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Author Topic: AIKEN NEWS NETWORK JULY 30  (Read 1086 times)
ANN News Team
Posts: 2,085

« on: July 30, 2009, 12:28:22 AM »

For your morning pleasure, from the annals of Clay...a few
[Once I learn where to 'lift' Clay's daily horoscope, I'll bring that to you all, too when it's my turn to open the daily members, if you feel inclined, please add...:-)...and thanks!!]

Clay Aiken: The Star Factor

by Rosanne Simunovic -- 06/09/2003

Are singers born with the elusive "star factor" or are such stars created by record companies and image-makers? Rosanne takes a look at Clay Aiken, who just a few months ago was a teacher known only to those around him, to see the "star factor" at work.

During the course of my career as a voice coach and conductor, I have encountered exceptional young vocal talent. Many have the essential attributes that would plausibly contribute to their success in the arts. However, for some intangible reason, that elusive"star factor" - the quality that sets the most exceptional and unique artists apart from the rest of their peers - is not readily apparent in many of these singers. Yes, they perform well - oftentimes with stellar vocal quality and stage presence - yet, it just isn't quite enough to "put them over the top."

Are certain performers born with this mysterious star quality or can it be manufactured or acquired through proper training and guidance? In other words, is genetic destiny a key factor here? For example, one of my most gifted students, Patricia O'Callaghan - a star waiting to be discovered when she walked into my studio at the age of 16 years - has received international acclaim over the past three years and has been singled out by Billboard Magazine as "the foremost cabaret star of her generation." The star factor was always there - it was the discovery on a global level that took time, patience, and perseverance. One would argue, then, that Patricia's determination and resolve played an important part in her success. Likewise, by the time the general public became aware of Celine Dion or Billy Joel or Barbra Streisand, they were bona fide superstars and had struggled for years and years before their names became household words. So, of course, one could assume that their hard work, talent, and charisma, nurtured over time, would result in their success in the entertainment world. Stars are created, not born, correct?

The answer can be found in two words - Clay Aiken. Just six months ago, Clay Aiken was carrying on his admirable work teaching autistic children in Raleigh, North Carolina. He scarcely looked beyond his chosen career as a Special Education teacher. Yes, he had gained excellent musical experience through his participation in his high school choir, but, according to all news sources, this was the extent of his musical training. Then, a mother of one of his students encouraged him to audition for American Idol Season 2. He was hesitant at first, but through this parent's encouragement, he agreed to give it a try.

After being rejected at the Regional competition, Clay tenaciously journeyed to Atlanta and tried again. After completing the preliminary rounds, he confidently performed for Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, who, thankfully, saw that something special, that spark, that star quality - despite the fact that his "image" was not correct according to today's standards. Of course, the rest is history. Within six months, Clay was a superstar. Yet, in order to achieve this status, this young man had to perform live and flawlessly each week before millions of viewers. The transformation of Clay Aiken, teacher, to Clay Aiken, superstar, is, in my opinion, nothing short of spectacular.

Yes, American Idol spiffed him up and transformed him - but the other contestants - including our AI 2 winner Ruben Studdard, who I absolutely adore - were treated in the same manner and yet, Clay, almost instantaneously, emerged as a superstar. It really is a phenomenal music success story that confirms the basic fact that true stars are born, not manufactured. His talent, his persona, his charisma were not created from technologically-enhanced music videos, glitzy sound recordings, or management hype, but from a more reality based platform that American Idol and its parent Pop Idol have formulated. Superior talent, spark, and that elusive star quality all played a part of Clay Aiken's destiny 24 years ago and today it has come to fruition. How else can you explain the fact that, as of this writing, Clay's new CD has been sitting at #1 on for over three weeks - outselling every major artist.

Yesterday, he was a talented, nurturing Special Education teacher, unaware of the depth of his outstanding vocal abilities and charisma. Today he joins the ranks of our true stars - like Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Celine Dion, and so many others - who embrace excellence first and everything else second and set the standard for future performers to follow. Let's hope that 19 Management, RCA, and all the "powers that be" that are now involved with Clay's career really take advantage and market this young man judiciously and astutely. Also, let us hope that the American Idol team and the producers of the highly anticipated Canadian Idol show never lose sight of their mission to celebrate and value excellence and unique star potential in our future Idol finalists.

Clive Demise


But is he still gonna have his Grammy party?


And sooner or later
Everybody’s kingdom must end
And I’m so afraid your courtiers
Cannot be called best friends

I don’t know who signed Elton John to MCA, whether we ultimately should give Dick James credit for starting his legendary career, but someone in an inept organization whose label name was essentially unknown in the U.S. was savvy enough to realize Reg Dwight had talent, in spades.  He came with his own co-writer, a producer and an arranger.  The label didn’t meddle, they just sat back and collected the cash.  Sure, Norm Winter deserves credit for breaking Elton in America, but do you really think he wouldn’t have made it anyway?  Have you listened to "Your Song"?

This is how it was at the turn of the decade.  From the sixties to the seventies.  Labels signed talent and then got out of the way.  The record company was not much more than a marketing and distribution outlet.  Clive Davis says he was a player in this era too, signing Janis Joplin, Santana and making Laura Nyro a star, he takes all the credit.  Then how come he never signed anyone close in talent since?

Maybe Patti Smith was just the buzz.  For Clive never signed anything so edgy, so innately talented after her.  And let’s not forget, Patti was a poet.  It was easy to listen to her music and dismiss it.  Which most of America did until she covered one of Bruce Springsteen’s songs.

After Patti came a succession of established acts who bitched until they could leave, like Lou Reed, and MOR acts so bland as to be almost faceless, if they weren’t sold on their features.

In retrospect, Barry Manilow looks like a giant.  He came at the beginning, before Clive had refined his paradigm.  Barry could actually write, even if his initial hit was a cover.  A song that Clive changed the title of from "Brandy" to "Mandy".  And with that stroke, Clive Davis anointed himself a creative genius, bigger than any act.  Clive Davis was suddenly the talent.  He made you, and killed you if you didn’t play along.  What resulted was a trail of pop hits almost all of which have been completely forgotten.

But in an era when MTV could explode your career and AOR was dying, replaced by Top Forty on FM, suddenly, there was money in pop hits.  Or maybe not money, but noticeability!  You could trot out chart statistics, which got you ink and TV exposure.  All those acts on Warner looked like has-beens in comparison.  Didn’t matter that by the fourth quarter Mo had the sales, and the profits.  Mo got squeezed out, but not before Donnie Ienner, Clive’s promotion  man, had taken over at Columbia and Charles Koppelman, who idolized Clive, ran the EMI empire in the U.S.  Suddenly, the whole business had been rebuilt in Clive’s image.

Propped up by MTV and CD sales.  Both of which declined at the turn of the century.  When suddenly music was free and your only hope was to maximize the revenue of a career artist.  One whose catalog would pay dividends for decades, unlike any of Clive’s proteges.

They tried to squeeze Clive out.  But he was too smart and too wily.  He got his own label, he got revenge.

But they weren’t only squeezing him out because he was aged, but because all those chart statistics didn’t flow to the bottom line.  Sales were good, but profits were often abysmal.  Some might say the operation was all flash, and no substance.

But Clive hadn’t lost his starmaking ability.  He built me-too act Alicia Keys on the back of a James Brown rip-off and regained his power, not only in the eye of the media, which he worked so well, but the BMG operation.  Many felt he was poised to gobble up Sony Music.  That would be his ultimate triumph, to rule Columbia and Epic once again.  Alas, it’s not to be.

Like in the old days, the first time around, when Clive lost his job in the seventies, the person who pulled the trigger was essentially anonymous.  How could some nameless, faceless person kill God?  Well, Clive just acted like God.  In truth, he was just another employee.  Simon Cowell might be God.

Simons Cowell and Fuller built a juggernaut. They’d make the star, all that would be left would be to fit the two-dimensional figure with material.  That’s where Clive came in, after being initially reluctant.  And just after pronouncing that acts shouldn’t bother to write, he got blown out.

Because it is show business.  But it’s the kernel of art that makes it all work.  The one genius, the one Bruce Springsteen, energizes everybody about music, it brings people into the stores, generates sales.  Lose the true stars, who write and play or sing from the heart as opposed to being manipulated by handlers, and you’ve got a headless, heartless corpse.  Otherwise known as today’s music business.  There are people with statistics, like Mariah Carey, but they don’t make you pay attention, at least not to their music.  They can be denied.  Like all of Clive’s post-’75, Arista era on, productions.

Barry Weiss is sharp.  But not as sharp as Clive Calder, who came up in the business with the best producer alive today, Mutt Lange.  Clive was a scientist, who specialized in getting the elixir right, all at a cheap price.  Barry knows cheap in an era when you must look at all expenses, but he’s more of a traffic cop than a deity.


Clive had a long run.  He eluded mandatory retirement.  He got away with never anointing a successor.  But no one lives forever.  He should be able to sleep well at night.  But he won’t.  Because of the legacy factor.

Without millions at his disposal, without being able to spin (buy?) the press, Clive will fade out.  It’s not like Clive Davis records will be spun on oldies stations…  Hell, does anybody other than an insider talk about David Geffen’s tenure in the record business anymore?

No.  But if one does, and focuses on the early period, one can see that Mr. Geffen used his charm on his acts, not the press.  He found the best acts, made sure they knew he was on their side, and fought for them, stuck with them, made them stars.  Geffen made Joni Mitchell.  And Jackson Browne.  He built the aforementioned Laura Nyro.  He gave the Eagles a deal.  If you want a model, go back to that era, before King David got sick of the talent and decided to become the talent himself.  An investor, a studio head, a billionaire.

Yes, in reality shepherds of talent are unsung heroes.  If you doubt me, go backstage.  The hoi polloi don’t want to hang with the manager or the label head, they want to touch the star.  They’ll sacrifice their bodies, anything to get closer to the person whose music changed their lives.  Back when music changed lives, before big time musical acts were known more for their celebrity antics.  It’s a rewarding job midwifing talent.  One that oftentimes comes with riches.  But it’s sans the spotlight.  All the great record men stood out of the spotlight.  From John Hammond to Mo Ostin.  Hell, how much publicity does Coran Capshaw get?  These people realize that it’s about the act.  With Clive Davis it ceased to be about the act.

Is Kelly Clarkson happy today?  Elated, I’d think.  The roadblock is gone.  Maybe she’s only a mildly talented songwriter, but now she can do it her way.  Every artist wants to do it his way.  It was Clive who stood against this.  Clive who refused to release records.  The enemy is now gone.


The major labels have lost their luster.  By wanting to reside in the twentieth century, by playing by old rules.  By wanting instant success, instant riches, at a high price to the consumer.  But that era is never coming back.

Today we’re closing the door on the twentieth century.  Today we’re drawing a line in the sand, that acts last, not executives.  The future of this business will be based on artistry.  The music will come before commerce.  It has to.  The old tricks of scarcity and publicity used to drive the old moguls’ priorities no longer work in the new world.  There will be a new set of moguls.  Who know this.  No one from the old world has evidenced an ability to adapt.

Richard Sanders is not ascending to the throne.  But, at least, unlike Charles Goldstuck, he didn’t get completely blown out.  Like that old Blondie record, Charles Goldstuck is going to fade away, but he’s not going to radiate.  He doesn’t bring enough to the party.  He was the sycophant to a deposed king.

But now there’s a new king.  Nobody lives forever.  Every reign comes to an end.

The king is dead, the king is dead
The king is dead, the king is dead
Long live the king

"The King Is Dead"
Elton John


Clay's jois de vivre gladdens my heart;
his spiritual consciousness and musical gifts bring  harmony to my soul.

What is beautiful is a joy for all seasons...

Life is a Song ~ Love is the Music
ANN News Team
Posts: 2,085

« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2009, 12:29:59 AM »

What I Know about Clay Aiken

by Terrie Rosas (2006/03/12)

Three years ago this week, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can scarcely forget what a tumultuous year 2003 was for me and my family. In addition to the constant stress of life-threatening illness and harsh medical treatment, I had to deal with upheaval at home and at work. Then my only sister died unexpectedly. For years she served as caregiver for our oldest brother, who has been handicapped since birth. Within two weeks of her passing, we moved from the cozy home we owned into a larger rental to accommodate my brother and his service dog whom my husband had to relocate immediately from Florida.

When I reminisce about 2003, I tend to focus on my many blessings. The final visit I had with my sister that summer which healed longstanding rifts between us. My amazing husband Luis, who held my hand through every chemotherapy infusion and dispelled my vain fears after disfiguring surgery. My son’s silent strength and newfound maturity as he watched over me anxiously. Remarkable friends who lifted my spirits and prayed for my recovery. And the charming stranger who made a challenging year seem magical.

I will probably never meet Clay Aiken, so I have to thank him publicly. Here.

When he first appeared on our television screen during the 2003 auditions, Clay sang a few memorable a cappella notes of Always and Forever and my husband said, “There’s the next American idol.” His look and sound were new to the competition, unlike any of the season one contestants. After his masterful performance of Superstar, I became a Ruben Studdard fan. But Luis and I were both discouraged when Clay initially failed to advance to the final round.

Three years ago this week, Clay was the viewers' wild card selection and began his domination of American Idol. He captivated us right away with his undeniable vocal talent. However, his engaging individuality and artistic growth are what made him and the second season so phenomenal. As we got hooked on Clay’s personal metamorphosis from week to week, American Idol was transformed into something more extraordinary than the crass star-making machine it really is. Like a classic drama, there was the villain, Simon Cowell, versus the underdog, Clay. Whenever the judges openly favored Ruben while nitpicking him, Clay would apply their criticism to improve his next performance and come back for more. No matter how many limitations the show’s format and crew would impose on Clay, he transcended all of them.

When I was admitted to the hospital for cancer surgery on the morning of Monday, May 5, I told my medical team that they better get me home in time for Tuesday’s broadcast of American Idol. The next evening I was back in my living room, rooting for Clay. For two nights every week, my family was transported to a parallel universe where we completely forgot our earthly burdens. Reality TV became our escape-from-reality TV.

After an anticlimactic finish to a close contest that was overshadowed and rendered irrelevant by its celebrated loser, we spent a few months watching Clay’s American Idol video clips online until Measure of a Man was released. We snapped up the album and quickly replaced our first copy when the CD player ate it. The songs were strong and well written. Regrettably, on too many cuts, the heavy-handed mix muted his powerful vocals.

Radio essentially ignored Clay. The music industry didn’t understand his appeal or how to exploit it. American Idol moved on but without the Aiken magic.

In 2004 we purchased Merry Christmas with Love. We will buy his next recording, too, and hope for a better showcase for his talents.

I think Clay would make the perfect judge on American Idol. He knows the show, the process and the industry. He would be articulate and constructive, a combination missing from the panel. Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest were never more likable than when interacting with Clay in season two. I don’t know if Clay or the AI team would ever seriously consider my suggestion, but now is probably not the right time.

Recently Clay has been the object of tabloid allegations and lurid speculation. Barring criminal behavior, Luis and I don’t care to know about the most private aspects of anybody else’s life – ever. Clay’s attraction for me was never romantic or sexual. However, to countless other female fans, Clay has been the embodiment of a softer, sweeter masculine ideal. I figure many see Clay as the non-threatening boy-next-door type they regret bypassing in favor of the bad boys they couldn’t resist. But what do I know.

Well, I know what I know and what I don’t know. I know that Clay owes his success thus far to his large, devoted fan base who collectively created an industry niche for him. Like most entertainers, he is always vulnerable to fan expectations and gossip because the commodity he is selling is himself.

Clay is a singer of other people’s songs. He doesn’t write, play or produce music. His recordings are only as good as the production team in control of them. The quality of the production team depends on Clay’s position in the industry to command higher quality. Clay’s position in the industry depends on his loyal fan base purchasing his recordings.

Here is something important that I know about Clay Aiken. He has a very special talent for entertaining. The world needs entertainers who can make us forget our troubles. I don’t know how Clay conducts his private life, but I do know that his public life has been admirable. He uses his microphone and his spotlight to help children in need all over the globe.

I also know that those who publicize and spread these allegations have contempt for Clay and his fans. Those who want to believe that “outing” is somehow noble are fooling themselves – it is intentionally destructive, malicious and selective. They specifically target popular icons who are Christian and/or have Christian followers. The outers’ faith is the cynical belief that all Christians are intolerant hypocrites. In this case, they are trying to shake up and shake loose so-called “conservative Christians” who support Clay.

Let me tell you about one conservative Christian fan of Clay Aiken: me. I am very political and politically conservative. When Clay began to move in political circles after leaving American Idol, I noticed they were on the opposite side of the spectrum from my deeply held views. So what! As a conservative, my shelves and my soul would be pretty bare if I boycotted artists, performers and writers who disagree with me politically.

Clay is tangled in a “catch 22” not necessarily of his own making. His fan base includes many heterosexual women who began to fantasize about him from his earliest appearances on American Idol when he was just being his gawky, adorable self. Without any obvious manipulation on his part, the fan base multiplied faster than the most aggressive cancer and carried him triumphantly to impressive sales success. Ever since, Clay has been on a rarified pedestal where no mortal can remain happily or permanently. Inevitably, Clay would do something – get married or whatever – to disappoint the unrealistic expectations of some fans and imperil his career, which is so dependent on fan support.

Clay knows the facts regarding these allegations and so far he is not really responding to them. I do not know the facts and am not making any assumptions. Speaking strictly for me, I don’t need any explanations from Clay. I understand that other fans may feel differently.

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that Clay is gay. How would that diminish his genuine talent? The audience saw the real Clay Aiken blossom on TV week after magical week and many of us were enchanted. I know that much was true. His gift to entertain was an unexpected joy during the hardest year of my life.

Is there any monolithic Christian reaction to these allegations? Of course not and once again I can speak only for myself. I will never forget a news segment I saw in the mid-1980s. A small town pastor was interviewed about his controversial ministering to AIDS patients, to which some in his congregation objected. The reporter asked him, “How do you answer those who say that AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuals?”

The pastor replied gently, “Maybe AIDS is God’s test for Christians.”

Maybe this is a test for Clay’s fans, Christian and otherwise.

Clay's jois de vivre gladdens my heart;
his spiritual consciousness and musical gifts bring  harmony to my soul.

What is beautiful is a joy for all seasons...

Life is a Song ~ Love is the Music
Posts: 3,492

The way you make me feel

« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2009, 06:36:20 PM »

Johanna - thanks so much for brings these articles over.  I had never read any of them and they are great.

"For me he's not a hobby, he's not an obsession, he's a joy, something that makes me happy..."      ~cc777

I couldn't have said it better myself
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