Cape grad Jimmie Allen reflects on 'American Idol'

Nashville resident's music career takes off after making Top 60
March 7, 2011

For Lewes’ Jimmie Allen, the dream of being the next “American Idol” ended last week, but his burgeoning music career is just starting to warm up.

Allen, 24, a graduate of Cape Henlopen High School now living in Nashville, said of the judges’ decision to let him go, “They told me that I was very unique, and my style, it goes against the grain. They just said to keep doing what I do, and things will work out. They never really said why I didn’t make it.”

While he was eliminated before the round of 24, Allen said he was glad everything had panned out.

“It was cool. It was definitely a learning experience, and putting my name out there and stuff, that got me a few label interests and stuff like that, being able to open other doors,” he said.

Allen said he was disappointed his appearance did not appear on the two-part broadcast that aired  Feb. 23 and 24.

“I was only disappointed America didn’t get to see me perform. I was like, OK, I’m not worried about not making the top 24, but I just wish that some of my performances would have been able to be featured. Not even featured, but just showing a clip of a performance,” he said.

Allen’s final performance on the show was “Yesterday” by The Beatles during “Idol’s” Las Vegas Week. Contestants in the top 60 were placed into groups and had to learn a song by The Fab Four. Allen was in a group with Chelsea Sorrell and Colton Dixon, who also were eliminated.

Allen said he’s been on the interview circuit since his elimination from “Idol,” mostly on radio. A former basketball player at Cape, he’s also been asked to play in some celebrity basketball games, including a charity game at Cape Saturday, April 16. Allen said he’s excited to come back to Delaware.

“I haven’t been home in a while, so it will be good to just get home and relax and be around people I know,” he said.

Thanks to the exposure on “Idol,” Allen and his band are heading into the studio to record an album and decide on a record label.

Allen and the band, which was called Mercury Lane but will simply be under Allen’s name going forward, have opened shows for Goo Goo Dolls and One Republic even before Allen’s “Idol” appearance. Allen’s musical style is pop/rock; one of his musical inspirations is “Idol” alum Chris Daughtry and his band, Daughtry.

Allen said since his “Idol” appearance it’s been a lot easier to book shows.
“I haven’t had to book anything. It’s been a lot easier to have people call us instead of us having to call people,” he said.

Allen said he may do some post-“Idol” interviews, but for the most part he’s done with the show.

He said one of the upsides to being off the show is that he doesn’t have to wait to get back to making his own music.

“If you’re on that show, and then you make Top 10, you’re stuck. You can’t make any music until September because you have to do tours, and while you’re on the tour, you’re not singing your own stuff, you’re doing cover songs you did on the show. Being a musician, yeah the tours are great and the money is good, but that defeats the whole purpose,” Allen said.

He said he tried to keep the focus on “Idol” about music and not get too much into the human-interest aspect of the show. Allen said he could have done that if he wanted; when he first moved to Nashville he lived out of his car for months.

“I could have told that story, but I was like, I’m here for the music. If my talent gets me far it gets me far; if not, then there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said.

Still, Allen is proud of his time on one of the most-watched TV shows in America. He said he would still watch the program to see who is crowned the next “American Idol.”

“It was definitely a good experience to make Top 40,” he said. “I’m definitely still watching it.”

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