Sam Payne hosts The Apple Seed – the award-winning national radio show on the art of storytelling produced by BYUradio – and serves as the Weber State University Storytelling Fellow. He was part of the Peabody-nominated team that created Treasure Island 2020, the serial podcast based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, and has brought stories and songs to halls in Canada, Bulgaria, Tokyo, and from coast to coast in the United States, including performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the nation's capitol, the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and the Timpanogos Storytelling festival in Lehi, Utah. Sam has authored periodical publications for children with a regular readership of more than a million elementary school students, and has written books and stage pieces including Sanctuary: The Story of Zion for the centennial of the National Parks Service, Echoes of Hammers and Spikes (With Suzanne Christensen) for the sesquicentennial of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, and One of a Million Stars, commemorating the 14-year mission of the Mars rover Opportunity.
Below, find snippets of things critics, audiences, and fellow performers are saying about Sam's work.
“Sam Payne is super intense, and underneath it all, there’s actually something there. It’s like, I used to try to like Whitesnake because they were so intense. But in the end, there wasn’t anything more than intensity there. Sam, on the other hand – Sam is like the Whitesnake I hoped I was getting into. He’s like a really good Whitesnake.”
“Sometimes you hear a voice that sounds so familiar that you’re immediately taken back to that favorite radio DJ from Saturday morning when you were a little kid. Sometimes you hear a voice that’s so familiar that you’re immediately taken back to that favorite educator, who was such a good teacher that you never actually realized you were learning from them. And sometimes you hear a voice that’s so familiar that you’re immediately taken back through the tunnel of nostalgia to your childhood – to those other people in your family that told you stories – and you feel so comfortable. And every now and then, we hear a voice that combines all of those together into one voice; that, when you’re extra lucky, adds a little music into it. Well, all of those things come through in the voice of a storyteller from Utah...Sam Payne.”
--Storyteller Adam Booth
“Sam Payne – totally crushing it. Incredible. Amazing work,”
"Has taken me to a whole new level of understanding about the beauty, the joy, the power, and the fun of storytelling."
--KUED producer Ken Verdoia
"The Gift of the Tongue. You've got it, my friend. In spades. Astonishing."
--Storyteller Clare Murphy
"Fill-the-room stage presence. Totally iPod-worthy."
--Storyteller Kim Weitkamp
"If you've never attended an event with Sam Payne, it would be impossible to describe his ability to change the energy of a room just by stepping on the stage."
--Snake River Storytelling
"He was wonderful again during this concert. He is authentic and genuine. He welcomes you into the screen as if you are in his living room. Truly delightful."
"Every single teller that I spent an hour with today was incredible ... but by far, the most impactful was Sam Payne. There wasn't a dry eye in the place, and even thinking back on it is causing me to tear up a bit. Thank you Sam for your incredible story today!"
"Sam Payne was absolutely one of my favorites from the 2019 National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, TN. I didn't quite know what to make of him when he got on stage with his guitar. But when he opened his mouth and began to sing.....OOOOH LAWD! That man got some SOUL! As a storyteller myself, I really appreciated how he integrated the music into his 'telling. It was seamless, thoughtful, and engaging."
--Gregory Pickett, winner, 2019 Twin Cities Moth Grand Slam Champion
"Original, over-the-top creative, genius. Let's be honest, genius. Totally different league from anyone around that I've seen as far as artistry."
--Entertainer Jason Hewlett
"The best voice at the festival."
--Utah Arts Festival
“Let's talk about storytelling: Sam Payne is a master at it.”
--Carma Wadley, Deseret News
"Jonathan WInters. With a guitar. Welcome to the 22nd century!"
--Matthew Clark, The National Storytelling Festival
"Giddy. Giddy is the first word I can think of to describe the way I felt...The intelligent lyrics of each song seemed to pick up where the narration left off so that the story felt seamless, witty and downright entertaining."
--Hollie Reina, St. George News
"Payne, known for his jazzed folk tunes and flair for good stories, is a 'must see' show full of entertainment that's just right for audiences across the board."
--Rich Panessa, Southern Utah Songwriters Association
“Hence, as a public service to anyone who enjoys thoughtful, energertic, jazz-inflected folk -- and even to people who think "jazz-inflected folk" sounds iffy, but who enjoy a good guitar sound and strong vocals -- I am opening the bag, and letting out the cat: Sam Payne rocks.”
--Cody Clark, The Daily Herald
"He's one of the best in his field … the consummate performer. The connection he makes with people onstage or in person is a rare thing that many artists don't have the ability to do."
--Earl Madsen, Sounds of Zion
“The songwriting is fun, sublime, and masterful. The lyrics are poetic and profound. There are life lessons hidden in his songs, and when found they are more powerful than just stating the truth. More true than truth. Highly, highly recommended.”
--Tim Jones, Deseretbook.com
"Payne delivers his riveting folktales with passion, emotionally stirring hooks, and an almost supernatural ability to tell a story." --Kevin Jones, "The Independent" magazine
"Payne is one of those few musicians who can successfully combine both songwriting and stage performing. He can write poignant and meaningful lyrics, combine them with a melodic hook, and perform them in a voice that makes you want to close your eyes and drift away."