Texas Voices: From Honky-Tonks to Headlining Tours – Inside Payton Howie’s Journey to Country Music Stardom

by Bob Valleau on February 29, 2024 in Entertainment, Music,

The Lone Star State is known for its deep-rooted love for country music and support for new country music artists. Over the years, numerous talented musicians have emerged from Texas, adding to its rich musical heritage. One such rising star making waves in the country music scene is Payton Howie.


Payton’s passion for country music was evident from a young age. She grew up playing multiple instruments and spent hours listening to classic country tunes, idolizing legends like Dolly Parton, George Strait and Willie Nelson. She got her start in a small town near Houston, TX, where she grew up. Seasoned musicians would sneak her into the venue where they were playing and literally sit her at their feet while they practiced. Today, she unapologetically embodies the untamed tradition that country music was built on.

Payton Howie got her first taste of being in the spotlight when she was five years old. Photo courtesy Payton Howie.

When she was five, Payton’s mom took her to her very first concert. It was at an outdoor venue and as the show went on she found herself dancing in the middle of the aisle of seats. As the lights panned across the audience, one of them stopped where she was standing, and the singer on stage stopped to tell the security guard to bring her up on the stage. Payton remembers getting to stand up on that stage and looking out into the faces of the people in the crowd as everyone sang along to the music. She remembers thinking then that this is what she wanted to do – she  wanted to be able to share music with people. The girl who brought Payton up on stage was Carrie Underwood and that experience will be forever remembered as a pivotal moment for her.

Payton Howie was recently nominated Texas Regional Radio’s New Female Vocalist of the Year 2023 and Texas Country Music Awards Emerging Artist of the Year 2023. Photo courtesy Payton Howie.

From Payton’s website: With backwoods bathed vocals and bona fide southern swagger, recently nominated Texas Regional Radio’s New Female Vocalist of the Year 2023 and Texas Country Music Awards Emerging Artist of the Year 2023, Payton Howie’s popularity is on the rise and one to keep your eye on. This Texas trailblazer and Nashville recording artist is branded as the ultimate ‘All American Girl’ by Scenes Media, and is gaining nationwide notoriety with features from CMT, Guitar Girl Magazine, The Boot, Country Rebel, Fox News, and repetitive seasonal invites to NBC’s The Voice and American Idol from executive producers. 

Payton Howie is from Willis, TX, a small town north of Houston. Photo courtesy Payton Howie.

Payton agrees that her road to country music stardom has been rewarding but with some bumps along the way. “The road I’m on with my music journey has been so many things,” she says. “I would never say that it’s been rough because when I look back behind me on the road and how far my fans and supporters have carried me to this point, at just 22 years old, I’m completely humbled and feel overwhelmingly supported. Have there been bad things that have happened? Absolutely. The music business is not for the weak, and you get a quick lesson in people. You’ve got to be careful when you’re out there trying to build a brand and staying true to yourself. This business will pull you in all different directions, and it’s difficult sometimes to keep your head down and just stay on the grind of focusing on what’s best for your art and your brand.” 

Payton Howie enjoys writing her own songs. Photo courtesy Payton Howie.

Payton says her greatest joy is writing her own songs and performing them before a live crowd. This is what she lives for and loves the most. “I love getting to play my music at live shows across the country and bringing kick-ass energy to live performances is what I’m known for. There’s honestly nothing that compares to sharing your art with people in a way that’s moving and exhilarating. It’s crazy to think that every time I step on a stage, I have the opportunity to share something I’ve poured my heart into with those who are willing to listen. 

“For me, writing my own songs is sort of magical because it’s different with every song. Some days I’ll have a melody stuck in my head that I just have to write to and other days I’ll have a one-liner that I want to work into a song. Another thing that has really helped me to grow as a writer is co-writing. Writing with others is one of the most effective ways to expand your perspective and learn from other songwriter’s processes.” 

Payton’s song Country Before Me pays tribute to the women of country music who paved the way for her to pursue her dream of performing. Photo courtesy Payton Howie.

Payton holds a special place in her heart for a song she wrote that has significant meaning to her. “A song of mine that holds a special meaning to me is Country Before Me. It was written to show my complete respect and adoration for the women of country who have gone before me. Women like Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Crystal Gayle and Tanya Tucker have literally paved the road for women like me to get up on a stage wearing some ripped up jeans with my hair down playing guitar and singing songs about things I’m impassioned about. Because of them, I can sing about some cheating fool or I can sing about what’s going on in our country right now and freely state my opinions about it in a song. They forged those paths and beat through the brush. They took the hits, were ridiculed and talked down to. They were told they didn’t belong on those stages and behind those microphones singing about their passions or calling it like they saw it. They did it anyway. They never quit on their dream.”

Payton often shares the story behind her songs when performing. Photo courtesy Payton Howie.

Payton usually tells a story behind every song she sings during a live performance. “During my shows, I’ll often talk about an original song right before I play it and tell the story behind it. That’s honestly one of my favorite parts of playing my originals live, having the opportunity to share the reasons I wrote it because that’s how I connect with my listeners.”

Thinking back, Payton’s passion for being a country music artist actually began when she was a teen. “When I was about 14 years old I would hang around all the old bars and honky tonks in my hometown, trying to sneak in and listen to the seasoned musicians play. After a while they would see me out there with my guitar case and prop the back door open with a stick or a bottle for me to sneak in. I always tried and a couple of times I’d make it in unnoticed. I’d just sit at their feet and soak it all in. I wanted to learn the riffs and hear the stories they sang about. Pretty soon, they’d call me up on stage and have me singing before the club owner could kick me out. The owner would look around and see the crowd vibing with it and didn’t want to stop the show.

You can catch Payton performing across Texas this Spring and Summer. Photo courtesy Payton Howie.

“These musicians taught me about the greats: Loretta, Dolly, Reba and even some Janis Joplin. My love for music and my sound came from eating up all those tunes from all different types of artists in dark and smokey old bars when I should probably have been home doing some homework or something. Those seasoned musicians believed in me and my talent so they propped open those back doors for me and let me into their world of music and talent. They nicknamed me youngblood. That’s why my debut EP had to be named Youngblood. I wanted them to know they influenced the next generation of music, and that I will forever be indebted to them for this love they gave me.” 

Payton’s popularity is steadily growing, and she has some major plans for this year. “I would absolutely love to record a full-length record this year and have the opportunity to be on a major tour. Another long-standing aspiration of mine is to make a debut at the Grand Ole Opry. I have some new music coming out, too, and I’m excited for it to be released!” 






Cover photo courtesy Payton Howie

Bob Valleau is a regular entertainment contributor for Texas Lifestyle Magazine.