Detroit artist Peyton copes with chronic illness through music

Artist shares painful, powerful message through her songs

Detroit artist Peyton in her music video for new song "Facades." Photo courtesy of music video on YouTube. (Peyton)

DETROIT – A Detroit-based artist is sharing a painful, yet powerful, message through her songs, proving that music can be medicine.

Like many great artists, Peyton is turning some of her most painful and private moments into song. She sings with emotion from the pain she’s experienced in life, channeling that pain into her music.

The artist says her love for music began when she was 4 years old and playing the piano.

“I always knew Peyton could sing,” said Durene Elem-Vaughn, Peyton’s mother. “I realized this was a talent she could really grow.”

While many artists write and sing about pain from life lessons or love lost, Peyton’s pain is much deeper and more literal. She’s been experiencing this physical pain since she was 7 years old.

“There are no days where I’m without pain,” Peyton said. “But there are better days than others.”

Peyton, now 24 years old, is living with fibromyalgia. She was diagnosed with the condition at age 13.

“It’s a nerve condition where you’re basically in pain all the time,” Peyton said. “You’re fatigued. Everybody is a little bit different. For me, when I get sick, it knocks out my whole body.”

Sadly, there is no cure for the condition -- only medicine, often times opioids, is available to mask some of the pain.

But you wouldn’t know Peyton was sick by looking at her. In fact, the artist hides her illness from friends.

“Because ... when you are in pain and you look like you’re in pain, it’s uncomfortable for people to be around,” Peyton said. “I do it, put up these walls for the comfortability.”

“So, you’re caring about how other people feel because of your medical condition. Is that fair for you?” Local 4′s Evrod Cassimy asked.

“I mean, nothing is really fair, you know?” Peyton said.

With no one to talk to about her chronic pain from fibromyalgia, Peyton instead turned to music.

“It was very emotional and very heartfelt, but yet at the same time inspiring because now I know she had something to hold onto,” Elem-Vaughn said.

Peyton’s mother is one of her biggest fans. She stuck by her daughter through the many doctor visits as a child, as they tried to figure out what was causing the chronic pain. Peyton wrote a song called “All I Need” for her mother.

“She really got me through it all,” Peyton said. “She means everything to me, really. She’s the reason I’m here. Without her, I would not be here.”

While Peyton still lives every day in chronic pain, it’s the music that is helping her cope. That, and knowing that she’ll always have her mother by her side.

Peyton added that her music is therapeutic for her and helps her through some of those tougher days. If you’d like to hear more of her music, it’s available on all streaming services.

As for what’s next for Peyton, she plans to release a new single every month this year. She also hopes to one day start a charity for children and adults living with chronic pain.


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About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.