Clayton Graves Williams entered the world of Performance Theater at a very early age. Williams began participating in various fine arts activities; gaining an increased amount of exposure to the Arts & Entertainment world. Dr. Willard Hines of ‘The Willard Hines Ensemble.’ Dr. Hines later became a mentor to Williams and helped the young artist land a role in his first stage performance: Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat by Andrew Lloyd Weber 1999 in Detroit, Michigan.
In May 2012, Clayton went on to attend Winston-Salem State University as a Voice Scholarship Student; earning a B.A degree in Music. His exceptional coursework and leadership skills earned him various honors; including scholarships from The Brazel W. Dennard Fund and Thurgood Marshall College Fund as well as Regional Winner of the newly created NBA Gold-Standard Scholarship and recognition in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
Clayton continued his musical training throughout childhood; and with the help of his mentor, he began to develop his vocal techniques, discipline and repertoire. Holding tight to his musical aspirations; Williams later auditioned and was accepted into the esteemed Detroit School of Fine and Performing Arts (DSA). His enrollment in the prestigious high school proved to be serendipitous the unforgettable day that he found himself performing alongside the legendary Opera Diva Soprano Kathleen Battle. The ‘once in a lifetime’ experience caused Clayton’s entertainment ambitions to explode; causing an exponential increase in his artistic ingenuity.
In 2014 the emerging artist used his many talents to create and perform in the excitingly staged US recital tour “Souls of the Soil” with mezzo-soprano Erica Papillion-Posey. The program and its eclectic array of music gained an increased amount of success; commanding Williams’ presence on stages throughout the United States. Williams’ repertoire also includes Baritone Soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Bizet’s Angus Dei, Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C,K. 220 and a performance in the chorus of Faure’s Requiem in 2010 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Other highlights include the roles of Bartolo and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Bunthrone in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience. In March 2015, Williams made a dynamic debut as Escamilio in Bizet’s Carmen with Golden Rose Opera Works in Queens, New York. Since his debut, Williams has made various stage appearances including Solo Artist in the Celebration of Talents Scholarship Recital in DuPage, Illinois and the cover role of Ephraham in the Harlem Opera Theater revival of Harlem Renaissance figure H. Lawrence Freemans’ Voodoo at Miller Theater in New York City June of 2015. The New York Times featured two stories on the ‘Long unheard opera;’ crediting Freeman’s bravado in premiering the show in 1928 at NY’s Palm Garden; featuring an all-black cast. Freeman was one of the first African-American composers of the 20th century.
As Clayton makes his ascent into operatic stardom, he is unwilling to let any one part of his career define him. In addition to singing on stage and at various churches and benefit concerts, Clayton can be found on the ‘big screen’ making background appearances in primetime television’s hit shows such as ‘Law & Order SVU,’ CBS’s ‘Blue Bloods,’ Showtime’s ‘Billions’ & more. Eager to take his acting career to the next level, Williams is currently working on honing his craft in order to land lead roles and become a member of the Screen Actors Guild. ‘When people see me, I just want them to know that I am an entertainer without limits’ – says Clayton. The rising icon is an Emerging Talent Award Winner of the coveted Lotte Lenya Competition and holds a Master of Music and Voice degree from Manhattan School of Music.