Local Youth Wins Texas Country Music Association Award

By: Haunani Shipper
| Published 11/30/2023


MONTGOMERY, TX -- Singer-songwriter Payton Riley of Montgomery, Texas has been named “Young Artist (18 & Under)” in the 2023 Texas Country Music Awards presented by the Texas Country Music Association (TCMA).

The 15-year-old was the youngest to ever be nominated.

“I remember going to this event last year and watching all of the great artists receive their awards,” the high school freshman said. “I turned to my mom and told her next year, I’d be up on that stage.

“This year, we were seated at the back of Billy Bob’s, and I thought if I had won, we’d be closer to the stage. So it was a complete surprise when they called my name.”

Riley started singing at age 7 and wrote her first song at age 9, performing it on the Dosey Doe Big Barn stage in The Woodlands. She continued performing around Houston and began traveling for shows to Dallas/Fort Worth and the Texas Hill Country.

In 2022, she attended a songwriting retreat in Memphis and released her first EP of three original songs. One, “He Chose You For a Reason,” was a top 10 finalist in the Christian division of the 2023 TCMA Songwriter Contest.

Riley first wrote Christian music, but soon added country songs to her repertoire.

“I love country music because it speaks to your soul and is so relatable to everyone,” she said. “I create songs from life experiences — my own and others. I like songs to have a little bit of attitude and still empower my audience. I really enjoy having my music make people want to be better, stronger and more confident.”

When not taking voice lessons, practicing, writing songs and performing, Riley is active in high school track and her school’s worship team. She also likes to make time to fish and hunt.

“It can be really challenging to juggle school and my music career,” Riley said. “I don’t get a lot of down time and often have to miss football games, parties and more because of my schedule. I’ve done a lot of interviews this year and have even had to do a few at school in my principal’s office so I didn’t miss more school.”

Riley also enjoys volunteering with Love Heals Youth, an organization that provides counseling, tutoring services, a mobile clothes closet and more for foster children.

“When I was younger, my family fostered three children, and it left a huge impact on me,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to sing Christmas carols to them, sing on the Day of Counseling and organize monthly service projects like providing Easter baskets and Valentine’s Day cards. It’s very rewarding.”

Learn more about Payton Riley at

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