Clay Aiken Set to Play PlayhouseSquare, 2/19
As American Idol runner-up on the 2003 Idol season, Clay Aiken appears to have emerged the career winner. Standing room-only concerts, an extended run on Broadway starring in Spamalot, an autobiography at #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, five albums selling millions of copies and an avid international fan club of "Claymates," all integrated with intense charity involvement have kept Clay firmly in the spotlight.
Now, following in the wake of a critically acclaimed tour with fellow American Idol alum, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken is treating his fans to another solo tour...the Tried and True Tour, which highlights his current album of the same title. PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre on February 19th is one of the 20-city stages that will welcome the Raleigh, NC native. The 7:30 pm concert will be Clay's third PlayhouseSquare appearance. A "Tried & True Live!" DVD capturing Clay's first PBS concert special, has been airing across the country and locally on ideastream's WVIZ-PBS-TV. The DVD showcases the singer's performance in his hometown of Raleigh, NC, plus exclusive material not seen on PBS and a bonus EPK on the making of his latest CD, Tried & True. The CD made an impressive debut in the Top 10 of Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart. Considered the record Aiken was always meant to record, it is comprised of songs from the '50s and '60s that are Clay's personal favorites, and ones he grew up listening to. Clay will continue to perform these standards on the national "Tried & True" tour.
An unlikely pop star, Aiken has remained steadfast in his desire to remain true to the simple values he learned as a child in Raleigh, North Carolina. "I still live in the town where I grew up," he says. "I like surrounding myself with people I know and love." It is this authenticity that his millions of fans have responded to, an almost supernatural earnestness that feels unconventional in the cynical world today.
While the accolades that followed his stunningly close second-place finish on the second season of American Idol have validated him in ways that he could never have dreamed of when was a teacher working with autistic children back in his home state of North Carolina, it is the charitable work that his music career has enabled him to do that gives him satisfaction.
The singer created the Bubel/Aiken Foundation in 2003, an organization that promotes and funds educational and recreational programs for children with special needs. "I worked with Mike Bubel, who has autism, when I was going to school at UNCC," says Aiken. "His moter was very instrumental in encouraging me to get into the entertainment business." The Foundation remains close to the singers heart at all times. "My music career has allowed me to do the same thing I was doing before - work with kids with disabilities," he says. "It has given me a big stage to talk about the same things I always cared about. I don't get to be as hands-on with the kids anymore, but I do get to work toward enacting change on a much grander scale."
Also important to Aiken's life as a humanitarian is his work as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. In April 2007 he travelled to Afghanistan and then launched the "$100,000 in 10 Days" campaign to support UNICEF lifesaving missions in that country. In the past couple of years, he's also traveled to Uganda to witness the phenomenon of "night commuters", children who trek from the countryside into slightly more secure towns to avoid being abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
And three months after the tsunami in South Asian, Clay participated in UNICEF programs that helped children reconnect with their families and provide care for orphans. He's also testified before Congress on UNICEF's behalf, supported relief work in Lebanon and served as national spokesman for UNICEF's annual Trick or Treat fundraising campaign in 2005 which, for the first time, saw the organization help U.S. citizens when half of those funds benefited victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Tickets for Clay Aiken's February 19th concert at 7:30 pm at PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre are $75, $55, $45, and both $20 & $10 Smart Seats, on sale at playhousesquare.org, 216-241-6000 and at The PlayhouseSquare Ticket Office.