Clay is a native of Georgia, where he studied music at Andrew College and Valdosta University. Clay began his career as a church pianist at the age of 12, playing for his hometown United Methodist church. Clay was confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 1983. For over 40 years, Clay has accompanied choirs & congregations, with the past 14 years serving Maui congregations.
After moving to Maui from Georgia in 1999, Clay immediately recognized that all three Maui pipe organs were in need of total renovation. Clay initiated and helped organize the maintenance and renovations of the pipe organs of Makawao Union Church, Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, and St. John’s. Clay is very familiar with the organ at St. John’s, having scheduled, trained with, and assisted the organ technicians (originally recommended by his organ teacher, Katherine Crosier, of Honolulu) for the past 14 years. Clay continues to study organ with Mrs. Crosier monthly, after receiving and completing a three-year scholarship from the Hawaii Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Clay is very knowledgeable in sacred choral music and hymnology, and takes his position at St. John’s very seriously. Before selecting the weekly preludes, congregational hymns, choral anthems, and postludes, Clay studies the weekly scripture lessons and chooses corresponding music with much thought and prayer. Clay says that ‘even the organ preludes and postludes are related to our Sunday scripture lessons!’ Clay stresses that his music (and that of the choir) is not a performance, but rather is intended to assist parishioners in prayer and meditation. “God has blessed me with this opportunity to assist with His work, and I continue to strive and seek education to be a better church musician,” he says.
One of Clay’s goals at St. John’s is to not only integrate music from our existing hymnals, but also to introduce ‘new’ hymns from other resources. “It’s very important to choose hymn tunes that are easily recognized and singable for the congregation,” he says. Clay encourages our parishioners to ‘stand up’, ‘perk up’, and ‘look up’ when singing from their hymnals. He also reminds us to be sure to look at the words of the hymn text, as they include meaningful lyrics, profound insights, deep affirmation of faith, reminders of God’s Word, and passages from Holy Scripture.
While Clay has had a relationship with St. John’s for well over a decade, frequently playing for weddings, funerals, and many other special occasions over the years, he stresses that he still has many people to meet, and is hopeful the members will introduce themselves. We wish Clay, his partner, Bill, and dog, Walter, a warm welcome, and look forward to getting to know them all in the weeks and months to come.