From the moment he enters a room, it becomes clear that Jay Allen is here to tell his story. The tattoo-clad singer/songwriter has his heart inked on his sleeve – so to speak – and sings with conviction onstage that stems from the lessons his parents taught him and the music he heard around the house. Knowing the stage was the only place he wanted to be, Jay packed his bags five years ago and moved to Nashville.
“I had been living in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, working as a musical director at several churches when I made a quick decision to move to Nashville. A friend of a friend introduced me to an elderly couple in Hendersonville, TN that had a small apartment attached to the back of their house. By God's grace, they let me live rent-free until I got on my feet. It was the most humbling experience of my life.”
Working day and night, Jay has achieved major milestones in the course of the past few years: he’s signed a publishing and development deal with Sony/ATV publishing, enlisted management team Edge Artist Management and released a five-song EP, which produced his first hit single “Sounds Good To Me” – dubbed a “Highway Find” on SiriusXM’s The Highway. The budding musician continued to perform and write, honing his craft with the likes of ACM-nominated songwriter Phil Barton and Lindsay Rimes, both credited as co-writers on his debut single.
“There’s nothing like being on the stage. When the lights come up and the band starts playing and I get behind that mic – I’m alive. To spending every day writing, then see your songs come to life on a record, then see people laughing and drinking and dancing along – it’s heaven on earth.”
Born and raised in rural Iowa, Jay discovered his love of performing one Sunday amidst the congregation of his church, Jay initially attempted singing harmonies with the ladies, much to the chagrin of his pastor. Proving his chops, he was invited to sing solo the following Sunday and thus, a tradition was born. He later picked up guitar, an 11th birthday gift from his parents.
“I took a few lessons to learn the basics and then taught myself. I remember locking myself in my room for hours at a time until my fingers would bleed. I would put on a record, learn how to play it then move onto the next record. I feel most alive when I’m on stage with a guitar in my hands – there’s nothing like it.”
Jay’s father introduced him to the legends of rock in the passenger seat of a Ford Bronco. The pair would crank up AC/DC, KISS, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi while driving on the family property. His introduction to classic rock later transitioned to alternative rock bands like Bush, Lifehouse, Third Eye Blind and particularly, Matchbox Twenty, whose record “Yourself Or Someone Like You” was played on repeat until Jay’s father and mother begged him to turn it off.
Sharing her love of country music throughout his childhood, Jay’s mother always had the radio playing on rides to school and throughout the house. Influences like Brooks & Dunn, John Michael Montgomery and George Strait permeate the singer/songwriter’s current offerings in addition to the strength Jay’s mother exhibits. Diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, Jay’s mother struggles to remember the gifts she has given her son. Realizing he has been given a unique platform, Jay wrote “Blank Stares” to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s with hopes to find a cure. Jay shared the backstory in an interview with SiriusXM Storme Warren, who personally connected with the message as his mother passed away from the debilitating disease. With an overwhelming response to the on-air performance, Jay released the song to iTunes and pledged profits from its sales will go toward Abe’s Garden, a memory care community in Nashville, Tennessee.
“My mom is my rock. She is so positive and happy and always smiling. We talk all the time and everytime I see her, we love to dance and enjoy music together. She will always be my best friend – she sacrificed everything to make sure I was loved and taken care of. Now it’s my turn to be there for her. I’ve quickly learned that country music fans are a strong community and some of the best people on the planet. I will always write fun songs and enjoy rocking out with the band on stage, ensuring a good time but ‘Blank Stares’ and all the good that I pray will come from it, is the real reason behind it all.”
Jay will continue spreading his message, performing for fans and inking his stories to share through country music. He is expected to release his debut album next year and will continue to give his all on stage, doing what he loves and as he croons, “if that sounds good to you then that sounds good to me.”