11 Questions with Jimmie Allen
From a massive new collab album to ocean fishing in Florida and a love for Disney World, Jimmie Allen wakes up every day to see where the music and life take him next.
He may have gotten his start in the Nashville country music scene while living in his car, but Jimmie has become a breakout star with a new project that brings in talent from multiple genres. He took some time to chat about his music, recording during quarantine, and his influences before he stepped back onto the Opry stage for a special livestream show.
We were so glad to have you on the Opry stage — tell us what you were looking forward to the most about the show?
I was looking forward to trying out some new songs with the band — super proud to be singing on the Opry and singing some songs with opry members.
You made your Opry debut in May 2018 — that was also the year you had your “big break.” Tell us a little bit about your road to the Opry?
I moved to Nashville in 2007, and in 2017 got my record deal. It was difficult until then and even a little after. I kept myself surrounded with positive people and people who supported me to help keep me motivated and they helped me get to number one. That same year, I got to play the Opry. I also celebrated that I made my debut with Charley Pride and my dad’s favorite country artist, Aaron Tippin.
What does the Opry mean to you in terms of country music?
For me the Opry is a special place, it’s kind of like when you go to your grandma’s place and you go and find out all of the stories about everyone and everything.
I learn something new every time and I want to dig deep and see how it started and why it started. Everyone there is like family and everyone is so nice from the moment you walk in, from the people who work there, to the other artists.
If you could play with anyone on the Opry stage, past or present, who would it be and why?
It would be Darius Rucker, Deford Bailey, and Charley Pride all at the same time. That would just be crazy all four of us playing together.
Your new project Bettie James is out! Can you tell us a little bit about the new project?
It was just something I was wanting to do for a while, I wanted to do a collab project. I wanted to work with different artists who would help bring the songs to life. I started hearing different artists’ voices on different songs. I kind of went by what felt great, and went with people I considered friends and who brought the songs to life. I also wanted to leave a legacy of my dad and my grandma through my songs.
Speaking of collaborations, you have quite a few on the new album. How is it working with so many different talented folks on one album?
It was fun, a lot of us worked in separate places, because we were all in quarantine. We sent the music back and forth and we would listen and work with the engineer. It was great letting people be themselves and take their own approach to the music.
It was a completely different process than normal being in quarantine. You get so used to being in the same room with people and you can feed off of the different energy in the studio together.
What is your creative process when it comes to approaching new music and collaborations?
I don’t really have a process. I’m an in-the-moment kind of guy, every mood is different and I wake up every day and see where the energy goes.
What do you want fans and new listeners to discover about you and your music on Bettie James?
I don’t write and put music out for other people because it’s what I love to do and I only have my own expectations. I don’t set those expectations — it’s just me. I want people to like it and it’s so great when they do. It’s about what I feel and think, and then I put it out into the world.
Who are the biggest influences on your life and music?
My dad, my grandma, and my mother. My dad was super about telling me to put 100 percent into everything, especially when I was taking risks. He passed away last year. My grandma said, “if you take risks, you have to be patient.”
My biggest music influences are Charley Pride, Darius Rucker, Montgomery Gentry, Matchbox 20, U2, and I’m a huge Usher fan. There are so many.
You’re from Delaware originally, how have you enjoyed Nashville, and what has been your favorite thing about the South?
The food in Nashville is good — love the food. Favorites in Nashville are Saint Añejo, Jeff Ruby’s, and Papa Turney’s Old Fashioned BBQ.
In the South? I’m a big ocean fisher in Florida — I lake fish in Tennessee because that’s the only option. And Disney World, I love it.
What’s your motto for 2020?
Don’t take any moment for granted. Don’t rush the present.