John Payonk Goes International

 I've known the talented John Payonk for many years. One of the standing jokes was that he should consider singing tenor....ten or twenty miles away. Interestingly enough today John's tremendous voice is being heard 10,000 miles away with a song he recorded called "The Journey."

"The song has played in England, here in Knox, Indiana, in Virginia and on Radio Live in New Zealand where I was interviewed by Ewing Stevens," John explained.

And the story of this "journey" to his newly recorded song is an interesting one. John said that recently there was a contest put on by Susan Boyle's record company. Susan Boyle is the popular middle aged singer who was "discovered" on the British version of "America's Got Talent." She blew her audience away with her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" and has gone on to great success.

If chosen by the record company, the prize would be to record a duet with Susan Boyle for her Christmas album. Each contestant was required to sing an a cappella version of "Silent Night."

"I was down in Louisville doing 'Cinderella' at the time so I found a karaoke track of Silent Night' and sang with it as I taped myself with my digital camera then posted it to You tube as my entry," he said.

The very next day someone commented on-line how wonderful his performance was but that the rules stated it had to be a cappella.

"I, of course, had never read the rules!" he laughed.

John proceeded to sing the song a cappella but didn't win the contest. But his winning voice caught the attention of a composer.

 A songwriter named Meryl Ledbrooke

from Kent, England saw his entry online and fell in love with his voice.

She had recently composed a Christmas song entitled "The Journey" and had been trying to get Susan Boyle to record it but to no avail.






She sent John a copy of it and asked if he'd be interested in recording it.

"I thought it was a great song. She then sent another song called 'Song of the Highlands' which does suit my voice very well," he added.

So John was sent to a Chicago recording studio where he performed both songs. And it's this recording that been playing internationally.

"John's voice is just special," said Meryl. "I had listened to many singers hoping to duet with Susan Boyle but John's singing was just amazing.

His voice has quality and is very distinctive with an amazing power too, but more than anything else, John is very sincere when he sings. It's just that simple."


John's been acting and singing in lead roles since his high school days at Clark and has often given credit to his music teacher, Mr. Darrell Church there for his great support and guidance.

John has been seen here in many lead roles at Community Showcase and the Marian Theatre Guild and once was choir director for St. Peter & Paul parish. He's sung in operas in Chicago and for the last 15 years has made his living performing around the country as an equity actor/singer.

"I did this as a lark. You see things like 'American Idol' and there are so few opportunities for older folks," he said. "Like everyone, I was enchanted by the whole Susan Boyle story. This was someone who didn't quite fit the Hollywood mould but who had a great talent and got to show it and be appreciated. That's so very rare."

Meryl Ledbrooke even sent a copy of both songs to the Queen of England. In return, Queen Elizabeth sent her a nice letter, thanking her.

Meryl sent me a copy. That was truly neat!" he said. Meryl, who has been composing music "seriously" since 1998 said that she hopes that she and John can continue to work together.

"I have a song on the horizon that I am sure would suit his voice," she said. "I'd love for him to have the opportunity to sing live on American television."

And so do we, his Whiting Robertsdale fans!

You can go to John's website for more information or go to YouTube to hear him sing by just typing in the name, John Payonk.

By Gayle Faulkner Kosalko