Jared Payton


Jared L. Payton and the Voices are a vocal ensemble based in the Fayetteville area. Its members belong to different churches and denominations in the region. Director Jared L. Payton draws from a wide array of musical traditions in creating the Voices’ choral arrangements.

As a choir director, he is particularly inspired by the Fisk University choral heritage, which – like Jared L. Payton and the Voices – represents both tradition and innovation. But he said he sometimes has to keep his interest in the experimental in check when singing in church and concerts. “We have to always keep in mind why we do what we do and the reward that we’re striving for,” said Jared Payton during a panel discussion PineCone hosted in 2022 about Southern Gospel traditions. “I have learned over the years to prayerfully select what we do. We have to recognize that everyone’s mantel is different.”

A classical baritone and tenor who has performed in many operas and concerts, Jared grew up in a family with traditions both of classical choral music (his mother, Dr. Denise Murchison Payton, is the Director of Vocal Activities at Fayetteville State University), and of community-based gospel.

Jared says while he has studied music and music theory it’s all still rooted in faith. “Even in the negro spirituals, even in the field hollers, even in the meter hymns you can find that secret space where you can release and expose yourself to God and worship him. I feel like when you keep God first that’s how your ministry will last.”