Recently named the "Most Promising Semi-Finalist" at the Unisa International Jazz Voice competition, Tahira Clayton's ascension in the musical community is no longer a secret. Known for her honest vocal delivery and charismatic energy on stage, the now New York based vocalist Tahira Clayton is sure to charm any audience set before her. The up and coming vocalist and band leader hails from the Dallas-Fort Worth area where she started performing professionally at the age of 10. Singing in various church bands, Tahira learned how to cultivate her big sound. At the age of 11, Tahira competed and won the University of North Texas Vocal Jazz Camp Scholarship, allowing her to attend the university’s prestigious camp as the youngest ever attendee. Here, she was mentored and directed by Paris Rutherford, Jennifer Barnes, and Rosana Eckert. During her time at this camp Tahira found a love for vocal jazz music that would undoubtedly color the future of her career.
By high school, Tahira was performing in the Grammy Award Winning Plano Senior High School A Cappella choir (PSHS). While performing for PSHS, she was chosen to sing in a choir directed by Anton Armstrong from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Also during this time, Tahira received her first full time job as a vocalist singing for the Roof Raisers Variety Band under the direction of Gene Glover. Through this opportunity, Tahira has sung in countless shows and built an extensive repertoire ranging from straight ahead jazz, big band, R&B, pop rock, and country. Tahira recorded and performed regularly as the Roof Raisers’ lead vocalist until December of 2015. Tahira currently lends her performance talents to the New York company, the Band Method, playing events for high profile clients nationally and internationally.
Tahira has performed as the featured vocalist in some of Dallas-Fort Worth’s most prestigious venues including Bass Hall (Ft. Worth), the House of Blues (Dallas), Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas), as well as events such as the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. Tahira was often seen in many of the Dallas area's most popular local music venues as well, such as the Green House (Denton), the Balcony Club (Dallas), RBC, and the Crown and Harp (Deep Ellum)-leading bands or as a featured vocalist.
As well as being an active performer, Tahira is an in-demand clinician and educator. Working with elementary to high school-aged pop/jazz choirs, Tahira exposes younger minds to song interpretation, group and individual performance technique, as well as group and individual vocal technique. Tahira currently holds a teaching position at Bach To Rock: America's Music School in New York City, specializing in private voice instruction, beginning piano, and early childhood music. Tahira also holds a teaching position at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, directing 3 choirs throughout New York City.
In Jan 2018, Tahira traveled to Pretoria, South Africa where she competed in the Unisa International Voice Competition as 1 of 13 international competitors (1 of 2 Americans) in the jazz category. Tahira quickly won the affection of the audience and received raving remarks from the judges including being a, "real jazz singer," whose "ballads are sublime," and "truly a story teller" with her "style, swing-feel, and grace," being praised. Tahira was named the "Most Promising Semi-Finalist" by the jury of the competition. Tahira plans to return to tour South Africa in early 2019.
Tahira is a graduate of the University of North Texas (Class of 2015) where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Jazz. Tahira spent the majority of her degree under the direction of Jennifer Barnes and Rosana Eckert in the Vocal Jazz Studies program. While at North Texas, Tahira has participated in lectures and master classes from the likes of Kurt Elling, John Clayton, Janis Sigel, members of the Singers Unlimited, Peter Eldridge, and the Real Group, and has performed with Bobby McFerrin.
In addition to being a sought after performer and educator, Tahira is a dedicated activist. She is on the inaugural leadership team of the Women in Jazz Organization, an organization tackling systemic sexism in the jazz community. Tahira is a vocal and active advocate for civil rights within the black, LGBTQA, and homeless communities. Currently, she runs the Brown Bag Initiative, a project that gets everyday essentials to the homeless.
Utilizing the term urban contemporary jazz vocalist, Tahira writes and collaborates on original music projects. Her most frequent collaborations are with with AMP trio (Addison Frei, Matt Young, Perrin Grace), a New York based jazz trio. Together with this group, they have achieved international acclaim, radio play, and recognition; reaching #24 on the Jazz Weekly Charts. She is the featured vocalist on the group’s second album, "m(y)our world," and recently joined them in headlining a stage at the Rockville Jazz Festival (Feb. 2017). Tahira has also embarked on a tour with the group covering parts of the United States and Canada. As well as working on the AMP Trio project, Tahira has worked on the individual projects of AMP Trio's pianist, Addison Frei (Intentions, Transit), and bassist, Perrin Grace (Nef). These collaborations have also taken Tahira to venues in New York, Florida, and Kansas.
Recently, Tahira in collaboration with AMP Trio won the DC Jazz Festival’s 2nd annual DC Jazz Prix, a competition aimed at elevating the up and coming jazz artists of the new generation. Tahira Clayton and AMP Trio will perform on the main stage of the DC Jazz Festival in the Summer of 2018.
As a band leader in the last year, Tahira has quickly made a mark on other parts of the United States as well. Leading groups in storied venues such as the Cornelia Street Café, the Cell Theatre, Café Noctumbulo, the Kitano (New York), The Jazz Showcase (Chicago), the White House (Orlando), and others, Tahira is establishing herself as a musical force throughout the country.
With her unique style, vast knowledge of numerous genres of music, and invaluable performance experience, Tahira has established herself as a true musical force. Tahira continues to write, perform, and record as a jazz vocalist in New York City.