Clay Davidson Biography

Review The Artist (10)

Clay Davidson-photo
Clay Davidson was born in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. From porches full of pickers, to bands gigging at fairs and local bars, to music played at church, the ridges and hollows surrounding the small town of Saltville, where Davidson grew up, were soaked in music. This meant gospel, soul, rock and roll, bluegrass, pop, blues, anything, really, all appreciated as the various elements of country. It was a world powered more by this ongoing richness of performed music than, for example, television.

"For the longest time, Davidson laughs, I didn't know the difference between my family's music and the radio. My dad, a guitarist and probably my biggest influence, would always be sitting around doing some very tasty Chet Atkins or Duane Eddy number. He was one of twelve children, and all of them played or sang. My first performance was singing an Elvis song at my grandmother's house for about forty relatives. There I am, standing in the middle of the floor, shaking my leg, wailing out "Hound Dog."

It seems natural that a gifted guy from such a fertile background might make a country album. And with Unconditional, the 29-year-old singer-writer guitarist's debut for Virgin Records Nashville, produced by the fresh studio combo of Virgin President & CEO Scott Hendricks and L.A.-based artist-writer-producer Jude Cole, that recording has arrived. Yanking the great tradition of the superbly well crafted country song to the instrumental freedom of soul, rock, blues, and gospel, Unconditional offers some of the most alive and on-target Nashville music in many seasons. Songs range from "I Can't Lie to Me," with its intensely fresh twist on blues friction, to "One More Day," which has a light yet stomping traveling vibe, to "Unconditional," an orchestrated ballad that grapples with the rare species of emotion that is permanent, unmovable.

From there, Davidson's songs deal with unusual everyday relationships, as on "My Best Friend and Me," done in a soulful mountain singer-songwriter style. They deal with heartbreak, as on "Plain Old Pain," which ends up rocking right through its trouble. Occasionally, they're about hanging out, as on We're All Here, a blue-ribbon Waylon-like drinking tune. Then there is Doghouse Rights, about the slightly comic yet all too grave domestic result of, as Davidson sings in his no-fuss soulful tenor, "breaking the rules of love." This is a country groove, touched by blues intimacy and gospel fire, like none other.

The eleven songs, seven of which Davidson himself wrote, comprise a stellar collection of Soulful Rocking Country. It's country music influenced by, but hardly limited to, Davidson's life-long love of artists like Merle Haggard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Don Williams, and Elvis Presley. I like to think that my songs remove the guess-work, Davidson says. "Most things today are so full of guess-work. So much stuff actually aims to confuse you, to shoot over your head. I like the simpler stuff, the kind of thing where you don't have to wonder what someone is talking about. That doesn't mean that some of the songs can't be heard or contemplated in different ways; they have their share of little complexities. But I try to concentrate on whatever it is I want to communicate. I like that blinding focus of trying to be as simple as dirt."

Davidson didn't come to Nashville immediately. When he was 18, he joined his older brother in Las Vegas for a while. All his life, Davidson had thrived on music, playing in bands with high school buddies ("four hour shows, he recalls), opening locally for touring artists like Tom T. Hall and Restless Heart. But Davidson knew he had something to say to people outside Virginia.

"I went to Las Vegas on a Greyhound, he says in his straightforward way. When we passed through Nashville, I remember looking out the window. It was probably nine or ten at night, and the place was all lit up. I looked out the window and vowed, that is where I want to be.

So, after returning home from Nevada, he made monthly trips to Nashville. Eventually, he auditioned for and won TNN's Charlie Daniels' Talent Round-up artist competition. With his award money, he and his wife Frances moved to central Tennessee, establishing themselves out-side Nashville, in nearby and more laid-back Mt. Juliet. Davidson was soon tapped as one of Nashville's most in-demand demo singers. Publishing deals and record company discussions followed. But his big break occurred when, through the wise intervention of his good friend Tammy Brown, a Music Row A&R rep, he substituted for Michael McDonald at an outdoor party for Jude Cole hosted by Scott Hendricks.

"It was a nervous high, Davidson says, remembering the night he sang My Best Friend and Me" for guests around a blazing fire. "But Scott walked up after I was finished and told me he was going to be heading up a new label, and that when the doors actually opened, to come see him. That was my invitation in."

Unconditional is the result. "From the beginning," Davidson says, "this has been completely different to how it usually goes down with a new artist in Nashville. I was not told to bend any. I was just told to be honest and truthful, just try to make something that we could all be proud of." In this case, magically enough, that's just what happened.

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old friend from va. who went to blue bird cafe.with him. | Reviewer: john wampler | 9/2/12

Clay I got some good songs done hope someone knowa how to get in contact with you.I live at 866 j frank taylor rd.cedarbluff va.long time no see I hope you didn't forget I was going to do security for u when you made it big need to make money help me if you all can thanks.

Shady Shack campground-2003!! | Reviewer: Roger Halsey | 2/22/12

I'm working on a novel that is based on my love for music, my family musical influences, my musical encounters, and what music has did for me! That is just a small taste of this work in progress! I am finally to the musical encounter section which is all about the COLOSSAL COWBOY,that's the chapter title, CLAY DAVIDSON! This chapter is dedicated to CLAY DAVIDSON and the hospitality in which he showed me in numerous occasions! I still have the stick of firewood that you signed for me after that amazing camping trip that you made possible at a full SHADY SHACK CAMPGROUND! I still have the Dixie outfitters shirt that you gave me after you signed and put the superman 'S' on! this was in the late summer of 2003 but feels like yesterday. Yes I am your biggest fan but more than a fan, i still think of you as a close friend just as the firewood signature says! If any way possible I need to get up with you Clay, you could change my life for the good with my book! After everything you did for me and my friends I owe you this and a lot more! As a friend I am asking for your help! Clay if by chance you do read this I hope you understand where I am coming from but either way You are still a close friend in my mind just as you wrote on that stick of wood! Please let this letter find you buddy for it would change my life forever if so!
your close friend always,
Roger Halsey
Sparta, NC

Looking for Clay! | Reviewer: Rob | 11/30/11

Clay. If you read this, please know that your album Unconditional turn my head to Country Music. I have been waiting (along with millions more) for more of your music. If all this is because you need a new drummer....I am

Keep it real brother and I hope to hear you soon

unconditional | Reviewer: bw | 10/16/11

when my husband had an anyerism in 2001, going back and forth to see him and trying to do what i'm supose to do. married in 1974, went through the army, two kids, then a 3rd in 80, what kept me going was this album, seen then i have a S on my chest. i haven't let him down and i will always be here for him, thank you for helping me out and thanks to your moma. love you

the honky tonker | Reviewer: gerald roberts | 4/3/11

dont know why he stopped.Clay Davidson owes me and the world more of this great music.The bad part for me is i cant find my original cd and my burned copy played to much got scratched now i cant find unconditional anywhere to buy now im screwed can anyone help.

where r u | Reviewer: michael | 3/27/11

Mr. Clay Davidson where have been? I saw you in concert when you came to Charleston, SC. I wish you would come back there.I really liked your cd, it was the best cd of all time. Would enjoy to have you back in the Carolinas again.

Where ARE YOU, CLAY!? | Reviewer: Lisa c. | 9/8/10

Man I loved your album. I missed you on the tiny tour Clearchannel Radio had you do way back then...sure wish you'd get signed again. Maybe to Gretchen Wilson's label, "Redneck"??
Don't give up on yourself OR that voice!! I must hear you sing again!! Come out from wherever you are!!

Where are other cds, and.... | Reviewer: Beth | 8/18/10

I have had Unconditional for years, and keep playing the cd while I work, etc. Where is he, why hasn't he performed on late night & t.v. shows, I'd like to see him get some recognition & accolades for his unique songs & talent. Tired of the same artists over & again. Is he only a songwriter? Where can I get another of his cds? Thank you, Beth in the big Sun city of El Paso, Texas

Thanks Clay! | Reviewer: Robert Jude Romero | 6/7/10

Back around 1997 or so, Clay demoed a patriotic song I wrote "The Scars of Old Sabres." Well, since then - it got some recognition: 2001 John Lennon song contest, runnerup Country category.
2009,UK Song Contest, (same award.) Recently, I was approached by a national veteran's group for possibly using it to bring attention to wounded vets. It would be great if I could discuss this with Clay. Thanks for your time.

Great biography for a great singer / songwriter! | Reviewer: Catherine Todd | 3/19/09

What ever happened to Clay Davidson? What a wonderful album he came out with called "Unconditional" in 2000. Wish he had more. Thanks for the great bio here to at least let us know more about this inspiring artist / singer / songwriter / musician. Kudos to all. CT

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-------- 11/24/2014
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