in a 2003 Rolling Stone interview, Aiken opined that male celebrities are either considered womanizers or gay. "Since I'm neither one of those, people are completely concerned about me," he said.

He says he will not apologize for the response, saying, "When this guy started asking me about things that I didn't really know how to answer for myself, things that I was not yet ready to admit to folks like my mother and my family, things that I found intimidating and invasive, I responded in what I assumed was a benign way at the time."

In conclusion Aiken blogs, "I am not defined by my sexuality. It is, simply, a small facet of the same person I have always been. Nothing has changed."

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UNICEF Fieldnotes

Clay Aiken: Please Pledge Today

Clay Aiken: Please pledge today

Did you know that approximately 25,000 children die each day before their fifth birthday, largely due to preventable causes? Thanks to organizations like UNICEF this number is getting smaller every day. Last year, the number of child deaths worldwide declined to about 9.2 million. In 1990, that number was 12.7 million. That's definite progress, but that number should be zero.

Your support will help UNICEF reach the day when no child dies of a preventable cause. No child, not even one, should die of causes we know how to prevent—diseases like malaria, measles or tetanus.

So today, despite these tough times, I decided to help save children's lives and make a monthly pledge to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Even a small amount makes a huge difference. For instance, $5 a month (about 15¢ per day) can ensure five children are protected from measles.

If we could all make this small commitment we may be able to see the day when no child dies of a preventable cause.

Please visit unicefusa.org/join-with-clay and pledge today.

Sincerely,

Clay Aiken

UNICEF Ambassador

Posted by Clay Aiken, UNICEF Ambassador on October 7, 2008 10:42 AM

The link to make a pledge is HERE.

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WRAL.com

Aiken Performs at Charity Gala

Aiken performs at charity gala

Posted: Oct. 18, 2008

Raleigh, N.C. — Clay Aiken performed in Raleigh Saturday night during a gala held by the Bubel-Aiken Foundation.

The 2008 “Champions of Change” event honored companies and individuals who help promote the foundation’s mission to promote programs which give children with disabilities the opportunity to experience life with their typical peers.

The event was held at the Raleigh Marriott City Center. It included a silent and online auction of Aiken-related items including photos; clothing worn by the “American Idol” runner-up and a bust of the Raleigh native’s head signed by him and Jimmy Kimmel.

Also up for auction was a New York travel package which includes a Tiffany bracelet, tickets to “Spamalot,” which Aiken has been starring in, and dinner with Aiken.

The Bubel/Aiken Foundation grew from the friendship between Aiken, Diane Bubel and Diane’s, then 13-year-old son, Mike, who had been diagnosed with autism, according to the foundation’s Web site. Aiken met the Bubel family while pursuing a career in special education.

* Web Editor: Kathy Hanrahan

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People.com

Clay Aiken Announces Winning Writer of His Official Bio

Clay Aiken Announces Winning Writer of His Official Bio

By Stephen M. Silverman

Originally posted Tuesday October 21, 2008 10:45 AM EDT

This has been quite a season for announcements from Clay Aiken.

Aiken, who besides making news as an openly gay father, is currently starring on Broadway in Monty Python's Spamalot.

His latest accomplishment is the announcement of the winner of the "Write Clay's Playbill Biography Contest," which provided members of the singer's fan club the opportunity to pen his official bio for program of the Tony-winning musical.

And the winner is: Jo-Anne Lopez of Carlsbad, Calif. Her publication-worthy prose (which takes into consideration the musical spoof's humorous reference to Finland):

CLAY AIKEN was born southwest of Finland, in Raleigh, N.C., a little more than 29 years ago. Although his younger years were spent belting out tunes from atop piles of Sears carpet samples, his mature teenage years saw him cast in musical theater roles such as Singer #2 in his high school production of The Music Man, which was met with enough success not to get him cast in his final high school production. His ego thus bolstered, he had more than enough incentive to audition for American Idol Season 2, the outcome of which (in the prophetic #2 spot) has made him arguably the most beloved and successful contestant ever to have irritated Simon Cowell. A bestselling book, UNICEF Ambassadorship and multiple platinum recordings later, six or seven sold-out nationwide tours notwithstanding, and after a first very successful run in Spamalot early this year, Clay is currently finding his second grail, on Broadway, right here at the Shubert [Theatre]. For his next project, he plans to teach a modern Torah class.

For her efforts, Lopez will receive two tickets to the show, a backstage tour hosted by Aiken and an autographed copy of the Playbill, says a show rep.

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ETOnline.com

New Video: Clay Aiken's Words for Jennifer Hudson

In a recent interview with ET's Jann Carl, "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken opened up on Jennifer Hudson's recent family tragedy.

"There's no words that you can find to give somebody like that. I don't even know where to begin, I've been upset by this myself," Clay said

Clay also knows that the Hudson family loss has been felt all over the country. "I know the whole country's thoughts and prayers are with her and her entire extend family ... and anyone who was touched by her mother, or her brother, or her nephew."

The new dad also tells Jann that he hopes that individuals responsible are found so that Jennifer and her loved ones can find some closure.

Keep checking back with ETonline for continuing coverage.

Posted October 31, 2008 12:06:00 PM

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TDF: Theatre Development Fund

Clay Time

Clay Time: How "American Idol" Clay Aiken became a Broadway knight.

"Simon Cowell can kiss my butt if he wants to use that 'Broadway' insult again," quips Clay Aiken, the former American Idol star now enjoying a stint as Sir Robin on the Great White Way in Monty Python's Spamalot (now in its final months at the Shubert Theatre). "So often the judges on Idol will use 'Broadway' as an insult for a singer's performance. But I think there's more talent onstage here at the Shubert Theatre than in all of the music industry."

Aiken's casting, along with that of Idol contender Fantasia as a replacement Celie in The Color Purple, has raised a few eyebrows. Were these reality TV creations really qualified to strut their stuff on the Main Stem?

"I think one reason people who've been on Idol are showin' up on Broadway is that they're people who can do something live," Aiken notes, making a clear contrast with both film and TV actors and studio-produced pop singers, all of whom get multiple takes to get it right. "The talent for singing live—that's what you need here."

Of course, there's more to a Broadway role, even in a silly romp like Spamalot, than a good singing voice. There's also the acting and the dancing. Aiken credits author Eric Idle and director Mike Nichols with steering him well in the first department.

"Eric Idle was very complimentary, which always helps when you have no idea what you're doing," Aiken says. "Mike Nichols, in addition to being the premeir director of our lifetime, is very easy to work with. I like to think I take direction well, but I can imagine that sometimes a director might have a really hard job in explaining a part, and what's required. Mike comes up with the most colorful and hilarious ways to explain what he's looking for."

Nichols also stressed something you might not expect in such a go-for-broke comedy.

"Overall, I probably have a tendency to overdo certain things," Aiken admits. "Mike is big on subtlety and kept reminding us, 'You aren't funny—the script is funny.' It's all very silly, but what makes it funny is that none of the characters realize how stupid they really are, so it actually gets more laughs when the lines are played a little more straight."

As for the dancing, Aiken says simply: "Someone giving me choreography, that's just a catastrophe waiting to happen."

This North Carolina native, who still has a slight twang, is nothing if not forthright.

"I had absolutely no exposure to this material before," Aiken admits. "I literally thought Monty Python was a person. And the first time I saw the show, actually, I thought it was stupid. At the end, I thought, 'Really? It's so silly.' "

This impression was largely the result of what Aiken calls his "limited exposure to Broadway—show likes Wicked, you know, with soaring melodies and big plotlines. I looked as hard as I could at Spamalot and couldn't find the plot."

He's glad he gave it another chance.

"When I saw it again, I realized, there's still not much of a plot here—but it's the funniest thing in the world. It's very sarcastic and intelligent humor, and I'm an intelligent person, I like to think."

When he met Eric Idle, he recognized him not from his Python days but from the broad 1990 comedy Nuns on the Run. "I remember that film because it was the first time I ever saw naked boobs on-screen." (Not Idle's, we're presuming.) "And I'd seen John Cleese on Will and Grace."

Then Aiken dropped a whopper.

"I still haven't seen the movie," he says, meaning the 1975 classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, on which Spamalot is based. "I've been avoiding it like the plague. I mean, I play Eric Idle's part, and I'm sure I would just copy everything he did."

As you may have noticed, a big part of Aiken's disarming, country-boy charm comes out in his light but persistent self-deprecation. Asked if he ever breaks character to laugh at his colleagues' onstage antics—i.e., if he ever "loses it," he responds, "I lose it regularly—lose my place in the script, lose my place in the dancing."

But yes, he has broken up onstage, as well: "Rick Holmes, who plays Lancelot, is one of the funniest people in the world," Aiken avers. "And regularly while I'm 'dead' onstage, Rick will say something that's not in the script, and we just can't stop laughing. You know, in this show it's OK, because the audience can see that the people onstage are having just as much fun as they are, and the people up there—minus me—are so good at what they do."

Critics have been kinder than that, noting how well Aiken fits into the show. A future on Broadway could be in the cards for this Clay Idol.

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ETOnline.com

Clay Aiken on Fatherhood and Coming Out to the World

ET's Jann Carl goes one-on-one with Clay Aiken, who talks candidly about being a doting daddy to his baby son Parker, and about his decision to come out to the world as a gay man.

Clay is back on Broadway, reprising his starring role of Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot. The multi-talented music man tells Jann he actually returned to the stage to enjoy more family time at home with three-and-a-half-month-old Parker and the baby's mother -- Clay's good friend -- Jaymes Foster.

The "American Idol" finalist also admits he was "terrified" about performing on Broadway the week after he revealed his sexual identity, fearing he'd get booed off the stage. Naturally, he drew the opposite reaction -- rousing cheers and applause -- instead.

Catch Clay while you can in Monty Python's Spamalot!

Includes a 3 1/2 minute video interview.

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people.com

Clay Aiken a Total Hands-On Dad

Clay Aiken a Total Hands-On Dad

By Jessica Herndon

Originally posted Monday December 01, 2008 04:30 PM EST

Settling into his role as a doting dad, Clay Aiken says he's been a complete hands-on parent.

"It was probably a week before [the baby's mother] had to change a diaper at all!" the American Idol favorite tells Entertainment Tonight. "I'm trying my best to be the one who doesn't always let him get what he wants, but he own us."

Back on Broadway as Sir Robin for the final weeks of Monty Python's Spamalot, Aiken, 30, says returning to the stage will afford him more time with 3½-month-old Parker and good friend – and the baby's mother – Jaymes Foster.

Though the singer says he was "terrified" to take the Broadway stage shortly after coming out, he admits that he went from being "sure I'd get booed off the stage" to feeling comfortable thanks to the crowd's positive reaction.

Aiken says he could no longer be in denial about his sexual orientation once fame took over. "I'm from the South, and we don't talk about our problems," he says. "We sweep them under the rug."

But now, the singer says his life feels "natural."

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NYC City Guide

Monty Python’s Spamalot: Riding High Into The Home Stretch With Clay Aiken

Monty Python’s Spamalot: Riding High Into The Home Stretch With Clay Aiken

December 2, 2008 - by Ellis Whitman

You know that a musical based on a movie is special when theatergoers who know nothing about the material going in become die-hard devotees by the show’s end.

Monty Python’s Spamalot, 2005’s Tony-winning musical scheduled to close on January 18, is a Broadway phenomenon whose new fans include Clay Aiken, the break-out “American Idol” finalist who’s appearing in the show as Sir Robin (and, in typical Python tradition, several other roles). In fact, Aiken hadn’t heard of the innovative British comedy troupe before joining the cast.

“I thought Monty Python was a person and that Spamalot was about unwanted emails,” he said. “But now, I’m a big fan. It’s a silliness that’s not slapstick. It’s very smart.” And, he could add, attracting repeat visitors.

“Probably just big Python fans came in the beginning, but now we’re seeing people who just are curious… then they come back because it’s so funny,” he observes.

Based on the screenplay “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” by original Pythons Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, Spamalot features a book and lyrics by Eric Idle, music by Idle and John Du Prez, and direction by the iconic Mike Nichols.

The show chronicles the quest for the Holy Grail by King Arthur (Michael Siberry) and the Knights of the Round Table. Naturally, along the way there are dancing divas, befuddled knights, obnoxious Frenchmen, a killer rabbit and the mermaid-like Lady of the Lake (Merle Dandridge).

Aiken, who shares the spotlight with the talented Tom Deckman (Prince Herbert), Rick Holmes (Sir Lancelot), Bradley Dean (Sir Dennis), and David Hibbard (Patsy), says he especially enjoys the production’s spontaneity.

“One of the great things about the show is it’s not always the same. When something breaks down, or someone messes up a line, we incorporate it. There’s a scene where the Knight of Ni, says ‘We now say….’ and he changes it every night.” (Notably, in the performance following the presidential election he added “Yes We Can” and a comment on gay marriage.)

Such improvisation stems from the genius of director Nichols who emphasized keeping the show fresh by having the actors vary their reactions performance to performance.

“When I’m in concert, it’s pretty much the same every night and I never understood why people come back,” notes Aiken who will be with the show through January 4th. “But I get why people return to Spamalot; it’s never the same.”

Every night at the Shubert Theatre, Aiken, whose recording career has netted him six million albums and half a dozen sold-out concert tours, stops the show with “You Won’t Succeed On Broadway” – a particularly apt song when you take into account that Spamalot (on Broadway) marks his professional acting debut. After an initial run that ended on May 4th — during which he bonded with the supportive company, comprised mostly of Broadway veterans — he had no problem returning to his Spamalot family this past September.

As for the future, he says he wouldn’t rule out another stint on Broadway, but has no concrete plans. For now, in these final weeks of the run, he is simply proud to have been part of a great show.

“There’s pride that it’s lasted so long—we’ve probably had one of the lowest turnovers of cast. And it’s changed the landscape of Broadway because its one of the only shows that got men and women excited about theater,” concludes Aiken, adding, “Many women might want to go to Broadway but they can’t talk their husbands into it. But bring him to Spamalot and he’ll thank you for it!”

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people.com

Clay Aiken Reflects on a Year of Coming Out, Being a New Dad

Clay Aiken Reflects on a Year of Coming Out, Being a New Dad

By David Caplan

Originally posted Sunday December 21, 2008 10:00 AM EST

It's been a year of major developments for Clay Aiken.

In late September the American Idol favorite acknowledged in a PEOPLE cover story that he's gay – an announcement that followed the Aug. 8 birth of his first child, Parker, with his best friend, music producer Jaymes Foster, 50.

While Aiken's coming out generated significant interest on Internet blogs, it's the singer's status as a new dad that he says makes 2008 the most memorable.

"At the end of the day, Parker is the most important thing of the year, and of my life, without question," Aiken, 30, tells PEOPLE. "Having a son and that type of responsibility is obviously going to be something that I remember forever."

Still, Aiken, is mindful of the widespread support he received after coming out. "We've been very impressed and my heart has been thoroughly warmed to find people very supportive," he says.

Inspirational – and Busy

And he's also aware he may have inspired other gay men to come out. "I'm very humbled by that. I really don't know what to say about that. I think that hopefully less than inspiring people I will have an opportunity to open people's eyes to different viewpoints and different possibilities in their life."

As for his life as a new parent, Aiken will return to full-time fatherhood – joining Foster, 50, in his native North Carolina – after Jan. 4, when he finishes his run on Broadway as Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot.

"I want to spend time with Parker. He's still uber-dependent," Aiken says, laughing. "I'm ready for him to start talking. I'm ready for a little action!"

But Claymates need not worry: Aiken will return to his singing roots: "We'll take a little bit of time, we're not quitting or anything, we're just gonna take it slow for a month or so and recollect once I get back," he says. "I may never have any free time once Parker starts walking and talking!"

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playbill.com

Photo Call: Clay Aiken Honored with Sardi's Caricature

PHOTO CALL: Clay Aiken Honored with Sardi's Caricature

By Matthew Blank

December 24, 2008

"American Idol" finalist Clay Aiken, who currently portrays Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, was honored Dec. 23 with a caricature that now adorns the walls of the famed eatery Sardi's.

As a recording artist, Aiken has sold six million albums. His latest, "On My Way Here," was released last spring. He co-authored the best selling book "Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life" and has played six sold-out concert tours since rising to fame on the second season of "American Idol" in 2003. Aiken made his Broadway debut in Spamalot in a Jan. 18-May 4 limited engagement. He returned to the show Sept. 19 and will remain in the role through Jan. 4, 2009.

Spamalot, which will end its Broadway run Jan. 11, 2009, plays the Shubert Theatre at 225 West 44th Street.

Here is a look at the Tuesday evening caricature unveiling:

aikensardis460a_1230145161.jpg

Clay Aiken receives his caricature from Sardi's owner Max Klimavicius

aikensardis225b.jpg

aikensardis225a.jpg

aikensardis460b.jpg

Clay Aiken with fellow Spamalot cast members.

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UNICEF Fieldnotes

Clay Aiken: Help Kids in Emergencies Stay in School

Clay Aiken: Help kids in emergencies stay in school

For the final 12 days of 2008, UNICEF celebrity Ambassadors and supporters are posting daily blog entries about the impact UNICEF Inspired Gifts are having on children around the world. Since becoming a UNICEF Ambassador, Clay Aiken has visited children struggling to survive amid emergencies in Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia and Indonesia.

Every child has a right to an education.

Often times in emergency situations, it becomes harder than ever for children to go to school. Natural disasters and conflict often destroy schools and supplies, leaving children without a place or the tools to learn.

UNICEF works hard to make sure that children receive an education no matter what the obstacle. For just $186 you can send children in need a School-in-a-Box kit, offering an opportunity to an education that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Just think—one kit provides a temporary school for up to 80 children at a time in an emergency!

As you count down the twelve days this holiday season, think of these children who have nothing but hope—don’t turn your back on a child’s right to education.

I am Clay Aiken and I believe in zero.

25,000 young children die every day from preventable causes—things like malnutrition, poor sanitation and lack of safe, drinkable water. UNICEF believes that number should be zero.

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