How old is Clay Aiken? American Idol runner-up announces second Congress run in North Carolina

Clay Aiken has decided to run for Congress for the second time (Image via Mike Windle/Getty Images)
Clay Aiken has decided to run for Congress for the second time (Image via Mike Windle/Getty Images)

Former American Idol star Clay Aiken is set to run for Congress for the second time in North Carolina. The TV personality made the official announcement through a video posted on Twitter:

"These days my life looks a lot like yours than Justin Bieber's now, I can promise you. But one thing that has never changed for me is how much I love my home state. North Carolina is the place where I discovered first that I had a voice, and it was a voice that could be used for more than singing."
Can you believe it's been almost 20 years since I first got to share my voice with you? That's a long time. A LOT has changed!We need powerful voices more than ever, so I'm running for Congress.And my voice is even stronger now! ;-)

He also mentioned that he would work towards inclusivity and free high-quality healthcare as well as fighting climate change and inequality as part of his key agenda:

"We, as levelheaded, open minded and compassionate Democrats, we have always been the party of All Americans. We have always been the big tent and we've got to continue to be that, because from stopping climate change and systemic racism and income inequality and gun violence to securing voting rights and free healthcare and a woman's right to choose, we are the ones who are gonna solve the country's biggest problems."

Clay Aiken will run as a Democratic candidate against Republican incumbent Kathy Manning. He first attempted to run for North Carolina's 2nd District in 2014 but lost to Republican opponent Representative Renee Ellmers.

As part of his current bid, the Democrat will represent the new 6th district, including the area that was represented by Democratic Rep. David Price. The latter was first elected in 1986 and will no longer seek re-election this year.

Everything to know about Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken is best remembered as the runner-up of American Idol season two (Image via Walter McBride/Getty Images)
Clay Aiken is best remembered as the runner-up of American Idol season two (Image via Walter McBride/Getty Images)

Clay Aiken, aka Clayton Holmes Grissom, is a singer, TV personality, political figure and activist. He is best known as the runner-up of the second season of American Idol.

The musician was born on November 30, 1978, in Raleigh, North Carolina to Faye Aiken Parker and Vernon Grissom. He is currently 43 years old. During his childhood, he sang in the Raleigh Choir and joined the Just By Chance band after high school.

He studied at Leesville Road High School and attended Campbell University before joining the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. Aiken started working at the YMCA and later joined Brentwood Elementary School as a substitute teacher for autistic children.

Clay Aiken rose to fame after auditioning for season two of American Idol in 2003. Unfortunately, he was cut from round 32 and then returned to the show as a Wild Card entry.

He won hearts across the nation with his soulful renditions of songs like Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me, Build Me Up Buttercup and Solitaire. He went on to become the only contestant on American Idol 2 who was never voted in the bottom three.

Although Aiken failed to lift the winning trophy, he catapulted to fame following the show. He signed a contract and released his first album, Measure of a Man, in October 2003. His debut album received three platinum certifications.


The North Carolina-native released four more albums with RCA, including Merry Christmas with Love, A Thousand Different Ways, the Christmas EP All is Well and On My Way Here. He also released two other albums Tried & True and Steadfast with Decca Records.

The singer further organized 11 successful tours and sold over 5 million albums, becoming the fourth-highest-selling American Idol alum. Clay Aiken also ventured into writing and published the New York Times bestselling memoir Learning to Sing in 2004.

That same year he also appeared in a TV Christmas special, A Clay Aiken Christmas. The musician made regular appearances on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He was even a guest star on Scrubs and performed several skits on Saturday Night Live.


Aiken also played the role of Sir Robin in Monty Python's Broadway Spamalot between January 2008 and January 2009. The performer returned to American Idol in 2013 to deliver a phenomenal cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water.

In 2003, Clay Aiken launched the Bubel/Aiken Foundation with Diane Bubel and later renamed it the National Inclusion Project. He was also appointed UNICEF ambassador in 2004 and served the role until 2013. Aiken also had a two-year term on the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

During his run in the 2014 US House of Representatives, the Democrat won the primary run but lost the general election to Renee Ellmers. It remains to be seen if Clay Aiken will have a successful run in North Carolina's 6th congressional district this year.

Edited by Rhythm Bhatia
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