You never know what kind of musical genius you’re going to happen upon on a Saturday night in Memphis. We ran into Hope Clayburn last week at The Cove playing to a packed house for a fundraiser for a local music documentary, Meanwhile in Memphis, which was directed by her Soul Scrimmage band mate Robert Allen Parker. Clayburn is prominently featured in the documentary, and the North Carolina native has come to see Memphis as her musical home.
The Soul Scrimmage ensemble has had a revolving cast of players over the years; the current line-up includes guitarist Robert Allen Parker Jr., bassist Khari Wynn, trumpet player Victor Darnell Sawyer and drummer Paul Taylor. The band is an eclectic mash-up of jazz, R&B, reggae and Afro-pop, and they throw a dance party like you would not believe!
Clayburn kicked off her musical career while attending college at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her first band was called Baaba Seth and has been described as a “world beat-styled jam band” and is credited with turning Clayburn onto African music.
After graduation, she went north and joined New York area-based band Deep Banana Blackout. Clayburn became a full-fledged professional musician and ended up recording several records with the group and spent the next half-decade on tour.
Clayburn kept touring after the breakup of Deep Banana Blackout and ended up spending several years on the jam band circuit, sitting in and guesting with the likes of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Gov’t Mule, and DJ Logic. Eventually, Clayburn decided to take a break and go back to school to finish her nursing degree. Her sister, a doctor with the Church Health Center in Memphis, suggested a move down south.
Now, when Clayburn isn’t leading her flock during one of her soul sermons, she works as a nurse in the trauma unit of the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, treating victims of car accidents, gunshot wounds and a myriad of other unfortunate bodily injuries.
Check out a video of Clayburn and her Soul Scrimmage recording at Ardent.