Kendall Payne and her sister Jordan lived with their parents in Malibu, California, "modestly," Kendall explains, and were not spoiled by the wealth or secular culture found in their community. They grew up in a Christian atmosphere, with Christian values and goals; developing a love for the Lord Jesus and a desire to serve Him, as a result of the seeds of faith planted and nurtured by people in their lives.
The considerable musical / lyrical gifts of Kendall Payne appeared early in her life, as the unlisted cut of one of her first songs as a child testifies to this reviewer, which is hidden on her newest release, GROWN. This little song, which was added on after the last song of the CD, shows the insight of a young Kendall Payne, only 9 years old, who can be heard on tape not only singing her song to a relative who had just given birth, but also enthusiastically explaining the precocious lyrics she had written in this musical effort. Kendall Payne was a deep thinker, a communicator at a very young age, a talent which continued to grow and evolve as did her faith in Jesus Christ.
By her teen years, Kendall was composing music described as being a "bright, hopeful, alternative brand of pop," paired with insightful lyrics which "blended common emotion, temporal experience, and ultimate truth, all held together by her deeply held Christian faith running throughout." Her performance and delivery of her songs showed a maturity of both musical and lyrical thought.
A press release correctly describes Kendall Payne at this point in her life; "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."
Not many 16 year old songwriters / performers find themselves pursued by multiple record companies, both Christian and secular, who recognized a powerful musical vehicle in the form of a young woman and her musical gifts when they heard it. By the time she was 17 years old, she was sitting down with representatives of a secular market label, Capitol Records, to sign a recording deal. One wonders why she signed with a secular record company.
In a Bio published in Christianmusictoday.com, courtesy of Sparrow Records, Kendall answers this question. She signed with them not because of greater financial gain or notoriety, but because she felt the Lord was calling her to bring this musical / lyrical Christian message of her own profession of faith to a wider audience, bringing the light of Christ into some lives who really need it; young people!
Kendall Payne shared, "I felt like God gave me a choice: Do you want to take your bucket of water and pour it back into the ocean, or do you want to take it to the people out in the desert? My response was: I want to take my bucket of water to the people who are dying of thirst - I want to give them hope. I want to take my water to the desert."
By 19 years old, Kendall Payne had her first album, JORDAN'S SISTER released by Capitol Records in 1999, which was a huge hit, selling to date nearly 100,000 albums. This album was a great crossover collection of songs which found fans in both secular music and Christian music world. The universal themes pertaining to the teenage years appealed to a wide audience indeed, and the hopeful lyrical messages of faith found their mark, the very audience that Kendall was striving to help; young people!
Many doors of opportunity opened for Kendall to perform, which is what she loves to do the best then and now. She began touring with such well-known artists such as Third Day, where she was their opening act in two United States tours. Kendall also went on a UK tour with Delerious, toured with Dido, Ron Sexsmith and Lilith Fair. She also toured with four other Capitol Records artists, 4 other female songwriters, under the EMI "Girl's Room" tour.
Yes indeed, she was certainly busy, taking full advantage of the opportunities which opened up for her in this music ministry; to reach out to others with hope of the Lord; sharing the Truth; "God is the only thing I've found worth investing my heart into."
When asked what Kendall hoped to accomplish with this CD, Kendall said, "To provide kids with a hope; A little breath of fresh air and hopefully the feeling that someone has walked the path they are treading and made it to the top, in one piece." (Christianbook.com interview)
Songs from this album were used in films such as NEVER BEEN KISSED and BEAUTIFUL. The song, which was released as a single, entitled SUPERMODELS was chosen as the theme song for WB's hit TV show, "Popular." Other songs were used on "Dawson's Creek" and "Felicity."
None of this success affected her genuine heart attitude to use her musical gifts to serve the Lord. Kendall shares in an interview, "I am excited to get a chance to live out this amazing dream that God has blessed me with."
In 2001, Kendall became a bonafide success story at the age of 21 when she won a Dove Award for Best Alternative Rock Album.
However, in 2002, Kendall Payne experienced a painful rejection by no fault of her own; an experience which other artists have been through as well, including Kelly Minter, Chevelle and The Williams Sisters; Unexpected troubles with their record label. For in 2002, there was financial challenges in the music CD business and an "unexpected regime change" at Capitol Records came to pass. The new unenlightened leadership who took up the reins of Capitol Records cut her loose from their artist roster, deciding that her lyrics and music wouldn't fit in with the musical direction Capitol wanted to follow. She also wound up "parting ways with her management company and its Christian label counterpart."
At 22, Kendall Payne found herself hurting and now an independent Christian music artist, having to start over again; A lonely place to be, after experiencing so much success so quickly. This was quite a lot of change to absorb and work through for someone so young.
Kendall shares, "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."
The Lord had not left Kendall, and through this difficult time, He grew and fine-tuned her through this big bump in the road, in several areas of her life, which blessed her in unexpected ways, as she began this new journey of discovery, evolving and changing personally, spiritually and musically.
In the Bio provided in her promotional materials, Kendall Payne reflects, "Every great songwriter needs fuel for their fire, and there is no greater fuel than the ache of rejection. It was a very dark place for me, but in retrospect I would not trade it for all the success in the world."
Kendall was not one to sit around and mope, feeling sorry for herself. Despite how she was feeling, Kendall Payne went back to junior college for a short time to explore the field of psychology, found gainful employment at various jobs in her town where she was living, started dating a special young man, who turned out to be the love of her life, and became actively involved in a local church, serving and becoming attached to this special church family. (What a blessing to their music program!)
Kendall Payne shares in a Christianitytoday.com interview, her thoughts about being a member of a church family. "A church community gives people friends and an infrastructure of other humans who are all there for the same reason. For me, some of my greatest strengths have come out of existing around church, seeking God and worshipping him, and living out his laws in a community."
Having a more normal life for someone her age, having time to read, participate in a spiritual and personal life and to deal with her disappointment and hurt in constructive ways turned out to be a huge blessing for Kendall; becoming a new person, evolving, strengthening her faith in the Lord, her sense of self, her purpose and her music. Kendall shares, "I felt like I was rediscovering my passion for life."
Two of her passions became very apparent to her, which need to be expressed, despite what unenlightened record labels dictate. Kendall's God given gifts of musical talent and her ability to write real lyrics, still stirred within her, pushing her to continue to fully express her most important thoughts and revelations about the Lord, his character, the ups and downs of life as a human being and how the two connect in the existing world.
She found herself being drawn to write down her thoughts. In 2002, Kendall Payne's first book, MIRROR, MIRROR was published. Her second book, SOUL SISTERS was published via Regal Books in July of 2005.
The Lord continued to give her songs, a vehicle to express her feelings and thoughts, as she went down this road. For it was at night, that she was drawn to her music, via her guitar. Kendall shares, "It called to me; the music was practically writing itself. It only needed me to transcribe it onto paper."
As she struggled with this loss and confusion as to who she was, her songs reflected the pain and angst. Kendall shares, "There was a time when I wanted to call my next album, 'Sad & Slow' because it felt like all I was writing was sad and slow songs. I even wrote a song called 'Happy' which is about being sad.'"
However, she began to enjoy life once again, as she rediscovered who she was and what she strongly cared about. She began to compose / write brighter songs classified as "mid-tempo and easy listening."
Eventually, a new door opened also in her musical career as an indie artist. The Lord always finds a way in his own time frame to allow His plan to evolve in a person's life, who is willing to follow Him. Her friend, Zachary Levi, who is an actor on ABC's LESS THAN PERFECT, so admired her talent and passion for music, that he offered to finance her new album of songs, which she had been writing during this time of personal evolvement and growth, away from the mainstream spotlight of the established music business.
One of the blessings of being an independent Christian music artist is having creative freedom and artistic license. As the songs are acoustic guitar based, Kendall and Zachary found the perfect music producer, Tim Schoenhals who brought much experience and insight to this new CD, GROWN, where Kendall shares with us all her newest insights about her faith, her life and experiences which many people, both young and not so young can relate to and find the encouraging hope Kendall offers the listener through this collection of songs.
Three days after finding their producer, Tim Schoenhals, Kendall found herself in the Treatment Room Recording Studio, starting the five month process of putting this album together, working with Schoenhals and the musicians hand-picked for each song. Some of Kendall's friends, Jason Wade (Lifehouse), Rickey and Randy Jackson (The Daylights) and Jamie Wollam (Avion) all contributed, making musical appearances in songs.
Jason Wade also helped to co-write the song BACKWARDS. Kendall shares, "I already had the verses to the song, "Backwards," but I was really stuck on where to go from there. So I took it to my friend, Jason Wade and in 5 minutes he wrote a Chorus and Bridge!"
2005 turned out to be a very joyous year for Kendall Payne. She married the special young man she fell in love with. On September 27, 2005 - Kendall's new album, GROWN was released, four years after her debut album, revealing a musical artist strong in her faith, transformed and evolved to a place of renewed strength, motive and purpose, and sharing her growth of a person and songwriter through her music with her fans and a wider listening audience made up of people who appreciate real lyrics which make one think, paired with musical compositions which are diverse and interesting.