What happens when you take the best of Nashville’s music community, brilliant songwriters, seasoned, top-notch musicians, the high-quality studios and production and team it with a 17-year old girl with a big, expressive voice and exploding Internet popularity?
You get the perfect blend of old-school craft and wide-eyed enthusiasm, proven Music City genius and fresh new Lone Star talent, all fueled by a staggering amount of online exposure, including 13 million YouTube views, 90,000 Facebook friends and 160,000 Twitter followers.
In short: you get new teen sensation Payton Rae, with her debut project, the five-song DARE TO LIVE.
Part of a new wave of performers who are taking their music directly to the fans, this 7th-generation Texan (hailing from just outside Houston) has harnessed the exponential promotional power of the Internet to become a bona fide YouTube sensation, amassing an impressive domestic and international audience for her fresh-faced blend of pure country music and genuine Texas charm. By instinctively following her muse, sticking steadfastly to her dream and singing her heart out at every opportunity, Payton Rae has already achieved the impossible, and she’s just getting started.
In just five songs, DARE TO LIVE captures the youth, passion and flourishing talent of this young performer. Recorded in Nashville, the EP boasts the work of many well known songwriters. Brian White, who produced DARE TO LIVE and shares writing credits on the title track has 13 #1 hits on the Christian music charts; Brian’s work is familiar to many country fans through his song for Rodney Atkins, the #1 smash “Watching You”. Other songwriting heavyweights on the project include veterans Steve Bogard (George Strait, Rascal Flatts) and Brett Beavers (Dierks Bentley).
When working with Brian White on DARE TO LIVE, songs were a very important part of the process for Payton Rae. “Ever since I was really little it has always been about country music for me,” says the petite singer with the distinctive voice. “Country songs tell a story, and there’s so much thought that goes into the lyrics. I wanted my songs to really mean something to me.”
The songs of DARE TO LIVE feel tailor-made for this 17 year old artist. The themes include boys (“Boy To Blame”), heartache (“Mississippi’s Crying”), more boys (“Not Your Cinderella”), isolation (“Sidelines”, where Payton Rae shares a co-writing credit) and inspiration (“Dare To Live”). Yet listeners of all ages will delight in these well-crafted tunes; as any country fan knows, some topics such as love, relationships and reaching for your dreams aren’t limited to any age bracket.
“I just really love singing; sweet love songs, songs about breakups, and songs about boys I guess,” she says with a laugh. “When I’m in the studio it’s like everything that’s on my mind is put to the side. It’s the best feeling ever.”
It all started for Payton Rae with her first public performance, singing the national anthem for the Houston Comets women’s basketball team when she was just four years old.
“There’s a funny story behind that,” Payton says. “I had never sung it before, but I was sleeping with my mom one night and she says I burst out singing the national anthem. After I sang it in my sleep, she had me learn it and I auditioned after that.”
That pre-game performance, a vintage video of which the fans have now made a YouTube hit, touched something deep inside the singer, and her fate was sealed. “After that performance I knew what I wanted to do,” she says. “I just kept singing the anthem for my brother’s baseball games, for high school volleyball games, wherever. That’s pretty much how I got started.”
Inspired by the Internet-aided launch of teen stars like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift and armed with a microphone and a digital video camera, Payton Rae went to work, posting videos and monitoring the astonishing response. “I put some videos up for my friends and family and all these people started viewing them,” she says with a touch of surprise still in her voice. “It’s a great way to get your music out there and connect with listeners.”
Her YouTube tributes to some of her favorite artists including everyone from Carrie Underwood to Taylor Swift to newcomers like The Band Perry have become viral hits in themselves, igniting Payton’s singing career and making that all-important fan connection with no prior management or label help.
“I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook, and I love talking to my fans,” smiles Payton Rae. “It’s one of my favorite things to do.”
Boosted along the way by great friends and a supportive family, she stays plenty busy these days between being home-schooled, shuttling back and forth from Texas to Nashville to pursue her music, and the high-tech business of keeping in touch with her growing legion of fans.
From her hometown in the Houston suburbs, north to Canada, and all the way to Europe, Asia and Middle East, Payton Rae and her music have also inspired countless, devoted young female fans to follow their own impossible dreams, to “dare to live.” When Payton Rae steps up to the microphone to sing, people react and respond.