Whether you love or hate the reality talent show American Idol, it's a wildly popular phenomenon and second season runner-up Clay Aiken is a big part of it. The only way to truly appreciate this amazing artist is to see him live, and you catch him on his tour in support of his most recent album, 2006’s A Thousand Different Ways. Get your tickets today see Clay Aiken live in concert!
Clay Aiken was born on November 30, 1978 in Raleigh. From an early age, Aiken's family knew he had a special gift and talent. At the early age of five, Aiken performed the Dolly Parton/ Kenny Rogers classic hit, "Islands In the Stream," to a crowd at a local high school dance. At the age of seven, he was purchasing his own albums through a mail-order catalog. As a teenager, Aiken was a member of the Raleigh Boys Choir. He also acted in various musicals, including The Music Man, Oklahoma, and countless other stage plays.
Aiken dropped his music career, however, in college. He opted to be a Special Education major at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. He had hopes of eventually attending the prestigious William & Mary College in Virginia in order to attain a Master's Degree in Administration.
This all changed, however, during 2003 when Aiken was selected from 7,000 contestants as a runner-up in the Fox television show American Idol: The Search for a Super Star. While Clay Aiken lost out to Ruben Studdard by 134,400 of the 24 million votes, at times it was hard to determine who the real winner was. Shortly after the show, he was offered a record deal with RCA.
As a contestant on American Idol, Aiken tried not to discuss his personal life. In Rolling Stone magazine, however, he gave an in-depth interview concerning his childhood, life now, and ambitions. In the article, Aiken discussed life at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and talked about the Bubel/Aiken Foundation. Aiken co-founded the Bubel/Aiken Foundation as a means to provide help to individuals with autism and other physical and mental disabilities. Aiken confessed in the article that he is scared of water, loves instant grits, and bites his toenails.
More personally, he talked about his childhood. Aiken comes from a broken home. His biological father, Vernon Grissom, was an alcoholic who was physically and verbally abusive to Aiken and his mother. Grissom left Aiken and his mother when he was one year old. In the late 1990s, Aiken decided to get his last name legally changed to that of his mother's middle name. Clay admitted in his interview that he thinks of his mother's second husband, Ray Parker, as his true biological father. Sadly, Parker died in July 2002.
Clay Aiken wowed people when he released his debut single, "This Is The Night." The song was number one on the Billboard hot 100. It sold over 392,000 copies in the first week. The single beat Elton John's record of sales for his 1997 single dedicated to Princess Diana entitled "Candle in the Wind 1997."
In October 2003, Aiken released his debut album entitled The Measure of a Man. The album, which sold 613,000 copies in the first week, went to number one on the Billboard Chart Top 2000. The album's first single, "Invisible," has been a top request on the trendy MTV show, TRL. The Measure of a Man was co-produced by Simon Fuller and Clive Davis. The album features the songwriting talents of artists such as Steve Mac, Cliff Magress, Desmond Child, Steve Morales, and Rick Nowels.
In January 2004, Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson, the winner from the first season of American Idol, announced they would begin a concert tour together. The Kelly & Clay concert tour included 30 concerts around the U.S. and was one of the most popular tours of the year.
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