As we’re now in the latter months of 2012, we have been in the day & age of social media and Internet publicity for years now. And there are very few artists who have ignited the online media fires more than Payton Rae recently. The Texan teen has the look and the sound of a country music starlet, and she has the popularity to prove it. Her staggering online notoriety – 11 million Youtube views, 145,000 Twitter followers, and 70,000 Facebook fans – is being complimented and maximized by her live performances and in-person interactions, following her run on the “Camplified” Tour this summer.
We at MCE recently had the chance to speak with Payton Rae about her debut project ‘Dare To Live,’ her love for country music, and the things that mean the most to her, including her family and her fans.
Music City Encore: Your first public performance was when you sang the national anthem for the Houston Comets’ women’s basketball team when you were four years old. Your fans have made this a Youtube hit, but how much do you personally remember about this performance?
Payton Rae: Thinking back to that day, I remember the roar of the crowd after I got done singing “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” I’m blessed to have a video taken of such a memorable and inspiring moment for my fans, and for me.
MCE: Due to your success using social media and so forth, you’ve drawn comparisons to the likes of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, two of the biggest stars in the world, who have used the Internet to interact with their fans as well. Does that put any pressure on you to live up to any expectations?
PR: I have learned that, in this industry, you will always be compared to someone – and honestly, I’m honored to have that certain comparison with names like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. They have set the bar very high for performers, and that is truly amazing.
MCE: You’ve gained not only national success, but your social media endeavors have taken you to international notoriety as well. Is this overwhelming at all for you? Or just exciting?
PR: To see my social media continuously growing is very exciting and not at all overwhelming in any way. I am truly blessed to have such an ever-growing and stable fan base. My fans are there for me 110% and would do anything to see me succeed, and I always want to give back. I talk to my fans everyday on Twitter and Facebook. If I miss a day, people will think there is something seriously wrong. Haha!
MCE: When you hear numbers like this – 11 million Youtube views, 145,000 Twitter followers, 70,000 Facebook fans – what comes to your mind?
PR: My mind overflows with joy. It’s hard to believe that I have been able to reach so many people with my music, but I am so thankful for that.
MCE: Many of your Youtube videos are tributes to other artists. Who are your favorite current artists right now and what is it about them that makes you look up to them as artists?
PR: Carrie Underwood has been my idol ever since I saw her start on “American Idol.” It was so amazing to see someone – so humble and down to earth – rise to stardom as fast as she did. Another artist I really enjoy is Luke Bryan. His music continuously wins me over with every new single and album.
MCE: You are home-schooled, and you are obviously pursuing your music career as well, in addition to spending time with friends and family. How do you keep yourself balanced?
PR: Being home-schooled makes things so much easier while trying to pursue my music career. This summer I went on my first tour with “Camplified,” and was not home more than four days at a time. That made me appreciate being home and family so much more. Keeping things balanced will always be a huge factor for me. I will never let my music walk all over my friends and I will never let my friends walk all over my music.
MCE: You’re from Texas, a state full of country music tradition and history. Has country music been a large part of your community growing up?
PR: I have grown up listening to acts such as Alan Jackson and the Dixie Chicks with my dad for as long as I can remember. Country music has, and always will be, a huge part of my life.
MCE: You’ve had a lot of support from your family and friends as you’re kick-starting your career. How important has it been for you to have that support from those around you?
PR: I couldn’t have made it to this point without my friends and – most importantly – my family’s love and support throughout this whole journey. I hope I always have that! They are a very important part of all of this.
MCE: What is the meaning behind the title of your debut project, ‘Dare To Live’?
PR: I remember listening to this song for the first time and I knew from the beginning that it was meant for me. I am a teenager – like so many others – with huge dreams, and I am definitely not the only one chasing them! This song basically says, “dream big, because there will never be a dream too big that you can’t reach.” I think that every teen trying to go out and pursue their dreams needs to know that.
MCE: What was the experience like working with Brian White on your EP?
PR: I couldn’t imagine working with anyone else on my first big project! He brought something to the table that not many people could bring to me, and that was peace of mind. He loves what he does and that is so inspiring. Brian White is such an amazing guy inside and out, and there is nothing better than working with someone who brings out the best in you.
MCE: Of the five songs on your EP, which one, do you feel, is most indicative of who you are as an artist?
PR: I feel like “Dare To Live” has touched so many of my fans’ hearts. That’s what I want my music to do.
MCE: How was the experience on the “Camplified” Tour?
PR: Camplified was such an amazing experience. I walked in there no knowing what to expect, and came out a changed person. I have met the most wonderful people as well, including the band 3Union. It was so cool to meet people on this tour who have the same morals and values as you did. I’m thankful that I had a great experience with my first tour, and I can’t wait to be on another one.
MCE: You’ve made a ton of fans via social media. Were you able to meet a lot of those fans in person during the tour this summer? What was that experience like?
PR: I got to meet so many of my fans during this tour. Meeting fans in person and putting a face with a name is an experience that I can’t even explain. My fans have changed my life, and to know that I have changed theirs is more than I could ever ask for.
MCE: What’s next for you this fall, winter, and beyond?
PR: My team and I have so many amazing things in the works as well as recording some new music. I am so excited to be sharing my journey with all of you and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me.
For the latest information on Payton Rae, visit her official website.
Join the thousands of fans out there and follow her on Twitter and Youtube, and “Like” her on Facebook.