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# 64: A super smart, caring, determined, classy, easy-going, and genuinely good, likeable guy

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Gotta love the wifi hotspot in the car while my husband is driving...

Anyway...the big news...Clay talk to both my husband and I!!!! We had seats in the third row of the pit, and so when he got to the spiel about how many hmen were in the audience, he zeroed in on my husband Tony. Clay asked him who he came with, and my husband pointed at me, and stammered "her," pointing at me. Well, Clay loved that, because it did sound dismissive, although that's not how my husband meant it. So, then he asked me my name and I told him. He then asked where we were from, and I told him Peoria. His next question was "did he come willingly?". I kinda said yes, but Clay picked up on it and said, "oh so he drove...". Love it! I am in heaven now...

The rest of the show was just awesome, although there were technical difficulties galore throughout the show. Clay made the best of it with his humor, though. The funniest one was toward the end of the show when one of the speakers started making this low noise. The first time it happened, he said "excuse me!". Then it kept happening, and he finally went offstage and unplugged the damn speaker!

As far as his vocals went -- he sounded marvelous! I think he has never sounded better. I was noticing during the religous medley that his voice has gotten richer, IMO. It has matured so much from previous tours. He has a long career of singing ahead of him, that much I know. And as I said, his humor as an entertainer left me in stitches, so he defintely needs his own variety show!

The cell phone bit did not last too long tonight, because the caller was supposedly at work at KMart...but then she was not available and the person who took the call hung up! The singer was cute, and they changed the game up...draw a number and then tell us what day of Christmas that was and what the gift was. The girl got 8, and she got it right. She also won the Macy's card for picking the right pocket.

He took a moment of silence before "My Grown Up Christmas List" in honor of the victims of the Connecticut shooting yesterday. He also did mention about his Twitter war he got into about not mentioning the name of the shooter, but instead wanting to honor those who died. It was a very nice gesture.

Our seatmates for the evening turned out to be luckiest and cindilu. It was great catching up with you! I also got to see aikim briefly...I wish we could have talked more. It was really a reunion of sorts for us who see regularly around these parts.

I saw lots of pictures and clack being taken. Awesome!

On that note...time to sign off for a while. Riding and typing is hard! Goodnight!

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Wow, talk about one extreme to the other. Shippensburg was the ultimate classy venue, plaques to commemorate everything donated by members of the public, gorgeous acoustics, mainly local audience. Last nights venue was a dive. We arrived in time to drop Claymatron off for her m&g about 4:45. There was no real parking lot. We illegally parked in a lot across the street, and hoped it was late enough on a Saturday that we wouldn't be ticketed. The Arcada theatre is an antiquated building, apparently built in 1926. There was a man pulling a trolley piled with dirty, dusty old pieces of...something. The girl in the box office was in and out, joking with the guy about taking it down the stairs, and he said something to us about if we heard a crash come rescue him. It was apparently elevator equipment. You couldn't have paid me enough to ride any elevator in that place!

Anyways, once the m&gers went in, we hung around the hallway waiting. We could see Ben and the orchestra rehearsing through the open door. I am not kidding when I say there was absolutely no security anywhere. Anyone could have wandered on in. But I didn't, and eventually someone thought to shut the door before Clay started rehearsing. We heard parts of Emmanuel clear as a bell. Then we realized the sound was even better in the stairwell that lead up to the balcony. That was wide open and available to anyone to climb. So I did. I peeked over the back barrier and caught a glimpse of Clay singing TFN in a blue hoodie and sweat pants. But then he stopped and I scooted back down the stairs because I didn't want to get in trouble. Not by the non existent security, but by Clay or one of his team. So we sat on the stairs and used the Starbucks wifi until Claymatron came out.

More later, time to hit the road home!

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A wonderful review from Shippensberg: http://www.theslateo...to-shippensburg

The Luhrs Performing Arts Center was transformed into a Winter Wonderland on Saturday, Dec. 8, as Clay Aiken brought singing, laughing, impromptu duets, and the favorite Christmas classics to Shippensburg during his Joyful Noise tour.

Clay Aiken’s performance at the Luhrs Center Saturday was a show to remember right from the opening number. As the lights faded out and a spotlight was brought up on the curtains, Aiken walked on stage to the beat of applause and began to sing his opening song, “All is Well;” except that no music came out.

Standing in silence with his hands clasped around the microphone, Aiken looked side to side to see if someone was fixing the issue. After two to three minutes, he finally walked off stage as the audience burst into laughter at the unexpected situation.

Re-emerging with a new microphone, Aiken laughed with the crowd and began again; this time with full sound and a booming voice. The curtains rose, revealing a full orchestra with Christmas trees and presents aligning the stage. It was a genuine scene of Christmas celebration.

When he finished his opening songs, Aiken approached the crowd and delivered jokes about Pennsylvania being the heart of America.

He praised the energy of Northwestern fans, saying that Southern fans were usually quite reserved and respectful, but that he enjoys the crowd being excited. From there he led into his rendition of “O Holy Night” and a medley of other popular songs.

Working his way through his favorite Christmas songs and tracks off of his own album “Merry Christmas, With Love,” Aiken put his unique style to each song and showed off his large vocal range. Aiken explained that he has done multiple Christmas tours over the years and that “it doesn’t feel like Christmas without doing these shows.”

He complimented the Luhrs Center on its beauty and noted that the acoustics of the theatre were doing wonders for his voice.

“I’ve waited 35 years for this. There’s so much bass in my voice,” Aiken joked.

Later in the show, he said that the Luhrs Center reminded him of his time on “American Idol” because the rooms looked similar, and the Luhrs Center had a similar sound to the area that Aiken used to practice in for the show.

He went on to talk about the amount of sponsorship that went into each part of the theater, poking fun at each part having a different “donor.” He thanked the “donor” of the toilet in his dressing room and joked that there were still “sponsorships available.”

The most impromptu part of the show came when Aiken addressed his mother in the audience, who was in Lancaster the day before to see a performance at the Sight and Sound Theater.

Aiken talked to his mom about the show, as if there weren’t 200 strangers surrounding them, and discussed a talented woman Aiken’s mom met at Sight and Sound. Aiken called Sarah Timm to the stage and asked her to play a game. She would pick a song title out of a bowl and try to remember the lyrics.

Timm selected “Up On the Rooftop,” and proceeded to stun the crowd with her vocal ability. After a strong urging from his mother, Aiken asked Timm back to the stage to sing a duet. Flawlessly, the pair joined up and sang “Sleigh Ride” in perfect harmony, causing the audience to erupt in cheers and applause.

After Timm left the stage, Aiken explained that the past two shows he has “lost complete control” of where the show was supposed to go.

“I’ve lost control of the ship, no pun intended,” Aiken quipped.

Getting the show back on schedule, Aiken spent the rest of the show praising his orchestra, chatting with audience members and picking out specific people to talk to. He then turned the crowd’s attention to his drummer, who has a challenging last name: Joe Choroszewski.

Aiken brought a folded sign with the drummer’s last name boldly written across it, and he challenged an audience member to say it correctly. To the amusement of everyone in attendance, she failed and Aiken refused to say it correctly for fear “it would leak to YouTube and his game would be ruined.”

Throughout the show, Aiken made it feel more like a gathering of friends than a performance with strangers. He singled out the male audience members and a few women sitting in the front row; his humor never faltering throughout the show.

In a more personal, intimate ending, Aiken reminisced that 10 years ago this week was his time on “American Idol” and the first time he met his fellow competitor Ruben Studdard, who would go on to win the show that season. Aiken continued to thank his fans for all that they’ve done.

“I thank you for allowing me to do this for the past ten years,” Aiken said to his dedicated fans, known as “Claymates.” He went on to say that he is thankful for the kindness and compassion his fans continually show not only to himself, but to fellow fans and others.

He closed with some inspirational words and encouragement to continually be kind to one another and faded into his last song, “Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day.” It was this perfect ending that earned the singer a standing ovation.

When the applause died down, Aiken returned for the encore just like the show had started: a single spotlight on him in front of closed curtains, and nothing more, as he sat and sang to the audience in Luhrs.

He worked his way up the aisle and finished by exiting out the side door, leaving everyone to feel like the Christmas spirit had arrived.

Clay Aiken has had a busy 10 years with tours, albums, a role on Broadway and his work with the charity UNICEF. Throughout those 10 years, one thing has remained consistent: Aiken remains a talented and kind person who genuinely loves what he does. Saturday night was no exception.

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Ah yes, the theater and its problems. It was built in 1926 and in many ways it felt like it. Some of it was very cool -- it had an old organ in front of the stage, and our preshow entertainment was a gentleman in the 70-80 year old range playing carols and songs on it. Then, before the show, the thing simply lowered into the floor, and voila, everyone in the front could see! The piano Ben was playing was also extremely old as well. Clay even joked about it being "the first piano...EVER." I'm sure they had to do a major tuning of it before the show. The atmosphere was really kind of cool...but it needed some major renovation, specifically in bathrooms and electronics!

Clay took a moment of silence before "My Grown Up Christmas List" last night, but the song that hit me hard after these past few days was "Welcome to Our World." I wanted to crawl up in a ball at that point...

Off to a church thing and then maybe I'll get to post some videos/pictures from last night. You know I'll be all over the stuff from my one show. (I would have posted earlier, but my desktop I think is having some problems, so needed to run a MalWare Scan...)

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Sorry I did not recognize anyone but I loved the show and Clay's voice. He made the sound mishaps into comedy gold. We were in row C so he was front and center all night. He looked marvelous and his voice I agree has gotten so much better.

Went he asked for the moment of silence I wish the sound from the bar next door could not have been heard. I can not believe that they have no sound dampening from there. I also could hear them somewhat during the last couple of songs.

This was my only concert and I am so glad that on Friday morning we made the decision to go. Had balcony seats but was able to buy row C from someone and it was great being so close.

That placement of the organ reminds me where I use to live they had a theatre that before the show started it was played the same way and then lowered into the floor. They also have turned the place into a area for shows and the organ is stilled played. I think though it is been updated and a far better venue. Because of the sound problems I do not see Clay ever going back to St. Charles.

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No time to post individual picture links, but I've uploaded several excellent shots into a photobucket album. Thanks to our wonderful photographers:'


But I really do like this one. Not close, but Clay and Ben in action, together, is pretty awesome!


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Currently I'm listening to the crystal clear cell stream from Milwaukee, but I jotted the rest of my St. Charles recap down on the ride home today. I apologize if it's jumbled or has typos...the car ride through Michigan was quite bumpy!

Continued from earlier........

There were 6 of us for dinner - me, my daughter, cindilu2, Claymatron, disneykid, & her husband. We knew the doors opened at 7 but let's just say we weren't in a great rush to get back. We figured it'd be a zoo, but we were kind of concerned about parking. We had a great dinner at the Olive Garden, and Claymatron regaled us with the details of her m&g, before we found a parking spot in front of a local business that was closed for the evening. We passed Clay's bus in one of the other lots, and wondered if he was still in there. It's neat how a couple of sections of it seem to pop out...wonder if those are the sleeping areas? Anyways, we got inside the Arcada and it was like a family reunion.

The elderly staff didn't seem to care if you had a ticket in hand, or what your ticket actually might have said. A far cry from the online ticketing system that said that if you printed your ticket a second time, the first print wouldn't work. Work with what? Nothing was scanned. We went looking for our row 3 seats, only to find that they had no rows in front of them, but they did have a humungus Wurlitzer type organ blocking the view of the stage. The usher assured us that it would sink into the floor at show time. And then we would effectively be first row! ARe you kidding me? That was totally unexpected! And lo and behold, seat mates were ldyjocelyn & her husband. Who knew?

Our section was made up of an assortment of old dining room chairs marked with hand written numbers. The theatre was decorated with Christmas lights, but it was kind of strange with the Italian style decor. Dean Martin was singing about the moon in June and a big pizza pie and it was just all so comical. An ancient man came and sat at the organ and started playing indecipherable music about 2 feet in front of our faces. This went on for far too long and I remember saying I hoped Clay wasn't beating up a coke machine or something back stage, because they started making announcements that there were technical difficulities delaying the start of the show. The MC guy was very friendly, but he was full of shit too. No way this theatre was state of the art or had housed so many televised specials recently. I mean, I think it's great if you want to take a historic building and revamp it and upgrade it and make it state of the art, but this one wasn't anything like that. It was an old theatre than should probably have been condemned.

Finally they lowered the organ into the floor, but the old man was still in it! And then another old man came over and told him to stop playing, time to close up. So the organ playing man nimbly leapt out of the pit in the floor, and they covered it all up with some black boards that had "no step" lettered on them. I wondered if Clay might say something about them during the show but he didn't. If he had been able to step on them he would have been close enough for us to touch. After quite a bit more of Dean martin's music, they finally lowered the lights and Clay walked out on stage, making his funny faces and playing up the schtick before AIW. When he went off to get the tape recorder, he exiting our side, but came back on the other side, making a big show of pushing the curtain out of the way to get back to centre stage. He was so close I could see the make up on his face, and his throat thrumming with the notes he was singing. I can't even imagine being in the real first row, you would be at eye level with his shoes and looking up his nose. I don't think there was a better seat in the house than ours this time around. But maybe I'm just biased. :)

Clay let us know immediately that his monitors weren't working. He kept putting his mike down to them to get the feedback, in hopes that maybe it would wake someone up backstage to fix it. He called it the Fisher Price theatre and said that if we saw him drop the mike and run, we should get the hell out of there. He kept catching Ben's eye and the two of them were cracking up. He made countless references to the building and made it pretty clear how bad it was, but then he would put an exaggerated grin on and say "it's Christmas!" and crack up again. He singled ldyjocelyn's husband out early on, which we figured he would, and it was quite disconcerting since I was about 2 inches to his right, having Clay's scrutiny in our direction. I was terrified he might ask me something because I doubt I would have been able to find my voice to answer him, but thankfully he never did. I was in 7th heaven all night watching his feet, his hands, his throat, his sparkly eyes...omg, just being so close after so many tours of being in the mid-section of the venue was a delight. His voice was stellar but the sound system left something to be desired. He made lemonade the whole night, turning the interesting surroundings and glitches into comedic fodder.

The bit about the chain on the stairs had the tears running down my face, it was so funny. He asked big burly security man, who was standing there all night doing nothing, what it was supposed to protect him from, ants? Ha ha ha, thank goodness there were no crazy fans trying to storm the stage because Clay would have been toast. God, when I think back to tours of yesteryear.....and then the sound system became possessed and wouldn't stop humming and I thought clay was going to lose it for a few minutes. He mouthed "fuck" in once sentence, tried to speak without a mic but was overpowered by the buzzing, and finally walked off the stage and unplugged the damned mic himself, before his tour manager came and handed him another one that actuallly worked.

He was really heartfelt when he started talking about the senseless shootings in Conneticut, and you could see his hands subtly shaking and the tears in his eyes as he started singing MGUCl after the minute of silence. I loved that he intentionally changed the lyrics to "a human soul" to fit the occasion. And then he brought the show back up again with some humourous banter before launching into DSIAFCD. I was hoping he'd come back over to us to sing the glory note and he positioned himself perfectly in between the two feedback speakers so I could see his feet just in time. Wheeeee! So powerful, he drags it right from his toes, he does. And then he went off stage and we made a lot of noise until he came back through the centre of the curtain, hesitated a minute, and chose to go to the opposite side for the encore. But I was thrilled for my daughter & Claymatron, who were sitting in 5th row and got a perfect view for the whole song. He didn't go up the aisle because apparently it was blocked, so he stood there and then walked to the left exit. My daughter took video with her iPhone that is pretty good so I will get that uploaded to the vault or youtube. She goes by crimsonice.

After the concert we went back to the hotel and sat in the lounge with disneykid and her husband and relived our experience. He had attended the Clay & Ruben tour a couple of years ago, so this wasn't his first experience. We laughed our asses off thinking back on the banter and the venue and read a bit of what people were posting online, before heading off to bed. And then this morning were were laughing & crying at some of the red reports that really captured the essence of the theatre last night. I am so glad that there were so many clack gatherers in attendance, and that there were no worries about cameras. This is one for the history books! It was so bad and yet Clay made it so good. Oh, and i forgot to mention the toy drive! We bought toys at Target prior to the show and the man accepting them was so overwhelmed with the generosity of Clay's fans, he said he wished they could have him back every night. There were huge piles of toys in the entrance way. Ha ha I don't think Clay will ever return to that venue. Even if they would take him back after all his well deserved comments from the stage! I look forward to what he might say about it tonight in Milwaukee. Hope the cell cert is clearer there!

Sadly, we are already on the road home, as I type this into notepad on cindilu2's little netbook. We had 2 fantastic concert experiences this time around, and as much as I wish they wouldn't have cancelled Detroit (especially for those fans who couldn't get to another one) perhaps it wasn't meant to be. It would have been tough for Clay to put on a jovial show that day. Although I have no doubt he would have managed, because he's just that awesome. I love him.

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Clay Aiken on Christmas, "American Idol," and Donald Trump

Clay Aiken on Christmas, American Idol, and Donald Trump

By Jason P. Woodbury Mon., Dec. 17 2012 at 4:00 AM

At one point during our early morning interview, singer and performer Clay Aiken yawned.

It was a deep, expressive yawn. He did not ask to be excused, but he didn't need to: Aiken is among the most affable, pleasant, and charming interviews I've ever enjoyed. Plus, the guy has every reason to be worn out. The former "American Idol" has been making his way across the nation on his "Joyful Noise 2012" tour, belting out selections and standards from his Christmas recordings, Merry Christmas with Love and All Is Well: Songs for Christmas. It's a lot of work, and Aiken notes: "This is my fifth year doing it, and if we count all the times that I've done this show you're up into the hundreds, you know?"

With his upcoming tour stop at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler approaching, Aiken took some time to discuss Christmas music, 30 Rock, Donald Trump (Aiken competed onCelebrity Apprentice this year), and the season a "big black guy from Alabama and a skinny gay weirdo from North Carolina" wooed America on American Idol.

Up on the Sun: You started this tour in the 23rd of November, correct?

Clay Aiken: If you say so! You probably know better than I do. [Laughs]

So at this point, are you sick of Christmas music yet?

You know, for some reason, I don't get sick of this tour. If you asked me on other tours, I'd still say the same thing, but I'd probably be lying. [Laughs] With this one, I don't tend to get that tired. Forget the 23rd -- This is my fifth year doing it, and if we count all the times that I've done this show you're up into the hundreds, you know?

So you generally enjoy Christmas music. You'd have to.

There's something about Christmas music that puts people in a better mood. I had a friend when I was in high school that insisted that she kept a Christmas CD in her car and whenever she'd get stopped by a cop, she'd put it in. Whether it was June or July or whatever, she'd throw in the Christmas CD and get out of the ticket every time. I guess there's something about Christmas music that puts people in a better mood.

What are some of your favorite Christmas albums?

You know, I don't listen to many Christmas records when I'm touring. I am so inundated with my own stuff, we run the entire show one time in the afternoon, and then we do it again at night. But in the off years, the years that I haven't done it: Michael Buble's Christmas album, I think it's really great, Josh Groban had a really good one a few years ago. The ones that everyone else loves, I think. Those are the ones I like the most. Mariah Carey's Christmas album, which should go in some American time capsule, I'm sure.

Do you listen to music on the bus to wind down after shows?

I haven't listened to a thing lately. When I'm on tour, we're on a bus, and we don't listen to the radio. We put the TV on. We put reruns of The Closer on or something. I would be the worst person to ask about current musical trends.

You appeared on 30 Rock, one of my favorite shows of all time. Before you were approached about a guest spot, were you a fan?

Oh God, yeah. I love 30 Rock. That's one of the few things I insist on staying up to date on when I'm on the road. I make sure I get the latest episode. I like the fact that they're wrapping up each character up. A lot of shows end and you don't know where that character is going. But you know Liz is going to be married, and Jenna's going to try to be. I just want to know who this "Jacob" Kenneth keeps yelling at is. He's been yelling at "Jacob" for years. I want to know Kenneth's deal. [Note: Up on the Sun has it on good authority that this is a Lost reference.]

The "Kidney Now" musical number your participated in on the show was a pretty good song.

They totally should have sent that to radio.

You were also on Celebrity Apprentice this year. Is Donald Trump as crazy in person as he is online?

You know, I have to say: He was a very gracious host to us. He treated everyone with respect, and he does not get pleasure in firing people, I know that. He was a very nice guy, and before I went on the show, I didn't pay too much attention to the stuff he was doing in the press. When I was on the show, I gained this really great respect for him. When I got off the show, I would come home and see things with him on the news, and I'd think to myself, "God, I wish he would just shut up." He's like that uncle you love, but he does stupid things and you just wish he'd stop doing them because you know that's not really a great representation of him. That's kinda how I feel.

I have to imagine he's playing up his image in the media. I refuse to believe anyone could be so...

Well, I don't know how much he's playing. [Laughs] But he was a nice guy when I was around him.

You got your start on American Idol. Do you watch the singing shows at all?American Idol? The Voice?

I haven't watched anything since maybe '06. It's been awhile.

When American Idol was first the big hit it was, I remember feeling like it was a trend, and that people were going to watch and enjoy these shows for a time, and then move on. You guys were all phenomenal singers, but I never imagined the format having the lasting strength it has.

I think you might have been right. People are not watching the same show today that they were back in '02 or '03. The "singing competition show," where we tune in and we watch contestants sing, and we vote for them, support them, and really invest ourselves in the singers...that's not really what's on TV anymore. Now, I think people tune in and they watch the judges, and the singers are sort of an afterthought. The singers are almost what we sit through, and the filler between when the judges talk.

I have watched The Voice some, I wouldn't say I'm a regular watcher, but I find myself waiting for the person to stop singing so I can see what Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo, and Adam [Levine] are going to say. To see if they're going to turn their chair around -- that was fun. I want to hear what the judges are saying. I want to hear if they're going to say someone is pitchy when they're not, because that happens a lot. [Laughs]

They give some sort of comment that just didn't happen. That always fascinates me. We pay less attention to the singers now, and more to the judges. We pay more attention the spectacle and the concepts, rather than getting invested in this big black guy from Alabama and this skinny gay weirdo from North Carolina, and become invested in the characters and contestants on the show. To that end, in some ways, that's probably why you may be right. Those shows didn't survive solely on the concept we did. They had to evolve into something else for people to continue to watch, and they don't watch in as high number as they used to.

The Studdard/Aiken season really was a phenomenon. I remember everybody in my family, especially my grandma, just being riveted by your season. People seem to have remained invested in your voice.

It was very organic, back in the day. We didn't have bands. We sang to tracks. I remember asking for a stool this one time, and it was like, "Oh, should we give him a stool? Do we have a stool? Now they're playing in from the ceiling, there are fires on stage, there's a band on stage! But I'm not joking, I asked for a stool one time and they had to look around and see if they had one, or if that was even allowed. It was real talent competition back then, and now, it's a circus in some ways.

Clay Aiken is scheduled to perform Thursday, December 20, at Ovations Live! Showroom at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler.

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I have been having major internet issues at home so this is the first time I have been able to get on and say "Hello". Had a wonderful time at the concert! I was so excited when I realized the man Clay was talking to was Amy's husband. I was in row F but in the center but the theater is so small every seat was pretty good. As been mentioned, this was an old theater..the chairs we were sitting on were what I call mismatched dining room chairs with tape on the back with the seat number written in magic marker. We were really packed in their and it was warm in the theater. I had a nice time talking to some CV'ers who I recognized. Saw a lot of people I recognized..some I knew their names, some I did not but had seen them before at concerts. I did see Luckiest 1 and Cindilu walk in and ran into Amy in the bathroom line. Only two stalls in the women's bathroom so there was a long line. I decided to go before the show so I would not have to crawl over people during the show if I needed to go.

Clay was wonderful and funny and people were really enjoying the show. The girl, Erin who did the lyric contest was a doll and really had a nice voice. Apparently before the concert she was tweeting and as not thrilled to go to the show but her Mom was making her, but she seemed like she enjoyed it when she was on stage.

All in all it was a great night and really made it feel like Christmas to me..I have missed those Christmas tours.


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I can't believe this tour is almost over. Sniff.


Clay Aiken Bringing Joyful Noise to Anaheim

Clay Aiken bringing Joyful Noise to Anaheim

December 16th, 2012, 6:00 am · posted by KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER


Christmas comes more than just once a year for modern-day crooner and former American Idol star Clay Aiken. The 34-year-old North Carolina native says he starts prepping for holiday tours as early as September and had entered studios to record covers of classic Christmas tunes by May for his previous winter releases.

He brings his latest seasonal Joyful Noise tour to City National Grove of Anaheim on Dec. 21. Right now for Aiken, it’s “all Christmas, all the time.”

“This is really my favorite show,” he says of the holiday-themed tour, which includes his takes on various familiar cuts as well as a few originals from his 2004 release Merry Christmas with Love and 2006 EP All Is Well. He’s remade everything from “O Holy Night” and “Winter Wonderland” to “Mary, Did You Know?” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Each year, he says, he switches up which one is his favorite.

“Sometimes it changes throughout the show itself,” he adds. “The first song I ever recorded was ‘The First Noel’ on the Idol Christmas album, so that was my favorite then, and if you would have asked me last year I would have said ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ because I loved the arrangement we did on it. Now this year we have a big brass section blowing out on ‘First Noel,’ so that’s become my favorite again to sing every single night.

“I think these Christmas songs fit well in my voice and they work well for me, so I really kind of like them all.”

Life After Idol

It’s been almost a decade since the masses were first introduced to Aiken’s vocals on the second season of the Fox singing competition American Idol. Though Aiken was a close runner-up to winner Ruben Studdard, he nonetheless went on to achieve success after the cameras stopped rolling.

He signed to RCA Records in 2003 and that same year released his multiplatinum debut, Measure of a Man. More albums followed, including a disc of refashioned favorites, A Thousand Different Ways (2006), featuring renditions of tracks made popular by Dolly Parton, Richard Marx, Celine Dion and Bryan Adams.

Two years later, Aiken put out a collection of original material with contributions from several collaborators, among them OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder and mega-producer and songwriter David Foster. That proved to be Aiken’s last album with RCA. He later signed with Decca Records and in 2010 issued an assortment of standards, Tried and True, followed by Steadfast last March. Of all the songs he’s covered, however, Aiken says the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” is by far his favorite.

“I love it for multiple reasons, but it was the first song that I sang, and my mom would play it back when I was in middle school because she loved it and convinced me to learn it,” he says.

“It’s always been a favorite and I’ve been signing it for years, but I never had my own version of it. … I’d pick that as my favorite, but I also loved Johnny Mathis’ songs growing up. I feel like I was born a little too late sometimes. The songs from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, that’s the kind of style that I love the most. Artists like Perry Como … and I know this doesn’t make me the coolest kid on the block to say that Perry Como was someone I loved, but I loved his stuff, and covering ‘It’s Impossible,’ I was thrilled to have the chance to do that.”

It was a reality TV show that introduced Aiken to his rabid legion of fans, instantly dubbed “Claymates,” but he’s not particularly fond of the format now, as it’s been copied numerous times by other shows such asThe X Factor, The Voice and America’s Got Talent. He admits that he stopped watching Idol after Carrie Underwood’s winning season in 2005.

“The show has gotten a lot more slick and the contestants got a lot more polished, but I think the biggest problem is that the judges are the stars now,” he says, carefully choosing his words.

“When I was on the show, Ruben and myself, we literally came right off the bus and into Hollywood, and we were naïve and real and it was all very authentic and organic. Simon (Cowell), of course, was a star, but people tuned in, I think, to see Ruben and myself, Kimberley Locke and Kim Caldwell. Now they tune into see whether or not the judges are going to fight with each other.”

Aiken says he’d be happy to serve as a mentor to an aspiring singer, but he doesn’t feel like he would have much to offer as a coach to someone trying to break into show business in that particular arena now. He believes these competitions still make for good television, yet he doesn’t foresee them creating more massive success stories.

“I don’t think we’re going to necessarily see another Kelly Clarkson or a Carrie Underwood because I think there are too many of (these shows),” he contends. “The people that go on the shows now, they should have more realistic expectations, because it doesn’t mean they’re going to become instant radio stars. But some of them might be able to parlay a television success if they work hard and have the right people around them.”

Over the years, Aiken has done more than just music. In 2004 he wrote Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life with Allison Glock, which became a New York Times best-seller and helped land him guest spots, mostly as himself, on TV shows like Scrubs, Drop Dead Diva and 30 Rock. One of his greatest moments, he says, came when in 2008 he landed the role of Sir Robin on Broadway in Monty Python’s Spamalot.

“I loved doing the Broadway thing,” he says. “I love the consistency of it and the routine and camaraderie of working with the same people every day and knowing what time I was going to be there and all of the teamwork that went into that.”

Second-Time Runner-Up

Earlier this year, Aiken competed on the fifth season of Donald Trump’s The Celebrity Apprentice and raised more than $350,000 for his charity of choice, the National Inclusion Project, during his second stint on reality TV. Aiken played alongside former late-night host Arsenio Hall, pop star Aubrey O’Day, comedian Lisa Lampanelli, singer Debbie Gibson and others. In the end, Aiken was fired by Trump and yet again came in second place, this time losing to Hall, who raised $500,000-plus for his charity, the Magic Johnson Foundation.

“I took away some good friends from that show and the resolution that I am never going to be in a competition with a black man again,” he says with a hearty laugh, referring to losing to friends Hall and Studdard.

His days doing TV competitions are over, he insists, at least for now. He only did Idol and Celebrity Apprentice because he thought he might have a shot at winning, but he’d turn down Dancing with the Starsin a heartbeat because he’d “absolutely have no chance, even for a second, on that show.”

He was excited, however, to do Celebrity Apprentice so he could meet Lampanelli, whom he had heard made fun of him relentlessly in her stand-up act for years, mostly taking jabs at Aiken’s sexuality. (A little more than four years ago, after much speculation, he revealed in People magazine that he is gay.)

“I walked up to her and said, ‘I know you’ve been talking (trash) on me for the past 10 years.’ We easily became friends and I just went and saw her in New York a few weeks ago – you should hear her act now!

“She’s one of my favorite people from the show, without question. I knew what she had said about me and I had seen her on a (celebrity) roast or two, but I didn’t follow her much. But now I do. Her comedy is funny, but she also has a good heart, which makes me like it even more. People see her and think she’s just a bitch, but the truth is she’s a very sweet lady. She just plays this character on stage, which I think is interesting.”

Following his holiday tour, Aiken doesn’t have much planned, which typically works out better for him, he says. As he’s navigated his way through show business, he has learned that when he tries to push it and plan, things don’t quite work out: “The stuff that we’ve done that’s had success is always something that we didn’t seek out. The main plan now is to stay open to lots of possibilities.

“You know, ‘Jesus take the wheel,’ as the great philosopher Carrie Underwood once said.”

Clay Aiken performs Dec. 21 at City National Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave. Tickets: $39.50-$69.50.

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This morning i went to the elementary school where we tutor to drop off some cookies I baked and the presents to the kindergartners since mr Fear was ill and my student was out sick. The doors were locked in the classroom. First time ever. Scarey how the world is changing.
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Tomorrow is the company holiday party. I guess it really is Xmas time.

Say what you want about American Idol, it is the only American singing show, so far, pushing out successful winners. I may prefer The Voice but so far it hasn't created any successful artists. Neither has X Factor. They are still relatively new so who knows. Idol just has the system in place to give their artists the best shot. Scotty McCreery (who I found dreadfully dull) sold over a million copies of his debut album and Phil Phillips, who I did like but was not my favorite to win is approaching 3 million of his single (best coronation song ever) and his album will go gold for certain and probably platinum eventually. I think the search for a judge on Idol is big news but once the show starts I don't think it's about them and I don't think people tune in just to see the judges. None of these judges on idol bring in the people that Simon did during those first years. A lot of people tuned in just to hear what Simon was going to say. I don't think that's true of the current judges. On The Voice the judges are just as important if not more important than the contestants. They sing every week. They are in essence in competition with each other and their personalities and comraderie make the show. The judges also compete with each other on Xfactor. Couldn't bring myself to watch it after last year. So I guess I don't necessarily agree that there will be no more Kellys or Carries. They could very well be out there already. And maybe some that take other routes like Jennifer Hudson.

Thanks for bringing over all the articles. They are as always a fun read. I'm looking forward to just sitting down and listening to the show while I rap up the gifts I bought for my family. I would love to see Clay on some sort of tv show on a weekly basis. There are a million channels out there. Somebody give that man a timeslot!!

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Catching up this morning....life has been hectic since I got back from St. Charles. Dogs, dogs and more dogs! A quick trip to the vet yesterday for one of them (nothing serious, thank goodness!) and trying to catch up on housework and groceries and laundry and write my tardy Christmas cards. Still have most of my Christmas shopping to do.

I was disappointed in the results of The Voice last night, but nothing new there. I loved the duet with Peter Frampton & Terry though. That is one of my favourite songs of all time. And Terry actually sounded good on it. ;)

Here is some clack from the Colorado concert last night. Sounds like there was a bit of a clackdown until Clay told them they could get their cameras out (similar to Shippensburg!) From Hope at CV:

Scarlett Beaver Creek Links:

VPAC Contest Clay And Raquel Walder "Silver Bells" Duet.


"The First Noel."


All Scarlett links can travel.

Edited to add links.

I can't believe the tour is almost over already! But lots of time over the holidays to download and relive the memories. <3

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Home sick today..trying to fight off a cold..can't be sick for Christmas! Installed our new modem yesterday and could not get the wireless to work..called ATT and got Shannon from Nevada..spent two hours with her and nada..doesn't bode well when your tech support person tells you she is googling for help! Called again this morning and got another gal who helped me through the configuration..turns out Shannon had me change all the default settings which I was not supposed to do..finally got the right settings and I am back on.

My hubby surprised me and bought me a new stove for Christmas, it is being delivered today..yay me!


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That story was hilarious. I do not have that tour book because JNT did not come to Mi. that year(what was I thinking not traveling, I have learned). But I can just invision him trying to walk in the snow, and not in a straight line.

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The new stove is hooked up!

Had my first "doh" moment..I am looking at the burner knobs and not seeing any temperatures nor anything for the oven and ask my husband how do you know what temperature you are cooking at..he just looks at me and points to the computer on top of the stove..oops..need to get used to a whole new way of cooking. My old stove was from the 1950's..nothing fancy there..but I am going to miss it. I am going from a huge 36 inch stove to a 30 inch..it looks so small.

I have never had a self-cleaning oven before...no more Easy-Off.

Just spend 30 minutes reading the instructions and all the warnings..guess they have to cover all the bases..some of it seemed pretty obvious..don't store flammables in the oven..but I guess you never know with people.


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I messaged Vanessa to ask about the status of refunds for the Detroit tickets purchased via the OFC. Here's her response:

A refund will be issued automatically, hopefully this week, and no further action is required on your part.
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Did someone ask for the JNT 2005 book? I actually have a Photobucket album with the pictures...


I've always loved that set of pictures. Good to know that I love stoned Clay...

aikim, I'm getting a cold too. I'm seriously thinking of taking a sick day tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow is also supposed to be 1-2 inches of snow too. And Friday at my workplace -- no computers whatsoever. That should be a fun day. We're going to close to the public, but yet, we are still supposed to work. Sigh.

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