Few Young Stars Shine Like Payton Taylor

Payton Taylor BeaverDamUSA.com

Few artists go from the karaoke stage to the big stage.

Then again, few artists sound like Payton Taylor.

The up-and-coming country artist recently told us how an impromptu karaoke performance changed her life. “I’d been on stage doing theater productions and church choir ever since I was little,” she said. “But the first time I did country was in Printer’s Alley in Nashville. There is a little karaoke bar called Lonnie’s (Western Room), and I had gone with my show choir. It was one of the only places we could get in because of age restrictions. We all went inside, and I sang one country song.”

Her current manager and guitarist, Joe Caliva, was in the audience that night. “We had been doing some vocal training things together for quite a while, and he heard me that night and said, ‘you know, let’s try country.’ And I was all for it, so it kind of just grew from there.”

Payton Taylor BeaverDamUSA.com

Learn more about her at paytontaylor.com

And grown it has. Payton has released one album, is at work on the second, and has developed a killer live show that would leave plenty of Music City veterans in the dust.

And she’s only 16.

While most teenage female vocalists today emulate the Swifts and the Underwoods, Payton prefers something a little more edgy. Try Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGhee,” Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen,” and “American Woman” by The Guess Who.

“Ever since I was really tiny my mom always said I was just an old soul,” the Cherry Hill, N.J., native said. “And I guess I didn’t really understand that until I got my grandfather’s vinyl collection after he passed away, and I was very intrigued by it.

“I got his record player and just started going through all the vinyl, and I popped a couple in, and just over the years I really just started gravitating toward his Fleetwood Mac and his Janis Joplin “Pearl” vinyl. He had so many great vinyls from back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and I just fell in love with music from that era, and we try to do our best on covering them during our live shows.”

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Payton’s performance qualities are seasoned, but she had to work for it. “I did theater for the longest time, and I feel like that really brought me out of my shell,” she said. “I had pretty bad stage fright when I was younger, and I feel like doing theater really helped me overcome that. When I started singing country music and performing at fairs and festivals in my hometown, that stage fright kind of came back and it took a little while to warm up to it, but then I guess something just kicked in and I’ve felt very at home on stage ever since.”

Payton’s new single, “Small Town Paradise,” is a tribute to the communities where young country artists cut their teeth. In September for instance, she performed at the Lincoln County Fair in Fayetteville, Tenn. The show was such a success, her team produced a highlight video.

“Joe and I have had an opportunity to go to a lot of small towns,” she said, “Lincoln County being one of the cool really small-town places we’ve gotten to be. We get to see a lot of great little small towns all across America when we’re on tour, and I always feel very welcomed and at home by – you know, the mom-and-pop shops, and even the Lincoln County (High School) Falcons spirit is an example. It’s very welcoming, and we decided to write a little tribute from all the people we’ve gotten to meet, and celebrate the small town way of life.”

“Small Town Paradise” will be featured on her upcoming album, which she plans to release in Spring, 2014. She released her first album “Shine” in 2011, writing one of the five tracks.

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“I wrote “Love Don’t Give Up on Me” with Joe Caliva, and that was my first try at songwriting. Ever since then I have just fallen in love with songwriting. I really got bit by the bug. And I think that was one of the biggest discoveries I made after the release of my first album.

“Our next album project will be six songs that Joe and I wrote together, and I’m real excited to get that out there – my debut as a songwriter.”

While writing and recording are challenging, so is touring. And Payton knows a thing or two about life on the road. “We’ve done well over 75 shows this year, and we’ll probably reach pretty close to 100 before this year is out. The 2013 tour season has kind of calmed down a little bit, and we’ve got a lot of really cool shows in Nashville coming up now. Probably after the holidays until March or so we’re going to really work on trying to finish up (the new album), really work on some new material as well.”

She paused, then said with renewed excitement, “Yeah, just nail down this project and get it out there. And then next summer just go out there and do it all over again.”

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him: currin01@gmail.com


  1. budderbean@fpunet.com says:

    Payton Taylor is such a sweet and talented young artist and I wish her the best in her career……I am very touched and grateful for the nice things she said about performing here in our small town Fayetteville, TN @ our Lincoln County Fair……Thanks Payton and many wishes for a long and beautiful journey in your music career !!!! ♥

  2. Barry Currin says:

    Thanks for the comment! Coincidentally, I grew up about 20 miles from Fayetteville. We used to go to the harness races at the fair when I was a kid.

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