Showing the love

Florence's Elle Ann Claytor reminisces the old, flourishes with the new

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Elle Ann Claytor is one of the managers and bartenders at Pie Factory in Florence, Alabama. She will not only have you dancing and singing by mixing up your favorite drink, but will get you out of your seat, clapping your hands and singing along any time you see her perform live.

Claytor is a spirited 24-year-old upcoming artist, from right here in the Shoals. She has been performing since she was a preteen, and she has performed for over 200 live audiences. Claytor has been singing her whole life and learned how to play guitar at the age of 12.

“I started singing in church at a very young age,” she said. “Once I started playing guitar, I got an urge to start playing shows on my own.”

Claytor started calling venues and booking her very own shows at the same age she learned guitar. Even more impressive, she has handled everything on her own without the help of any music manager or team since.

“I’ve booked all shows on my own, and handled all monetary contracts myself since that young age,” she said. “And I’ve been able to thrive as much or as little as I’ve had time to.”

Claytor’s family has influenced her a lot in her musical endeavors. Her parents and three brothers are all musicians, so she was born in a musical environment. She grew up in the small town of Haleyville, Alabama, and was homeschooled until 10th grade, which helped further her music.

“Each of my family members has a very different taste in music, which has also added to my already weird mix of music [taste],” she said.

Her family has supported her with her music since the very beginning. Coming from a musical family gave her a unique opportunity to bond with them in ways a lot of families do not. She said her parents would love for her to pursue a full-time career in music, as her dad is the one who taught her how to play guitar and is always finding new music to send her way.

Claytor performs regularly at the Rising Crust in Florence. She loves how lively the crowd is and the interaction she has with her audience there.

Along with playing at weddings and private parties, she also plays regularly at Swamper’s in the Marriott of the Shoals, which is famous for songwriters.

“I love playing at Swamper’s because it is known for its fame,” Claytor said. “When Steven Tyler recently came to the Shoals he actually walked in during one of my sets.”

“I feel like my main purpose in life is to show love to people.”

Claytor performs a wide variety of covers that range from Michael Jackson to The Beatles and even Ray Charles. Claytor’s covers are mostly classified as classic rock, but she plays a wide variety of music.

“I like to do songs that people have heard before, but maybe not that recently,” she said. “People are usually surprised by the songs I have chosen to sing.”

Claytor is also a singer/songwriter and has five new original songs.

“I guess you can say my songs are more folky,” she said. “One of the songs that I am recording today is influenced by the show ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ The song was very much driven by emotion.”

Claytor is making sure to make an appearance at many of the latest Florence events. Last month she performed at Flo-Fest, and she will also be setting up on the Big River Broadcasting stage to perform at September’s First Friday for a second time. Claytor said she loves performing at First Friday’s because of the large diversity of people there.

Claytor has many music inspirations but her top music inspiration is Allison Krauss. Claytor has been listening to Krauss since she was a little girl, courtesy of her dad’s introduction.

“I saw Krauss and Union Station play in Birmingham a couple of years ago, and it was so beautiful and perfect that I couldn’t stop crying,” Claytor said. “She was in Florence for a private event a year or two ago, and my friend told me about it. I went there and tried to see if I could possibly meet her, but her security wouldn’t let me.”

Claytor loves to harmonize with Krauss’ music and has even been told that her tone is very similar to the singer’s. Her goal in life is to someday meet her idol and sing with her, even if it’s just a song for fun at a meet and greet.

Originally, she thought about majoring in music therapy but not many schools offer this degree in Alabama. She graduated in December 2017 from the University of North Alabama with a marketing degree, which she said has definitely served her well in marketing herself and her music.

“I initially was studying music, but I decided I could get a degree in something a little more practical, and definitely still play music as much as I liked,” she said.

Along with Claytor’s genuine love for music she also loves her job as a bartender, being around people and spending time with her Maltese puppy, Obi. She is a huge Star Wars fan (if the name of her dog doesn’t give that away), and she is just trying to live life being a kind person.

“I feel like my main purpose in life is to show love to people, so that’s what I try to do in my daily life,” she said. “I work hard to be a genuine and loving person.”

Eventually Claytor hopes to one day take her musical talents out to the coast and maybe even bartend there as well.

“I would like to someday work in the music business industry as a booking agent or manager at the very least,” she said. “But I would love to be a full time singer or artist myself.”