Blessed with the looks of a matinee idol and the soft croon of a teenage dream, Payton Smith fuses the bright, R&B-influenced country-pop of Sam Hunt with the muscular arena-country of Keith Urban.
Smith specializes in slinging six-strings just like Urban, but he also has a facility with melody and groove, as evidenced by his 2019 internet hit "Like I Knew You Would."
A native of Houma, Louisiana, Payton Smith received his first guitar at the age of ten. He quickly found an affinity with the instrument, adopting John Mayer, Brad Paisley, and Urban as his guitar heroes. During a family vacation to Nashville in 2014, the 14-year-old decided to sing in the lobby of his Hilton hotel, a performance that brought him to the attention of a session musician who was an associate of Buddy Cannon, a producer who worked regularly with Kenny Chesney. Cannon gave Smith his first boost into Music Row while the guitarist/songwriter was in his mid-teens, but his breakthrough arrived when Smith caught the ear of Scott Borchetta through his performance at CMA Fest in 2018. Impressed, Borchetta solicited demos from Smith and soon signed him to Big Machine; the guitarist/songwriter was just 19.
Smith worked with producer James Stroud on his eponymous debut EP. Released in October 2019 and comprised entirely of originals Smith co-wrote with a stable of other songwriters, it was highlighted by the stylish, soulful single "Like I Knew You Would" and "92," a nostalgic blast of country-rock. Smith released "Ready Set Summer" and "Creek Don't Rise" as digital singles in early 2020 and teamed with Chris Young for a tour that year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi