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X Factor contestant shows his soulful side
Christopher Peyton was already a big name in show business when he took part in X Factor on UK television in 2016. For 15 years he had been writing hits and lending his distinct vocals to some of the world's top house music producers. His chart-topping breakout hit, A Higher Place, led to worldwide tours and recognition from some of the industry's finest DJs.
Hit-maker: Christopher Peyton (pic: La Skimal)
Keen to try something different, Peyton – he uses his surname as his stage name – appeared on X Factor and is now releasing an album, Sinners Got Soul Too, which sees a switch from dance to blues-infused soul. The album's release will be promoted with a show at Birmingham's Pizza Express Live on February 10, 2018.
The record is essentially a return to Peyton's musical roots – his youth was spent drenched in American gospel music. His father was a preacher in Virginia and his first experience of singing was in the church children's choir.
Lyrically, however, the album sends the same message that Peyton has been singing about for years. "What I really want to achieve with this album is the same thing I have always set out to achieve with the music I make: to raise people's consciousness, to lift people's spirits, to move people's hearts," he says.
The idea for Sinners Got Soul Too formed when Peyton was asked by a friend to write a song that could express his love for his wife on her 50th birthday. Not wanting to feel restricted by the genre constraints of his past, he penned the song The Way I Love You as a heartfelt piano-led pop track. This catalysed his desire to create more tracks which departed from dance music.
Swap: Peyton has exchanged dance for soul (pic: La Skimal)
All Ways Up is another track commissioned by the same friend as the anthem for his charity foundation. Other tracks that feature on the album are I'll Rise, the empowering poem by poet and activist Maya Angelou (originally set to music by Ben Harper) which Peyton performed for the X Factor judges in his audition, a version of A Higher Place that evokes the halls of an evangelical church gospel choir, and When They Go Low the anti-bullying anthem that takes inspiration from Michelle Obama's celebrated speech at the National Democratic Convention.
Since the release of When They Go Low as the first single, Peyton has become an ambassador for the UK anti-bullying charity Bullying UK. Taking up a position like this is something he hoped to do for years, as his own experiences with bullying shaped his relationship with music greatly in his childhood.
"In my youth I tried to participate in the performing arts at school, but this always resulted in a great deal of bullying. I finally gave up doing anything at my school which was associated with the arts, so the church became a kind of safe haven for me. Nobody bullied you at church for singing, because singing was considered a gift from God that we were encouraged to use," he admits.
Ambassador: Peyton speaks out against bullying (pic: La Skimal)
Pizza Express Live takes place on the top floor of the restaurant in Birmingham's Brindleyplace. Other forthcoming shows include Jake Henry on January 19, Soul Grenades on January 26 and Snake Davis Band on February 9.