11/07/04 — Aycock student sings with Clay

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Aycock student sings with Clay

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 7, 2004 2:08 AM

Casey Sutton called her marketing teacher a "Clay Aiken psycho" because of her avid following of the American Idol singer. But it paid off when Tammy Vail marketed the Charles B. Aycock High School junior right on stage with Aiken during his recent State Fair concert.

Mrs. Vail said she and Casey have been Clay fans for a long time, attending many of the same concerts but separately. She said she also knew that he has been bringing an audience member up on stage to sing a duet with him during his shows.

So when she learned that Aiken was scheduled to give two concerts at the state fair, she told her student, "We're going to the state fair and you're going to sing with Clay."

She said she has used the "American Idol" TV show as a model in her marketing class because students could relate to it and actually see how marketing takes place.

When a second show was added and she was successful in getting tickets, Mrs. Vail said she researched as much as she could on the computer. She learned that auditions were held with Clay's bodyguard before each show.

She knew which song to prep her student to sing -- "Without You," which Clay sang with Kimberly Locke, a finalist on "American Idol" the year Clay won.

Mrs. Vail took Casey and two other students to the fair on Monday, Oct. 18. Casey said they asked everyone from fans to police about how to find where to audition. When they did, they found they were not the first to arrive.

"There was a huge, huge crowd of people auditioning," Casey said. She estimated about 100 actually tried out.

"There were some really, really good ones and some that were definitely posers, wishing to sing," she said.

The bodyguard took Casey's name and seat number in case she was chosen. She soon learned she was one of three finalists.

Casey said it was difficult to focus on the concert and fully enjoy it because she was on pins and needles about who would be chosen to sing with Clay. About three minutes before she would make her stage debut, the bodyguard sought her out and brought her backstage, where she was given instructions.

Even though she said she was nervous, the butterflies went away when she walked out on stage. She said she asked Clay if she could have a couple of minutes to speak.

"I said hello to my friends, to my teacher in the audience," she said. She then thanked the women who had directed them to the audition, the police, "everyone I had run into the whole doggone day."

And then she impressed the crowd with her own vocal talent. She said she has been singing seriously for the last three years, and it is something she would one day like to pursue further.

Just as quickly as it arrived, the moment was over and Casey returned to her seat. Instead of being able to enjoy the rest of the concert, though, she said she immediately began phoning everyone to share her news.

"Someone had called my mom while I was singing on stage," she said. "So she listened to it.

"It's the first concert that she hasn't been to with me."

The daughter of Karen and Rick Sutton of Pikeville said she was given an autographed shirt by Clay's management to commemorate the occasion. After the concert, she found herself surrounded by autograph-seekers and well-wishers.

"One lady almost tackled me," she said.

And the number one question she was asked about her experience?

"Everyone kept asking me how he smelled," she said. "I was not thinking about smelling; I was thinking about breathing."