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Behind The Music: Some People Knew Clay Before 'American Idol'

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Raleigh's favorite "American Idol" Clay Aiken is making the rounds these days. He has a new video. He appeared on Wall Street and his face graced the cover of

Rolling Stone Magazine

, but his fans still remember him from making the rounds in Johnston County.

Years ago, Joan McLendon said she remembered Aiken when he was performing "The Wizard of Opry" at the Johnston Community College Country Music Showcase or entertaining the crowd at a beauty pageant.

"Who would've guessed," she said.

Adam Barbour performed with Aiken for eight years -- long enough to see him miss a note or two and long enough to see his potential star power.

"He could always work a crowd," he said. "I never thought he was on 'American Idol,' but I knew he'd be famous and that he'd be an awesome singer some day."

Beverly Gibson knows everyone wants to have a "Clay" connection and she has one. She is related to him. Gibson said people often ask her for tickets or autographs.

"I only have one and I was lucky to get that one," she said.

Aiken is scheduled to appear in Raleigh Wednesday for the American Idol tour.


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