Sylvia Moss Clay 77, of North Little Rock, transition to her eternal rest December 9, 2014. A native of Lubbock, Texas, she was born June 9, 1937 to the Late James and Ruth Ransom Moss. She was preceded in death by one sister.
Educated in the Lubbock School System, at age 16, Mrs. Clay graduated salutatorian of her high school class and was awarded a four year scholarship to Langston University, Langston, Oklahoma. She received a double major Bachelor of Arts degree for Music Education in Instrumental Music and Concert Piano. She received a Master of Arts in Music Education from Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Meeting her future husband, Curtis Clay, at Langston University, they were wed on campus in 1957 before moving to North Little Rock. To this union were added two sons and one daughter.
Hired in the Little Rock School District in 1958, Mrs. Clay was the first black female band director in the state of Arkansas. During her first years of teaching, she was able to add music to the curriculum of elementary students in the segregated Black institutions by travelling from school to school to offer foundational music training. Being one of the first teachers to be transferred into an integrated school, Mrs. Clay continued to excel and make an impact, musically and developmentally, in the lives of many students both black and white. Many of her former music students have gone on to pursue professional music careers both nationally and internationally in secular and gospel genres.
Mrs. Clay served as Minister of Music at three churches in Central Arkansas over her fifty-six year residency here—Eighth Street Baptist Church, serving twenty years, Eastern Star Baptist Church, serving four years and St. John Missionary Baptist Church where she served twenty-seven years. During her music ministry, Mrs. Clay’s endeavor was to serve God and uplift his name in song. She had the opportunity collaborate with national gospel music artist and personalities: James Cleveland, Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood, Chester D. T. Baldwin, Charles Fold, Margaret Pleasant Douroux, Rodena Preston, Steven Roberts and many others.
Mrs. Clay organized, trained and directed some of best choirs in the Central Arkansas area while contributing to the development and furtherance of gospel music through conducting music workshops across Arkansas, nationally, and internationally, in Bad Kissingen-Germany, Verona-Italy, and Okinawa-Japan. In 1982, Mrs. Clay founded the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA). She served as leader and national representative of this chapter for fifteen years.
Mrs. Clay served as Minister of Music Emeritus at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Chapter Representative Emeritus of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America and was an active member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Trinity Chapter #24 Order of the Eastern Star, Arkansas Education Association, and the Little Rock Retired Teachers Association.
Mrs. Clay is leaves to cherish her memory two sons, Curtis Clay Jr. of North Little Rock, Arkansas, Gregory Lamont (Gloria) Clay of Pensacola, Florida; one daughter, Denise Rochelle Clay of North Little Rock, Arkansas; two granddaughters, Tamaron Timanthis, Jasmine Clennon; one grandson, Justin Fowlkes; one sister, Peggy Rush; one nephew, Walter Lucious Moss; our beloved extended family, The Leon Thomas family, who have embraced her as their matriarch; many god-children / god-grandchildren, and a host of devoted caring friends.
A gathering in remembrance of Sylvia will be Friday, December 19, 2014, 5-7 p.m., at Ruffin & Jarrett Funeral Home, 1200 Chester Street, Little Rock, Arkansas (501) 372-1305. Funeral services with Reverend C. D. Edwards officiating, will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, December 20, 2014 at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 2501 Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas.