Photo Credit Samantha Clayton
"It speaks very well indeed for Samantha Clayton's comfort with risk that the Toronto jazz singer thrives on the challenges presented by the music especially of Thelonious Monk and Joni Mitchell. She succeeds on their terms, and no less her own, in fine style — warm, secure and suitably provocative."
- Mark Miller, jazz critic and author
Photo credit Vita Cooper
Photo credit Alliance Française
Samantha made her debut at age eight with "My Dog Spot", laying the groundwork for her burgeoning love for bebop at a very early age. Her earliest influences were that of Cleo Laine, Barbra Streisand, and Johnny Mathis (which all were found in her Parent's record collection). Samantha sang as an alto in choir and jazz ensembles throughout her school years, but it wasn't until she started private coaching with a classical teacher that she discovered she was in fact a mezzo-soprano! (Alas, she was lifted from her lowly alto status).
Samantha has traveled and performed as both singer and dancer throughout North America with highlights including various clubs and festivals in the Catskills of upstate NY; Lincoln Center, NYC; The Kitchen, NYC; Toronto's FFIDA (Fringe Festival in Dance Arts); and both The Omega Institute, NY; and The Kripalu Center, MA; as artist-in-residence.
Samantha danced professionally with MOVITA dance company -a modern dance ensemble committed to bridging the gap between youths and adults. Samantha played regularly at visionary/composer Pauline Oliveros' "Deep Listening Space" in Kingston, NY with "The Sacred Fire Trio" - an ensemble comprised of vocals, fret-less bass and 12-string baritone guitars. The free-form structure of the group's dynamic provided an open setting for Samantha to explore all facets of her voice, including spontaneous stream of conscience dialogue, spoken word, and at times pure vocal sound in lieu of lyrics.
Musical favorites and influences are many: Sam is a devout Joni Mitchell fan, she loves the quirky genius of Monk, the creative virtuosity of Betty Carter's phrasing, the spacing of Miles, the subtle intensity and immediate intimacy of Shirley Horn, the fantastic ensemble work of anything Charles Lloyd does, the whimsical intelligence and versatility of Kate Bush, the "music is my life" attitude and dedication possessed by many of the pioneering jazz musicians, the joy and brilliance of Stevie Wonder, the sensuality of Al Green, and the poignant lyric and turn of phrase from many a gifted songwriter.