Jimmie Allen Recounts a Time He Faced Racism at Country Radio, ‘But Why Would I Wanna Focus on That?’
During a conversation with CBS Mornings' Nate Burleson on Friday (Apr. 8), Jimmie Allen reflected on the obstacles he's faced as a Black artist in the country genre, and how his family influence -- specifically, lessons learned from his mom -- help him grapple with the racism he's faced in the industry.
Specifically, Allen remembers a time he encountered racism at a visit to a country radio station.
"There was this guy that worked at this radio station, he told me straight up he didn't like Black people," the singer says. "But luckily he's not in radio no more. And country radio played my music."
But Allen didn't let the experience faze him. "I'm not naive to the fact that there are people across the world that don't like other people because of [their] skin color. I get it. But why would I wanna focus on that? You know how we change hearts? By treating people well and making good music, bro," he points out.
With songs like "Down Home," Allen has put the spotlight on the lessons he learned from his dad, James "Big Jim" Allen, but the singer says that he's also taken plenty of cues from his mom -- especially when it comes to handling hateful comments.
"I feel like my success, it comes from the energy that -- my mother has really helped me, these last couple years, focus on the positive," he explains. "My mom's the one that taught me that. Recently, too. Like, 'Don't worry about the negative. Why?' She's like, 'You chose country music, right? Deal with it. Get it done.'"
Shaped by his parents' and grandmother's impact as well as his own powerful work ethic and unwavering love of music, Allen has arrived at a headspace where he's able to look past the naysayers and focus on what's truly important in his career.
"I love country music. I'm not saying everybody involved in country music might love me. I can't control that. But I can control the people that do. And I can control the music I make," he concludes.
It's a winning strategy for Allen. He was nominated in the all-genre Best New Artist category at the Grammy Awards, his Brad Paisley duet "Freedom Was a Highway" recently became his third No. 1 hit and he's currently gearing up for the release of a new album called Tulip Drive.