Clayton Reilly is a three time Grammy nominated Soul Train award winning music producer/professional trumpet player. Reilly graduated from The University of The Arts in 2006 with a Bachelors of Music Degree with a concentration in Trumpet Performance. Following graduation, Reilly toured the world numerous times performing behind artists such as John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, The Legendary Roots, Rick Ross, Patti LaBelle, and many more. In 2009, Reilly decided to pursue another one of his dreams in the music industry. This resulted in Reilly signing a joint venture publishing deal with John Legend's company Home School Records and Cherry Lane/BMG as a music producer. In 2011, he received his first big break producing the song "I Miss You Now" on Ledisi's album Pieces Of Me. The album would soon after be nominated for a Grammy under the R&B album of the year category. In 2012, Reilly's biggest break as a music producer was presented as he co-produced John Legend's first #1 hit on the Billboard Charts "Tonight (Best You Ever Had) ft. Ludacris", which would go on to be nominated for a Grammy and led to winning a songwriter of the year award at the Soul Train Awards. In addition, "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)" was featured in Kevin Hart's break out movie "Think Like A Man."
Behind every successful artist and producer is an effective manager. In 2012, Reilly and his production team at the time The Philly Phatboiz penned a contract with Ne-Yo's company Compound Entertainment for management. This would lead to Reilly working closely with Ne-Yo on many heavy hitter projects including Ne-Yo's own album "Red", which Reilly co-produced three songs on the album including the single "Forever Now." Other notable collaborations with Ne-Yo include TLC's "Meant to Be" which was in the VH1 TLC bio-pic film and also appeared on TLC's newest greatest hits album "TLC 20."
Now, you may be wondering how Clayton got his start with John Legend. They always say success is when opportunity meets preparation. Reilly was certainly prepared for the phone call that would jumpstart his career even more. John Legend's management called Clayton and presented him with an opportunity to perform with John on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2007. Without hesitation, Reilly accepted the offer and flew out to Los Angeles right away. While on the plane, Reilly would have to learn the music and dance moves.
From performing to songwriting, Reilly has displayed his versatility in the music industry. In a high risk, high reward industry, he has displayed that working on your craft and pursuing your dream(s) with a positive mindset will breed the results you desire. Today, Clayton continues to push the envelope of creativity in his musical career and plans on making and performing timeless music for years to come.
The team at Fader Plugs had the opportunity to ask Clayton some questions regarding hearing conservation and his career:
1.) When you're in a loud environment, what are some of the things you notice about your hearing sensitivity? (For example, ringing in your ears, sound sounding dull, etc.)
Clayton: In loud environments the consequences I tend to face are ringing in my ears and it can sometimes sound like I'm hearing you through a thin wall even when your standing next to me having a normal conversation.
2.) What precautions have you taken over the years to protect your hearing?
Clayton: I have tried disposable ear plugs before, but to be honest there hasn't been a good solution for me to feel the music, and analyze it with out compromising or blocking out frequencies that I really want to come through while mixing or in a performance setting.
3.) Some of the issues with conventional types of earplugs has been with comfort and durability. If you had a quality pair of earplugs, is this something you would be more willing to use?
Clayton: Yes, most definitely. Comfort is key and as someone who travels a lot durability is a necessity.
4.) As a musician/performer, someone who relies on their hearing, are you or have you ever been concerned with hearing loss?
Clayton: To be honest I am that guy that wants to blast the music up on the max level. I want the bass to make my bones rattle, but I understand there are consequences that come along with that and it does concern me. My ears are my biggest tool in my business and protection is a priority.
5.) What is your most memorable onstage performance? What was/is it like working with John Legend?
Clayton: My most memorable onstage performance. Man that's a tough one, but I'm going to have to go with Madison Square Garden with John Legend and friends. It was a dream of mine growing up to play there and to see that dream full circle and to be able to share that experience with my family in attendance pushed it to the top.
I have learned a lot from John Legend over the years through his mentorship towards me, but also through his actions as a person. I watched him grow and stay consistent and work really hard to be the best and that taught me what it takes to be successful. I have been extremely blessed to have been apart of his career and for him to be such a big part of mine.
6.) What advice could you give to young aspiring musicians?
Clayton: The music game isn't a sprint it's a marathon filled with ups and down. At first many more downs than ups, but its those who take their failures as lessons and turn their negatives into a positive that will be successful. The first time I auditioned for John Legend I didn't make his band, and the two guys I went and auditioned with did. Nine years later I was in his band for six years, toured the world with him, have three Grammy nominations, won a Soul Train award for songwriter of the year, and co-produced his first #1 song on billboard. Don't give up!! God bless!!
CEO and Founder, Blaise Delfino, is currently a graduate student at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania studying speech-language pathology. Each month, Blaise will be interviewing and sharing the stories of musicians, producers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. He will be sharing their story, as well as their experience with hearing protection devices!