Peytan Porter proves her worth as a new country music trailblazer on her debut project In My Head
Libby Danforth Peytan Porter
Listening to Peytan Porter speak is often somewhat euphoric.
“It was like I was literally stroking heaven,” Porter, 24, told PEOPLE as she emerged from the happiness she felt performing at CMA Fest a few weeks ago. “I felt like this is my ultimate goal. I felt like my dreams were coming true.”
Indeed, it’s as if magic oozes from the very pores of the groundbreaking singer/songwriter, whether she speaks her mind or sings her songs.
And everyone falls on it.
“The thing about CMA Fest is that I had industry people in the audience who have taken care of me since I arrived in Nashville, but also people in the audience who have guarded me when I was a kid,” says Porter, who released her debut project In My Head last Friday. “There was also a family there who put me up for free for two summers in Nashville so I could stay here and try to write songs. It was a surreal moment.”
Libby Danforth Cover of Peytan Porter
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Granted, there’s always been a healthy dose of determination in Porter’s heart, from when she played basketball as a ponytailed teenager who loved country music.
“I remember many times when I had a basketball game the next day, but I stayed until 4 a.m. to watch (Carrie Underwood) Soufflé DVDs or listening to Taylor Swift records over and over and reading each credit,” recalls the second daughter of three daughters. “I knew I had to fall asleep, but I always thought that this was more important than this game tomorrow.”
Porter was also the family entertainer who started singing in her hometown of Dawsonville, Georgia when she was just 12 years old.
“I sang in church, wrote songs and sang at a few festivals,” says Porter, who had the Nashville skyline as the wallpaper on his phone at the time. .
And when Kacey Musgraves came out with her album Same trailer Different fleet in 2013, Porter suddenly started hearing his the thoughts come out through the music of another small town girl.
“It was the first time I heard someone say, ‘Yeah, I’m from a small town, but because I’m from a small town, I can make fun of the people I’m part of'” , recalls Porter. “But that’s how I felt in my little town. I loved the people. I loved the place. I never wanted to stay there forever.”
And while the folks back home still seem somewhat shocked at the progress Porter has made since signing her first contract in 2021, the dreamer firmly believes she’s meant to be right now, releasing songs such as the gem ready-made radio “Why We broke.”
“I opened for Willie Nelson, and we played ‘Why We Broke Up,'” Porter says of the song she wrote with Smith Ahnquist and Sam Bergeson. “And by the time I walked off stage, half of my team was convinced this had to be the next single. Seeing it live made all of us realize what we had in our hands.”
Further expanding on the kaleidoscope of colors held within Porter’s creative soul is also a bit fiery.
“I’ve always admired artists who say what they want to say about controversial things in their music, but don’t necessarily talk about it outside of it,” says Porter, whose album “First Stone” is as politically charged as she says she will never get. “I love the way Dolly Parton does it. She can dance and weave through anything you throw at her. But if you listen to her songs, you get a better sense of where she stands on things.”
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But perhaps the cut that, in less than four minutes, tells us everything we need to know about Porter and what she brings to the country music table is the title track “In My Head.”
“I spoke to this guy, but he didn’t call me back fast enough,” Porter recalls the real-life situation she walked into the writing room on the day she wrote “In My Head.” with co-authors. Greg Bates and Kat Higgins. “So I made up this whole scenario of what else he could do? And none of it was good.” She laughs. “He’s hammered. He does drugs. He fucks girls.”
And then Porter asked if she could say “prostitute” in a song.
“We remembered they said it in ‘Three Wooden Crosses,'” she says of the Randy Travis classic. “We knew we were all good.”