“Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”- Albert Einstein
Much has been said lately about Clay Aiken .. what he's all about..."who" he really is ....what is true about him. I therefore thought I'd interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to bring you a quick portrait and an update...the TRUTH about Clay Aiken.
The so-called anti-fans, or haters, have created an image of who he is in their minds and in their conversations. They have helped to push this image into the public consciousness. Their "sources" are a few fans who had a bad meet and greet experience, a few individuals who tried to use Aiken's foundation to get close to him ... only he saw the hypocrisy and didn't respond to them the way they wanted, and a few fans of fellow "American Idol" contestants Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard, fans who were outraged when Aiken sold more copies of his first CD than either. What unites these three groups is the sense of vengeance and retribution that underlies their hatred. And then there is the group that will not accept any answer but that Aiken is gay, and not just simply gay but recklessly amoral. (See previous blog.)
Among the various qualities attributed to Aiken in the past week by these varied individuals:
Diva, fraud, hypocritical, internet-trolling-gay-sex-addict, pill popping, drug addicted, dying of AIDS, bloated, overweight, on the verge of a breakdown, losing his voice, crushing the dreams of dying children, not caring about his foundation, child hating, on the brink of financial ruin, comparisons to Michael Jackson and all that that implies, losing his fanbase, slovenly, irresponsible, hates his fans, asshole, talentless hack ... and more. I've probably left out a couple of things.
Yes it is totally ridiculous, over-the-top and laughable, yet that, they insist, is the TRUTH about Clay Aiken. They say they "do what they do" so the "Claymates" and the rest of the world will know the TRUTH about that screwed up, devious, evil, threat to humanity known as Clay Aiken. (You can stop laughing now.) Currently, they are encouraging people on their sites to go spam Clay's UNICEF page on Yahoo with nasty, hate-filled questions.
Then there are a few crazy and opportunistic internet glory seekers, tabloid "journalists," and gossip bloggers who, since they can't find anything legitimately bad to say about Aiken, either make something up ... or rely on "information" and "tips" passed down by those very same people I mentioned above.
What all of these people have in common is ... well, is that they don't actually KNOW Clay Aiken! They just like to think they do. Yet they still want everyone to think like they do, and hate Aiken... even if it means fabricating their "evidence" to give to the willing bloggers and tabloid journalists who are just waiting to spread the bogus information far and wide.
So .... time for a reality check. Time to hear from people who actually KNOW Aiken.. people with whom he has worked and grown up... people with whom he is associated in his charity work...fellow musicians, former teachers, representatives from UNICEF. Who will you choose to believe? Whose information rings the most true? Those who actually know him--some for years-- or those who don't? People with upstanding reputations, or faceless posters and hatemongers on the internet? Legitimate journalists or rags like the tabloids or Perez Hilton?
The TRUTH about Clay Aiken:
UNICEF representative, November 2006:
Clay is "passionate, dedicated, with an unwavering belief that all children deserve a childhood." .... "Clay is the nicest and most genuine guy...he is exactly the way you see him, very involved with UNICEF....very humble.....very highly respected...his celebrity page on UNICEF site is the most viewed of any celebrity.Continuing on, aside from the comments of fellow musicians and entertainers (like Andy Abad who says that Aiken is one of the most musically talented people he's ever worked with, and David Foster, who deeply respects him and who chose Clay to write lyrics to a beautiful new melody , and Michael Orland, who stated he's never seen another performer so generous at sharing the stage with his fellow performers, and all the myriad others who praise his talent and musicality) here are just a few quotes about the man, his values, and his commitment to charity:
The Herald-Sun (Durham) May 18, 2003
Though Aiken's appearance has changed during his "American Idol" run, those close to him say the inner-Clay -- the humble young man who would help anyone -- has remained.
Nancy Cooke, one of Aiken's professors of special education at UNC-Charlotte, where he attended before landing on "Idol," describes the person she sees on the television as the same student she has known for the past two years.
"The same qualities that I saw in him when I knew him prior [to "American Idol"] I see on 'American Idol,'" she said in a phone interview from her office. "He is a very caring and genuine person. And he's quick. He can think of things to say on the spot."
Humble is a word those around him often bring up. Cooke said he is so humble about his singing that she had no idea of his talent until he decided to go to the "Idol" auditions in Atlanta late last year.
Suzanne Lyczkowsi, 23, knows Aiken as a fellow counselor at A.E. Finley YMCA in Raleigh who would do anything for the kids he worked with.
"He was definitely one of the favorite counselors," she said in a phone interview. "If he asked them to do anything, they would do it because they just loved him."
Aiken could even get the kids do something almost unheard of -- be nice to each other.
"Every summer, with his kids he would do a gender competition with his kids," she said. "Who could be nicer to each other. ... At the end of the week he would let the kindest group duct tape him to the wall."
From a former schoolmate, Alisha Puckett, as published in The Herald
(May 20, 2003)
Clay's appearance and image have undergone an extreme makeover, but his genuine convictions to music, his faith and to helping children haven't changed since I met him in 1992.
He would tell me his singing might not take him anywhere in life, but he still enjoyed doing it for children at hospitals and for the elderly at Christmas.
The last time I talked with Clay was a couple of months before he auditioned for his big break on "American Idol 2" in Atlanta. I was the editor-in-chief of UNCC's campus newspaper, and Clay called me, begging to have a reporter cover a charity dance he was organizing; it would benefit disabled senior citizens.
Friday, May 2, 2003 4:24PM EDT
By DANNY HOOLEY, Staff Writer
His fans know him as Clay, the budding "American Idol." Around here, he's just good ol' Clayton.AP - May 10, 2003 -
Friends and family of North Raleigh native Clay (OK, Clayton) Aiken attest that to know him is to love him. And as they watch him being transformed into a national celebrity, they're finding, to their delight, that America loves him, too.
"He's a role model for a lot of kids," said Patsy Stone, who taught senior English to Aiken at Leesville Road High School in the 1996-97 school year. "He always had a positive attitude about things."
Clay Aiken Enjoys Success but Remembers Kids
By TOM FOREMAN Jr.
Associated Press Writer
"From what I've seen, his attitude is any way he can help children will make him that much happier," said Jeff Flake, a supervisor of after-school programs at the Finley Y who has known Aiken for seven years.
"I see him on stage, that's awesome," Flake said. "But when can we duct-tape you to the wall again? That was more fun that seeing you on American Idol."
Aiken said his affection for helping kids may stem from his own Peter Pan-like qualities.
"It's just the way I think. It's just the way I act," he said. "I relate to them better because I probably think more like a kid than I do like an adult. I probably act more like a kid than I do an adult."
Suzanne Lyczkowski, who runs the YMCA's after-school program, said she doesn't see Aiken losing his desire for working with kids despite his emerging fame.
"As much as he loves singing, he really loves his kids. I've seen him get so proud of them for doing things."
Among those at last week's gathering was one of Aiken's former campers, Robert Nelson, a 9-year-old third-grader who's temporarily confined to a wheelchair. He fell from playground equipment at his school last month and suffered a gash in his right leg that went down to the bone.
Some of Aiken's friends at the Y called to let him know of Robert's injury.
"I was expecting maybe a signed get-well wish from him or something," said Robert's mother, Robin.
Several days after Robert was hurt, Aiken called from California.
"My husband took the phone call and was floored himself," Nelson said. "I was thrilled. It was great for Robert. He was grinning from ear-to-ear."
Aiken, who was special education major at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte before his appearances on "American Idol," has a special desire to help autistic children. "I think that's where my heart is, really," Aiken said.
During his visit Thursday with Gov. Mike Easley, one of his autistic campers asked for an autograph for an "American Idol" CD featuring Aiken and other contestants. Aiken signed it, and got a high-five from the boy.
"I have witnessed him take a child with autism who couldn't communicate, and by the end of the school year, with Clayton just talking to her and working with her with cue cards and picture cards, that child could say a handful of words," Flake said.
"When the parents of those types of kids would come in and see the progress that they were making, they would just be in tears and hugging him so much because of his dedication to those kids."
By mentioning the YMCA during his performances, Lyczkowski said, Aiken has helped raise $2,000 for a campaign designed to provide camp scholarships to underprivileged children or families with financial difficulties. The money has come from around the nation, thanks to a Web site that she's designed.
"There have been so many people who have supported the Y simply because they've heard my name associated with it, and that's humbling," Aiken said.
Charlotte Observer - Apr. 3, 2003
Idol' finalist from N.C. was boy's aide
he Shinn family has firsthand experience with one of the qualities
that Aiken's many fans have found so endearing about him: His
commitment to working with disabled youth. He put off his final
semester's requirement for a special-education degree at UNC
Charlotte when he made the finals of the competition, which will
award a record contract to the winner in May.
In 2000-'01, Aiken spent nearly a year working as an aide to Mimi
Shinn's teenage son, Nicolas, who is autistic and suffers from a
disability known as Fragile X syndrome. In her mind, nobody but Aiken
should wear the show's "American Idol" crown. "I just cannot think of
a more deserving person," Shinn said Tuesday as she and her
daughters, Maya, 22, and Rhiannon, 14, readied to watch the show's
he Shinns remember him as the bespectacled redhead he was before a
makeover on the show gave him tinted hair and contact lenses. His
charm showed through from the first time he knocked on their door,
they said. "There is something about Clayton -- he just walks into a
room and fills up the room," Shinn said.
Aiken has worked with other families as a student -- on the Fox Web
site, he cites a 13-year-old he worked with before he left to pursue
the show. "I'm sure all of them love him. That's the way he is,"
Added Maya Shinn: "He was like another family member ... He's
definitely the kind of person you can always count on, no matter
Charlotte Observer - Apr. 8, 2003
The Dirt on Clay
We dig for any sticky matter in 'American Idol' finalist's past
By MATT EHLERS, Staff Writer
....we checked with the folks at news Web site www.*****************. The site has routinely broken sordid and criminal stories about "American Idol" and other reality-show contestants.......
Were they holding back, unwilling to share any tidbits? We couldn't be sure. So we scooted over to the A.E. Finley YMCA in North Raleigh, where Clay has worked with summer and after-school programs.
But instead of dishing the goods, Clay's co-workers flashed disbelieving looks and then smiles at any mention that he might have a skeleton tucked away somewhere.
"What you see is what you get with Clay Aiken," said youth administrator Becky England. "When Clay sings, his heart, his religion, the total package of who Clay is, comes through. His belief in God is really a big part of who he is."
We had to admit the guy just doesn't sound like a criminal -- he works with kids at the Y.
But is that all there really is?
Then friend and co-worker Suzanne Lyczkowski told us a story.
Clay once told a Y group that they were going out to tour a prison. They ended up at the roller rink instead. "That's the worst dirt I've got on him."
Ah-ha! Clay can be a prankster.
OK. It was time to get tough. We asked straight out: Mrs. Parker, has your son ever been in trouble with the law?
"He may have had a speeding ticket once," she said with a chuckle, "but that's it."
Sure enough, a North Carolina criminal background check reveals nothing. But there's a blemish a little farther down in his driving history.
A nice lady at the Johnston County courthouse spilled some particulars: Clay got nabbed for speeding there in 1998. She couldn't say how fast he was going, but she did know this: He dutifully paid a $25 penalty and $80 in court costs.
Case closed. It looks as if, although some "Idols" have records, Clay only wants to make one.
Biblical Recorder - Apr. 18, 2003 -
Raleigh church cheers for 'Idol' contestant
By Steve DeVane
BR Managing Editor
(Roger Shuford, the church's pastor) said Aiken was singing at the church since he was a little boy. He was singing every few months before he became a contestant on American Idol. Aiken is a student at UNC-Charlotte.
"He just amazes us all," Shuford said.
"It's amazing to watch him," Shuford said. "When he feels a song you can see it all
over his face.
"He's an awesome young man."
March 6, 2003
'American Idol' Displays Feat of Clay
STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN
Back at UNCC, his professors had no idea that their student had a singing ambition. Now they're solidly behind him, ready to cheer his performances each week -- and stuff the ballot box with phoned-in votes.
"We've been so excited for him -- he's such a nice young man, so genuine," said Wendy Wood, Aiken's faculty adviser.
Charlotte Observer - Mar. 20, 2003 -
Even snide Simon calls Aiken the one to beat
If he ends up pursuing a musical career, Parker said her son still plans to devote efforts to special education children -- perhaps by forming a foundation. If the record contract doesn't pan out, his professors at UNCC say they eagerly await his return.The Charlotte Observer
"We see in Clay's wonderful performances some of the qualities we associate with great teachers: a strong sense of self, the ability to connect with other people, and the capacity to tell a powerful story well," said Mary Lynne Calhoun, the dean of the college of education.
March 23, 2003
"Clay's creativity and ability to motivate others was evident as a student, and these traits shine through on stage," said Aiken's professor Cheryl Young.
It seems to me that these testimonials from people who actually KNOW the man that Clay Aiken is carry far more weight than the delusions, falsehoods, hatred, and fabrications of those who do not, but still choose, for some unfathomable reason, to make him the scapegoat of their negative emotions.
There are many, many more statements that reflect the same sentiments I've illustrated above, but it would take far more time to copy them, and space to include them, than I have available...for Aiken has many friends and many who respect him....because they DO know him.
The real Clay Aiken is a man of honor and substance, a philanthropic man who gives time and energy to causes benefitting those less fortunate than he. He is a true friend to those who know him. ABOVE ALL, he is a man of faith, trusting God to reveal his path and accepting His plan for him. Right now that path includes being targeted by a few people with hollow souls. Truth .. the real truth... WILL eventually prevail, however. Of that I have no doubt.
Picture by Butterflyshine
Be sure to tune in to GMA on Thursday morning, February 1, to find out more about the REAL Clay Aiken.
Technorati Tags: Clay Aiken, UNICEF, Perez Hilton, Claymates, Haters, American Idol, autism