Friday, December 7, 2007

Without any further ado: the Clay Aiken/Poughkeepsie Journal story

So after working at a fever pitch for the past week (securing the interview with Clay Aiken, soliciting readers' questions for Clay, actually speaking with him a week ago and then traveling throughout New England earlier this week and finishing the writing), Friday, Dec. 7th is here and my story about the former "American Idol" runner-up and his tour stop here in Poughkeepsie is being read throughout the Hudson Valley.

For all you Claymates from around the country and around the world who've come to "Sean's Space" over the past week and are not in the Journal's coverage area, I give you following ...



"Aiken's Christmas tour arrives Saturday"

By Sean T. McMann
Poughkeepsie Journal

Is standing under the mistletoe with Clay Aiken on your wish list this Christmas?


You might get your chance Saturday night.

That is, if you're on Santa's "Nice" list.

That's because the former "American Idol" finalist brings his "Christmas in the Heartland" tour to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in the City of Poughkeepsie at 8. Aiken's concert will be the 10th show in a 22-city circuit, coming between stops in Albany tonight and Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday.


"It has gone really well," Aiken told the Poughkeepsie Journal last week, the morning after a show in South Bend, Ind., the third on this Christmas swing. "It's been a lot of fun."

Beginning in Wichita, Kan., Nov. 26, "Christmas in the Heartland" is Aiken's fourth such holiday tour. In all, it's his eighth time across the country since spring 2004, when he shared the stage with original "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson.

Even for a veteran of the road, things can get hectic night after night, town after town. The holiday season is no different.

"Sometimes the first week of a tour, we all hold our breath," said Aiken, who turned 29 a week ago today. "Usually by the end of the first week, we have a rough night. For us, that came last night."

Aiken said he looked to change things up a bit this time, making this year's show interactive.

"It's a challenge to change the show every Christmas, to make it something different," he said. "The challenge became not giving people the same show every year."

Aiken solicited fans' favorite memories of Christmases past, providing the singer with inspiration, if not segues, in between tunes.

"I needed something to say in between songs," said Aiken, who released his "Merry Christmas with Love" CD in 2004. "I thought I'd share some of my own favorite Christmas stories, but then I realized: I don't really have any Christmas stories!

"This year, I've asked fans to share their favorite Christmas memory. I thought, 'Let's have the fans do it.' It's kind of neat to hear the way people celebrate their holidays."

It's kind of tiring, too.

Receiving more than 1,600 memories from fans, he spent his time leading up to that Wichita show, reading each one individually.

"During Thanksgiving day, right before I left for the tour," Aiken said, "about every hour, I had to sneak away into my office and read some. Then I got about 400 more. I'm almost done."

He said the night of Christmas music promises to be a treat for his fans, some of whom are headed to Dutchess County from New England and beyond.

Unlike the jolly guy making his yearly trek Dec. 24, though, this wish-maker will arrive in town on tour bus, not a reindeer-drawn sleigh.

Adding to the festivities, Aiken has again joined forces with local orchestras and choirs on each stop of the tour.

For the Poughkeepsie concert, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic will share the stage with the "Idol" season two runner-up.

"I think it's great for Clay's audience to be exposed to the Hudson valley Philharmonic and vice versa," said Chris Silva, executive director of the Bardavon 1869 Opera House (seen below), the home of the orchestra.

Following the tour, Aiken will head overseas for UNICEF goodwill appearances before starring as Sir Robin in the Broadway production of Monty Python's "Spamalot."

Between the hectic schedule of touring and now the New York City stage production, one might think Aiken longs for his home in North Carolina. The performer said this is the longest stretch he's been away that he can remember.

"It'll be my first time being away for Christmas; UNICEF doesn't take a break," he said. "I won't be back at my home for five months straight. That's a bit weird. The last night I was at my home before the tour, I was in my bed and I was like, 'This is the last night I'm going to sleep in this bed. I'm not going to see my house for five months.' "

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice job!! Thanks for this!

Anonymous said...

Great job Sean...I loved it. It's nice to see Clay get a little respect. After so many years of articles taking pot shots and snide comments, It's nice to see.

North Carolina said...

Sean, I like the way you write.

Ethan said...

I was sorry to see Clay Aiken didn't have any warming stories in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul
American Idol version. I wonder if that is because he doesn't have any warm fuzzy stories or if they just could get access to him now that he is so famous?

Jan D said...

Great article, Sean. Its great to have a journalist give such a great review. Some Clay fans were looking for your interview, so I lead them this way.

Thanks for a great week of Clay stories in your blog!!

Anonymous said...

Ethan would you think Clay does not have a story in the AI Chicken Soup For The Soul? There is a story about a girl who has a Meet & Greet with him and how when she saw his Invisible video it changed her life. I will not give the end away.

Thank you for the article Sean. Not only is Clay an amazing singer he gives so much of himself back to his fans and his charities.

Ethan said...

Oh I didn't realize there was a fan who wrote about him. I'm not very far through the book so I haven't seen that yet. Thanks for the FYI!