Aiken: The Ideal Idol
of the Importance of Children's Education
LARRY KING, Host:
Tonight Clay Aiken, the one time American Idol1) runner-up is
now a star in his own right. We welcome Clay Aiken. We have a
major announcement to make tonight. First let's deal with the
announcement. Tell us.
CLAY AIKEN, Singer:
Well, my announcement, I guess I am... it's kind of exciting.
I've had the opportunity to work with some people at UNICEF, and
they've asked me to be an ambassador for UNICEF. So I'm going
to start working with them, in conjunction with the foundation
that we've started to... The foundation's for individuals with
disabilities. And including them into programs with kids without
And with UNICEF,
I'm going to be working to promote the importance of education
for all children throughout the world. So it's an exciting opportunity
for me to do some traveling and to hopefully make a difference
outside of the U.S. and a number of countries.
KING: So, the
official title is "UNICEF ambassador for education for all
AIKEN: Yes. There are 120 million kids in the world right now
who don't go to school. Who have no edu... who have no access
to education. So hopefully we'll raise awareness.
was Bittersweet But It was an Opportunity
KING: The weird
thing, Clay, is you've gotten so famous, so many big things have
happened to you, and you didn't win (on American Idol). OK, what
did you really feel like?
AIKEN: Well, you know what, I knew he won before Ryan made the
announcement. I had seen the card backstage, but...
KING: You saw
AIKEN: Yes. I saw the card. It wasn't completely hidden. And I
looked over and saw it. So, I kind of knew.
KING: What did you think then?
AIKEN: Well, I thought I better prepare myself to not look upset21)
when I lose.
found out that the runner-up our particular year was going to
get a record contract also. So it was kind of a... it was bittersweet
but it was an opportunity. And I think I said later on to Ruben,
it was an opportunity to continue the competition, I guess, further
on down the road. And unfortunately, people continued to try to
dwell on that competition.
KING: How's your
AIKEN: Well, substantially. You know, I don't go to the grocery
store as easily. And I don't sneak in as easily as I used to be
KING: How about
AIKEN: Well, financially it's a little bit better. But... it's
better than when I was a teacher. But I kind of... it's allowed
me to buy a house. And I've been able to help my mother with some
stuff and my brother. So, that's nice.
Child With Autism Is So Special
KING: What were
AIKEN: I was teaching children with autism. I kind of fell...
KING: Oh, really?
AIKEN: I kind of fell into that. I was working at the YMCA in
Raleigh, and I was working...
KING: You had
a degree in that?
AIKEN: I did get a degree in special education. The principal
of a school I was working for at the YMCA said, you know, "I
need a substitute teacher, will you come and do this job?"
And I said, "Sure." And then after I got in the class
she said, "Oh, by the way, it's a classroom for children
with autism." And I couldn't get out at this point. So I
stuck around through the maternity leave, and fell in love with
it so much that I...
KING: They are
geniuses in there, right?
AIKEN: They're amazing. Each child with autism is so special,
they're so unique. And that was so exciting for me to be able
to go in every day, not know what to expect at all, have no idea
what to expect, and to get to know each child individually.
And so I decided
at that point, because I was working and I'd not had a degree
yet, and not decided what I wanted to get a degree in, and I decided
at that point, this is what I want to do.
Think I'm Here for a Reason
a viewer's call) Lancaster, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hi, Clay, my name is Angie. First I want to say,
Clay, may you forever shine. My question to you is, what kind
of music will be on your follow-up album to Measure Of A Man,
and when is the future release date?
you want some details.
KING: Get the Christmas album first.
AIKEN: Yes, please.
You know, I like what we had on the first album. But I think a
lot of the stuff I'd like to... I'd like to get more upbeat stuff
on the next album. You know, something a little more energetic
and positive. The Measure Of A man had a lot of stuff about heartbreak,
and breaking up with someone, being angst after being... lost
love. Not something that I necessarily know too much about. So,
I'd love to have that... something a little bit more positive
and upbeat on the next album.
KING: What do
you want to do with your life?
AIKEN: You know, I'd love to say that I had it planned out. But
that's one of the big things that I've learned is not to plan
exactly what I'm going to do next. I want my tombstone to say
that I made a difference somewhere.
I mean, I don't
have to necessarily do it with an album or to any huge number
of people. But to one person. I don't want it to be for naught.
I don't want all this to be a waste. I kind of would like to think
that I'm here for a reason. I think everything that I've done
up to this point, whether it be working with children with disabilities,
working at the YMCA, has kind of all led to this position. And
if this is... this job may not be the last one I do. But if something
else that I'm on the way to, then I want to be open to it and
an extraordinary young man.
AIKEN: Oh, thank you very much.
KING: Congratulations. I congratulate the UN for choosing you.
AIKEN: Oh, thank you very much.