Jimmie Allen Reflects on Historic ACM Win and the Importance of Representation

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 18: In this image released on April 18, Jimmie Allen attends the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards at the Bluebird Cafe on April 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/ACMA2021/Getty Images for ACM)

Country singer Jimmie Allen is the first Black musician to win ACM’s new male artist of the year; he explains to PEOPLE the importance of representation.

Allen’s love for country music blossomed from his father’s “Big Jim’ admiration for the music genre. At first, the singer-songwriter was fearful of becoming a country music artist due to his race. But his father pushed him to explore his passion.

“Growing up listening to country music, I love it. It’s all my dad listened to,” the singer tells People. “My dad was like, ‘Well, you should be a country singer,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, Nah, they’re all white. I don’t know if they let people like me sing country music.”

“Then he played me a song. It was “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” and I was like, “I like this song. It’s nice, but what’s the difference? And he showed me a picture of Charley Pride, and that changed my life,” he adds.

Inspired by his Father, Allen now sees the impact of his success on the Black community.

“I get messages on Instagram and Twitter from parents that tell me and thank me for getting into country music because their son or their daughter see me and they say I remind them of them,” He reflects.

“I feel like representation is so important, so to see artists like Mickey Guyton doing her thing, Kane Brown, Darius Rucker, Willie Hones, Breland, Brittany Spencer, Tiera-it’s just so many that are starting to come to this genre of music, doing it their way, having their own sound, and I love to see it.”

Allen confesses that he has dreamt of winning an ACM award since he was a child.

“I remember watching the ACMs growing up,” Allen reflects. “I would start on the couch and when the winner won the category, I had to walk up and stand by the TV and give my acceptance speech. This is something I’ve wanted for a while.”

The country star admits that after winning the award, he tried to call his father. But the moment of excitement was short-lived, once he remembered his father died in 2019.

“I actually tried to call my dad, but my dad died in 2019,” he explains. “As soon as I started calling, it hit me. I was like ‘Yeah, let me hang up.”

Allen quickly turned to call his mother and his fiance to celebrate the moment. Allen’s friends and family flew out for the occasion to celebrate Allen and his accomplishment.

“I never celebrate anything like this,” Allen admits. “I’ve been trying to do this music thing for so long; I kind of got addicted to struggle, the grind, so typically once I reach some sort of moment, I’m like ‘Aiight, cool, what’s next?’ I’m ready to get back hitting the ground running.”

“But this time, I’m actually going to celebrate! I had family fly in, some friends fly in, and I’m just going to hang out, have a barbecue.”

“Just try to take the moment in,” he adds. “And enjoy it because it’s not something I want to ever forget, it’s a big deal, and I’m super thankful for it.”