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My Name Is Freedom


Dennis Payne

The cornerstone of any successful career is dedication. The ability to make a commitment and pursue it to completion is especially important in the competitive business of recording.

It might appear that Dennis was almost pre-destined to go into music. His father, Charles Payne, was an early member of the Light Crust Doughboys, who later became the Texas Playboys. His Uncle Leon Payne was well known as the writer of such country hits as "Lost Highway," "Blue Side of Lonesome," and "You Still Got a Place in My Heart". By the time Dennis received his first guitar at age seven, he already knew he would seek a career in music.

Besides the support of his family, Dennis was fortunate to grow up in Bakersfield, California. During the 50's and 60's Buck Owens, and later Merle Haggard, lived and worked out of Bakerfield and owned studioes there, creating a center for country music on the west coast. Dennis credits both artists as early sources of encouragement and would later gain valuable expereince working in their studios.

In high school Dennis started playing in local bands and appearing on live television. This brought him to the attention of Red Simpson, a singer/songwriter with Capitol Records. This friendship eventually resulted in Dennis' first cuts as a writer by such well known artists as Tommy Overstreet, Freddy Hart, and Vern Gosdin. This period also provided Dennis with the opportunity to hone his musical skills playing backup for touring artists like Rose Maddox, Charlie Pride, Johnny Russell, and Barbara Mandrell.

In time, Dennis felt ready to accept the challenge of moving to Nashville to further his professional goals. The tall, bearded musician sought all opportunities to perfect his playing and singing talents, and made contacts by doing session work and touring with various artists. In addition, Dennis worked with several publishing companies developing his craft as a songwriter.

The soft-spoken performer was also beginning to get a feel for what would become his own unique style, a sound he describes as "straight ahead real music for real people." While Dennis cites such diverse influences as Owens and Haggard, B.B. King, and Nat King Cole, he stresses the value of being an individual. "I want to be myself, have my own sound," he explains. "My music is my personality. I don't have an act. What I do is real."

Dennis is equally aware of the importance of working with people who share his vision. "I have found that the music is only about ten percent of what it takes," he comments. "You have to have people who believe in you as a writer and entertainer. One thing I know for sure, it can't be done alone."


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