The latest project from Jimmie Allen entitled, “Bettie James”, combines his deep love of family and genre-spanning taste in music. The star-studded collaboration project is a seven-track EP – released July 2020 – that features a wide array of music hitmakers: Brad Paisley, Charley Pride, Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Nelly, Cyrus, The Oak Ridge Boys, Rita Wilson, Tauren Wells & Tim McGraw.
The EP’s title is a tribute to Allen’s late grandmother, Bettie Snead, who passed away in February 2014 and his late father, James Allen, who passed away in September 2019. “My dad and grandmom were two completely different people, but both played a huge part in my life,” Allen says of the motivation for the project. “Since they died, I have been wanting to leave trails of their legacies throughout my music.”
Each artist on the project has touched the life of Allen, his grandmother and father in some way, allowing their legacies to weave seamlessly throughout “Bettie James”. The result is a musical composition of love, heartbreak, perseverance, hope and faith. Jimmie’s current single “Freedom Was A Highway” pairs Allen with his friend and Country music superstar Paisley for a breezy, windows down track that joins Allen’s distinctively breezy grooves with a Paisley signature guitar solo. The two trade lyrics inspired by Allen’s upbringing in Delaware and reminisce over the nostalgia of more carefree, youthful days where simpler moments like innocent childhood crushes reigned supreme.
“Bettie James” has garnered 120+ million streams since its release, along with critical acclaim for the music, the historic nature of various collaborations, and its subsequent place in country music history. NPR calls the project an “announcement of [Allen’s] arrival” and a “huge step for country” while Billboard hails it “a powerful statement from a developing voice.” The EP appeared on several “Best of 2020” lists including Billboard, Rolling Stone and Sounds Like Nashville.
Rolling Stone describes “Why Things Happen” – which brings together three generations of Black country artists in Allen, Darius Rucker and Charley Pride – as “part polemic, part proclamation, and part prayer… opening up space for the artists to bear witness.”
Reflecting on Allen’s wide-ranging musical sensibilities, Music Row notes of the project: “While some artists still in the early sunrise of their careers, with a handful of hits to their credit, would be focused solely on extending their chart successes, it’s clear that Allen’s goals for his music are loftier than mere chart hits and No. 1 parties-he’s striving for music that testifies to his full spectrum of creative abilities.”
On July 13, 2021, Allen will publish his debut picture book, My Voice Is a Trumpet, with Flamingo Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. Illustrated by veteran illustrator Cathy Ann Johnson, the book is a powerful story about speaking up for what you believe in, at any age. In My Voice Is a Trumpet, all voices are as diverse as the characters and heard loud and clear – from voices that roar like a lion, to voices small as a bee, all it takes is confidence and a belief in the goodness of others to change the world. “It’s very important to me that kids learn at a young age that they have a voice, and that it is powerful. It is up to us as adults to teach them to use their voice to encourage and show love,” Allen says of his first ever book. “Being a father of two kids, I try to encourage them to be themselves and love everyone around them. I’m hoping this book inspires at least one child and they always remember their voice is a trumpet.”