October of 2003 Aiken released his first solo album, titled Measure
of a Man, which debuted at #1 in the Billboard 200 and was the
fastest-selling debut for a solo artist in 10 years. The album
eventually went triple platinum, and spawned the hit single "Invisible."
The album also contained Aiken's first hit song, "This Is
the Night," which had debuted at #1 on both the Billboard
Hot 100 and the Hot 100 Single Sales Chart. Later that year Aiken
won the Fan's Choice Award at the American Music Awards ceremony,
and his CD single "This Is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled
Water" won the Billboard award for the Best-Selling Single
of the Year.
Aken also appeared in numerous specials during the winter of 2003,
including Disney's Christmas Day Parade and The Nick At Nite Holiday
Special, where he sang a duet with Bing Crosby via special effects.
The song was "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth", which
was originally sung by Crosby and David Bowie on a 1977 Christmas
From February to April 2004, Aiken embarked on the "Independent
Tour" with Kelly Clarkson, winner of the first American Idol
contest. He was also scheduled for a few summer tour dates, but
high demand ultimately led to the booking of over 50 dates across
the United States, culminating in what many fans called the "Not-a-Tour".
Disney's Aladdin Special Edition 2-Disc DVD was the exclusive
sponsor of Clay's Summer Concert Tour. Each concert previewed
Clay's moving rendition of "Proud of Your Boy". The
inspiring song was originally intended for the film but cut when
the Aladdin storyline changed during production. The entire music
video performed by Clay Aiken is presented on the Aladdin Special
Edition 2-Disc DVD.
In November 2004, Aiken embarked
on his third tour of the year, choosing this time to focus on
Christmas favorites. "The Joyful Noise Tour" featured
a conductor and a 30-piece orchestra. In some cities, Aiken was
supported by the local philharmonic or symphony, such as the Baltimore
Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Local choirs
from high schools and elementary schools participated at each
concert. "The Joyful Noise Tour" was well received by
fans, with sellouts or near-sellouts at every venue. "The
Joyful Noise Tour"'s official sponsor was Ronald McDonald
That same month, Aiken also released a holiday album entitled
Merry Christmas With Love, which set a new record for fastest-selling
holiday album in the Soundscan era (since 1991) and tied Celine
Dion's record for the highest debut by a holiday album in the
history of Billboard magazine. The album went platinum in 6 weeks
and was the best-selling holiday album of 2004.
At the same time Aiken made the New York Times Best Seller List,
debuting at #2, with his "inspirational memoir" entitled
Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life, written with
Allison Glock, published by Random House. In December 2004, Aiken
starred in his first TV special, titled "A Clay Aiken Christmas,"
with special guests Barry Manilow, Yolanda Adams, and Megan Mullally.
He was also the executive producer for the Christmas special,
which was released as a DVD later that month.
Apart from his music career, Aiken has been dedicated to advocating
for education and for children's causes. His interest in autism
issues led him to set up the Bubel-Aiken Foundation (http://bubelaikenfoundation.org),
which supports the integration of children with disabilities into
the life environment of their nondisabled peers. In addition to
his role in the Bubel/Aiken Foundation (BAF), Aiken serves as
an ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®).
He first became involved with RMHC® when he participated in
the 2003 and 2004 World Children's Day(TM) at McDonald's to raise
money for Ronald McDonald House Charities® and other children's
During the 2004 World Children's
Day, he donated a cement cast of his handprints for a charity
auction, with the cast selling for over $15,000. Another item
donated by the singer, an autographed apron from the same World
Children's Day event, went for $5,100 in the eBay auction; bringing
the total donation to RMHC by Clay's fans to more than $20,000.
RMHC® were so impressed by Aiken's participation and the generosity
of his fans that that they asked Aiken to be an official ambassador
for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Aiken also has donated his
time to multiple benefit events and concerts, including performing
at the 2004 Rosalynn Carter Benefit, giving out $1,500 BAF Scholarships
at the America's Promise Benefit, singing a duet with Heather
Headley for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and being one of
the celebrity readers for the "Arthur Celebrity Audiobook
(Stories for Heroes Series)," which benefits the BAF, the
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), and the National
Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN). He
has also served as a spokesman for the "Stories for Heroes"
series and for the 2004 Toys For Tots drive.
As a special education teacher, Aiken has also been active in
lobbying Congress in favor of education. In 2004, he was appointed
U.S. Fund for UNICEF National Ambassador, where he is committed
to supporting education programs for children. A budding philanthropist
and longtime education advocate, Aiken uses his Ambassador status
to help ensure that children everywhere are afforded a primary
"Education is the best investment any society can make for
the health and well-being of its children," said Charles
J. Lyons, president of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "Clay Aiken,
like all of our National Ambassadors, was chosen based on his
compassion and deep commitment to helping children around the
world. We're very pleased to have him join the UNICEF family."
Through his work with UNICEF, he participated in the NBC4 telethon
which raised over $10 million and recorded public service announcements
in support of South Asia tsunami relief. He later also recorded
a video, featuring the song "Give a Little Bit," to
be used as a public service announcement (PSA) to raise money
for tsunami victims.
In March 2005 Clay visited the tsunami sticken Banda Aceh area
as a Unicef Ambassador to raise awareness for the need to restore
education quickly to the children survivors of disasters, to provide
stability. In April 2005 Clay appeared before the United States
House of Representatives Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export
Financing and Related Programs of the Committee on Appropriations,
on behalf of UNICEF.
Some fans of Clay have been fondly referred to as "Claymates,"
a name that originated on the message boards during the second
season of American Idol. The umbrella name including all of his
many fan groups is "The Clay Nation."