A native of the Warrior Creek community near Gray Court, South Carolina, Harold Clayton was around music his entire life. 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 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 a community fish fry. 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. Clayton and fellow musicians offered 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 passed away in 2015.
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 enjoyed working with the surrounding community as well. He was often found singing at local retirement homes and was a regular participant at local festivals like Pioneer Day in Gray Court. Clayton received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2016.