Born to a musical family in New Orleans, Nicholas Payton was encouraged by his mother, a pianist and vocalist, and his father, the legendary bassist, composer and educator Walter Payton. Nicholas showed talent for music at a very early age he enrolled at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Hailed as a virtuoso before he was even out of high school, his maturation and talent has earned him praise and accolades, as well as insured his place in musical history.
Payton has consistently committed himself to developing his distinct voice. He says, “As a musician, as an artist, you’re always trying to zero in on the bull’s eye as a means of becoming a better version of yourself. I’ve been able to find the kind of music that’s more inclusive of all of my life. The approach and the ideas of my music have become more singular, more cohesive. I have no agenda in terms of a specific genre or style, only to be true to who I am.”
Spanning a multitude of musical genres, Payton has composed and arranged, performed and recorded with his own groups in many settings, including his 2012 full orchestral work, The Black American Symphony. Payton is credited on over 120 recordings as a composer, arranger, special guest or sideman, including work with Trey Anastasio, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Daniel Lanois and many others.