Payton Smith is proof that working hard, taking risks and finding just a little luck really does pay off. When the

singer, songwriter and self-taught guitarist landed a slot on one of the smaller stages at CMA Fest in 2018, he

decided to play as if he were headlining an arena, tearing through original songs like "Ready Set Summer" and "Creek

Don't Rise," all while delivering supercharged guitar solos. Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Label Group,

happened to be walking by that afternoon and the performance stopped him in his tracks. A few weeks later, after

sharing some demos with Borchetta, Payton answered his phone to learn that the label was offering him a record

deal. "I proceeded to pull over and freak out," he says. Payton had every reason to celebrate: since he first saw Keith

Urban perform on the CMA Awards 14 years ago, the Houma, Louisiana, native has dreamt of playing his own brand of

Country music, one influenced by 90’s Country and Guitar Rock. The 19-year-old is every bit as much a fan of Pearl

Jam as he is Clint Black, whose face adorns the vintage T-shirts he's often donning. He loves George Strait, but also

John Mayer, and is certain that his peers in the Spotify generation have equally varied musical tastes. "I would love

to bring a new audience to Country music,"Payton says. "I want to bring Rock fans, Pop fans and John Mayer’s fans

along. Genre doesn't matter—music is about making a connection. People just want to relate to something and feel

something just like I did when I first saw Keith on TV." Payton cites Urban, Eric Church and Luke Combs as his

primary Country influences, and respects each for the way they honor the genre’s traditions while moving the music

forward. Emulating that notion, Payton co-wrote all six songs on his new collection of music which highlights his

gifts as a vocalist, writer and nimble guitarist—he plays every guitar part on each track–just like his favorite

slingers across the musical landscape. The project’s lead "Can't Go Wrong With That” distills his Country and Rock

influences into an infectious three-minute-and-change jam. Written with Thomas Archer and Jim McCormick, it's an

upbeat, guitar-forward song that pokes fun at the things people are happy to argue about: rivers vs. lakes, Ford vs.

Chevy, Jim vs. Jack. But as the chorus reminds, there are some issues we all agree on, namely that Willie Nelson on

vinyl, Friday-night football and cold beer are all unimpeachable. "I've always been a fan of songs with a lot of

imagery in them and that's what 'Can't Go Wrong With That' does. It's definitely rocking and it's been so fun to play

live," Payton says. Payton worked with producer James Stroud and bonded with his fellow Louisiana native over their

love of diving beats. Stroud is a drummer and Payton attacks his guitar with intensity, favoring rhythm over hyper-

technical nuance. "I got my first guitar when I turned 10. My dad taught me three chords and I learned there were a

lot more than that," he says. "So I studied guys like Keith, Brad Paisley, John Mayer and Eddie Vedder." Payton's

guitar work electrifies "Ready Set Summer," one of the earliest tracks he recorded. Another song rich in imagery—

Coleman coolers, Oscar Mayer and Coppertone all get shout-outs—the solo leans toward hard Rock and Heavy metal,

a nod to the Mötley Crüe that Payton's father used to crank in his truck when they'd go for rides. "That was made for

a pontoon, a bass boat or whatever you can use to get out on the water," he says of the song. "My dream is to one day

be able to play that on a lake stage in front of a bunch of boats." With such a strong and diverse debut, Payton may

want to aim higher than the lake—this is a collection that cries out to be performed for big crowds. "92" is a sultry

slice of nostalgia for 90’s Country music. The Mayer-esque "What It Meant to Lose You" is an atmospheric

heartbreaker that finds the narrator taking the blame for a breakup. And "Like I Knew You Would" is built around

one giant hook. "As a guitar player, I don't always have to rock out and shred. I like coming up with melodic solos

that you can sing along to," he says. "'Like I Knew You Would' has one that is very much a sing-a-long. It's like

creating another melody inside the song." That gift for melody, coupled with his sharp but approachable lyricism and

fluid guitar playing, sets up Payton to be the newest young voice to change Nashville. As he made clear on that CMA

Fest stage not long ago, he's not afraid to push the envelope or look at things from a different perspective. It's a

mindset he's had ever since he picked up his instrument nearly 10 years ago. "I took guitar lessons for three months

but didn't like them. The instructor said, 'You know, if you play it like this, it'll sound good.' But I had my own way of

playing that I taught myself. I said, 'Well, I can play it this way and it sounds good too,' " Payton recalls with a

laugh. "Maybe I was stubborn back then, but at the end of the day, I just have to be who I am." And at just 19,

Payton Smith knows exactly who that is.

Recent Quotes:

 “As this next-gen of Country artists take hold, being lead by Luke Combs and others, I have no doubt that Payton will be one of the new important faces of modern Country music.

President & CEO Big Machine Label Group – Scott Borchetta


“Payton Smith is the perfect Country package…Keith Urban The Ranch meets Hank Jr. party rock…with Charlie Sexton guitar chops and swagger.  Get ready to rumble!

Producer/A & R Rep Big Machine Label Group – Julian Raymond


“Payton Smith is one of the most exciting young singers, musicians, and songwriters I have ever encountered.  He hit the Nashville streets running at the age of 14 and now, at 17, is developing into the music artist I believe will soon be the leader of the pack.”

 Producer  - Buddy Cannon


“Payton Smith is exactly what the future of Country music needs!”

   Producer – James Stroud


 “I met Payton for the first time when he was 16 years old.  From the moment he walked into my office with a guitar I realized he had something truly special.  He had already written with several A-List songwriters and it was evident that his talent for writing was mature beyond his years.  His relentless work on his craft shows the moment he steps on stage and you hear his powerful voice and exceptional guitar skills come together. “

  William Morris Endeavor Co-head – Jay Williams






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