American Idol’ Runner-Up Clay Aiken

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on January 11, 2004

I would like to know about Clay Aiken, who came in second on American Idol. What are his hopes and dreams and his outlook on his career? Does he have a special someone?

—Georgia C., New York

The only special someone in his life right now is his mom, Faye Parker, Clay Aiken says with a laugh. The Raleigh, N.C., native parlayed his second-place finish on the Fox contest into a recording contract with RCA. His first single, This Is the Night, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, while Measure of a Man, his debut album, appeared at the top of the album charts its first week of release. Aiken, 24, says all the songs are original and describes the album as a mix of pop, rock and soul. “I don’t have any specific plans right now,” Aiken says of his career, adding that he is taking advantage of the opportunities that arose from American Idol. “I’m letting God decide what happens and hoping I’m happy with it.” He plans to continue promoting his album. “It’s been something,” the special education major at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte says of his unexpected fame. And, he adds, it still takes some getting used to that he’s unable to go to the grocery store without being recognized. Aiken, who was a camp counselor at the YMCA in Raleigh and later filled in for a teacher in a class with autistic students, says he loved the work because each child was like “a puzzle” and it was “really exciting to go in and work with individuals finding themselves.” Last summer, he set up the Bubel-Aiken Foundation to benefit children with mental disabilities.