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What's Next For Clay Aiken? 'Idol' Finalist Makes Return Visit To WRAL

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The frenzy over "American Idol" is not about to slow down anytime soon for Raleigh's Clay Aiken.

After making the rounds in New York for a week, Aiken is back in town and stopped by the WRAL Studios to say thanks to his fans and clear up the controversy over the final "American Idol" vote.

"It really hasn't slowed down yet. I think we've been been busier since the show's been over than I think when we were doing it," he said.

Aiken finished second in the television singing competition to Ruben Studdard of Birmingham, Ala.

Since the "American Idol" finale on May 21, Aiken has been in the Big Apple, making appearances on numerous television programs, including the "CBS Early Show," "Regis and Kelly" and "Larry King Live."

So what has Aiken to say about the controversy over phone voting?

"The controversy concerns me, because being part of the show for as long as I was, I'm very aware of how difficult it was for people to get through, but that's because so many people were voting. People were voting for Ruben, too, and I'm 100 percent confident -- 115 percent confident -- that everything was done fairly. Ruben got 130,000 more votes than meand that's perfectly understandable. It was hard to get through in Raleigh because, hopefully, most of Raleigh was voting for me," he said with a big smile.

What he has trouble believing is all the support has -- from the 8,000 fans who watched the final show at the RBC Center -- "I was completely blown away" -- to the hundreds of well-wishes sent in to WRAL.com.

So what is next?

Aiken is headed back to New York City where he and Studdard will perform at Giants Stadium Sunday.Then the duo is off to Toronto to help promote the Canadian version of "Idol." The they head back to Los Angeles to start recording their respsective albums, which are scheduled for release in August or September.

Aiken and Studdard each have a CD single coming out June 10.

"It was going to be "This is the Night," then the response was so good for "Bridge Over Troubled Water" that we decided to change it," he said.

Aiken and Studdard became close friends during the competition and that friendhip continues to strengthen despite their busy schedules.

"I talk to him every day," Aiken said. "I talked to him last night as I was headed to a movie and I said, 'I called you this afternoon and you didn't call me back.'"

Aiken returns to Raleigh August 6 with Studdard and other "Idol" finalists for the sold out"American Idols Live!" tour at the RBC Center.

Not bad for a guy who did not win the title, but ended up with a whole lot more.

"I'm perfectly happy with the outcome. I've turned out OK myself," he said.


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