During the second season of “American Idol” in 2003, Clay Aiken finished second to Ruben Studdard in a vote so close that both were awarded recording contracts. Since that time, Clay has done a number of “American Idol” tours and released several chart topping albums.
Clay Aiken was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on November 30, 1978. He sang in the Raleigh Boyschoir and was in numerous choirs and musicals in Raleigh’s Leesville High School. After high school he attended Campbell University, then enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he graduated with a degree in Special Education.
Clay had musical ambitions before he entered the “American Idol” competition, releasing three demo albums. After finishing with “American Idol,” his RCA debut album, Measure of a Man was released and achieved multi-platinum status. His debut single, “This Is the Night” was number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart; his follow-up singles were “Invisible” and “Solitaire.”
After his debut album, Clay Aiken released the album Merry Christmas with Love in 2004, which achieved platinum status, then A Thousand Different Ways in 2006. His Christmas EP, All is Well was released exclusively to Walmart in 2006. He followed that with the albums On My Way Here in 2008, Tried and True in 2010, which was a filmed concert, and Steadfast in 2012.
In 2004, Clay starred in a television special, “A Clay Aiken Christmas.”
Clay Aiken has made numerous television appearances; he has been on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Jimmy Kimmel Live” show, “Live with Regis and Kelly (where he filled in for Regis), “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet,” appeared on a season of “The Apprentice,” and was a guest on “Scrubs,” “Drop Dead Diva” and “30 Rock.”
In 2008 he made his Broadway debut playing Sir Robin in Monty Python’s Spamalot.
In 2004 Clay wrote a book, Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life with Allison Glock about the people who had most influenced him in life. That same year he was named a UNICEF Ambassador. The year before he created the National Inclusion Project and in 2006 was appointed to the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
Clay Aiken has had an immensely successful career, supported by his legion of fans, known as the “Claymates.” He continues to record, tour, and appear publicly on TV and at major events.