20 Under 40: Adia Clark Lay raises her voice to give back to her community

Adia Clark Lay
John F. Russell/ Steamboat Pilot & Today

Adia Clark Lay has become well-known in Steamboat Springs, belting the national anthem at sporting events and performing around the Yampa Valley.

Clark Lay hasn’t waited to become more well known before using her platform for good. She’s used her resources to improve the lives of people around her and give back to the community that’s supported her.

Clark Lay started using her position as a popular local performer during the pandemic. She hosted a drive-in concert at her home in Clark and collected cans for LiftUp Routt County.

The 18-year-old 2022 Steamboat Springs High School graduate recognizes her privilege and wants to use it to help others. 

“I have so many opportunities that a lot of people don’t,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who are less fortunate than I am, a lot of people that are experiencing things I could never fathom. If there is anything I can do, then I’m going to try and do it.”

Clark Lay is particularly proud of the Sostenuto Project. While high school students were learning virtually, choir was not a viable class. Looking for a way to replace it, Clark Lay reached out to people she’s met over the years and developed a series of mini master classes, which she dubbed the Sostenuto Project. Sostenuto is a musical term meaning to sustain. 

“I knew some of my peers were in the same boat,” she said. “How am I supposed to go to school and study music if I’m not studying it at the high school level?”

Clark Lay brought in people to talk about working with a band, songwriting, production and more, using her resources to help her classmates get the music education they desired. 

If you go

What: 2022 20 Under 40 Celebration

When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1

Where: Snow Bowl Steamboat, 2090 Snow Bowl Plaza


Clark Lay’s work expands from the classroom into the community.

Her involvement in social justice began in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. She saw people being active on social media and wanted to take her advocacy to the next level. 

Clark Lay acknowledges that she will never experience the injustices that Black people, or those in the LGBTQ+ community do, but that doesn’t mean that as a white woman she can’t support them. 

“She found her voice at such a young age,” said Alan Lay, Clark Lay’s father. “She’s become an outspoken advocate for people who feel they can’t share their voice.”

Since she is a young woman and can more relate to the injustices that females face, she started there, forming a women’s rights rally in August 2021. That got her involved with the Women’s March, at which she has been a speaker. 

She’s also been an advocate for voting among her peers, who are part of the age group with the lowest voter turnout rate nationwide.

“(I want to) step up and truly make a difference rather than stating my opinion and let everyone know that I care,” she said. “I’m showing that I care.”

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