Clay Aiken, in Atlanta to tape some pledge drops for Georgia Public Broadcasting Tuesday, gave me a few minutes to talk about his career and answer some fan questions.
Aiken, who came out with an album of standards in June called “Tried and True,” is also prepping for his one-month concert tour with Ruben Studdard that kicks off in Asheville, N.C. Friday. He said the two will be on stage the entire time and do a “Sonny and Cher” type variety show. He didn’t want to reveal what he was going to sing but it’d be fair to say he’ll definitely do a few from his most recent album.
The show’s first leg does not come to Atlanta but he hopes to include the city, presuming a second leg is in the offing in the fall.
The focus on standards, he said, wasn’t a deliberate effort to re-brand himself away from pop. It’s simply something he likes to do and is comfortable with. In other words, he is working the Michael Buble/Harry Connick Jr. route, a perfect venue for public broadcasting. He played his album at a concert in Raleigh that will air on Georgia Public Broadcasting August 1.
During the interview, he was friendly though he did say at one point (with mild annoyance) that a lot of the questions I received from fans sounded like questions he’s already answered relatively recently.
I asked one token “Idol” question about Simon Cowell leaving. He thinks it will hurt the show but won’t necessarily kill it. He said he can’t really stand watching the show anymore and hasn’t done so regularly since season five. He says it’s gotten a bit too glossy compared to the early days. Last season, the only segment he watched was when Ruben showed up.
And when I asked if he feels any different since he came out publicly, he cagily answered: “I think that’s relatively short sighted to assume I wasn’t out before… Nothing has changed.”
I had joked that this was my Barbara Walters question, but it was clear I couldn’t put him to tears. “I think I’d put you to tears before you put me to tears,” he responded and laughed.
Here’s the interview in two parts: