by Suzanne Tyson
The good news just keeps coming for Metter’s resident country singer Clayton Hackle. The latest is that he has been nominated for a Georgia Country Award for Male Vocalist of the Year by Georgia-Country.com.
Georgia-Country.com is Georgia’s number one site for country music. The site sponsors the annual awards program to recognize the best country entertainers in the state based on fan votes and a Georgia Country Awards Panel. The panel is made up of music business professionals in Georgia. The awards were created to honor and reward Georgia artists.
The criteria for being nominated are that the artist must be based in Georgia, perform most of his or her shows in Georgia, be an indie artist or signed only to a local recording contract, and call themselves country or play mostly country music. Clayton certainly fits the bill. He is Georgia Grown, performs in Georgia and is signed to Little Bird + Big Sound, an independent record label based in Rincon, Georgia.
According to Clayton, fan votes play a major part in whether he moves forward in the competition. He is currently in the Nomination Round, which will last six weeks. During that six weeks period, names can be added or deleted from the nominations list based on the number of votes the artist receives. To get an idea of how many votes are received for the contest, Georgia-Country.com received 15,000 “hits” per day from June 1 through October 16 of last year.
“I need votes to be able to advance,” says Clayton. Voting takes place online. To vote for Clayton or any other favorite country music vocalist, band or venue, readers should visit www.georgia-country.com. Click on the heading 2019 Georgia Country Music Awards. The ballot is there and Clayton’s name appears in the section for Male Vocalist of the Year. According to the website, only one vote per IP address is accepted. For families or others who share an IP address, votes can be sent via email to email@example.com.
Multiple six-weeks rounds of voting will lead to the finals, which will be held on Friday, November 8 at The Crazy Bull in Macon, Georgia. According to Clayton, the finals is presented in a way similar to the CMA’s, the Country Music Awards. “It will be a show with a judging panel,” explains Clayton.
If Clayton wins the award for which he has been nominated, he will receive a trophy and some amazingly good press. “Just being nominated is an honor,” he admits. “I’m just gonna ride this train and see where it goes,” he laughs.
More good news
Good things have been happening for Clayton recently. Just a week ago, he played his first gig in Atlanta – at the Hard Rock Café! “The Tiger Creek band out of Vidalia was the featured group,” says Clayton. “I was asked to be the warm up act.” Overall, Clayton feels good about his experience. “I had never played in Atlanta before, so it was pretty big,” he admits.
Being a die-hard Braves fan, Clayton and his wife, Leah, took advantage of the opportunity to see America’s Team play a game in their new stadium.
“While we were there, a group was performing at Battery Atlanta. I took advantage of the opportunity to talk with the event coordinator, so hopefully something will come of that,” says Clayton. It’s all about making contacts.
“2019 has been the best year I have had so far,” he says, giving credit to all of the people who have helped along the way. “I really owe it to the local guys. I can’t do it without them,” he adds, “And I am so thankful.”
In the meantime, Clayton is writing new music and getting ready to record. He says he would like to do another show in Metter, maybe as a benefit.
Another big thing that Clayton has coming up is his second visit to the American Idol auditions. Clayton explains, “I tried out for Idol in Savannah about five years ago.” What he remembers most from that experience is that it was a very long day. Looking back, he knows he wasn’t ready. But since then, Clayton has put in the work and paid his dues.
With American Idol auditions being held in Macon in August, he started considering another try for the music competition.
“I got to know Laine Hardy when he played up in Twin City last year, so I texted him to ask his opinion. Laine texted back ‘Go for it!’” Clayton grins.
Laine Hardy is the 2019 winner of the American Idol competition. Hardy tried out in 2018 and made it only to Hollywood. He attended the auditions for 2019 to play guitar for a friend when he was encouraged by the judges to try out again. The growth the 18 year old had made over the year was obvious and led to his receiving the title American Idol just a few weeks ago.
Clayton says of himself when comparing his previous Idol experience to what he expects when he tries out again in August, “I’m more experienced and more prepared. I have some confidence and I have played bigger stages, so I’m going to try it one more time! If nothing else, it’ll be another experience to tell my kids about…if I ever have any,” he laughs.
Between now and his upcoming Idol audition and the Georgia-Country Awards, Clayton will continue doing what he does – playing country music.
A busy schedule
He has some dates on his calendar. On Thursday, he will be playing for the Pineland Telephone Company Annual Meeting at the Metter-Pre-K-8 Education Complex. “Pineland Telephone tried to build up a little hype with a ‘Guess who will be playing at our meeting?’ Surprise! It’s me,” laughs Clayton. He says he is looking forward to playing for a large group of locals who may or may not have heard him play before.
Other dates Clayton is looking forward to include a gig at The Blue Room in Statesboro, a live music venue located on Chandler Road, on June 15th, and playing at The Barrell House on Congress Street in Savannah and Wild Wings Café in Pooler in the next few weeks. Additionally, he is playing some private parties and otherwise making contacts, working on his music, and waiting on more good news.