Jimmie Allen is breaking boundaries as the first-ever Black musician to win Best New Male Artist at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards. While humbled by the accolade, Allen hopes it won’t be the last time a Black artist is up for the title. The 34-year-old told People he never thought he would receive recognition from the traditionally white country music industry. “Growing up listening to country music, I loved it. It’s all my dad listened to,” Allen recalled. “My dad was like, ‘Well, you should be a country singer,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, nah, they’re all white. I don’t know if they let people like me even sing country music.'” Despite feeling a little deterred, Allen said after his father introduced him to the music of Charley Pride — and it changed his life.
Allen told New York Post that prior to Pride’s death in December 2020, he would phone the famed Black country musician almost weekly to seek advice on “what he went through” back in his hey-day of the 1970s. Pride was also the first Black member to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
These days, however, Allen himself is a source of inspiration for other Black country music fans, after historically winning Best Male Artist. “I get messages on Instagram and Twitter from parents that tell me and thank me for getting into country music because their son or their daughter see me and they say I remind them of them,” he told People. Despite Pride providing industry support and morale, Allen still counts his late dad as his biggest champion.
Jimmie Allen said he tried to phone his late dad after his historic ACM win
Jimmie Allen revealed to People in April 2021 that he had been dreaming of winning an ACM award ever since he was a child — to the extent of even sweetly re-enacting an acceptance speech. “I would start on the couch and when the winner won the category, I had to walk up and stand by the TV and give my acceptance speech. This is something I’ve wanted for awhile and it’s pretty cool that it’s here.” But sadly for Allen, the first person with whom he wanted to share his Best New Male Artist win with is no longer around — by default the country music star dialled his dad who died back in 2019. “And as soon as I started calling, it hit me. I was like, ‘Yeah, let me hang up,'” he said.
Nonetheless, Allen had other loving and supportive family members to phone as he shared his exciting news with his mom, fiancée, grandpa and young son — but he also plans to celebrate his win in person with a big family barbecue. “Just try to take the moment in and enjoy it because it’s not something I want to ever forget. It’s a big deal and I’m super thankful for it,” he said.
But, as for that starry-eyed child who once fantasized about being a famous country performer, Allen said he would advise his younger self to “keep going” and not change a thing. “Keep being you, be obnoxiously yourself, because I feel like that’s what makes you special.”
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