Monica Pearson One on One: For Jimmie Allen, it’s all about being country

Award-winning musician recalls his early years, struggles for success with legendary Atlanta journalist

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Jimmie Allen gave it his best shot when he released “Best Shot” in 2018.

It was the No. 1 song on the country charts. He followed that up with “Make me Want to.” It also went No. 1, making Allen the first Black artist to have two consecutive number one songs on a debut album.

But he told Peachtree TV’s Monica Pearson that he wasn’t an overnight sensation. Allen grew up in Milton, Delaware, and moved to Nashville in 2007. He initially lived in a trailer with no electricity and had three jobs, but never gave up on his dreams.

Watch Monica Pearson One on One on Sunday, July 24, at 8 pm, on Peachtree TV.

“My grandmother always taught me, never have a backup plan,” he said. “A plan B is a distraction for plan A. A lot of times, people that have two plans are like, if this doesn’t work, I have this. But it’s like jumping off a cliff. If there’s a safety net there, you’re not worried about learning how to fly, but if there’s no safety net, you gonna figure it out.”

While playing in Nashville clubs, Allen bought a ticket to see one of his idols, country music legend Charley Pride.

“I knew he was getting older and didn’t know how long he wanted to keep performing,” Allen said. “So that’s why I felt like it was worth the money. I knew I was gonna get paid in a week and a half anyway, so I’d gone a couple days without eating. I ain’t worried about that. I get to see Charlie Pride on stage.”

In 2020, Allen performed alongside Pride on stage at the Country Music Association (CMA) awards.

“That was the craziest thing ever,” Allen said. “I had always wanted to do a song with me Darius [Rucker] and Charley. Its never been done, three generations of Black country artists.

“And then to be able to sing ‘Kiss an Angel Good Morning’ with him and present him with a lifetime achievement award. It doesn’t matter how many number ones I get, how many awards I get, nothing will be more special than that moment.”

Allen is currently signed to Broken Bow Records’ Stoney Creek. In 2021, he won the CMA award for New Artist of the Year, only the second Black artist to win that category following Rucker’s win in 2009.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Allen’s touring ended. He was financially secure, but his band members and crew were not. So he took out a long-term loan to pay them.

“When you grow up, not having much, and when you don’t base your life around your value, around money, it don’t matter, me giving it away,” Allen said. “And because I wouldn’t be where I am without, people helping me and stuff like that. My band needed me. So I went to the bank, took out a loan and started paying it back a little.

“It’s all about being country.”

Monica Pearson: One on One is an interview-themed series featuring the legendary Atlanta journalist.

Tim Darnell

Tim Darnell

Tim Darnell is the Investigative Digital Content Producer for CBS46.