Clay Cooper celebrates 36th year in Branson

Clay Cooper celebrates 36th year in Branson

“My grandma played piano in the local Baptist church back in Texas,” Clay Cooper begins his story. “I would listen to her play the piano while my dad and his four siblings would sing in harmony. My dad played the guitar around the house and sang country songs, and I was hooked on country music at an early age.”

Cooper first began singing at the Wylie Opry at the age of 14 and continued to perform there until 1986, when he joined the Texas Goldminors and moved to Branson. He started out as bassist for the band, he said in a March 2021 interview with Chris Myer of Play Branson — something the pianist and guitarist didn’t know how to do until someone handed him an instrument at a practice session.

By the time he was 16 years old, Cooper was spending summers in a big house in downtown Branson with his bandmates and performing every day at the Ozarks Country Jubilee. Now he’s starting his 36th season with his own theater at 3216 W. Missouri 76 in Branson and his own show, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, which he shares with wife Tina and their sons Colton and Caden.

When he first came to Branson, Cooper remembers, it was a Memorial Day to Labor Day tourist town. In the fall, he and his bandmates went back to their homes in the Dallas area and went back to being school kids. It was, he says, “an awesome, awesome experience.”

But Cooper wanted to do more. He moved around the Midsouth music scene, playing at the Country Review Show in Eureka Springs, the Down Home Country Show, the Buck Trent Show, the Jim Owens Show and Country Tonite, where he spent nine years as lead vocalist and emcee. In 1989, Evergreen Records released a single by Cooper titled “A Little Ground in Texas,” which went to No. 60 on the Cash Box Charts, and in 2003, Clay joined his buddy, Paul Harris, as the featured male vocalist in Paul Harris Live.

“When I decided to start my own business, we started out as a morning show,” he recalled on Play Branson. “We had a five-piece band and my wife, Tina, and three other dancers. But I wasn’t just a newbie coming to town, hanging a sign. I had a following. We had been performing for 5,000 people a day for nine years!”

In 2005, Cooper and his wife opened the Clay Cooper Theatre, and it worked, he says, because they pursued their dreams step by step. He says he never could have imagined he’d have a 36-year career in Branson, but his success continues because “our show is more than country. It’s just real people havin’ a real good time.”

“This cast of 25 incredible entertainers will blow you away with singing, dancing and hysterical comedy,” agrees spokeswoman Jocelyn Meenen. “Great visual effects and a variety of music — old and new country, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, and a stunning salute to our American veterans! Clay guarantees a family-friendly show, perfect for all ages!”

“I love to entertain people,” Cooper enthuses. “I enjoy starting conversations with our customers and building that conversation into the performance each night. Seeing a smile on the face of our visitors feeds my love to entertain!”



Clay Cooper’s

Country Express

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. select days

WHERE — Clay Cooper Theatre, 3216 W. Missouri 76 in Branson

COST — $24-$52




Clay Cooper


The theater is also home to The Haygoods, Dean Z: The Ultimate Elvis, Hot Rods & High Heels and No. 1 Hits of the ’60s and various limited engagements, including “The Terry Bradshaw Show.” See for more information.

Categories: Music