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Some interesting facts about Clay

It is amazing how many little facts are out there about Clay. Some of them are repeated over and over in interviews and others you might only see once. From looking at the many interviews, articles, tv programs, and books about Clay, we have compiled a list of some of the more interesting factoids. Although we titled it "did you know" we stress these are assumptions made from reading various sources. As with all things written in the media...there could be and most likely are mistakes. 

Some basics:

  • Clay is 6'1'
  • he has green eyes
  • his real hair color is reddish blonde
  • his shoe size is a size 12 1/2
  • he was born on November 30, 1978, at the Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina
  • his astrological sign is Sagittarius
  • he was born on the same day as Dick Clark and Winston Churchill
  • he weighed 6 lbs, 11 oz. when he was born
  • his birth name was Clayton Holmes Grissom
  • he is allergic to shellfish, treenuts (like almonds and walnuts), mint, mushrooms, coffee, and chocolate
  • for at least right now, his favorite flavor of ice cream is Breyer's Peach ice cream
  • one of his favorite things to drink is milk (preferably in glass bottles . .)
  • he is afraid of cats and water
  • he can turn both of his feet around backwards
  • he likes to eat apples with peanut butter, white bread with honey, and cube steak with gravy -- not necessarily all at the same time
  • in the past he has said that his favorite breakfast cereal is Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • two of his favorite female singers are Faith Hill and Shania Twain
  • two of his favorite male singers are Jon Secada and Peter Cetera

Some things in his childhood

  • Clay was born with a collapsed lung
  • when Clay was about 5 years old, Clay sang "Mamas, don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys" onstage at the Grand Ole Opry (during a tour)
  • he used to sing for a dollar on the carpet samples at Sears, where his mother worked (sometimes they'd even give him five dollars)
  • in 1984, when he was five, he sang "Islands In the Stream," a big No. 1 hit, and won the "Winterfest" winter dance. By winning he became that year's mascot. In high school, he was in charge of planning that same Winterfest dance.
  • he was a member of the Raleigh boys choir from age 11-13
  • he began performing in the Raleigh Little Theater in 1994
  • he played the role of Will Parker in Leesville High School's production of Oklahoma in 1995
  • he used to have a pet goat named Zoey, that he used to take for walks on a leash
  • he used to wear yellow high-top sneakers
  • he was editor of his high school yearbook
  • he was Robin Hood for Halloween when he was ten
  • in middle school, he was in the show Good Vibrations, a song and dance troupe that traveled, performed, and did competitions
  • he used to read the morning announcements on the PA system at his high school
  • he started singing in his middle school choir when he was in the 7th grade - and that he didn't want to at first
  • when he was fourteen, he got a job bagging groceries at Winn-Dixie


  • Clay took off two years between high school and college to try to figure out what he wanted to do

  • he began working summers at a program for at-risk children at the YMCA in Raleigh when he was seventeen years old

  • later he transferred to the A.E. Finley YMCA in Raleigh, where, among other duties, he ran summer camp programs

  • he used to let the children duct-tape him to the wall as an incentive for good behavior

  • he once told his Y group of kids that they were going to tour a prison, but instead they ended up at the roller skating rink

  • at the Finley YMCA, his nickname was "Gonzo"

  • he was known as a class clown in high school and college

  • his mother gave him some studio time as a high school graduation gift, at which time he recorded his first "demo" CD -- he included many of the songs his mother liked to hear him sing, such as "Unchained Melody," "Dream Lover," and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"

  • while he was working at the YMCA, he was also working part-time at Brentwood Elementary Scool in the after-school programs

  • as a result, he was given a substitute job in the special education classroom at Brentwood Elementary. It was while doing this job that Clay discovered his love for special education and decided to go to college full-time and study to be a teacher

  • he attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) as a special education major. He graduated in December, 2003

  • in 2000-2001 he worked as an aide for a teenage boy, Nicholas, who is autistic and suffers from a disability known as Fragile X syndrome

  • he once headed UNCC's student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children

  • he worked as a CAP worker while in school studying education. It was because of this that he eventually was given the job of working with Michael Bubel, and his family

  • his favorite TV show was The Amazing Race, and he planned on trying out for the show. He had even completed the entry forms.

  • it was Diane Bubel, Michael Bubel's mother, who persuaded Clay to try out for American Idol, rather than The Amazing Race.

  • he was a performer and emcee of the Hometown Music Connection in Benson, NC, from 1999-2001

  • he was a performer and co-host of Just By Chance and Friends in Dunn, NC, from 1999-2001

  • he was a performer and emcee of the North Carolina Music Connection in Benson, NC, from 2001-June 2002

  • he emceed at the Benson Mule Days festival

  • he was the 1st place winner at the Johnston Community College Talent Search in 1996

  • the last concert he went to before the start of American Idol was a James Taylor concert

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:

    Pre - Idol Experience