With a booming baritone voice and an opera background, singer and songwriter Joshua Payne brings a unique set of skills to the pop table. Payne was born almost completely deaf, although an operation while he was still a toddler managed to restore most of his hearing, and music became a big factor in his rehabilitation to a world full of sounds. Payne's early childhood was spent in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, but when he was eight, he moved with his family to rural Arkansas. Both his parents had strong musical backgrounds -- his mother as a classical singer, his father as a preacher and choir director -- and the home was full of music, from James Taylor to Prokofiev, but Payne preferred sports, although his strong singing voice was already apparent. He graduated high school in 1991, attending Ouchita College on a football scholarship, but a serious knee injury turned his attention back to music; he began studying voice and was soon winning opera competitions. Payne enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program in vocal music at the University of Memphis, and began touring with Opera Memphis, where his strong baritone won him several title roles.