ldyjocelyn

# 65: "Clay Aiken's Not Just Any Joe"

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Keala Settle --

When Clay introduced Keala he once again showed he thinks she is a great talent. He said she had been having to decide between two different Broadway shows that wanted her. And they just found out that a third show wants her. He said she has become a special friend (or used some other affectionate word). She came out and sang one of those ballads from the 80's -- the Hero is in you -- it is a Whitney Houston song or some such (I am not big on Diva songs so excuse my ignorance). Then Clay came out and sang with her his duet that he sang with Quiana and Angela- I know what love is…. He several times gave that face like he loves to hear her and is awed to hear Keala's voice.

Later, she came out when they were doing to Jukebox auction. She was doing her "The Price is Right" prize-display model imitation waving her hands and showing off the Jukebox. He halted and looked at her and she froze with her hand just posed to sweep out across the item and urged him to continue his description with her eyebrows so she could show off the prize with her arm sweeps…

Clay did the auctioning of the juke box and did a few times mimic the auctioneers fast talk. Very cute. I think it went for 12,000. They then did the part when they ask who will send 20, 15, 10, 5, 2, 1 kids to camp. He was saying Keala didn't believe it would work, he wanted her to be amazed. She did seem impressed. There was especially a forest of people sending 2 or 1 kids to camp. Clay called off the numbers. Behind him two people were writing down the numbers. Then they went off to calculate the number of kids sent to camp. Clay was having a hard time waiting for the number though, he did a little bantering, I wish I recall exactly what…Finally the number was whispered to Keala and she announced 200 kids sent to camp.

They also did the raffle (oh was probably before Jukebox) They were having a hard time rolling those metal cages and Clay wondered aloud why they keep using them. The first one 2 tickets fell out and were put back in and Keala picked a ticket saying I hope two people aren't mad now. She then was to read the number of the ticket, she said it says…. it says…. "ticket" -- anyone? ? (she didn't realize the stub said something like keep this coupon, not ticket) …. office depot ….. then finally the ticket number. She did this playing around with the other readings. It was funny and Clay obviously enjoys her.

BTW Clay's brother Brent helped move the Jukebox and it was in a wheeled tour case and he said it was included but stumbled as he didn't recall what that was called. Keala said tour case and teased him a bit since she thought it was an easy enough thing to name. He mentioned Brett again when he had it wheeled out and fussed a bit about the cord and said it was the most rehearsed part of the show

Ok I'm a bit nervous about describing the last part, but this is what I remember/what I think:

He made a crack about how he wasn't going to mention what the 1st checks for the foundation were attached to but that some of you were there at the beginning. Then he went and said, don't know if you were involved in the checks or the panties for that matter… (he did mention panties).. I thought he was building up to a thank you song like he often does. He said we have stayed by him during many things and did say something about "and career changes" (but I think "actor" is a career change from "pop star", I'm in the Broadway car) . Then he launched into the song. His voice was wonderful, it is a pretty song. The light was illuminating his face but he was largely in the dark and above him the screen showed fan images, groups of fans. The song talked about "you being the song" and "me only just singing along". As I said before I did think he was thanking us and may not realize we are worrying about him saying goodbye. But, since the blog was on my mind too, and it seemed like an end of a chapter, it did make me sad and I did cry. I think a lot of people did feel that sadness. It did seem like he was closing a chapter, but maybe he was just saying thank you and the blog on our minds made it feel that it was closing a chapter. As I said before, on reflection, I think it was meant as a thank you, not a goodbye. But, it did have a sad feeling to it, not a happy feel to it. He was in the dark and the fans on the screen were more visible. It had that dramatic fade, he leaves before you realize it is done (he's done that before at end thank you songs). I don't recall whether there was/was not applause. They came on with an announcement about how to pay for your bids, online at your seat or at the door and that the auction bid winners should contact so-n-so, so that probably clipped it unwittingly too. I was sad but after thinking on it, I don't think it is a goodbye, just an end to a chapter or a end of a decade (and on to the next 10 years). I don't blame anyone who cried, it was hard not to, it does seem that things will change even though we don't know how.

As for the honorees, they were very inspiring. The first was a young man who started a restaurant. His parents didn't know of another person with Downs who had accomplished that but helped their son to realize his dream. He serves breakfast, lunch and hugs. He has many medals from Special Olympics (a whole display in his restaurant - they didn't say what his sports talent was tho). The award was to him and his father. They were wonderful and I was crying in no time (usually it takes at least to the second honoree! but this year was hard not to tear up. In fact, once Keala came out and had to pull herself together -she must have been crying- that was after the Long Brothers, she said she was doing a play about conjoined twins, the story of the two brothers was touching her. Clay also made some mention about how much crying was going on backstage. It was hard not to cry for all the stories this year!). The father said his son had a clicker in his pocket and was counting all the hugs he gave in Charlotte and it was already up to 200… he has given something like 45,000 hugs. He said it was the most popular item on his menu. He does a dance as he goes in to work and he said now he has Clay Aiken on his phone and will be dancing to that when he goes to work. In his acceptance speech he let on that he is going to ask his girlfriend to marry him in April (don't tell her -- he only told a room full of a thousand people) and we should wish him luck.

The Habitat International is a company that makes artificial turf and has been a leader in inclusion of persons of all abilities in the workplace. Other companies, including former honorees, have been inspired by their model. The owner, when accepting his award, said he does have a bias though -- anyone with Downs who applies will automatically get the job! He says they think from their hearts and that is the best way. He talked about how some workers with schizophrenia had to fight demons and how the workers united to help them through this. It sounds like his workers support one another and celebrate their ABILITIES (they had signs about that all in the plant). He quoted one of the former workers who passed away who lived life with a positive spirit and had simple sayings that inspired this owner. If he was teased by others, he went and asked them if he knew them/talked to them, and I guess if he didn't get a positive response he came back and said simply "ok plan B". The owner thought if this young man were in charge, this would be a good thing. He obviously misses this worker who was so inspiring. It was sort of sad that the honoree said he was going through a divorce so sort of apologized for not being as sunny/happy as usual, it sounds like he is having a hard time right now and hope he finds strength. This award I hope will be a bright spot for him right now.

Team Long Brothers are two brothers who do triathlons together. Their mom had a parenting magazine that mentioned a triathlon and the one brother ask why can't he do it with his brother. They contacted the organizers and arranged it. His brother has cerebral palsy (I think that is what they said) and was inside a lot and his brother wondered why he couldn't come and do the triathlon with him outside. They have a cart that he pulls when he rides the bike so his brother comes with him and another he pushes when he runs that part of the triathlon. HIs brother enjoys it and the two brothers have bonded through this. The one brother came and gave his acceptance speech (BTW he had green neon shoes and a green neon bow tie) and he was saying it makes him mad when other kids treat his brother differently when he is just the same inside and he wants the other kids to know that he is the same. He sees inclusion as allowing kids to do things they otherwise weren't allowed to do like his brother getting to participate in outdoor sports like running. He started with the one triathlon and now they have done 20 or so. The one brother spoke with his mother standing beside (she didn't talk), his father and brother came out on stage for a while.

Keynote speaker Dwayne Ballen, who has blogged about his life with his son with autism, also talked about his son. He said he learned so much from his son and he urged fathers not to give over to their wives/mothers the difficulties of the tasks associated with a special needs child. He nearly did at first and his wife dumped a load of books in front of him and said he needed to read these and fix his attitude and he was glad he did and has benefited so much from his work learning from and growing with his son. Some educators said his son would never finish high school, but now his son is in college. He wants to be an animator for Disney and his father believes he will. He is a talented drawer and has an encyclopedic knowledge of animals and know all the disney movies. He said if you are having a conversation with his son, you are talking about disney animated movies whether you realize it or not. Clay encourages us to read Dwayne's book. Dwayne also teased the young restauranteur about not hugging his wife so many times...

And I love these two (imagine they are red!) from artquest:

I was at the gala tonight. I had a great time. I did not see it as a goodbye.

BINGO!

Neither Permaswooned nor I are ready to hang the black crepe from our hotel room door. Nope, not yet.

Towards the end of the show, Clay mentioned how the fans began to support the foundation even before there was a foundation. This was followed, eventually, by a lovely thank you song (Perma and I bought the thing and listened to the lyrics) accompanying photos of the fans he's thanking. It's a Wind Beneath My Wings kinda song, as far as we're concerned.

Something else: Faye probably knows what Clay has coming up. Ben probably knows. Neither of these folks seems to think the fans will be troubled. Are they both delusional? Is Clay? Seriously we think that when and if the time comes to say good bye to his fans, he'll say it in a blog. In words of one syllable. Not at the end of the fund raising event for his foundation.

PS: Perma is convinced that Clay was serious about re-recording Invisible. He said he and Ben started to do it ballad-like as a joke but then liked it too much. He also said it had been over seven years, his contract was up, so he'd be able to do the recording.

Since Permaswooned and I have settled this, for ourselves and to our own satisfaction, we want to get on to the really important point of the evening. Other than the honorees, of course, who were awesome.

Perma says Clay was wearing a necklace. She says it looked like it had a kinda enameled portion across the front, maybe a blue/grey color? Who makes it? Where's the catalog page? Come on folks, we're slipping here.

Of course, it probably said "Good bye" in Serbo-Croatian, but only if you looked at it backwards in a mirror.

BTW, I can TOTALLY see him rerecording Invisible as a ballad and then selling it to the fans in exchange for a donation to the Project.

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Very interesting range of thoughts this morning. Not being at the gala skews what I think he meant via what's been coming through in reports but I'm still optimistic! Every day I'm leaning towards that he's going into acting, and possibly Broadway. That's a career change and it's not leaving the business!

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@clayaiken: A big THANK YOU to everyone who made last night's Champions Gala in Charlotte for @includingkids a wonderful success #happytenth

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I remember as a kid watching Jimmy Durante on tv and I would cry at the end of every show as he walked off the dark stage stopping to turn back and wistfully wave from the dimming spotlights, and at the end, sadly thanking Mrs. Calabash, wherever she was.

Show after show, I wept. I wept for the whole ending of things in general. And I loved it. I think it may be a Southern trait. I also wept because Wendy grew up. That was the most heart-breaking thing in my life at 8, the inevitability of growing up.

That said, I can testify that Clay is not being mean or cowardly or cruel. I've read people say he was wrong to blog and intentionally or inadvertently jerk people's emotions, and variations on that theme. People from Venus really don't communicate well with Mars natives. Doesn't mean anything more to me than that he thought his fans were stable adults, but unfortunately a faction who really seem to feel they own a piece of him, doesn't fit into that category.

Yes I'm still opinionated. I think Clay's change in career path will be into musical theater. He's saying goodbye to the fans who cannot sustain without backseat-managing his recording career. They must be freaking out.

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Holy crap -- it's keepingfaith! I love you, and what you've said. Thanks for posting!

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keepingfaith, thank you for your post. I also agree with what you said. He has given a heads-up that there will be a career change. I think that If, when, how he gives any specifics is entirely up to him. It's his life and life's work. In my own life, a number of family, friends, associates have made personal and/or career changes either voluntarily or involuntarily due to circumstances and in each case, the communication of said changes has been their call and the rest of have supported their decisions.

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I hope I can help a little. We just got home. Before we left we ran into Faye, Diane and Deb. They stopped to chat and we discussed the Gala. One of us mentioned that some fans were upset that Clay was leaving the NIP. Faye and Diane laughed at that thought and said that Clay would never leave the foundation, ever. None of them appeared upset and were heading off for a little vacation. From what they said Clay used the dark set as he did for All is Well for dramatic effect. I am convinced without doubt that it was a thank you.

I'll post more later as I have guests today.

Keepingfaith, great to see you and thank you for the concise and fantastic post. Playbiller says Hi also.

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Clay ended most of his concerts that way. I just don't get it. And Jeez, if Clay does want to go into another direction, is it really the end of the world? I feel like I have enough songs to keep me satisfied forever when it comes to his recordings and concerts. We are so lucky to have had so much output from Clay. There are a lot of fans of artist who don't have half as much. And I mean it could be because the artists are huge stars and tour every 5 or 6 years or because they never made it big enough to sustain a tour. We are lucky. It's his life. I'll deal with whatever. I feel like I have years worth of stuff to watch and listen to. I understand melancholy or being sad because he is a talent that should be heard. I guess I don't get the depths of the despair.

Hey Keeping Faith!!

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Of course, it probably said "Good bye" in Serbo-Croatian, but only if you looked at it backwards in a mirror.

Hee!

Keepingfaith, wheeeeeee!

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I was at church this morning, and missed posting these. These two pictures are of Tim Harris, one of the recipient's of an award last night at the Gala. He runs Tim's Place, a restaurant and he hands out just as many hugs as food.

From Tim's Facebook page:

I got the National Inclusion Project award by Clay Aiken I got the champions trophy tonight.and I gave clay Aiken a hug backstage and when I came back to my hotel I got to celebrate in the champions restruant and everyone cheered for me. and more hugs and now I have

Three hundred and eleven hugs and maybe more oh yeah

1376442_10201511551425038_1678036236_n_zpsce219a91.jpg

558435_10201416094257237_1984856176_n_zpse891a307.jpg

About Tim's Place:

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Still on the road home (left at 7:00 a.m.). I am not driving currently lol. I'm sorry if my feelings are upsetting anyone, but I can only tell you what I felt in the moment. I do not know what clays intentions were. I am still optimistic that 2014 will be wonderful. But as for the gala, for the non-VIPs, it was kind of bare bones, very little of the fun parts we used to get. The jukebox auction took maybe 2 minutes. I loved the duet, I think that was my favourite part. As lovely as the final song was, I had a hard time enjoying it knowing it was the end of the gala. And it just felt like a goodbye to something. When you hear it maybe you will understand. Or maybe it's going to be one of those things where you just had to be there.

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Luckiest I appreciate your feelings. They are thoughtful IMO. And it's nice to have thoughts from people I know and trust.

I was surprised he sang only one solo song and I think I would have felt exactly the same way if I had flown across the country. Times are hard and to scrape up to go to the gala I wish you had gotten more.

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Thanks couchie. I am still glad I went, but I don't think I can afford to do it again. I would actually be very surprised if they don't just roll it all into a one night event going forward. I think it would make more sense to just sell VIP tickets to those who can afford them. No point selling "cheap" seats to fans who are obviously there for the Clay content, as well as the mission of the charity. That said, clay did a great job as MC, host, auctioneer, and entertainer, all rolled into one. Keala was also wonderful as his sidekick. And most of the honourees were very inspiring, as always.

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First picture, from the two above. Love. That man has thee most expressive face and eyebrows!!

Love that most seem to be in the 'calm' car over here, it can get stressful reading elsewhere!! Thank you.

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Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian friends.

Can't believe MOAM is 10. I'll be playing it today.

We spent about an hour at Discovery Place in Charlotte. I spent too much money there. My granddaughter will be 11 next month and I'm always hopeful I will finally get to see her. It was a really fun store if you are a science nerd. I also bought a few books for our "kids" at the elementary school.

Safe travels luckiest. I hope everyone has a great day.

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At this point I really don't know what to say except that my eyes have really been opened to some ugly truths about this fandom and it makes me really sad..Clay does not deserve this at all.

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I just listened to the SONG and to me he sings it like it is a thank you to supporters and fans nothing more!

After this debacle I wouldn't blame him for quitting. The nastiness that has come out has just been too much.

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Has clack been posted? What nastiness? I feel like I am in an alternate universe. I hope no one thinks I was being nasty. I am calm, I am home, thanks Fear.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians. I have dug out some left over frozen turkey, and I'm making a chili for dinner with it. We had our big turkey day before Lindsay left for England.

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luckiest, the nastiness wasn't from you. CV on Saturday though -- major green ink festival, and I saw one of the posts before it was greened. It was nasty, IMO.

Off to find out what's up. Of course, today is a busy day for me and tomorrow even more so...

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No it's not you. It has been going on since the blog and has become very personal and nasty in some places.

I think there has been a sellout of green ink!

CV has a clack alert and mp3s of the gala

Hee ldyj and I posted together!

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I'm in the wait and see mode and will be until the man tells us what's going on!

Every one is entitled to their opinions but when it descends to a level of absolute rudeness and name calling, as it did on Saturday then it is just wrong!

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Thanks so much Couchie, LadyJ, Fear, JMH, Playbiller and everybody else here that I have missed so much the past year or so. I had to walk away from posting anything due to some severe anxiety issues, which, btw, don't kick in with politics. But the fan frenzies were giving me severe anxiety attacks, which were initially brought on by the stroke and worsened. Never had an anxiety attack in my life until 2010. I decided that walking away was preferable to a Xanax addiction.

And luckiest, in no way are you even in the same town as "nastiness."

What people are feeling is valid, except IMO blaming Clay, i.e., calling him "cowardly" and "mean" and "cruel" for not opening up on demand to the fans about his January plans, so some read their own tea leaves. It's mass hubris to think that Clay is following the boards and reacting with a cavalier attitude! Why would he be following the boards to take the collective fan temperature when he is "career changing?" He made that decision on his own. I believe he's going somewhere that won't require the services of passive-aggressive fan-critics. If he goes to Broadway, some could criticize the show or his acting skills, but he'll be directed, choreographed, costumed and coiffed by others. He could have something premiering on tv in January from Mark Burnett. Or there's the extreme outside chance that he's going to be part of Idol in some still-secreted way.

I did read last week that Clay left his business manager. Can't remember if that came from a credible source, but his business manager was his lawyer, Jess Rosen. So I guess that means he has, or will have, a new lawyer. (Maybe if he's going back to the Idol franchise in any fashion, they made him give up the lawyer who ate their lunch!)

Just using the little sense I have left, Clay has never looked better, nor seemed more genuinely happy, and appears large, in charge, and ready to follow his dream. As to the notion that Clay's passion is his family and he will spend more time with Parker, I believe that this is exactly what he's been doing for the past 5 years. Now that Parker is school age, he's going back to work. It could be that he's redefining himself and some of the old mainstays are gone -- he won't confine himself to family entertainment perhaps. If he took on some controversial roles it would be disappointing and disruptive to some fans. Can you imagine the range of reactions If he ever performed in drag? He went into Joseph as a recording artist with personal standards that did not allow him to show skin. I'm just mind-wandering, but I'd love to hear that Clay has a personal trainer!!!

If Clay were quitting the business, he'd have no reason to put a hold on such information. Too many variables for anything more than speculation. I've been in the happy car for over 7 years and I'll be damned if I go sit in a hearse on the strength of depressing interpolations of a heads-up blog with details coming in January. If he were quitting, there would be no reason to hold that info til 2014.

merrieee :bighug-1:

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I like the way you think keepingfaith. In my old age I've discovered the less I listen to others' opinions, the better I feel. If Diane Bubel and Faye Parker were so happy after the Gala what should I be worried about? I agree that the Gala ending was a little confusing but Clay likes Drama and that's what it was.

In the brochure for the Gala, Clay and Diane thank everyone and continue on to say: "As we look to the future, it seems a bit brighter and open to more possibilities. Yet, there is more work to be done. We hope that you will continue on this journey with us."

keepingfaith, I'm so sorry, I didn't know that you had a stroke. I hope you have a total recovery. And if you can stand it, please continue to post here. I've always enjoyed your insightfulness.

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Can I staple keeping faith to the board? Can I? Can I?

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I haven't listened to the song yet, but hope to soon.

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