"As long as we're here alive on this earth, I'm gonna love you for all that it's worth, and one of these days we're gonna understand why. Let's make the most of our time as long as we're here." - As Long as We're Here
Clay Aiken is a recording artist who got his start on the second season of the tv show American Idol, where he placed second. He went on to release several cds, go on several successful national tours, write a book, perform on Broadway, start a charity organization, and place second on season 5 of The Celebrity Apprentice, all but eclipsing the winner of his season in terms of overall success. He last released new music in 2010, and while he did perform in some off Broadway musical productions afterwards, his performing career pretty much came to an end when he decided to run for Congress in 2014.
Clay was a special needs teacher prior to auditioning for American Idol, and as he reached higher and higher levels of success, he was able to shine a national light on his message of inclusion. He formed the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which was later re-named the National Inclusion Project to raise money to help schools integrate special needs children into the classroom. He was also named a Unicef Celebrity Ambassador and traveled to many countries around the globe to bring awareness to the issues children are facing the world over. He said time and time again that he believes that celebrities have a purpose and need to use their notoriety for the betterment of society. His philanthropic work always seemed to be more important to him than any level of fame, so he gladly used his new platform of being in the public eye to help others.
We became instant fans of Clay during the Top 32 round of American Idol and obsessively followed his career for many years after. Aside from having an amazing voice, his dorky looks and personality endeared him to us and legions of fans around the world. He may not have come in first place on American Idol, but there was such a wave of support to make him number one everywhere else possible afterwards, and we were most definitely a part of it. Though his career choices didn't really make that much sense for an artist in hindsight (never really nailing down what kind of artist he wanted to be, releasing new music with no tour, etc.) we were there for all of the ups and downs.
American Idol, and Clay in particular, was the catalyst for getting us into pop music - helping us to discover other artists and expand our music collection exponentially over the years since seeing the show in 2003. I may not follow his career any longer (it's hard to be a fan of a guy running for Congress), but I still have very fond memories of the years that he was putting out music and touring around the country. Clay remained my favorite artist for many many years and there was a time when I was such an obsessed fan that I would get every magazine he was in, watch every single interview he did, and would scour ClackUnlimited after each of his concerts to watch every video I could get my hands on. Waiting for the red reports on the message boards to see what was new each night was such a memorable and special time, and I have yet to find a more dedicated fanbase for an artist to this day. I've seen him in concert more than any other artist - including traveling to New York to see him in Spamalot twice - and was lucky enough to win a meet and greet from his fan club once. I'm not ashamed to say that I was an obsessed Clay Aiken fan, and even though I will never get back to the level of obsessiveness I had in the past, he is still an amazing singer and I still enjoy listening to his music.
||On My Way Here
||On My Way Here
||Forget I Ever Knew You, Solitaire, Broken Wings, Ashes
||Love of My Life, I Will Be Here, Everything I Have, The Real Me
||Soft Rock in a Hard Place Tour, Jukebox Tour
||Bridge Over Troubled Water, Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
||Open Arms, Build Me Up Buttercup, This is the Night
Independent Tour: Washington D.C. (3/5/04)
Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson's Independent Tour in 2004 was the first concert we ever attended, and seeing Clay live for the first time was just unbelievable. He seemed so happy that night and was having a lot of fun, so that made it even more enjoyable. He is great at connecting to the audience and making them a part of the show. Even though I have been to many more Clay concerts since this one, it is still special because it was the first.
Summer Not a Tour: Baltimore, MD (7/23/04), Delaware State Fair (7/27/04)
After the Independent Tour, Clay continued to promote "Measure of a Man" throughout the summer on a solo tour without Kelly. It was great to be able to see him headline a tour for the first time, and since he only had one album out at the time, there were plenty of new songs that he covered for the tour. Even though we had to sit out in the pouring rain for the Delaware State Fair concert, it made it a really memorable experience!
Joyful Noise Tour 2004: Baltimore, MD (12/04/04)
The Joyful Noise tour began as a way to promote his Christmas album "Merry Christmas With Love" and went on to become a yearly tradition. He sang selections from his album as well as some that he had not recorded, and it made for a wonderful night to put us in the Christmas spirit.
Jukebox Tour Wolftrap, VA (8/8/05)
The Jukebox Tour was Clay's fifth tour in 3 years. In this one, he sang hits from different eras starting with the 5o's and working his way to songs from his future album (though only one of the four previews actually made the album). It was a lot of fun and we had great seats. They may not have been the closest and the pics may not be the greatest, but we were out of the rain and there were no heads in our way!
Joyful Noise Tour 2005: Baltimore, MD (12/14/05), Washington D.C. (12/??/05)
This concert was quite a bit different than the other Joyful Noise Tours, as it was a play in which Clay played the role of both a guardian angel and the soundtrack. There wasn't much banter, but it was a beautiful show written by Clay himself. It was also our first introduction to pianist William Joseph, who was the opening act as well as part of the band during the show. I went to the concerts in Washington D.C and Baltimore and had a great time.
Soft Rock in a Hard Place Tour: Philadelphia, PA (7/17/06)
This was a summer tour to promote "A Thousand Different Ways", though there were also some surprises added in to keep things interesting. He enlisted the help of local orchestras in each city to play during the shows, and the full orchestrations were amazing to hear live. Clay was in top form with his audience banter every night, and his tv theme song and popular song medleys were really great.
Joyful Not a Tour 2006: Baltimore, MD (12/06/06)
While not billed as a Joyful Noise Tour, Clay continued his annual Christmas tour tradition in 2006, this time with his new "All is Well" EP to promote. It was amazing to see him sing the title track from that EP live for the first time, as well as all of his usual Christmas favorites.
Christmas in the Heartland Tour: Washington D.C. (12/02/07)
This was the last Christmas Tour that we went to and it was a memorable night because I won a meet and greet with Clay through his fan club. It was my first and only time meeting Clay, and it was an unforgettable experience. We got to sit around for awhile, ask questions, and get autographs and pictures. The concert itself was very nice, though there was no audience banter throughout the show, as he opted instead to have Christmas memories read out periodically by audience members.
Spamalot: New York (3/01/08, 4/26/08)
While not a concert tour by any means, in 2008, Clay took over the role of Sir Robin in Spamalot on Broadway, and we loved the show so much the first time we saw it that we had to go back again before his run was over. The whole show and cast were amazing and hilarious both times, and I'm so glad that I had the experience to see Clay in his Broadway debut!
Tried & True Tour: Towson, MD (2/22/11)
The Tried & True Tour of 2011 was the first time that we had seen Clay live since his Christmas tour of 2007, so it had been a really long time. This tour was to promote his album "Tried & True", so the majority of the songs he sang were from that album. He sounded beautiful and was extremely goofy throughout the entire concert. It was a small venue, so he seemed to feel more at ease to goof off and do whatever. It made for a very unique experience for all of us, and it was definitely one of my favorite Clay concerts that I've ever been to!