Kendall Payne is a singer/songwriter of Indie rock music. Her first album, Jordan's Sister, came out in 1999 and sold 100,000 units. One of its songs, "Supermodels," was the theme song for The WB Television Network's teen dramedy Popular. Another album, Grown, came out in 2004. Her song "Closer to Myself" has appeared in Never Been Kissed, "Supermodels" was in Popular, and her song "Scratch" appeared in Grey's Anatomy and Kyle XY.
Kendall Payne has created yet another masterpiece! Her songwriting is deep and meaningful. Her voice is tender yet hopeful. "Paper Skin" will quickly become a soundtrack for your life and its songs will continue to inspire countless listeners for years to come.
Getting her start at the young age of 17, Kendall Payne was signed to Capitol Records (EMI) and released her first album "Jordan's Sister" in 1999, which was later picked up and distributed by Sparrow Records (EMI). Over the next several years Payne worked tirelessly touring with The Lilith Fair, Dido, Third Day, Delirious, and many others, and seeing the use of her music in movies such as "Never Been Kissed" and TV shows such as "Popular" and "Felicity". With an extensive touring history under her belt, a Dove Award for "Best Alternative Album of the Year", and over 100,000 units sold the future was looking bright.
That is until a regime change at Capitol Records left Payne without label support, which is the "down and dirty" way of saying... she got dropped.
Entering a dark and trying season of disillusionment Payne still managed to channel her emotion into song. With the financial backing of her friend Zachary Levi (NBC's "Chuck"), Payne's second project "Grown" was released independently in 2004. The release garnered tremendous critical accolades and unusually impressive sales, success and exposure that boomed after Payne's song "Scratch" was featured in an episode of ABC's hit TV show "Grey's Anatomy".
Regardless of these successes it remained unclear what Payne's future would hold. Without any interest from major record labels she wondered if she'd ever get the chance to make another album. However, with the encouragement of family and friends Payne began to embrace her identity as an independent artist and began to revel in its potential. She recounts, "I once had a great philosophy teacher who told me, 'If an eagle only has one strong wing it won't be able to fly very high. It will need to strengthen its weaker wing in order to reach new heights.' Now I appreciate the uphill road I've had to climb because it's made me develop the sides of my personality that weren't so strong. I am a better person because of it; how could I be anything but grateful?"
After receiving a piano as a gift from her husband in early April of 2006, Payne decided to set aside her acoustic guitar and tickle the ivories for a season. "It's kinda funny," Payne recalls, "I decided to learn piano because I wanted to have a Christmas party. Sounds strange, but it's true. I love singing carols and they sound much better on piano. So everyday from April to December I would practice 'Joy to the World', 'Silent Night', and a host of other classics. My neighbors weren't too happy come mid-July, but my party guests were very impressed come December!"
Having played guitar all her life Payne began to feel that her songwriting had grown predictable. However, the novelty of a new instrument awoke her creativity. "I let my heart, not my head, find the melody." Before too long the demos for "Paper Skin" were compiled and with a newly inspired confidence Payne headed into the studio with producer Tim Schoenhals.
The album took approximately three weeks to record, mix, and master, with most of the vocals and performances being recorded in just one take. "My last two albums took the better part of a year to make. I simply refused to do that this time," states Payne.
The title of the album "Paper Skin" does not mislead, for it is by far her most honest work to date, replete with universal, life-inspired themes of love, loss, failure, spirituality, and the unrelenting hope of the human spirit. What makes Payne's music so special and so well-received and respected is her uncanny ability to weave life's most commonly shared experiences into some of the most brilliant lyrics and most moving melodies. Her music is nothing less than amazing and nothing but apropos, it is the soundtrack for life!
When the debut album "Jordan's Sister" by unknown artist Kendall Payne hit the stands... people took notice. A 1999 press release read, "She sings and plays with a passion that belies her age and she writes with the insight of a young woman who has lived beyond her years." The album sold close to 100,000 units, and its music was featured in films including "Never Been Kissed" staring Drew Barrymore and "Beautiful" with Minnie Driver, and the single "Supermodels" was selected as the theme song for the WB's hit TV show "Popular." In 2001 Payne was honored with a prestigious Dove Award for Best Alternative Rock Album. After co-authoring the book Mirror, Mirror published by Zondervan and touring with the likes of Lilith Fair, Dido, Third Day, Delerious (and many more), it seemed that everyone was beginning to understand what made this artist so special.
However, due to trying circumstances in the music business and an unexpected regime change at Capitol Records, Payne and the label parted ways in 2002. "Every great songwriter needs fuel for their fire," she says, "and there is no greater fuel than the ache of rejection. I just never bargained for how hot the flame could get." Shortly after leaving Capitol, she also parted ways with her management company and Christian label counterpart. Once the darling of the industry and now alone in the music business, she recounts, "I found myself standing in my living room, ironing something while in my pajamas, wishing the phone would ring. It was quite humbling, I must say. I had made and found my identity in being an artist. If I wasn't that anymore... I didn't know who I was."
And so began a season of soul-searching. Payne remembers, "It was a very dark place for me, but in retrospect I would not trade it for all the success in the world." Days were spent taking classes at community college, working odd jobs around town and getting involved in a local church. "I felt like I was re-discovering my passion for life." And each night she'd return home to her guitar. "It called to me - the music was practically writing itself. It only needed me to transcribe it onto paper." The songs began to pour out, each inspired by real life heartaches and happiness. "People always say 'what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.' I'm a firm believer in that principle; in fact, I'm living proof of it."
Being so moved by her voice and talent, friend and actor Zachary Levi (ABC's "Less Than Perfect") approached Payne with an offer she couldn't refuse, financing her sophomore album. Now that the songs were written and the funding was in place, all they needed was a brilliant producer. After an inspiring late night coffee one Thursday evening with producer Tim Schoenhals, the team was in place, and on Monday morning Payne found herself in the studio starting the first session on her follow-up record "Grown."
Recorded at the Treatment Room in North Hollywood (with additional recording by Justin Schier at Sonik Wire), Payne and Schoenhals worked tirelessly for 5 straight months. Without an established band, each musician was hand picked for the appropriate song with special appearances by Jason Wade (Lifehouse), Ricky and Randy Jackson (The Daylights) and Jamie Wollam (Avion).
Payne explains, "I hate being in the studio. I get so bored; I'm much more of a "Live" kinda girl. However, I must say this group of guys made it not only bearable but enjoyable!"
Anyone who's seen Payne's live show will not quickly forget the high energy she brings to the stage. (Even when it's just her and her guitar.) "Grown" has its fair share of toe-tapping, up-tempo, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs kind of hits. Payne is the sole songwriter, with only one co-writing credit. She recounts, "I already had the verses to the song "Backwards" (Track 8) but I was really stuck on where to go from there. So I took it to my friend Jason Wade (Lifehouse) and in 5 minutes he wrote a chorus and bridge. After that, I took it home and wrote all the lyrics in a few hours. It's a rare thing when a song comes that easy"
The title of the Album "Grown," finds its origin in the opening lyric to the song "Twenty Three" (Track 10). A masterpiece Payne began creating on the night of her 23rd birthday. "Twenty-three, when did we become grown?" she sings lamenting the cynicism that typically progresses with age. "There was a time," says Payne "when I wanted to call the album 'Sad & Slow' because it felt like all I was writing was sad and slow songs. I even wrote a song called 'Happy' (Track 6) which is about being sad."
There are also songs that fall in the mid-tempo range for some easy listening, such as "Aslan" (Track 9), a whimsical, childlike melody with a grown up message. Payne says, "After re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis as an adult, I fell in love with Aslan all over again."
By continuing to write songs, non-fiction and children's books, as well as speaking engagements there appears to be no end to this artist's creative capabilities. With the little free time Payne is left with she enjoys staying closely connected with family and friends, and also stays involved with her church community. There is no doubt, Kendall Payne will continue to "wow" audiences for decades to come, the independent release and success of "Grown" will indeed be an integral step in her journey.