2021 was good to country star Jimmie Allen.
This year the multi-Platinum singer-songwriter released his latest star-studded collaboration album, Bettie James Gold Edition, and currently has a top 10 single with Brad Paisley on “Freedom Was A Highway.” He joined both Paisley and Nelly on their respective tours, and recently announced he will hit the road on his own headlining tour, the “Down Home Tour 2022,” in February.
The “Make Me Want To” singer also took home several big trophies this year, including the ACM New Male Artist of the Year award and the CMA New Artist of the Year honor. He also received the only country nomination in an all-genre category for the upcoming Grammy Awards, and will be competing for Best New Artist at the January ceremony.
While Allen was visibly honored by the wins at both the ACM and CMA Awards, he says it wasn’t something he was focused on at the top of the year. “I never start a year saying ‘I want to win this award and that award.’ My goal every year is to make an impact and widen my platform to where I can help other artists.”
Helping other artists has been a big part of Allen’s work over the last few years. At only 36-years-old, Allen has launched multiple businesses and regularly shines a spotlight on rising artists. He believes it’s better for him to bring up his peers and protégés now while he’s on the rise, as opposed to starting entertainment companies when he’s hit the crest of the career. It’s a strategy he’s observed from hip-hop culture.
“I love the way that hip-hop culture did it, especially Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne signed Drake and Nicki Minaj. Drake signed The Weeknd and took him out. It’s all about using your platform to break your artists,” Allen says. “If you sign someone, you’re investing. The more successful they become, the more successful your business becomes. I’m trying to take that same approach and do it in the country world.”
Earlier this year, Allen established Bettie James Music Publishing, a publishing venture with Sony Music Publishing Nashville, and signed his frequent collaborator and bass player Tate Howell.
A few weeks back Allen announced JAB Entertainment, a full-service management and production company he launched alongside partners John Marks and Aaron Benward. The company’s first signing for the company is Neon Union, a duo comprised of Leo Brooks and Andrew Millsaps that was featured on the track “Livin’ Man” on Bettie James Gold Edition. Neon Union will join Allen on the “Down Home Tour 2022.”
“When I was first getting started I had other artists and songwriters reaching out, but I wasn’t in a position to help,” Allen says. “You can only help others after you help yourself. You can’t pull somebody up if you’re not up. But I eventually got to the point where I could help.”
In addition to his music and business ventures, the multi-hyphenate entertainer also found time to publish his first children’s book My Voice Is a Trumpet this year, as well as collaborate with Elton John on The Lockdown Sessions, launch his own Bettie James Fest music festival, and serve as Executive Music Producer for the Netflix series Titletown High.
Allen also competed on the 30th season of Dancing With The Stars, and even reached the quarterfinals. He says the gig was an opportunity to expose more people not only to his music, but to country music in general.
“For me, it’s all about expanding and reaching people that don’t listen to country radio. I tell people all the time: my music is never going to change. I’m always going to be a country artist, I’m always going to have songs on country radio, I’m always going to be at country award shows and country festivals. But how do we get people that only listen to pop to know who Jimmie Allen is?
“How do we get, not just for my music, but [the music of all] country artists to new markets? You have to place yourself there. They have to see you,” Allen says. “You have to come in first as a person—because that’s what they got to see on Dancing With The Stars. They saw Jimmie Allen, the person. Jimmie Allen the person warms them up to check out my music.”
When it comes to Allen’s Grammy nomination, he sees it as another chance to represent country music on a global stage.
“I didn’t even realize it until my publicist told me that it was an all-genre category. For me it says a lot about country music and about where we are,” Allen shares. “This Grammy nomination isn’t about winning. It’s about being the face of country music. If people can see that country music has accepted me, other people will feel comfortable getting in this business, whether it’s on the artist side or the business side.”
As for 2022, the sky is the limit for Allen.
When asked about his goals, he lists securing a record deal for Neon Union, executing a successful headlining tour, pushing “Freedom Is A Highway” as far as it will go on the charts, and continuing to build his brand and businesses.
“My biggest goal, though, is continuing to motivate people. That’s my goal for every show. I want people to leave a Jimmie Allen concert becoming better people than they were when they walked in, More inspired to love themselves, to make sacrifices, and take risks to achieve their goals,” he says.
Although he’s humble about his Grammy nomination, Allen wants to bring a win home in January. “Let’s bring this Grammy back to Nashville!” the entertainer says with a laugh.
To watch Allen compete in the Best New Artist category, as well as other Nashville acts vie for Grammy wins, tune in to the Grammy Awards on on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, broadcasting live on the CBS Television Network and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+ at 8 – 11:30 p.m. ET.
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