Who is Waylon Payne? 5 things you should know

In 2020, singer-songwriter Waylon Payne released his long-awaited second album, Blue Eyes, Prostitute, Queer, Pusher & Me – a 16-year project in the making. His first album, The Vagabond, arrived in 2004.

A collection full of intimate, incisive lyrics and poignant personal stories, set on vibrant guitar playing, Payne’s album chronicles his relentless journey to sobriety and happiness. The project includes songs he wrote while struggling with a methamphetamine addiction, as well as during his sobriety process, highlighting the friendships that helped him along the way.

Blue eyes also finds Payne confronted with his often painful past. Born into country music royalty as the son of “Help Me Make It Through the Night” star Sammi Smith and Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne, the singer was raised by his aunt and uncle – the latter being sexually abusive towards Payne. When the artist came out at the age of 18, he simultaneously exposed this abuse and his family refused to believe him, which ultimately broke his relationship with them.

Payne clarifies that it wasn’t just the fact that he was gay that his family couldn’t accept: it was the fact that his uncle had been abusive.

“Rather than face this and deal with this, they just denied me because I was gay,” Payne said. “I didn’t really go out. I was talking to someone, and they didn’t like the way it sounded.”

It was the start of Payne’s tumultuous journey to discovering himself and his identity as an artist. Along the way, he never stopped making music, nor forging musical friendships that changed his life.

Read on to learn more about Payne and how he became the artist he is today:

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