Clay Aiken’s upsetting junior high school days come to light on Tuesday’s Dr. Phil show, with the multiplatinum-selling singer opening up to Dr. Phil McGraw.
“He talks about his own experiences being bullied,” a publicist for Aiken’s label, RCA Records, tells the Associated Press. The rep, Roger Widynowski, adds that the future American Idol star was bullied “verbally … throughout his whole school career. Mostly through elementary and junior high.”
Aiken’s mother, Faye Parker, confirms that her son was picked on, though to what extent was a mystery to her. “I don’t know that he was bullied so much as he was just ignored,” she said. “So I don’t know. We’ll have to hear more about his story when he tells it on TV.”
In quotes from Aiken’s interview with Dr. Phil, the New York Post reports that the 26-year-old Raleigh, N.C., native calls his school days “a really tough time,” and that Dr. Phil refers to Aiken’s memoir, Learning to Sing, which mentions how his classmates picked on him.
“They would have been rich if they would have gotten paid for it,” Aiken responds. “They started to pick on me because I was in musicals. I was the only guy in choir in my entire high school. So people picked on me for that.”
He adds: “There was a long time when I didn’t want to sing because I thought people are going to pick on me.”
As for the bullies’ other motivations at Raleigh’s Leesville High School, Aiken says he was targeted “because I found something I was good at and was proud.”