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Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards

2016 Recipient: Harold Clayton


Harold Clayton
Advocacy - Bluegrass and Gospel Music

Posthumous Award


Harold ClaytonHarold Clayton was a native of the Warrior Creek community near Gray Court, South Carolina. His father, Alvin, was a multi-instrumentalist who instilled in Harold a passion for a variety of instruments and music traditions. Clayton played the upright bass and guitar, but his true passion was in providing a venue for music to be presented, taught, and appreciated.


He first began providing space for local musicians to play in 2003. Every Saturday night, folks knew they could gather for a good time of picking, singing, and fellowship. In 2006, Clayton had the opportunity to move into a different space and, along with the help of friends, he completely remodeled and opened the Owings Music Hall. In order to help pay for the expense of the renovation, Clayton and his friends put on community fish fries. Friends helped with the electrical, carpentry, and plumbing work. The completion of the music hall was truly a community-based project.


Now musicians from across the region show up every Friday and Saturday night to play for crowds of young and old. Musicians offer music lessons on a regular basis, even lending instruments to students, as needed. Many of these young musicians come back to play at the music hall. In 2009, Clayton built an addition on the building to accommodate the growing crowds and the many musicians who played outside.


Clayton made a conscious effort to share his love of music with his family – both his son and grandson learned from him and are accomplished musicians today. Clayton also enjoyed working with the surrounding community as well. He could often be found singing at local retirement homes and was a regular participant at local festivals like Pioneer Day in Gray Court.


Clayton passed away in April 2015, but his family and the music community continue to carry on his legacy.


About the Folk Heritage Awards


For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards, please contact Laura Marcus Green (803-734-8764), South Carolina Folklife & Traditional Arts Program Director.