Anyone who wasn't already a fan of country singer Jimmie Allen might have started to pay more attention after his excellent performance of his new single, "This is Us," at last month's CMT awards.
Wearing a black cowboy hat and bedazzling white Sgt. Pepper coat, Allen was joined on stage by Noah Cyrus wearing an outfit that she probably borrowed from her sister Miley's more shock-inducing closet.
The duet vocally complimented each other well and the song had an incredibly catchy pop sound that probably won the rising star even more followers.
Allen is not a typical country star. For one thing, he's from Delaware, albeit the "slower, lower" part, as he puts it. Allen has been compared to Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett — other artists who are finding space in country music for R&B. His lyrics are still about home, trucks, booze, and broken hearts, but he sings with more soul than twang, and his music emphasizes the groove and melody.
"If my body don't move in the first four seconds, it's not for me," Allen said in a press release.
Coming up in the music business, Allen had some bad breaks while trying to find a career in Nashville — at one point he was living in his car. Another problem was that he and his sound were viewed as too different, and people tried to get him to change.
"People were just trying to help," said Allen. "But they wanted me to change my sound and told me I had to lose my boots. The turning point came when I stopped listening, and finally, let my music be a natural reflection of who I am."
Allen’s debut album, "Mercury Lane," named after the street he grew up on, caught fire quickly. The mix of country, rock, pop, and R&B showcased his many talents and could appeal to a broad audience with different tastes. With "Mercury Lane" Allen also made history by becoming the first Black artist to launch his career with back-to-back number one songs on country radio with singles "Best Shot" and "Make Me Want To."
Now Allen is a Platinum-selling artist, had a song used in a Super Bowl commercial, has appeared in a Diet Coke ad with Taylor Swift, and was nominated for ACM New Male Artist of the Year in 2019.
Allen is taking his show to Saddlebags on Friday while on tour for his latest mini-LP, "Betty James." Named after his grandmother and recently deceased father, "Bettie James" boasts a slew of featured superstar collaborators like Nelly, Brad Paisley, Charlie Pride, Mickey Guyton, Tim McGraw, Rita Wilson, Darius Rucker, and the Oakridge Boys.
"My dad and grandmom were two completely different people, but both played a huge part in my life," Allen said.
"Since they died, I have been wanting to leave trails of their legacies throughout my music. … I am a fan of every artist on this project and humbled to have each one of them be a part of it. Each artist has touched the life of my dad, my grandmother and me through their music. I’m proud of this body of music and thankful to every writer that helped me create ‘Bettie James’."