A gifted Southern soul singer who has never had a breakout vehicle, Willie Clayton has been performing since the late '60s. One of 11 brothers and sisters, the Mississippi vocalist debuted with "That's the Way Daddy Did" on Duplex. He moved to Chicago in the early '70s and became a club and city favorite. Clayton was introduced to Al Green's producer, Willie Mitchell, after appearing with Green, and Mitchell signed him to a deal with Pawn, a subsidiary of Hi. Mitchell produced some fine Clayton efforts, including "I Must Be Losin' You," "It's Time You Made Up Your Mind," and "Baby You're Ready," but none of them hit. He spent time touring with Green, Barry White, and James Brown, and started his own Sky Hero label in 1980, but the song "Living with You, But My Heart Is Somewhere Else" had only marginal regional exposure.
Clayton tried again with the Kirstee label, issuing "Where Has Love Gone," and finally enjoyed a taste of soul success in 1984 when his "Tell Me" (produced by General Crook) and "What a Way to Put It" for Compleat Records nudged onto the R&B charts. Let's Get Together, Clayton's 1993 album for Johnny Vincent's Ace logo, was a smooth soul-blues hybrid dominated by originals but titled after Al Green's immortal hit. Simply Beautiful, his Ace follow-up, found Clayton mixing dusties by Reverend Al, Aretha Franklin, and Arthur Crudup with his own stuff. It's About Love followed in 1999. After the turn of the century, Clayton released Love, Romance & Respect in 2009 and two albums in 2011: The Voice (featuring the single "Tonight") and The Tribute: One Man, One Voice. ~ Ron Wynn & Bill Dahl