Clay Aiken biography
SynopsisIn 2003, Clay Aiken beat out 7,000 other American Idol contestants to land in second place on the show. Weeks after, he was offered a record contract with RCA. In 2003, he released his debut album, Measure of Man. The album sold 613,000 copies in its first week, and earning Aiken an American Music Award. In 2006, People magazine readers chose Aiken as their favorite on American Idol.
Early LifeSinger. Born Clayton Holmes Grissom on November 30, 1978, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As an infant, his parents separated and Clay took his mother's maiden name, Aiken, as his legal last name.
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.
Commercial SuccessWeeks after finishing 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.