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
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
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.
Jimmy Allen's Official Music
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Dan + Shay's
Live Performance of
on "The Today Show -
At the same time, I have some younger siblings that look up to me, and
the fear of them giving up on their dream because I gave up on mine
is something else that kept me going.
When did you actually start
trying to write songs?
When I was 10. They were horrible
songs (laughs). It kind of started when I was younger. My speech
therapist started telling us to write down our thoughts on paper and
give them to her. When I started putting things down, I really
expressed myself because I wasn't afraid of not being able to get
the words out. I could talk freely on paper, and for me that's when
the whole songwriting really started.
Ever since then, I tried to write everything down...it turned into plays,
it turned into movie scripts and then it turned into songs. There
was so much stuff happening. I was creating my own world on this
paper. It felt like nobody would judge me. When I talked in public,
I always stuttered. I couldn't get the words out, but on paper I was
a better writer. That's when I started building up confidence.
How does the songwriting process
work for you?
I try to write from the perspective
of a music fan because I'm a huge fan of music. I feel like
songwriters, when they try to write for other artists or other
songwriters, that's when we mess up. A lot of times, I feel like we
get more complicated songs where the listener doesn't care. It's
over their head. Every time I write a song, I listen to it as if I
were a fan. I write the song, and I sing it back, [and ask myself]
what would a shower singer want to sing right now?
Your album, Mercury Lane, is
The title is derived from the street where you lived. How would you
describe life on Mercury Lane when you were growing up?
It was fun...it was safe...it was a
family. We wouldn't even lock our doors growing up. We learned a lot
about the community and really being there for other people. We
learned a lot about...being creative.
As a kid ,when I grew up, we were taught to be ourselves. Don't worry
about stereotypes. That's what we try to do.
You were a co-host recently on
The Today Show on NBC.
What was that experience like?
I loved it. A part of my overall
goal, where I want to go in life includes television. Hosting,
movies and commercials are all part of what I want to do. I enjoyed
the interaction with (Today Show hosts) Hoda Kotb and
Kathie Lee Gifford. Being on TV lets people see the other
side of me - the humor, my musical influences, but at the same
time...it was educational.
You mentioned earlier that you'd like
to act. What are some other things you have "on your bucket list?
I'm writing a book right
now...actually, two books. I've got some movie stuff in the works.
My booking agency wants me to write a quote book. I have this stage
play I started writing about a year-and-a-half ago. I'm not rushing
the creative process on anything. I'm doing it all at once, but kind
of letting each of them tell their own story.
(from Mercury Lane)
It takes a certain kind of gumption to follow your heart. Despite being told by LA music executives to "lose [his] boots" and leave country music behind, Jimmie Allen didn't give in to how others saw - or heard - him. He followed his passion for pop-country from 2017's self-titled EP to his full-length debut, Mercury Lane, summarizing that struggle in All Tractors Ain't Green. The song's slow tempo bursts when Allen wryly sings, "Might go against the grain of that country boy model." Elsewhere, he builds in moody electronic touches and R&B rhythms on tracks like American Heartbreaker, Like You Do, and Back of Your Mind. Includes the hit single "Best Shot."
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