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International Jazz Singer Myrna Clayton’s Hustle and Flow, Combines Music, Love and Healing

By Norma Stanley | November 2022

Myrna Clayton is an Atlanta-based jazz singer and cultural performer, with a mission to have an international impact of love and healing through her live performances. Women like Clayton are full of boldness, creativity, talent, skill, courage, passion and purpose, and are determined to not only be seen and heard, but to make global cultural and societal impact for themselves and others. In this case, Clayton, who is also a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, is working to make an impact and inroads for herself as a singer/band leader on the global jazz and cultural arts scene to touch the lives of people regardless of labels, titles, abilities or culture.

For example, on an audacious mission this past July, where the intention was to have her message gain momentum in Europe through five major International Jazz Festivals across three countries, Clayton boldly self-introduced her own unique style of audience engagement at the Paris’ Jazz night club scene, then at the The Netherlands’ North Sea Jazz Festival open mic jam session, followed by a rave performance at the Montreaux Festival and Nice Festival.

”Performing for live audiences, for me, is a mission of love and healing – one that I hold as the highest expression of music artistry," shares Clayton, founder of Cedartree Worldwide, an entertainment service business, “Jazz, in this regard, is at a level of artistic expression all its own,” she said. “I knew in my spirit, when my friend Bob Dockery, an extraordinary media producer/creator, shared with me the rich, live performing possibilities through jam session audiences at the International Jazz Festivals in France, and neighboring countries (The Netherlands and Switzerland) – I knew this was the pathway Destiny had been preparing me for – to reach and engage audiences on a global scale in a healing, loving way that’s been given to me to share, to uplift our spirit at this time in the world.”

Leveraging her former corporate experience, MBA background, and the hustle-culture combined with her pursuit of international music success, Clayton’s journey resonates with anyone, but particularly women, seeking to redefine and rediscover their authentic selves to pursue their dreams…no matter what it is or how improbable it may seem.

Having performed internationally both on private tours and for the U.S. State Department, Clayton, also known as “America’s Songbird,” was excited to see that her music and her message resonated, penetrated, and stimulated European audiences. Her mission is to not only continue to kick open doors for herself to perform live jazz on a global basis, but to create opportunities for audiences in the U.S. to learn about and appreciate performing artists from around the world, on a greater scale.

“The time is now, especially since we’re in a post-pandemic era. Although much has changed, COVID is still around and people are still confused and afraid to gather in closed settings. I’m on a creative adventure to get people excited to experience live performances anew -- loving music along with your seat neighbor and seeing all things as possible – and fulfill on my God- given mission to use my gift as a healing, unifying force for good,” Clayton shared. “The point I wish to emphasize is that I, an American singer, was not traveling to just one festival in one country (i.e., America), but, rather, I was traveling across Europe to five festivals – across three countries. I was traveling not on vacation, but as a skilled professional in pursuit of my destiny – in the age of social media -- to showcase the “old school” way: face-to-face, in-person “hustle,” She continued. “To show and demonstrate “live” – without auto-tunes or special effects – my skills, my tenacity, my gifting -- to engage/connect with world class audiences of true music/Jazz aficionados regardless of language and land barriers. No, I was not on holiday - I was working, not sightseeing - for the greater mission: the uninterrupted, non-distracted joyful, healing, penetrating impact that performing live makes possible,” Clayton said.

 A trained musician and singer since the age of five, starting with Gospel in her father's church, Clayton possesses an impressive repertoire that showcases her multi-octave instrument talent across American musical genres, especially Jazz. She is very much at ease performing a variety of jazz, including swing, smooth, classical, jazz standards, swing, Bebop, fusion, and contemporary.

With regards to the healing therapy that music, particularly jazz music can bring, Clayton says that it happens through interaction and connectivity when the right energies, vibrations and ingredients converge.

“The resonating energy of live music performances allows the synergistic forces to establish a bond between seat neighbors, the band, and the atmosphere, to penetrate mind, body and soul for joy - for healing - for oxygen flow that heals, reduces stress, allows for escape from negativity, self-care, physical and mental health,” shared Clayton. “I find this is especially the case in Jazz music because people are not caught up in their differences, race, color, religion, ethnicity, finances or nation,” she continued. “It’s all about Jazz and its “freedom” to allow you to release - your ills, burdens, problems - and to also be set free. For me, live music is a shared spiritual experience that is uniquely new each encounter because each audience mixture/make- up is new with new needs and new opportunities for healing. In the midst of the applause, known or unbeknownst to them, I am sending out prayers over them and their families. I want them to be refreshed, revived and made new,” she said.

Although singing jazz is her preference, Clayton sings all genres of songs and recently released two singles. One being an original song, entitled Love Starts with Me,” written by an old friend and the other a song celebrating the opportunity for people to connect in a post-pandemic world.

“I was asked to sing this beautiful original song, “Love Starts with Me,” by an old friend, Richard Bridges and my song “I Ya Ya” was co-written with Grammy nominated Avery Johnson, both released in early September and celebrate love. I’m very excited about the release of 'I Ya Ya' – a fun song about hanging out and enjoying times together - at this time to affirm we are on the edge of what I believe could be the next iteration, or phase of jazz,” Clayton continued. “We feel adding a Latin-jazz energy to 'I Ya Ya's' house music rhythm gives listeners a fresh and heightened dimension to the improvisational nature of this song,” she said. “Listen and enjoy!”

For more about Myrna Clayton, go to Myrnaclayton.com.