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Hudson Valley Press

October 10th, 2012

Clayton returns to Ebenezer Baptist Church

Daryle Clayton recently returned to Ebenezer Baptist Church in the City of Newburgh, where he will be working with Newburgh’s youth and overseeing the church’s music-related activities.
NEWBURGH - Daryle Clayton might technically be stepping into three new music “jobs” this fall; however, it’s hard for him to give them those titles.
“Music is my life; it’s not even something I see as work or a job, because I love to do it so much,” said Clayton. “I just want to breathe life into any person I come into contact with through my passion for music.”

Clayton will once again have that opportunity to share his gift for music right here in the City of Newburgh. Recently beginning his duties as the new Minister of Music at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Clayton is further taking on two music teaching positions: at the Sam Miguel Middle School as well as the 21st Century After School Program at Newburgh Free Academy. During weekday mornings he can be found looking over all music happenings at Ebenezer; afternoons he will be fostering the youths’ music talents.

Clayton couldn’t be happier about the busy music schedule. It’s been a welcome music regime whose roots run deep. The seeds were planted in his native Idabel, Oklahoma as early as age three, when Clayton was striking keys on the piano. By fifth grade, his talents were spotted by a Texan pastor whose church was in need of a Minister of Music. So impressed by Clayton’s musical talents, that pastor would drive 40 miles to pick him up on a Friday after school, so that he could perform Minister of Music duties over the weekend. Sunday night, Clayton would return home, again completing the 40 mile commute with the pastor.

“I was always raised in a church,” recalled Clayton, who stayed with the pastor’s family during those childhood weekends.

His experiences in both music and the church proved priceless, as Clayton would go on to study voice at Langston University. In 1993, he relocated to Newburgh, where he filled the position of Minister of Music at Ebenezer Baptist Church until 1997. It was at that time that opportunities for a professional singing career began to surface, and Clayton made the most of them. He won ten times at the Apollo, singing memorable Luther Vandross ballads.

His impressive resume started to fill up with co-executive producer credits on a number of CDs, amongst them one for Natasha Williams, who played Mariah in the musical Porgy and Bess. Just last year he toured around Europe for three months with Queen Esther Marrow. Also last year, Clayton released his first solo CD. However, despite his individual music successes, that church pull remained.

Several months ago the yearning intensified when Clayton was approached to with a chance to return to his Minister of Music position at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Last winter the Church had a new leader, Dr. Bruce Davis, Sr., who was looking to take the music program to the next level. Clayton was his answer.

Living in New York City at the time and excited to return to the Church (and Newburgh) setting, Clayton could not resist Dr. Davis’ offer.

“I feel like I’m back home with family, people I’ve grown up with,” said Clayton. “I never felt like I was close to parishioners like I am here at Ebenezer Baptist Church.”

Guided by his weekly purpose, “We lift up the Lord’s name through song,” Clayton is setting the bar higher than ever at Ebenezer. Long-term, he is seeking to widen the horizon of the music at the Church by having the choirs sing all different types of music, spanning from traditional to contemporary. He’s also looking to have the music programs - as well as individuals - record CDs in the future. Clayton’s goal is clear: to bring out the musical talent in Newburgh. The methods continue to evolve.

“I want it to be like the movie ‘Sister Act’ here,” smiled an eager Clayton. “The arts can change people’s outlooks on life, especially the children. That just really excites me.”
5 / 5 (9 Votes)

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