Clinton Gibbs was born in 1891-1893 (several years are mentioned) in Petersburg, KY, the son of Frances and James Gibbs. His father passed away when Clinton was young. By 1900, the family was living on Wayne St. in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, with Frances working as a laundress to help support the family of five.
He studied piano at Holderbach College in Cincinnati, and he also studied organ under Prower Symon, a Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music instructor.
In 1926, Gibbs became the organist and choirmaster for the senior choir of First Baptist Church of Walnut Hills, where he and his family were congregants. He was also the organist and choirmaster for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, while it was under the leadership of the prominent Rev. Edmund Harrison Oxley.
Gibbs taught at the Lillian Aldrich Thayer Settlement School of Music and the Douglass School, in addition to offering private piano lessons in his home.
He served as the vice president of the Cincinnati division of the National Association of Negro Musicians. Gibbs was also the director of the Queen City Glee Club, and directed the Cincinnati Masonic Chorus at the 100th Annual Communication of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio.
The June Festival for Negro Music was established in 1938, and Gibbs was its vocal instructor, accompanist and chorusmaster. This outdoor choral festival was held in Cincinnati for almost two decades.
As well, Gibbs served as secretary of the True American Lodge No. 2 F.&A.M. and was a member of the King Solomon Consistory No. 20 Scottish Rite.
Clinton Gibbs never married. In 1948, he purchased his home at 2821 Preston St. in Walnut Hills, where he lived until his death in 1970. He is buried in United American Cemetery.
In 2010, a new house was built on the site of Gibbs' longtime home by Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity with support from the Ursuline Sisters of Cincinnati, to mark the Sisters' 100-year anniversary in the community.