But it doesn't just stop at the voice - there are many singers out there, some technically better than Clay. With Clay, it's also the man - his humor, his intelligence, his heart. The voice is what captured us from the beginning, but it is the man himself who keeps us enthralled and coming back for more.
I'm not going to say that it's all been fun - this love affair is most definitely a roller coaster ride, filled with ups and downs. One of my favorite movies is Parenthood. I was watching it just the other day and there was a line that really struck me and made me think immediately of what Clay and his fans have been through. To set the stage, Gil (played by Steve Martin) is bitterly complaining about the complications in his life. His grandmother wanders into the room and starts talking:
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.You know what? I like the roller coaster too - you really do get more out of it. The coaster brings you together, you hold each other tight and then let loose with screams of joy and excitement. When it's over you can't wait to get right back on the ride and do it all over again.
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
So here's a toast to Clay Aiken and the Clay Nation. Here's to many more years of excitement, laughs, music and learning.