Last year, pop idol Clay Aiken’s holiday album, “Merry Christmas with Love,” dominated the Christmas music charts and helped the “American Idol” alumnus launch his “Joyful Noise” tour.
This holiday season, Aiken will be telling his own Christmas stories on the “Joyful Noise 2005” tour, which features a tale Aiken penned himself. The tour stops at Council Bluffs’ Mid-America Center on Friday at 8 p.m.
With a little help from readers on the Ground Zero blog, we asked Aiken about his new tour, his Bono-rific charity work and his opinion on celebrity wrestling matches.
GZ: Clay, you’re currently on the second annual “Joyful Noise” tour. What’s up with the running plot line?
CA: Well, we decided to change it up this year. We wanted to make it a little more of an event than a concert. So we pulled out the theatrical stops.
GZ: We’ve seen rock operas before, but this is kind of a holiday pop opera …
CA: (laughs) Maybe. I don’t necessarily play a speaking role. We have an older woman who … well, the story is she needs some help for Christmas. She has a boy that comes to her house, gets her to talk about her Christmas memories. The music that we sing as the story goes on kind of acts as the soundtrack to the show.
GZ: You’re also using local actors in these shows. What roles do they play in the tour? Any major parts?
CA: The woman who plays the old woman is actually my high school music teacher. The younger boy is also from North Carolina (Aiken’s home state), and they’re with me permanently.
We do use local characters for other smaller roles we need. It’s kind of an opportunity for local people for easier roles, and it keeps the show fresh for us as well.
GZ: You recently did a stint on the TV comedy “Scrubs.” Any chance you’ll expand your acting chops and make full-length feature films?
CA: Oh, wow. I don’t know. Everything that’s happened has been kind of being open to possibilities. That opportunity hasn’t opened itself yet, but it’s something I’d like to do. We’ll have to see.
GZ: You’re an ambassador for UNICEF and you’ve worked to bring relief to children in the Southeast Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. In a way, you’re kind of a new Bono. Do you think you can out-Bono Bono and convince more entertainers to use their powers for good?
CA: Oh, wow, I’d never compare myself to Bono. In the performing scale he’s definitely better than I am and the philanthropy scale he’s definitely better than I am, but I appreciate the compliment.
There are definitely celebrities out there who know the power of their position. But it’s hard to get people to become active. For me, it was something from the beginning I’ve always wanted to do. Unfortunately, I’m not in the place to make anyone else do anything.
GZ: You’ve been on both “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Dr. Phil.” In your opinion, who would win a steel cage match between those two hosts?
CA: (laughs, then gets very serious) I think more than likely Oprah would win, because Oprah pays Dr. Phil’s salary.
GZ: You don’t think Dr. Phil could psych her out?
CA: Nah, I think he’s a very respectful guy and I don’t think he’d hit a woman.
GZ: Clay, I’m your typical nerdy guy looking to make it in this large, lonely world. Any advice on how I can jump-start my career as an international pop sensation?
CA: Actually, no.
GZ: None at all?
CA: No, I don’t even know how I did it. I only did it because I was in the right place at the right time. I think the most important thing for anybody is you can’t be someone you’re not. People who are tuned to themselves have better luck.
My only advice would be set lofty and achievable goals for yourself and then work for them, but do it as your own person.
GZ: Clay, I’ll give you the last word. Give me one profound statement you’ve been wanting to get off your chest.
CA: I will say this: I’ve been to Nebraska more times than I ever thought I would.
We were in Nebraska recently for Oprah’s show. We stopped to get shots of the Capitol building and that, and I don’t know how they found out but there were fans there.
Of course, I’m surprised anyone’s interested at all, but even in Nebraska it was amazing to me how many showed up. It’s one of the more supportive states. I’m excited to be going in that direction again, and I’m very appreciative.
Reach Joel Gehringer at 473-7254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: Clay Aiken’s “Joyful Noise Tour 2005”
Where: Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Admission: Reserved tickets start at $37.50 at ticketmaster.com or the Mid-America Center, (712) 323-0536