Conroe is home to Young Texas Artist Recipient

Local teen, Payton Riley, awarded her first Texas CMA Award

Fifteen-year-old Payton Riley was attending her sister’s softball game when her mother unexpectedly started screaming in joy. Confusion, compounded by the gawks of other parents in the bleachers, clarified a moment later when Payton heard some words that she had dreamt of: You made it! You’re one of the five finalists!

Payton’s mother, Tonia, had just received word over her phone that her daughter was named a finalist in the Texas Country Music Awards ‘Young Artist of the Year’ category. Payton then won the title. 

“Last year, I went to the Texas CMA Awards show to just watch it,” said Payton. “During it, I was so inspired that I turned to my mom and told her that it was going to be me up there next year. So I worked my tail off all this year and then I got nominated by the people. When I won, it felt like it happened in slow motion, and it didn’t really settle in until a few days later that I’d actually gotten the award. It was an awesome experience."

Payton started singing when she was seven with little one-song shows and started using the guitar around the age of 11 or 12. By the time she was 13 or 14, she was playing guitar along with her tunes and doing three- to four-hour shows.

“I pretty much always knew that I wanted to sing,” she said. “I would go around the house screaming at the top of my lungs, singing so loud that my mom wanted to put that energy into voice lessons. Then I wanted to feel like [country singers] Miranda Lambert and Lainey Wilson. Once I added playing an instrument, it felt like I was taking off and moving on.”

Coming from a family deeply connected to their Christian faith, Payton’s early songs were based on both her own reflections and feelings as well as the bible lessons she’d been taught. 

“I’ve always written songs since I was nine years old. I have a passion for Christian music to tell a story and make people feel good."

Her breakout song that caught the attention of the Texas CMA – ‘Long Live Cowboys’ – is a tribute to cowboys and riders and how well they treat women. “I know we’re a lot to handle, and I wanted to highlight all the amazing things the right boy can do when you find him."

Payton has recently started touring with her new band. Last month, she debuted her latest single – ‘Mascara Doesn’t Lie’ – at Conroe’s The Table at Madeley. Next, the band will be performing on March 3rd at the Sawyer Park Ice House.

Since her Texas CMA Award win, Payton also found out that she is a semifinalist for New Female Vocalist of the Year for the Texas Regional Radio Music Awards.

Payton is proud of her Conroe roots and its designation as a Texas Music Friendly City by decree of the Governor’s Office. She was also inspired to partake in the recent ‘Concert4Love’ fundraising concert at Dosey Doe - The Big Barn, benefiting nonprofit organization Love Heals Youth.

“When I was younger, my family was into foster care, and we fostered three kids. It had a huge impact on my life. Last November, I told my mom I wanted to get back into publicly supporting the cause. Right after that, the leader of Love Heals Youth asked me to be a part of the organization. 

Payton has a presence on every single social and music platform at PaytonRileyMusic.

"I have a passion for Christian music to tell a story and make people feel good".

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