Originally posted in Waynesville Daily Guide online – Billy James Clayton is a proud ex-truck driver who writes what he knows. He knows driving, truck stops, heartbreak, struggle, faith and family. It all figures into his lifestyle – his lifestyle has just shifted to living on the road making music from living over the road making money. But he hasn’t forgotten his working class roots as he digs for a deeper spiritual return for his efforts. He wants to bring people joy through honest music, rather than bring people merchandise through trucking over the road.
Clayton stands by the fact that his love of music has been ever-present in his life. It began in the church choir when he was a young boy in Michigan and followed him through the Marine Corps and life on the road as a big rig trucker.
Clayton is now trying to break onto the national country music scene with his first CD and is setting plans in motion to record a second. He already has a bit of local celebrity, courtesy of his time as a popular radio host, although he is now the first to admit that he’s finding it hard to lose the on-air moniker he coined for himself.
One of my friends said I should start calling myself ˜The Artist Formerly Known as Tan-Man,’ he said with a laugh. I never thought it would be as hard to change that as it is.
Clayton has a substantial local fan base and enjoys performing at area festivals and events, where he’s warmly received by his friends and neighbors. However, between live performances he’s actively trying to network with music industry contacts and other musicians.
I’ve been pretty busy, he admitted. Clayton also has his eyes set on his next goal, cutting another CD in Nashville. His first CD, Truckload of Love, is already a hit with truck driver faithfuls. They find solace and validation in his simple, but honest song lyrics. And small wonder, since the songs on Truckload were written by Clayton while he was living on the road as a long-haul trucker.
Any trucker can relate to those songs, he said. But he said the CD isn’t solely for truckers. Anyone who has been away from loved ones or headed out on their next big adventure will be able to relate.
Clayton said he’s proud of his debut CD, but he is already working on his follow-up. I’ve got my next CD written out, he said. I already know that I want it to be grittier and have more of a personal sound. And he’s busy eyeing his next move, which may include a trip out to Nashville.
If you want to be a country music singer, you’ve got to go to Nashville, he stated. However, no immediate plans are in the works for a visit yet and while Clayton ponders his next move he keeps concentrating on his local fans and industry networking.
It’s just like in the Marines, he said of his philosophy. I’m just going to keep throwing punches and one of them is going to land.
Have a look and listen at this rising country music star from Missouri, who blends an uplifting mix of classic twang, gospel, and bluegrass into something new and fresh. We know you’ll love it. ‘Til next time truck drivers!