US House of Representatives candidate and former American Idol standout Clay Aiken will reunite with 2003 American Idol winner Ruben Studdard in the Bull City on Saturday for a different kind of gig.

The two American Idol stalwarts will deliver a late-morning performance at the Blue Note Grill in downtown Durham’s NoCo District.

Aiken and Studdard will be joined by a third 2003 American Idol contestant Quiana Parler, who earned a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album while performing with the Charleston-based band Ranky Tanky.

The free event, billed as a “Rally for a Better Bull City,” wants “to excite voters and Aiken supporters ahead of the May 17th primary, provide early vote information, and encourage supporters to cast their ballots before early voting ends,” according to a press release made public late Friday afternoon by Aiken’s campaign.

The press release made some attempt to downplay Aiken’s musical bona fides. It reads, “American Idol Winner Ruben Studdard, Grammy Award Winner Quiana Parler, Democrat Clay Aiken.”

Raleigh native Aiken was a close 2003 American Idol runner up to Studdard. He is eyeing the US House District 4 seat left vacant by David Price, who announced his retirement this year after he was first elected in 1986.

District 4 covers all of Durham, Orange, Granville, Franklin, and Vance counties, along with portions of Wake, Chatham, and Vance counties.

Aiken, a former special education teacher-turned-multi-platinum winning singer announced his candidacy on social media in a January social media post titled “Warming Up.”

During the little over three and a half minute YouTube video Aiken says that North Carolina is where he “first discovered he had a voice that could be used for more than singing” while coming of age in a state that stood for progressive values that produced “the best roads” and “the best schools.”

He decried emerging political voices that were behind the state’s voter suppression  and infamous bathroom bills, before declaring “If the loudest and most hateful voices think they are going to speak for us, just tell them I’m warming up the old vocal chords.”

Aiken is not yet a perennial candidate, but he’s not a novice campaigner. In 2014 he made a run for a US House seat in North Carolina’s District 2. He won the Democratic primary, but lost to Republican opponent Renee Ellmers.

The Friday press release notes that Aiken has long advocated on behalf of children and used the national platform gained by Idol to found the National Inclusion Project “which supports the full inclusion of children with special needs in summer camps and after-school programs in 35 states.”

He’s also served as a goodwill ambassador with UNICEF where he supported educational efforts and protection for children living in Uganda, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Kenya, and Somalia, according to the release. 

In recent weeks Aiken has aligned his campaign with a slate of candidates vying for local seats here in Durham: incumbent Chief District Court Judge Pat Evans, who is running for remain in the District 14 Seat 3, Jessica Major, a challenger for District 14 Seat 1, Jasper Fleming, a county board of education District 1 candidate, and Donald Hughes, a board of education District 2 candidate.

“Clay Aiken has been supporting a number of candidates in the local elections,” Hughes told the INDY on Friday. Hughes added that he’s not sure who has endorsed Aiken, but there’s nonetheless “an alignment of values” between the Aiken and the local candidates.

Hughes added that he admires several candidates vying for the congressional seat.

“Whoever gets elected I want to partner with in the cause of education all over the state and especially here in Durham,” Hughes said.

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