Christmas can be a stressful time of year. But Clay Aiken has figured out how to take some of the anxiety out of his third annual holiday tour.
“We don’t have the dancers and actors and all that other stuff to deal with like we did last year,” says the second season “American Idol” runner-up, whose 2003 debut “Measure of the Man” holds the record for the best fi rst-week sales by one of the show’s contestants.
“This year it’s strictly music.”
Of course the music, played by an orchestra, has its own issues for Aiken.
“It always amazes me how professional and how smart these folks are,” says Aiken, 28. “I sing, but I don’t know how to read music or do any of that stuff, and I’m standing up there feeling stupid. We’ll do rehearsals in the afternoon and they’ll be, ‘We’re gonna pick it up from 34 at the major seventh,’ and I’m, ‘Huh? What does that mean? What word do I start on?’
“We’ve gotten to where we do the word of the night every night, so I can start to learn this fancy eye-talian they use when they’re doing music.”
The North Carolina native released his third album in September, the covers-heavy “A Thousand Different Ways,” which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. But he’s holding off until next year to tour in support of the album, preferring instead to do the Christmas show.
“Obviously I have a good time with the other tours,” he explains, “but there’s such a different vibe this time of year. It’s just a warm kind of atmosphere, and I feel like these shows help kick off the Christmas season for people. That’s kind of neat for me.”
Not quite as pleasant, however, was Aiken’s recent bit of controversy during a guest-hosting stint on TV’s “Live With Regis & Kelly.” Aiken caused a stir on Nov. 17 when he put his hand over Kelly Ripa’s mouth to prevent her from talking over him while the two were interviewing some guests. Ripa responded with, “Oh, that’s a no-no. I don’t know where your hands have been,” and was promptly attacked by “The View” co-host Rosie O’Donnell for making a homophobic remark.
Aiken figures that “it should have been over the next day” but says he’s still having a laugh about all the fuss.
“My response is always I had no idea I was that big a celebrity,” says Aiken, who makes a cameo on the Dec. 26 episode of the daytime TV drama “The Days of Our Lives.” “I mean ... who would’ve thought that me doing something silly like that, putting my hands on somebody’s mouth, would’ve caused a national uproar? I just think it’s funny.”
“A Clay Aiken Christmas” with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra takes place at 8 p.m. Monday (December 18th) at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are from $41.50 to $128.50. Call (313) 576-5111 or visit www. detroitsymphony.com.
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