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After coming in second on American Idol, Clay Aiken’s released his debut album, Measure of Man, which sold 3 million copies and made No.1 on the Billboard 200.
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People magazine readers chose Aiken as their favorite on American Idol.
As a teenager, Aiken became a regular member of the Raleigh Boys Choir, and performed roles in many local theater productions. After high school, Aiken attended University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study Special Education. In 2003, he planned on attending William & Mary College to pursue a graduate degree, but first he decided to try out for reality television competition American Idol. Aiken beat out 7,000 other contestants to land in second place on the show, behind winner Ruben Studdard.
American Idol, Aiken was offered a record contract with RCA. In October of 2003, he released his debut album, Measure of Man, which sold 3 million copies and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The album sold 613,000 copies in its first week, making it the highest selling debut album for a solo artist in 10 years, and earning Aiken an American Music Award. Also Aiken's debut single, "This is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water," earned him Billboard's best-selling single of 2003. The song sold over 392,000 copies during its first week, beating the record previously held by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" in 1997.
In November of 2004, Clay Aiken released his first holiday album, Merry Christmas with Love. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart and was the biggest debut album in SoundScan history. That same year, Aiken also wrote a New York Times bestselling memoir titled Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life. The book detailed his upbringing and musical influences, but paid special attention to spiritual development. The book spent seven weeks on the bestseller list. People magazine readers chose Aiken as their favorite American idol. He also released two albums: A Thousand Different Ways and All is Well, which both debuted in the Billboard Top 5. While working on material for a new album in 2008, Aiken also took on the role of Sir Robin in the Broadway musical Monty Python's Spamalot. On My Way Here, was released later that year, making Aiken the eighth artist in music history to have their first four albums debut in the Billboard Top 5. Aiken left RCA shortly after the album was released.
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