Rising country singer/songwriter Jimmie Allen has made history as the first African-American artist to launch a career with a number one debut single on country radio. His single Best Shot reached the coveted top spot on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, and stayed on top for two weeks. It's still at #6.

  "I'm humbled and grateful," says Allen. "It's such an honor to get my first number one, and to know that my song is connecting with people and resonating in a way that hopefully makes us all better people in the end, because that's really what 'Best Shot' is all about."

  Allen wrote the song with Josh London and J.P. Williams for Allen's debut album, Mercury Lane (on Stoney Creek Records). Notably, Best Shot is the #1 Most Shazamed song in the format for eight consecutive weeks.

  Influenced by country stars like Alan Jackson, Jason Aldean, Montgomery Gentry and Aaron Tippin, the Southern Delaware native knew from the age of 8 that he wanted to be a performer. On the way to reaching his dream, a financially-struggling Allen was forced to sleep in his car until he could get on his feet again. Eventually, he was able to give his best shot for a showcase in front of record executives, but unfortunately, they turned him down. Nevertheless, Allen held steadfast and in time inked a record deal, and over the last year has been building momentum with his career.

  "It's been a whirlwind of hard work," Allen said. "I sleep maybe two hours a night, but the rewards make it totally worth it."

  We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Jimmie Allen. He talks about how stuttering as a child turned him into a powerful writer, and he reveals the message he told himself that gave him hope during the hard times.

How did your song Best Shot develop?

  I just had this melody in my head and the first line and chorus. I went to the writing session and said, "Hey guys, what do you think about it? Let's write it from the angle of one day as another opportunity to do better for a person, to have everything in life." It's from my own personal experience - life, love, and love loss, and I also just wanted to show ways to be a better person. You write it from a relationship standpoint, but really when you dig a little deeper it's just about overall being a better person.

For you, what does it mean to give something your best shot?

  I feel like you've exhausted every possibility and every option. You leave it all on the table. There's no regrets. You've done everything you can think of, and you walk away from it satisfied. When you give it your best shot, it's not about the results. It's about the effort you put into it, so when you walk away, you can say 'you know what, I gave it everything I had. Whatever happens, happens.'
  When I did the showcase for my label, I left everything on the stage. I didn't get a record deal right away. I couldn't control their responses or what they had going on, but I was satisfied.

At one point while you were struggling to make it as a singer, you were living in
your car. What messages did you tell
yourself to keep you going
to survive or to be motivated?

  That was the only dream I had. Some people who graduate high school land their career [immediately] - some people have to go to graduate school...some have to go to medical school. For me, I had to get better at my craft. I needed to meet people that will take me to the next level. I need to write better songs. I need to perform better. So, what kept me going was knowing this is just part of my journey. This is my college part, this is my grad course, or this is my medical school.