Liam James Payne was born on August 29, 1993, in Wolverhampton, a town located in England’s West Midlands. His father, Geoff, works for the aerospace manufacturing corporation Goodrich; his mother, Karen, has worked as a nurse and a receptionist. Payne has two older sisters, Nicole and Ruth. Payne attended St. Peter’s Collegiate School in Wolverhampton. As a pre-teen, he was interested in both music and athletics. He was a member of the Wolverhampton & Bilston Athletics Club and trained as a runner. He also began acting and singing with a local theater performance group called Pink Productions at the age of 12. Following his graduation from St. Peter’s, he enrolled in the City of Wolverhampton College to study music technology. Payne auditioned for the television talent competition The X Factor in 2008 and performed well enough to become one of the final 24 competitors before he was eliminated. For the next two years, he continued to train as a vocalist. He auditioned for The X Factor again in 2010 and moved further up in the competition, winning praise for his renditions of songs like “Cry Me a River” and Oasis’s “Stop Crying Your Heart Out.”Although Payne was eliminated as a solo artist before the show’s final round, he became part of a newly formed group act when judges Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell combined him with his fellow competitors Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik. Performing as One Direction, Payne and his new band-mates finished the competition in third place and received a contract with Cowell’s music label. Payne has become very successful as a part of One Direction. Their first single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” was released in September 2011 in the United Kingdom and became a No. 1 hit before achieving worldwide popularity. Their debut album, Up All Night (2011), was a chart-topping success, as was their second album, Take Me Home (2012).