THE VOICE OF SILK & SOUL
"Clif conveys feelings and emotions. He's able to convey in those who listen to his music the emotions that he has experienced. The magic of a true artist is precisely to convey their emotions through music, and Clif manages to do this in a very special way! Charm, class, refinement and perfect arrangements make Clif Payne an artist truly complete!"
"I love what Clif does. He will definitely make you feel the love!" Pete Turner/Break It Down Show
Pop superstar Katy Perry, pianist Taylor Egsti. and trumpeter Chris Botti are among the celebs who have been in Clif's audiences.
He's opened in concert for Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Dionne Warwick. He has performed or recorded with Laurence Hobgood, Freda Payne, Harvey Mason, Norman Conners, Ellis Hall, Tower Of Power, Dave Koz, former Chicago lead vocalist Bill Champlain, The Los Angeles acapella ensemble Inner Voices and jazz fusionists Hiroshima. Clif has shared the stage with Dianne Reeves, The Commodores, Lakeside. His album credits include George Benson, Little Anthony, En Vogue's Maxine Jones, Gerald Albright, Phil Perry, Arsenio Hall Show music director Victoria Theodore and Evelyn "Champagne" King.
BEGINNINGS IN HARLEM
Clif is the son of James "Buddy" Payne, reedsman with the Lionel Hampton, Lucky Millinder, Cozy Cole and Fletcher Henderson bands of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920s-1950s. James was a regular in the Apollo Theater bands. Clif's mother, Aline, educated by Tuskegee Alabama legends James Weldon Johnson and William Dawson, was an ensemble vocalist who once backed Nat “King” Cole. James was in Coles's accompanying band for the Tuskegee concert. It's how Clif's Mom and Dad met! While in Harlem the Payne's lived within walking distance of the Apollo Theater. Duke Ellington lived on the floor above the Payne family, and Clif's Mom used to tell remembrances of her "just happening to be in the lobby" when Duke would pass through. The entire building is now a national landmark because Ellington lived there.
Clif's musical ascent began when Bobby McFerrin featured Clif as a special guest vocalist. Since then, Clif has performed at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, Yoshi's, West Hollywood's Troubadour and LA's Jazz Bakery. As a guitarist, Clif has backed Rich Little, Wolfman Jack, Danny Gans and former Platters lead vocalist Sonny Turner.
AN EARLY FALL IN SAN FRANCISCO: A BREEZY '13--(the name of my wheelchair was "breezy")
I'll never take walking for granted again. 2013 was to be my year of great musical opportunities. But, all that was put on hold on April 6 while performing in San Francisco. I did a routine leap off the stage onto a crowded dance floor. When I landed, I discovered that I had blown out both kneecaps and torn a tendon. Plus, I was locked in a squat position and couldn't get up. Fortunately, there were 3 doctors on the dance floor who rushed over, unlocked my legs and kept me from going into shock. They called paramedics, who then took me to St. Francis Med Center. On Monday, April 8, surgery was was performed to repair all the damage in both knees. It's the kind of injury athletes are prone to getting. I've heard it happening with one knee-- but two? At the same time?
"I WANNA BE AROUND . . ."
I knew my injury was serious, but I didn't realize how serious until the surgeon and his assistant visited me in my hospital room. The doctor said, "Clif, we don't want to alarm you but, the last African American patient of mine that had your kind of an injury a year ago died suddenly 4 weeks after leaving the hospital." Apparently, fatal blood clots had formed in his legs, travelled to his lungs and caused a pulmonary embolism--killing him in within minutes of his arrival at the hospital ER room. "We don't want that to happen to you, so we'll be quite aggressive in giving anti-blood clotting treatment. We wanna keep you around a little longer!" Two big thumbs way up for that last sentence! Two weeks in the hospital followed.
I spent the Christmas Season of 2013 learning how to walk again after spending nearly 6 months in a wheelchair. Transitioned from wheelchair to walker to cane. Now, I'm back on my feet complete!
(courtesy LinkedIn, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clif_Payne)
"Clif is a lush tenor with soaring melismas in his individual passages." Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times
Clif's music is a melange of jazz, r&b, funk, The Great American Songbook, Harlem, Broadway and the call of long ago New Orleans. His vocals evoke the soothing tones of Donny Hathaway, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder.
What is Exhale Slowly: The Series?
It's based on Clif's song "Exhale Slowly" that he introduced on IGTV in January 2021. The song is about the realization that all of us-- in spite of all the recent drama in the news affecting us--all of us still need a time and space to just "chill out." We only have one life to live, right? So we might as well destress whenever we can. Response to the song has been so positive that Clif decided to create a music video series based on the principle of calmness and positivity featuring his songs, fresh song covers, mashups, medleys and commentary. Exhale Slowly: The Series is a musical encouragement for all of us to keep on keepin' on.