Local News in Moultrie Observer
• 0514 Crystal Rose.jpg Submitted Photo
May 19, 2011
Crystal Rose: ‘Come a long way since that church bus’
The Moultrie Observer
| — When 9-year-old Shelby Clayton was riding the bus to church, the other kids started singing, and she just naturally joined in. But somebody on the bus heard something special in the little girl’s voice.
“That morning at Sunday service they got me up to sing the song I sang on the bus,” recalled Clayton — all grown up now and seeking country music success.
She goes by her middle and married names now — Christene Brown — and by the stage name Crystal Rose. She’s had one chart single (topping at No. 31).
Her two albums are available on iTunes — but watch out for the “other” Crystal Rose, a rock artist with one album that shows up along with Brown’s. Brown said she doesn’t know how another artist can use her stage name — she’s had it registered for 20 years.
It’s a long way from that Colquitt County church bus.
Brown grew up here, daughter of Larry Clayton and Doris Simmons. Her grandfather preached at a little church behind the Farmers Market on Rowland Drive. Two of her brothers still live here, Everett Clayton and Lester Clayton; sister Debbie lives in Tallahassee and sister Deanna in Crawfordville, Fla.
This weekend, she’ll return home for a show at Six Shooter Saloon, at the Sunset Plaza. She’ll have a “Meet and Greet” at 8 p.m. with the show at 9. Tickets are being sold in advance and at the door for $10 each.
Brown grew up listening to country legends.
“I started out with Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Tammy Wynette and Tanya Tucker. It’s what my mother played while cleaning house,” she said.
Her mother sang well, Brown said, but she was shy and never did so in public. Her father was the opposite.
“His voice was OK,” she said, “but he didn’t care.”
She and her siblings sang at churches in the area when they were young, and Brown studied music under Sherman Cherry.
She said Cherry once told her mother, “To hear her talk you would never know she has the voice of an angel.”
“I’ll never forget that,” she said.
Brown said her uncle, Curtis Gordon, was in the house band of the Radio Ranch, a nightclub outside Moultrie. After she turned 16 she could get in, with her parents, and Gordon let her sit in with the band.
About the time she was 19 1/2, she was singing with her uncle in the American Legion Hall in Tallahassee when in walked Mel Tillis. In addition to being a country star — Tillis was inducted into the Country Music Association Hall of Fame in 2007 — he was also kinfolk: a fourth cousin by marriage, Brown said. He took her to another club in Florida, where they sang together with a band called Southern Satisfaction. Soon she was fronting that band herself.
Brown said she’s been performing 31 years, but the action has happened all in the last three. She won a regional singing contest in Ocala, Fla., which sent her to the national level in Las Vegas. While there she got a recording opportunity and took it. She recorded a song called “Take Me Back” and three others, and “Take Me Back” was released on the Christian Country Network.
“It was done as a country song,” she said, “but it was released on Christian Country and that’s where it charted at.”
“It went from nobody knowing who I was to No. 31 on the Christian Country chart,” she said.
Brown records for her own label, TCBrown. She wanted to call it TCB, but Elvis had already taken that name. But unlike Presley’s, Brown’s wouldn’t have stood for “Taking Care of Business.”
Brown’s husband’s name was Terry. He died seven years ago. TCBrown stands for his initial, her initial and their last name.
Brown said there’s good and bad in having your own label.
“You can pick what songs you want,” she said. “You can veto what you want. You can pick what dates you want.”
While she loves the freedom, running a label is expensive, and she’s short of sponsors.
“I would love for a major to pick me up and pay everything,” she admitted.
So far, Brown has recorded only other writers’ songs, but she’s registered as a songwriter with BMI and has co-written seven songs she’s trying to sell to other artists.
“I can put words on paper but I can’t put a tune to it, so I need a cowriter,” she said.
One of her songs, “Mama’s Prayer,” was written by her brother Everett.
For more about Crystal Rose, visit http://www.crystalrosecountry.com/