Singer Clay Aiken was the runner-up in this past year's American Idol television talent show contest. Even though he came in second, Clay impressed a national audience and several record companies with his expressive voice. Signing a contract with RCA Records, Clay has released his debut album, Measure of A Man, which has just debuted at Number One.
When Clay Aiken's single, This Is The Night was released earlier this year, it sold more than 400,000 copies in its first week. Clay says, "It's the song that tells the story of where I came from and the process that I went through in order to get here." This Is The Night appears as a bonus cut on his new album Measure of A Man.
The good-looking, 24-year-old crooner from Raleigh, North Carolina, remains humble about the changes in his life that came with competing on American Idol.
"I'm really not that special. I was on a big TV show, but it was just a TV show," he says.
According to Clay Aiken, all of the contestants on the show approached their experience like basic training or "boot camp" for aspiring performers. "It prepared us for so much," he says. "It prepared us for the press thing and the recording studio, because we recorded every song we sang on the show. It prepared us for the camera and the audience, for the stage and for critiques, too. It was really one of the best schools for this type of thing that you could possibly go through."
As Clay explains, the title track on his album has a powerful message. "It's about what is important when somebody loves you," he says. "Do you need gifts from them? When all the gifts are gone, and they say they love you, isn't that enough? And that's how you should measure a man."
Clay Aiken's performances on American Idol gained him an instant fan base. With the release of his new CD, Measure of A Man, that loyal collection of fans, known as The Claymates, has been holding album parties all over the U.S. Clay even invited 800 of them to join him in a video shoot at an outdoor shopping mall in Hollywood. The singer says he faces daily struggles with his new life as a pop star. "It's a pain in the rear end," he says, "I don't own my schedule, my name, my picture. I don't own me very much." One of the benefits of his instant celebrity, however, was to be able to establish the Bubel-Aiken Foundation to help people with physical and mental disabilities. He named part of the organization after Diane Bubel, a close friend who encouraged him to audition for American Idol. In its first week of release, Clay's album Measure of A Man sold more than 600,000 copies. He's the second American Idol winner to top the album charts. Kelly Clarkson, who won the first series, debuted at Number One with her album Thankful. The man who beat Clay in this year's competition, Ruben Studdard, will release his debut album in the next few weeks.
Clay has been featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and is set to perform at the American Music Awards on November 16 and at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on November 27.