B I O G R A P H Y
THE SONGBIRD WHO TRAVELS THE WORLD.
I want everyone to "do their gift"...to look at me and see their possibilities. If I can do it, so can they.
Nothing compares to the live performances of America’s Songbird Myrna Clayton.
Audiences around the world get up to dance when Myrna sings, mesmerized by her soul-filled, profound musical message for all. Tagged “The Maynard Ferguson of Jazz vocals” by a Jazz orchestra conductor in Kazan, Russia, Myrna is America’s Songbird, showcasing her versatility across a broad mix of American music: Jazz, Pop, Soul, Gospel, R&B, Blues, or Country. Myrna’s entertaining and uplifting performances are unforgettable. Whether performing for a few or many, she invigorates the audience to dance and sing along, building a connected community of joy.
Myrna and her band, "The Myrna Clayton Experience" were awarded the opportunity to serve their country by the U.S. State Department by representing American Music Abroad at US Embassies around the world for cultural exchange. They were selected as 1 of 10 bands, out of 400 bands from 40 states across the USA. In 2018, “The Myrna Clayton Experience” performed for 5 U.S. Embassies in EurAsia's Baltic Region: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, and Moldova. In 2019, the ensemble performed in Southwest Africa for the US Embassy in Namibia. In March, 2020 Myrna and her band returned to America from their 7th U.S. Embassy cultural exchange tour in Guatemala, (Central America). Within weeks of Myrna returning to Atlanta from Guatemala and discovering the impact of COVID-19, Myrna was asked to perform her first ever virtual concerts for Jazz Appreciation from (4) different entities: U.S. State Department, Herbie Hancock Institute/International Jazz Day, U.S. Embassy of Namibia (SW Africa) and City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Arts’ 43rd Atlanta Jazz Festival 31 Days of Jazz Series.
Hitting the ground running in 2021, Myrna was spotlighted during Black History Month by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. To coincide with this honor, Myrna and her band released the compelling original song entitled “We Are One” recorded in Namibia (Southwest Africa) during their U.S. State Department's Arts Envoy Cultural Exchange tour for the U.S. Embassy in Namibia. In tribute of the contributions and resiliency of women during the 2021 COVID-19 pandemic, Cultural Ambassador Myrna Clayton released her digital single “You Are Beautiful” during Women’s History Month on March 15, 2021, to underscore the essential benefit of music and the essential work of those who bring an experience to others through music.
Not only known for performing abroad, America’s Songbird Myrna Clayton was endorsed at home by The Georgia Presenters Association to perform a 2019 GA Block tour of performances in historic theatres across the state of Georgia, delighting and engaging audiences with their favorite tunes.
Now a Cultural Ambassador and World Bridge Creator, this Alabama native and Atlanta-reared singer/songwriter has performed across the world in Germany, France, Great Britain, Nigeria, Russia, and Belarus as well as across the U.S., from New York City to New Orleans. Myrna attracts audiences, whether it’s in theater halls, festivals, churches, outdoor amphitheaters, national/international conferences, or conventions. Many of these wonderful, diverse performances have been captured through live recordings on YouTube. In addition to performing with her own band, Myrna enjoys being a featured vocalist for Big Bands. She has performed with four (4) Big Bands in Atlanta GA, including Atlanta’s oldest and longest-running Jazz orchestra (the African-American Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra) and Westside Winds 24-piece “Big Band” Jazz Orchestra (the most diverse big band orchestra in the southeast). She has also performed with seven (7) Big Bands across the countries of Russia and Belarus.
As a quintessential entertainer, Myrna is a singer/songwriter, bandleader, flutist, A&R/vocal performance coach, and studio-session singer. A trained musician and singer since the age of 5 at her father’s church, Myrna possesses an impressive repertoire that showcases her multi-octave instrument. Talented across American musical genres, especially Jazz, Myrna is at ease performing Smooth Jazz, Classical Jazz Standards, Swing, Bebop, Fusion, and Contemporary Jazz.
In 2017, Myrna was selected by top award-winning Theatre Presenters and Producers for a coveted “juried” showcase at SouthArts’ Performing Arts Exchange. She has been the opening act for a wide array of top artists such as Kirk Whalum, Ruben Studdard, Alex Bugnon, Lalah Hathaway, and The Manhattans.
While greatly influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, and Natalie Cole, Myrna proudly acknowledges that her singing roots began in the church. Born in Alabama and raised in Atlanta GA, Myrna's father(minister and educator) and mother (librarian and archivist) instilled a drive within her for excellence and education. Myrna made her singing debut at the age of five in her father’s church. She graduated from Atlanta’s prominent Northside High School, earned a BS at Alabama A&M University, and went on to achieve an MBA from Atlanta University, building a successful corporate marketing career first before switching to launch her career as a professional American singer.
America’s Songbird Myrna Clayton is beloved for her charming and generous persona, her gifted and authentic performing artistry -- and for being a loving force for humankind. Her willingness to help others develop their artistry comes from Myrna’s belief in paying back a debt of gratitude -- for her gift of song.
Artist-in-Residence/Performance Coach and Workshop Leader
America’s Songbird is also a sought-after teacher/coach and has helped many to develop their artistry. Myrna’s passion, professionalism, and extraordinary talent in the performing arts have recently been recognized by the Georgia Council of the Arts. The Council has positioned her on both their prestigious “Georgia Artists” and “Georgia Teaching Artists” rosters. Respected in the area of Artist Development, Myrna offers Master Classes in Vocal Performing Arts, Gospel workshops, Jazz Scatting/Improv technique workshops, Healthy Voice clinics, and clinics that specialize in music for people on the disability spectrum.
Myrna has coached students ranging from ages 8 to 60+ and is willing to develop artists at any age and ability. She truly enjoys sharing, coaching, and encouraging others to perfect their gifts. Myrna firmly believes that how you treat your gift, demonstrates to the Giver of the gift how much you appreciate your gift.
Advocate for The Musically Under-served
Near and dear to Myrna’s heart is her fight for equity opportunities for under-served communities. Myrna started a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, ABEL 2, Inc. (pronounced "able to") now known as SHOWAbility, Inc. ( www.SHOWAbility.org) that presents shows for artists and audiences with disabilities so that they too may experience the gift of music and the opportunity to share it. Currently, SHOWAbility is creating a registry of Artists with Disabilities in Georgia and the Southeast. America's Songbird sings passionately that Disability Rights are Civil and Human Rights!