India Dupre immediately recognized a spark when she started giving vocal lessons to Peyton Shayler. The two wrote songs together in Peyton’s family guest house using a lucky pen and material from the girl’s life.
“Even when she was just little, 11 years old, I thought she could be the next Britney Spears, because there’s just something about her,” said Dupre, a well-regarded voice instructor in La Cañada Flintridge. “And it looks like that’s where it’s headed.”
At the time, Shayler really was focused on acting and wasn’t sure what to make of such a prediction, but her mom, Kelly, said Dupre’s encouragement made a difference.
“I’d be like, ‘What? Are you sure? Really?” Kelly Shayler said. “And she always said, “I’m telling you!’ I would say that it’s because of India that Peyton’s doing this.”
What the La Cañada High School freshman is doing is “truly remarkable,” according to Matt Allen, CEO of The Famous Company, a United Kingdom-based artist development firm that got behind Peyton soon after expanding to the U.S. late last year.
Already, their promotion helped her score a hit song in the U.K., where she’ll embark on a three-week tour next month. Over the holidays, Peyton’s track “Waiting” climbed to No. 5 on the U.K.’s Music Week club charts, beating out stars like Jason Derulo and Pink on the equivalent of the U.S. Billboard dance charts.
In addition to rehearsals with vocal coach Peter Pergelides (of NBC’s “The Voice”), she recently shot a music video in various locations in L.A.
“I can’t even wrap my head around it now,” Peyton said. “It’s just mind-blowing.”
And a lucky pen had nothing to do with it.
“The reason she can be so successful is because she’s got a stunning voice, she’s a very, very talented songwriter, and she’s incredibly beautiful — she looks the part,” Dupre said. “And she has a powerhouse mom. You can have all the talent in the world, but you know, if you don’t have someone driving you, investing in studios and lessons, all that goes a long way and is just as important as the other parts.”
Allen adds to that: “Her energy, talent and determination to become the best possible artist she can be is what makes this project so exciting. Our creative team has worked with some really big names, artists and brands over the years, and everyone who has had the pleasure of working with Peyton has commented that she really has something very special.”
When she was younger, Peyton was interested in soccer and softball, she said. But roles in La Cañada Junior Theater productions like “Les Misérables” spurred an interest in acting — she landed parts in a few movies and TV series, such as “Santa Claws” and “Killer Kids.”
But then Peyton, who jokes about keeping her sister, Morgan, awake belting out tunes in bed, started working with Dupre, who taught her vocal warm-ups and helped her “get the hang of my voice.”
After that, she began recording at the Abstract studios and, for the past year, has been learning from Pergelides, who’s taught her how to strengthen her voice “by going into my chest and smoothing it out and just making my range a lot bigger and just feeling the songs.”
She said she feels it all coming together now, able to envision herself turning out the types of tracks that Madison Beer, Halsey or Hailee Steinfeld do.
“It’s awesome being able to incorporate all the stuff that he’s been telling me and seeing it all click — like, yeah, I got it now!” she said.
She’ll be singing a similar tune on tour in March, when she visits 30 schools, including many in underprivileged areas.
“When I go, what I’m going to bring to the table is not just my singing, but I’ll do a 10-minute talk about being true to yourself, or ‘If I can accomplish this at this age, you guys can too.’ I’m going to be like, ‘You got this!’”
Kelly will join her youngest daughter on tour. She’s excited for her, she’s nervous for her, and she’s pragmatic about it all, too.
“They thought it would probably be better to try to break her out in the U.K., it’s just not as saturated of a market as it is here, and then come over here and do a U.S. campaign, probably starting this summer,” Kelly said. “And then we’ll see what happens after London, because if she’s really starting to get busy, we’ll probably have to go a different direction as far as school goes.”
For now, Peyton’s doing just fine managing school and her budding pop career — “She has a great work ethic,” Kelly said — but in the long run, the young artist would love to focus on music.
“I really want to make this my career!” she said. “I don’t want to go to college and figure out a major. I want to perform. I want to go on worldwide tours. I just want to be able to share my passion and my music with other people and for them to enjoy it.”
Dupre, of course, believes in Peyton, especially if she develops her songwriting chops.
“In the three years I was working with her, I just watched a very beautiful human [who’s] got something to say,” Dupre said. “And I just think that [being a songwriter] gives you more weight in this industry. Most of the great singers today are songwriters, too, like Alessia Cara and Taylor Swift. If you come in and you’re an artist, you’re not just at the front, you’re the whole thing. I hope that’s the case for Peyton.”
If it all seems like a lot to process (and maybe to write songs about someday) — “There’s no way I could do something like this!” Kelly said — Peyton seems to be in a good groove.
Take that recent music video, which took up a whole weekend of shooting on Olympic Boulevard and Mulholland Drive.
“It was a crazy, crazy experience — and I just loved everything about it!” she said. “All the outfits, everything!
“Because,” she added, “I’m just having fun.”