Iam back in Modesto from Raleigh and my wonderful adventure. The concert at the RBC Center was more than I imagined. There are so many posts about the concert that I won't go into detail except to say what an honor it was to attend Clay's hometown concert. It was beyond my wildest dreams and brought tears to my eyes. Clay has matured so much in the past few months as a performing artist and Trenyce has been helping him with his dance moves. They are fabulous but the shirt-tug has all the young ladies gasping!! I guess the older ones too. His stage presence is phenomenal and Simon should take some lessons from Clay as I really feel like he will change the face of the music world . . . he is well on his way to doing that now.

A lot of the wonderful people I have met online I was able to meet at the special dinner at the RBC Center before the concert. I'm sure photos will be circulated soon if not already. What a treat and honor to attend the dinner that Faye threw to thank Clay's fans that have been involved in support of his charities. At such a wonderful time in her son's life, she was extremely busy thanking as many people as she could for their support. Amazing as fame can be, it is a lot of work with sleepless nights. We were all enjoying ourselves as Faye made last minute decisions and sped off to interviews. What a special treat Clay's mom gave these wonderful fans on a night she could have just walked in and enjoyed herself without the work of a dinner party. This is the way Faye is and her selflessness has shaped Clay into the man his fans love not only for his voice but for his own selflessness.

On top of this wonderful dinner, I was honored even more by being invited to the barbecue the next day for the Idols. It was Clay's North Carolina Pig Pickin' versus Ruben's Alabama barbecue (haven't been invited to that one!) All of the American Idol contestants were there and it was very relaxed and pleasant . . . what a nice break for them from the hectic routine of working so many towns and living on a bus. I think Clay may win that barbecue contest with Ruben as that Pig Pickin' was fabulous!

Being a California gal, I was blown away by the Southern hospitality, which until my trip, I thought was just a word. Now I know that it is a real description for a real culture. I have never met such an amazing group of people in my life! I had the pleasure of chatting for quite sometime with Clay's Grandma, Catherine. What a charming lady she is and couldn't be more proud of her grandson.

Kimberly Locke is a sweetheart and beautiful young lady, I was impressed with her immediately. It is so refreshing to see someone so comfortable in their self image. She was wearing an adorable tank top a fan gave her that had a portrait of Clay on the front and signatures on the back.

When I was introduced to Ricky Smith as the artist that designs Clay's T-shirts, I put out my hand to shake his and he gave me a huge bear hug saying he has never seen so many Clay T-shirts! . . . and of course that made me laugh because I was overwhelmed with the number of shirts that I saw with my artwork at the concert, after all they are sold right there in Raleigh.

I even had a Clay fan stop me at the concert as she recognized me from my website. Well, actually, I can't say she knew who I was but she stopped me because she had seen a picture of me with Clay on the internet. I told her I was Laurie and that I designed and illustrated the Clay shirts. She said, "You're Laurie McAdam?" . . . and was thrilled to meet me. If I get a picture from her, I will post it here because if I made her ! day, she definitely made mine. It was a treat for me to have someone recognize me by my work.

I know all of you Clay fans will groan at this but the highlight of my trip besides meeting all the wonderful Clay fans was being able to spend some nice quality time with Faye that evening. It is an honor for me to see my artwork associated with such a fine young man and I will always support Clay and help Faye in every possible way I can. Clay's fans are the best in the world and together with Clay and Faye, this world will be a better place.

My Raleigh Concert Trip by Laurie McAdam
by Laurie McAdam
Clay Aiken, green tshirt

And for all of you Clay fans, it was really a treat for me to see Clay again. I don't want you to think that it means nothing to me. He is a charming young man with the voice of an angel and a heart of gold. After their shuttle bus first arrived to the barbecue and while Kimberly was chatting, Clay walked over and took the large purse off her shoulder and into the house so she wouldn't have to lug it around. For Clay, that says it all, a simple gesture that spoke volumes about his character. What a gentleman and great friend for Kimberly. I know he made the effort to greet everyone there that day as well.

Well, that is the recap of my trip and the only thing else I would like to say is a huge thank you to Valerie for inviting me to the Raleigh concert. She donated $1,000.00 to the Bubel/Aiken Foundation and is involved in so many charities supported by Clay. A true Clay fan that only thinks of others and how she can help and share.

Another huge thanks to Martha for letting me stay with her and driving me around. Thank you to Frances for her support of Clay and her best friend Faye and for treating me to a wonderful breakfast and dinner. I know many Claymates and charity supporters are indebted to her. And, for me, an enormous thank you to Faye for her support of my artwork and the time she gives to Clay and the charities.

I was thrilled to meet Diane Bubel, Mitch Aiken, Clay's brothers, Catherine Aiken (Clay's grandma) and also his grandpa, Julie of Claymate Mansion and her partners, Clay's Aunt Donna and Grandma McGhee. I was thrilled to see Suzanne again, one of Faye's good friends I had met in Los Angeles and lucky enough to meet Elisa Crossman representing the group LWLHD. I met and had dinner with Jeani and Emily from the Gonzo project as they passed through Raleigh.

And a final special thanks to Paulette from PKD Screen Printing for showing me their shop and letting me take a bundle of shirts, buttons and memorabilia home for my sisters and Mom. I cannot forget to thank all of you fans who have purchased Clay shirts and buttons in support of Clay and his charity.

Laurie McAdam *Claymate #300*

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