For his second holiday-music tour, American Idol finalist Clay Aiken wanted to do something different.
"I didn't want to do the same thing this year with singing Christmas songs," Aiken said by phone from Oakland, Calif. "I mean, when people have a Christmas concert they will sing 'O, Holy Night' or 'Jingle Bells.' I wanted to do something that could be played every year without getting old."
So, Aiken started thinking. He formed a story, and then he started writing ideas and an outline. "I almost want to say this whole thing came about by accident, but it really didn't. I just had some ideas pop into my mind and then I wrote them down."
The singer got the idea of recruiting his Raleigh, N.C., high school choir director, Alison Lawrence, to take on one of the lead roles. "I've also got an 11-year-old boy by the name of Gregory Ellis, who is also from Raleigh, to do one of the other lead roles. There is a continuous storyline about the season, and I think it's turning out fine."
Getting Lawrence to be a part of the production was easy for Aiken. "She was very supportive of me from the beginning. She used to boss me around. Now, it's fun for me because I get to boss her around."
And getting things together for the production was also easy, said Aiken. "The musicians worked with me last year on my last holiday tour. They knew the songs, because they were taken from my Christmas album (2004's "Merry Christmas with Love"). I added some songs that weren't on the album and did a story with scenes."
The hardest part of the production was technical. "The rehearsals were a headache. Getting spoken lines and songs together was harder than I thought. It wasn't like last year's tour when we'd have a bit of narration and then the music. This year's was more difficult, with timing and memorizing lines and stories."
Still, said Aiken, he is happy with how things have turned out. "Christmas is that time of year when, at least in the United States, the country shuts down and reflects upon the past year. There's a reason why Christmas comes at the end of the year. But it's also a time for us to get together with those we haven't seen in awhile."
Aiken said his family didn't really have special Christmas traditions outside of the mainstream. "But we enjoyed it all the same. This show is, hopefully, going to be a new tradition to some.
"I put it together with my fans in mind. It's my way of giving something back. They have been so good to me over the years. They have supported me and I wanted them to know that the support was never overlooked."
If you go . . .
What: "Joyful Noise," Clay Aiken, William Joseph
Where: Delta Center
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $45-$65