Jimmie Allen is becoming as well known for his rags-to-riches story as he is for his multi-week No. 1 hit, "Best Shot." The singer famously moved from his hometown of Milton, Del. to Nashville to pursue his dreams of country music stardom, living out of his car for several months to make ends meet.
But now, Allen reveals it wasn't just that he didn't make enough money to get a place to live, but that he kept sending his mother his paychecks from his various jobs – as a bartender, a praise and worship leader, a basketball coach and more – so he could continue helping to support his family.
“Faith is important to me,” Allen told the Tennessean. “I feel like every setback is a set up for God to propel you to what he has planned. I feel like if I didn’t go through the hard times I went through, the success I’m having now, I don’t know that I would have handled it well if I hadn’t known what it’s like to struggle and really work for what I have.”
Allen remembers the time someone gave him one dollar, which he used to buy a chicken sandwich that he broke in half to make it last two days. For that reason, the 32-year-old always carries two dollars with him, to remind him of how far he has come.
“I know how a dollar can change someone’s week, something that we throw away so frivolously,” Allen said. "It’s so important to remember that in the click of a button our bank accounts could be erased and what you’re left with is character.”
Allen knows he is unique as a black man singing country music, with very few role models who paved the way before him. But Allen hopes he shows people that it's the inside, far more than the outside, that matters the most.
“When kids get a Christmas present they don’t look at the paper and say, ‘I don’t like this wrapping,’” Allen remarked. “They rip it off to see what’s inside. I feel like that’s what we should focus on as people. When they get past my wrapping – the color of my skin and where I’m from – what am I giving them as substance? I feel the same way about music.”
Photo Credit: Getty images/Erika Goldring