On the Thursday evening at CMA Songwriters Series we all got to know Jimmie Allen a little bit better. His funny, down to earth personality shone through as he joked with the other writers on stage, his gentle nature came across as he fought back tears during the emotional Warrior and his talent spoke for itself on every song he sung! He has recently had much deserved success with his song Best Shot claiming the top spot on the Billboard Country Airplay charts but it hasn't been an easy ride for the Delaware native who has spent the last ten years in Nashville honing his craft. Jimmie sat down with us just before soundcheck on the Friday of C2C to talk about his career so far.
Can you remember the first moment when you knew you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?
When I was 8 years old I remember, I was a drummer at the time, drums was the first instrument I played and I always wanted to sing but my voice wasn’t quite there yet but from that moment till now and forever I started working on it so yes from about 8 or 9.
When you was growing up what did your parents make you listen to and what are you choosing to listen to now?
All my dad listened to was Country music and all my mum listened to was Christian music so I got a little older and I got into Rock and RnB and Hip Hop so now I listen to a mix of everything. I go from Eric Church and Keith Urban to Kanye West to One Republic to Coldplay to Switch foot I even listen to some Christian bands, there’s Ione of my favourites called for King and Country and there’s a band called Newsboys so yeah a bit of everything.
When it comes to your own songwriting where do you draw inspiration from, is it mainly personal experience?
It’s sometimes personal but for me it’s everything, I watch a lot of television, a lot of TV and movies on the bus, at the theatre, at home, I’ve always got my face on a TV somewhere. I get inspiration wether it’s storylines, relationships between characters, quotes the characters say like there’s two TV shows that always have the best quotes One Tree Hill, at the end of every episode Lucas would do a voice over and he would have some crazy cool quote at the end of it and the other is Grey’s Anatomy at the end of every episode they’d say some great stuff. Then just watching people, talking to people, just everything.
I wanted to ask you about a specific song off your album and that’s Warrior, can you tell me about the story behind that please?
So Warrior I was writing with Casey Beathard who wrote Don’t Blink for Kenny Chesney and Ash Bowers (who wrote Prayed For You by Matt Stell) and I just wanted to write about my mother and how strong she is and about how strong my Grandma is, I didn’t know it’d turn into an anthem for people who have strong women in their life it was just to pay tribute to my mum and grandma and it’s cool to see so many people connect because a lot of people have strong relationships with their mum and grandma just like I did. It was honestly just a song for me I didn’t know it would grow and connect with people like it did.
You recently collaborated with Abby Anderson for a cover of the song Shallow from A Star is Born, how did that come about?
Yeah I heard the song before and thought it was cool then I saw the movie and seeing it in context, the relationship between the characters and how it played out in the movie and I thought “Oh my God this is amazing!” So after the show I was lay in bed thinking about it and I was thinking I want to do a cover of this song and I started mapping out the video, it would be split screen, black and white. Whilst I’m singing she’s living her life and while she’s singing I’m living mine. How in the movie they’re together I want to approach it where they love each other but they can’t be together, just playing on the fact of how hard it is. At first there were a few female artists I wanted to reach out to but then I thought “Why don’t I just call Abby?” Our personalities are kind of the same we’re out there and in your face and she’s a great person with a lovely voice and all my friends are in love with her haha!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve written a song about?
That’s a new one! Is it going to make the next record?
Hopefully it will. Haha no it won’t.
When you’re on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander?
My mind always wanders, and sometimes I let it wander on purpose like last night I didn’t want to cry, I always cry during Warrior so when I was singing warrior I was thinking about Basketball and food to keep me emotionally unattached because I can get emotional real fast. Some shows when I’m exhausted, I remember a few weeks ago we played ten shows in a row and I was tired so I tried not to think about it. One time I remember when I was on stage I thought about climbing this mountain for some crazy reason I was trying to keep my energy going. Sometimes I focus and sometimes I need a mental vacation for a little bit.
I’m an aspiring songwriter as are many of my readers, what advice do you have for people with those ambitions that you had?
I would say be confident in who you are, every songwriter and artist is different so write from how you see the World, you’re the best at being you, people want to hear that. It’s cool to pull inspiration from other people but they don’t say it how you would say it. I can say from proof now that there is people who will connect with you and with what you have to say. Be yourself and find ways to be more yourself, be annoyingly you!