Clay Aiken – Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

O beautiful star of Bethlehem
Shine upon us until the glory dawns
Give us a lamp to light the way
Unto the land of perfect day
O beautiful star of Bethlehem
Shine on

I grew up in a musical family. I majored in music during college and played professionally for many years. But, I was a classical musician and my knowledge of country, rock and roll and pop music was very limited.

In 2005, Clay Aiken introduced me to another style of music. In a special Christmas gift to his Grandfather, Clay performed “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” a bluegrass song. It was a poignant moment and I loved the entire performance. However, I wanted to know…….what, exactly, is bluegrass music.

Bluegrass music is a part of country music and is pure American music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of immigrants from Ireland and the United Kingdom. It also has some African-American inspiration with a touch of jazz and blues.

Bluegrass relies mostly on acoustic stringed instruments. The fiddle, five string banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin and the upright bass are traditional instruments in bluegrass music. Sometimes, the resonator guitar is added.

Traditional elements are important. The musicians play folk songs with simple traditional chord progressions. A distinguishing characteristic of bluegrass is vocal harmony featuring two, three, or four parts.

Bluegrass, as a style, developed during the mid-1940s some time after World War II. It wasn’t called bluegrass back then. It was just called old time mountain hillbilly music. One of the most popular hillbilly musicians was Bill Monroe and since he was from Kentucky, the bluegrass state, the music was named bluegrass.

I doubt if there was a dry eye in the concert hall when Clay sang for his grandfather. This one-time performance was a gift from the heart to Clay’s Papa.

We are lucky that there is Clack from this concert.  This beautiful song is not only a tribute to Bluegrass music, but a special performance filled with love.

Do you remember this special moment?

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Comments

  1. I wasn't there but you could FEEL the warmth in the room when Clay sang to his grandfather….. thank goodness for clack!! Didn't he look stunning in that long black coat!! Yumm!!

  2. That was a very special moment indeed. Considering that Clay is not particularly fond of bluegrass music, but for his Papa (RIP) he sang Beautiful Star of Bethlehem and it was perfect! But then again, anything that Clay sings is total perfection. I agree with Gaymarie, a lot of credit goes to all the talented clack gatherers for if not for them we would not be able to enjoy all of Clay's outstanding performances over and over and over again.

    Thank you so much Martha!!! Your blogs are not only totally entertaining but so informative as well. It's the first thing I read in the morning before heading off to work and the last before going to bed.

  3. This was such a precious moment to catch on tape. You could feel the love that Clay had for his Papa. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all record those special moments of our lives to relive again and again.

  4. I wasn't at this concert in Raleigh, but I do remember watching it so many times. Clay can sing anything, any genre. It's nice going back to this, especially since then, Clay's "Papa" has passed away. Very touching.

  5. I was at that concert and it was amazing. You could feel the love Clay had for his grandfather. This was one of my favorite Christmas performances.

  6. Special thanks to Hosaa for the beautiful montage with the poignant audio introduction from Clay's own narration of his memoir, "Learning to Sing." Clay gives an amazing rendition of this bluegrass classic and Quiana and Angie provide the perfect vocal support. This is one of my favorites of the many beautiful songs Clay has sung live but never recorded. Two other Christmas favorites are his Hometown Connection pre-Idol renditions of "Once Upon a Christmas" (duet) and a cappella "O Come O Come Emmanuel." Thanks, Musicfan, for reviving this precious memory that meant so much especially to Clay's family. His Grandpa was a very special person in his life, always a source of unconditional love and acceptance. Lovely memories here.

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