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Peyton Stilling

Johanna Svensson, Staff Writer

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Sitting down with Peyton Stilling is a dream. Her joyous laugh is infectious and her bright smile is welcoming. Stilling has a way about her that makes you want to stay and talk for hours. She is highly involved in school, focuses on her grades and spends a lot of time with her friends, but she does not live the life of a typical high school senior. Stilling is an up-and-coming musician spreading her work through social media and performing all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“I have enjoyed music ever since I was little,” Stilling said. “I had a journal that I wrote song melody ideas in and I learned how to play the guitar in the seventh grade. I put the two together and it clicked.”

She continued writing songs through middle school and soon decided to participate in an open mic night.

“After my performance they asked me to book a show,” Stilling said. “I only sang three songs and a bunch of other people performed that night, too. Then they asked me to come back and do my own show.”

Stilling continues to perform at various venues in the area and has several shows coming up.

“Friday Dec. 15 I perform at Hard Eight in Coppell,” Stilling said. “The following Friday, Dec. 22, I am opening with my band for Matt Caldwell at White Elephant Saloon.”

She uses a press kit in order to connect with booking agents and book more performances.

“A press kit is like a resumé for musicians,” Stilling said. “It has shows I have done in the past, people I have opened for, original music, pictures and videos. I send it to booking agents and they get back to me with dates that they would like me to perform on or if they have someone they would like me to open for.”

Although she does not have her own booking agent, Stilling has several important people in her life motivating her and her music.

“Nora Jones is a musician with a similar music style to my own and I kind of became obsessed with her,” Stilling said. “I followed how she developed and she has inspired many of my songs.”

A music teacher with a strong work ethic has also greatly inspired and influenced Stilling along her journey.

“My voice teacher also pushes me to be better and to write better music,” Stilling said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him pushing me.”

Stilling’s love for performing is apparent when she is describing the feeling she gets while being on stage.

“My favorite part of performing is the crowd’s reaction,” Stilling said. “I love getting to interact with the audience. If I’m giving my all and the audience is giving me nothing, it’s like performing to a wall. But if they perform too, then our energies bounce off of each other.”

Not only does Stilling love to perform, but her friends love listening to her perform as well.

“It makes me so proud and happy when I hear Peyton sing,” senior Abby Steudtner said. “She is so talented when it comes to singing and songwriting so I love watching her perform because she is doing what she genuinely enjoys.”

Stilling enjoys performing her original music, as it is validation that her music has meaning.

“I love performing my originals because when I get my message across and people understand it,” Stilling said. “It’s the coolest feeling.”

A good inspiration for her lyrics are her friends. As a trustworthy confidant, she has lots of good stories to tell through her music.

“A lot of my friends come to me for advice and I use it for my music,” Stilling said. “It’s easiest to write about what you know and what’s around you, so their words help.”

She does not simply take their quotes, but rather uses their ideas and builds on them.

“I think outside the box,” Stilling said. “I use a lot of metaphors to give something meaning. There are so many songs about love and happiness but there is room for more with some creativity.”

Her lyrics come from her friends and her melodies come to her while driving.

“I write a lot of songs in my car,” Stilling said. “A melody will come to my head while I’m driving and I will record myself on my phone singing it. Then I go back, listen to it and write it down.”

She has posted a lot of videos of herself singing her original songs, as well as covers, on her Facebook page, Peyton Stilling Music.

“It’s kind of funny actually,” Stilling said. “I did a lot of research on how to get into the music business and I came across a blog that said I needed a Facebook page to be successful. I think it’s funny because I’ve had a personal Facebook page since I was 12 and it’s strange that it’s what I’m using to run the business side of my music.”

Facebook has allowed her to connect and share her music on a broader spectrum than just live performances.

“If you want to be taken seriously, people need to be able to find you somewhere online,” Stilling said. “Facebook has made contacting people and getting ticket and show information out so much easier.”

After meeting Stilling, friend and fellow PAL Claire Nagel went online to find some of her music.

“Peyton is incredibly talented,” Nagel said. “The first time I listened to one of her songs I was in awe. Her voice is beyond her years and every note she sings holds so much emotion.”

She began posting on the page two years ago and started off just posting covers of her favorite songs. A favorite cover she has made is “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.

“I love Adele but she’s so commonly covered,” Stilling said. “I wanted to make my own spin on the song, which everyone says they want to do. But so many people try to show off the range and I thought it was important to keep true to the meaning of the song. In order to do so but still make it my own, I created my own guitar arrangement.”

Stilling was recently accepted into Belmont University, a competitive private university in Nashville that is known for their music education. She plans to attend Belmont to further her education and passion for music.

“I love writing music and performing music,” Stilling said. “Music is so subjective. It’s just a shot in the dark when I post my videos, but it’s what I love to do.”

Many of her friends are excited about her continuing with music and look forward to hearing more of her music past her high school career.

“Peyton is going to go so far,” Nagel said. “I can’t wait to see what her future holds.”

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Peyton Stilling