"My haters are my motivators"
As young female stars like Miley Cyrus exit their teen years and welcome young adulthood with open limbs, their boots are left behind for other starry-eyed aspiring musicians to fill. One of them might even be from Space City: A 15-year-old YouTube sensation named Payton Rae.
When Rocks Off pulled up at Rae's home in League City Tuesday, the first thing we noticed was the pink and black customized Ford Mustang complete with her name on the side panels. That color combination the country singer's signature look, from her music videos to her room decor. She was even dressed in it when she answered the door.
The tan, blonde teen welcomed us into her home, excitedly proclaiming that her EP, Dare To Live, had reached No. 15 on the iTunes country album chart since its release earlier that morning. As we write this, it is 6:40 p.m. and the EP has already jumped to No. 4.
Rae, like her friend-of-a-friend Justin Bieber, got her start in the country music business through the videos she posted of herself onto her YouTube account.
"I started in 2006 not really expecting to get a fanbase," she recalls. "I put up a video of me singing at my aunt's funeral just for my family and friends to see, and I started getting responses from it."
After receiving so much positive feedback from an intrigued audience, Rae continued filming covers of some of her favorite contemporary country songs from artists like Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum.
She also began learning how to play the guitar, a skill she believes she gets better at every day.
Since deciding to pursue music, Rae has been busy traveling back and forth from Nashville to Houston while concurrently being home-schooled. With such a demanding schedule and minimal time to socialize, she insists that her friends have remained encouraging.
"They're really supportive, which I'm appreciative of," she says. "You can have people who look down on you and discourage you, but you can't let them get to you. I have really supportive fans, friends and family."
Even though posting digital videos allows the world to dissent, sometimes very harshly, Rae doesn't let her naysayers faze her.
"I do have haters, it's something you have to accept because not everyone's going to like you," she says. "Anyway, my haters are my motivators."
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Rae's official release for Dare To Live is 3 p.m. Sunday at Cactus Music. She feels other teenagers can similarly connect with the songs she will perform.
"That's what I really like," Rae says. "It's all about boys, and not letting people get to you."