by David Goldberg
For star-crossed lovers, first dates, or even the single-and-fabulous, this Monday, February 14, will certainly be enchanting as Clay Aiken lands at Jones Hall. Aiken is hitting Houston as part of his Tried and True Tour to promote his latest album of the same name. “The music is all love songs,” Aiken says. “It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.” Tried and True will feature some of Aiken’s original music, along with covers of classic love songs like “Moon River” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
After multiple tours, and performances on Broadway in Monty Python’s Spamalot, Aiken says he now has the experience to pull off a show that is spectacular and stress-free. “This tour is a lot more laid-back and a lot more relaxed than other shows I’ve done before,” Aiken says.
Now that the 2003 American Idol runner-up is a touring artist and father of two-year-old son Parker, he argues that accommodating his career and his family is not as difficult as it sounds. “Having a family is not something that makes things more complicated; it makes things more wonderful,” Aiken says. “I don’t look at [touring and raising a son] as if it’s some burden that I have to work around.” Although Houston is only the second stop on Aiken’s tour, he’s already confident that he’ll make his family arrangements work.
Since having a child and coming out in 2008, Aiken now performs to an even more diverse range of fans, many from the LGBT community. “There are some people who have come into the fray in the last two years or so who might not have felt welcome before, or might not have felt comfortable coming to a Clay Aiken show [even though] they wanted to,” he says. And while he makes it clear that he enjoys all his fans, regardless of race or sexuality, he admits that he has noticed “a slightly obvious change to where there’s a more active and supportive group of gay fans.”
The out gay performer is involved with a number of LGBT causes, most notably the Gay, Straight and Lesbian Education Network (GSLEN), which has played a significant role in fighting bullying and persecution of gay youth in schools. Their battle has taken on more importance in the wake of the country’s recent gay teen suicides. “After coming out, I made sure I understood that there was a role that I would play when it comes to gay rights and equality,” he says. “GSLEN was at the center of it for me.” He hopes that his visibility and voice will help unite people from all political spectrums to push for anti-bullying legislation. “No one believes that kids should be picked on and abused and bullied so much that they resort to such horrible solutions—I hate to use that word—as taking their own lives,” he says. Aiken’s voice may prove to be essential in the coming political struggles against LGBT bullying.
The star is thankful for his fans that have supported him since the beginning, and to his new fans that are just discovering him. He believes that his Houston fans will be happy that they chose to see him on Valentine’s Day. “It’s the Valentine’s Day show for everyone, for all couples, of all stripes and varieties,” he says. “Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come and show their love of the person that they are with, regardless of who they are and who they are with. I hope to see everyone there.”
The Houston Symphony and Jones Hall for the Performing Arts presents the Clay Aiken: Tried and True Tour, in conjunction with PBS to support “Clay Aiken: Tried and True—Live!” Monday, February 14, 2011, 7:30 p.m., in Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St.Tickets start at $29. Info: 713/224-7575 or 888/512-SHOW.
NOTE: The Houston Symphony does not appear on this concert.