Jimmie Allen Wants to Be a Role Model for Black Children

Jimmie Allen just earned his first No. 1 hit, with his debut single, "Last Shot," from his freshman Mercury Lane album. The achievement means more to Allen than just finding early success in country music. Allen became the second black singer to have a No. 1 debut single, with only Darius Rucker also achieving the feat. Because Rucker had earlier success with Hootie & the Blowfish, Allen is also the first black artist to launch a career with a No. 1 single.

"The best part of my success is ... doing for younger kids that look like me, what Charley Pride did for me," Allen told ABC News Radio. "He was light in a genre that didn't have a lot of people that looked like me. There are not a lot of black people in there."

"So I feel like I can show younger black kids," he continued, "'Hey, you know what, you can do country. I'm here'... It's still very important to have someone that looks like you in the career you're chasing."

More than just country music, Allen hopes his life and career serve as an inspiration to anyone, regardless of what they do.

"Deeper than that, I feel like it could be anyone," Allen maintained. "If I'm in the country world where there's not a lot of black people, anyone that wants to go into a field that it's not a lot of people that look like them, you can do it ... I just feel like it's all about finding ways to motivate other people through your success, but also through your struggles as well."

Allen moved from his native Delaware to Nashville to pursue country music, but it was far from easy for him. The 32-year-old sacrificed almost everything for his passion, including enduring homelessness.

"It feels amazing, to work so hard for something," Allen said. "I've sacrificed relationships, weddings and prom, homecoming and so many things to chase this dream and 14 years later, to finally see it pay off just a little bit – you can't really put that into words. I normally talk a lot, and I just don't know what to say."

Allen worked so hard for so long, but he was prepared to do whatever it took to fulfill his dream.

“Did I think it would happen eventually? Absolutely! Just not this soon," Allen confided in his record label. "I’m humbled and grateful — it’s such an honor to get my first No. 1 and to know that my song is connecting with people and resonating in a way that hopefully makes us all better people in the end, because that’s really what ‘Best Shot’ is all about.”

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Photo Credit: Getty Images/Terry Wyatt