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Clay's 'wild ride'

Still building connections and networking, Clay Page is grateful for the opportunity to perform for American Idol judges

Clay Page enjoyed his recent “wild ride,” which included a trip to Hawaii and appearances on the national television series, “American Idol.” He considers himself a “working musician” and he believes he is in a good spot with his best music not yet released.

It’s been two years since Clay Page last sat down with The Elberton Star in preparation to kick off 2017’s Summer Concert Series on the Downtown Elberton Square — and a lot has happened in the young musician’s life since then.

The self-proclaimed “country boy” has a new-found fame since 2017. Earlier this year, Clay made a national debut when he was featured on the top-rated television series American Idol as a Top 40 Contestant.

For the first time since gaining a national audience, Clay will take the stage this Saturday at the Elberton Fairgrounds.

What Clay refers to as a “wild ride” all started when he moved to Nashville to chase his music career — a big step he was in the process of pursuing the last time The Elberton Star caught up with him.

“I went to Nashville to build connections and network,” Clay said. “Every night I would go downtown to meet song writers.”

While Clay was playing a “songwriter round” at the exclusive Loews Vanderbilt Hotel during the CMA Music Festival in June last year, his talent was noticed by an executive producer from American Idol, which turned into the opportunity of a lifetime.

According to Clay, the executive producer sent him an email invitation to attend a private audition for American Idol in Atlanta.

“I didn’t reply at first,” Clay told an interviewer with a laugh. “I’ve never been a huge fan of contest shows, I’ve always believed that you pay your dues as a musician … but what are the odds? Maybe this is my opportunity.”

After consulting with a few songwriting buddies and his girlfriend, Clay decided he couldn’t let the opportunity pass by.

After a nerve-racking audition — where Clay light-heartedly said he showed up with pink eye and couldn’t help but question why he was there to begin with — he was sent to the next round of televised auditions where he performed in front of famous American Idol judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

“Everybody was so cool,” Clay said of the judges on the show. “Lionel was so knowledgable, Luke was awesome and Katy was a trip … I never had to wonder what she was thinking because she would say it on her face.”

After advancing to the next round, Clay spent time in Los Angeles and Hawaii as part of the Top 40 contestants.

“It was like taking Nashville on a field trip, just a bunch of musicians cut from the same cloth … in Hawaii everybody was as real as they could be,” Clay said of his fellow contestants.

He admitted that he still keeps in contact with most of the contestants in a “Top 40 group message.” Fellow Top 40 contestant Tyler Mitchell will even be joining Clay on the stage in Elberton this weekend.

Clay said one of his greatest challenges since being on the show is keeping quiet about what was happening since it was all pre-recorded.

“I had to kind of hide out when I came home. There is a magic to the show and there were certain things I couldn’t talk about. After I came home from Hawaii I could go back out,” he admitted.

Clay said he felt “beyond blessed” to have made it onto the show and into the Top 40, even though his American Idol journey ended there.

“I came in a working musician and I came out a working musician,” he said. “American Idol gave me the fire to keep pushing.”

According to Clay, he is excited about releasing new music and said he is “in a good spot” with “songs sittin’ in the bank.”

“My best music hasn’t even been released yet,” he said.

This Friday, Clay will release his first single since his journey on the show titled “Crickets.”

“American Idol changed my life,” he said. “I have an audience now and it’s up to me to keep that going. I enjoy the engagement on social media from fans and people I’ve never met.”

Other than his music, Clay is working on building a tiny house in Elberton and said in the future all he wants is to be a successful person by his own standards.

“I have that blue-collar mentality,” he said. “I don’t want to ask for help and I want to do it on my own. I’m keeping my living expenses down so I can travel and invest in my brand.”

Clay is staying true to his roots and even unknowingly quoted the same “life goal” he said two years ago during his first story with The Elberton Star. “My goal is that if I’m doing better today than I was yesterday, then I’m good,” he said.

“That’s what’s crazy — nothing has changed here.  At the same time, you got to change if you want to grow … but my morals are still the same,” he said. Clay wants to remind Elbertonians that he is still the same ol’ country boy he was when he first starting playing shows locally.

Clay said that his only request for his show this weekend is for it not to be a “country music thing,” but a “everybody thing” for the community to enjoy.

Though his music career has picked up in the last two years, he says one thing will never change — and that’s his love for his hometown of Elberton.

“City life is not my thing … I love Elberton,” Clay said. “Elberton has been a huge supporter for me … it will always be my home.”

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