By Ron Wynn
Nashville, TN (TN Tribune)–Jimmie Allen has had an immediate impact in country music that is both historic and unprecedented. He’s the first Black artist to launch his career with two straight number one country hits. “Best Shot” stayed atop the charts three weeks, and was followed by “Make Me Want To” that also ended up at number one. Those tunes established Allen’s popularity and helped propel 2018’s “Mercury Lane,” which drew rave reviews and reflected both idiomatic versatility and his strong core country vocal foundation.
But Allen hasn’t stopped there. He’s set to make his debut as a headliner at the Ryman Auditorium Thursday night. His second release is the EP “Bettie James.” Issued this past summer, it matches Allen’s soaring, energetic vocals with a host of country stars. The roster includes both contemporary country acts and artists from other genres, from Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw and The Oak Ridge Boys to Nelly, Tauren Wells, Rita Wilson and Noah Cyrus. Allen also enlisted the support of fellow Black country performers Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, and the legendary Charley Pride.
Allen helped honor Pride at this year’s Country Music Association Awards, where Pride received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. He also recognized Pride’s importance and impact, both on his career and country music in general, during an interview this week with the Tribune.
“Charley Pride was a great man and a great artist who showed us that no matter what you look like, or where you come from, there are no limitations on what you can do in country music,” Allen said. “His life and career is a direct reflection that country music is for everyone.” He added appearing at the Ryman fulfills a career objective. “It feels great (to debut at the Ryman),” Allen continued. “The Ryman is an iconic venue that I’ve been wanting to play my entire life.”
As to whether the success he’s enjoyed this year makes 2020 a breakout time, Allen acknowledges things are currently going very well. “It’s been a great year – I’ve been given a lot of opportunities that I’m thankful for and moments I’ll never forget,” Allen said. “This year certainly looked different in so many ways, but I’m grateful to have been able to find ways to stay creative, spend time with my family, and put in the work toward goals I have for the future.”
When asked about future goals, Allen says “Continuing to work hard to expand my brand and platform, focus on a new record, and look to find more ways to create music that motivates listeners to chase their dreams.” He also definitely plans to resume touring and live shows once COVID-19 fears have been eased.
“I definitely plan on and look forward to getting back on the road when it’s safe,” Allen concludes. “There’s nothing like playing live shows with my band – those guys are like family.