Exclusive: Jay Allen Talks His First Headline Tour, Philanthropy, And Being ‘Fully Invested’ In His Artistry

Allen is in the midst of his 2024 headlining tour.

By

Lexi Liby

| Posted on

March 14, 2024

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Jay Allen; Photo Provided

Jay Allen, a rising singer/songwriter and former contestant on The Voice, is often recognized for his philanthropic work advocating against Alzheimer’s, a cause that became personal to him following the loss of his mother to the disease in 2019.

Coinciding with his philanthropic efforts and constant work to raise awareness about the disease, Allen uses his musical talent to provide a safe space for individuals to fully unwind and have a good time. 

Now that he’s in the midst of his first-ever headlining trek dubbed the Night of Hope Tour, the rising star will continue to share his mother’s story and perform his soulful music across 22 cities in 2024.

Country Now recently caught up with Jay Allen at Country Radio Seminar (CRS) in Nashville to chat about his recent release, his first headlining tour, his upcoming album and more. Check out our exclusive Q&A below.

You recently did a cover of Noah Kahan’s single “Stick Season.” Why did you choose to reimagine this song?

My label actually brought up the idea. I’ve only released one other cover and It was a 3 Doors Down song. I had never actually heard of this song, but we were on vacation with my wife, Kylie Morgan’s family and it happened to play on the top 50 trending worldwide songs. We were in Cancun with my sister-in-Law, who is 18, so she knew all the trending songs and I didn’t. We got down to Noah Kahan and her and her boyfriend were like “oh, we love that song.” So, I listened to it again and I was like, I don’t know what I think, so I listened to it again and I was like, “oh my gosh, I love those lyrics so much.” I knew that was the one, but I’m a very different artist than him and I’m just now pushing the artist thing. I’m very rock and roll meets country, so that’s kind of the vibe. I think it turned out pretty cool.

How did you approach making this cover song your own and adding your personal touch to it?

So it’s very acoustic driven, like folky, and we started doing that in the studio. I recorded it with a buddy, Danny Majić. If you’ve seen the new “Fast & Furious” movie, he did the entire soundtrack for that. He just made it from LA to Nashville, so we’re at his house in his home studio. We started recording that acoustic part and I was like, “man, let’s do something completely different.” We added all these electric guitars. I actually brought in my lead guitarist, a good buddy of mine, Hunter Bishop, and he tracked all the guitars on it and kind of took it day by day. What came out of it was like 3 Doors Down meets Noah Kahan. So yeah, pretty sweet. 

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You’re about a month in on your first-ever headline tour. What emotions are you experiencing as you travel across the country and take the stage each night?

Yeah, so we bit off a lot. I’ve really been a philanthropist for the last five to six years with the whole story of losing my mom and raising a bunch of money for the cause, but it turned me into an artist. So I thought if I’m going to be an artist, I’m going to be a real artist. I’m going to go on tour and instead of begging for an opening slot, which I’ve opened for a lot of awesome big artists, I’m going to put on my own tour. So my manager actually approached me and she had made friends with a guy in Kansas City. My whole thing has been to fight against Alzheimer’s and raise money for that cause, but she said we found a lady that reversed her Alzheimer’s and started a foundation called Night of Hope. She wanted to bring us in for this gala in June in Kansas City called “Night of Hope Gala.” I was like, “yeah, we’ll definitely do that.” Stacy, my manager, said, “well, how about we call the whole tour that and do a headlining tour?” Now, we share a little bit of her message during the tour, and we turn it into a night of rock and roll providing people with a night off and a night of hope.

Can you explain the significance behind the tour’s name, “Night of Hope” and how it ties into the overall message you want to convey to your audience?

Really, if I do anything, I want to utilize whatever I’ve been given to elevate others and help others. I’ve learned that the hard way with loss, so it’s called the Night of Hope Tour. That’s what we strive to bring. It’s a night off from this crazy world, which is getting crazier by the day. Also, we share a message on how you can really change your life and live in a way where we don’t have to maybe have Alzheimer’s or dementia in the future. The color of the Alzheimer’s Association is purple and my mama’s favorite color is purple, so we made the whole tour purple. Everything is black and purple. I wear all black and then we have purple lighting and a purple backdrop. It’s really pretty. 

Is it challenging for you to open up and be vulnerable while on stage, especially when sharing the emotional story of losing your mother?

It used to be and it used to feel stressful. It was like a pressure filled thing like, “oh my gosh, I have to do this again. I have to tell the story again.” Now I’ve seen all the good that’s come from it. With the money that we’ve raised and that we’ve made, the FDA has improved a lot of treatments this year. It was an awesome feeling because I helped raise that money. However, the most impactful thing for me that keeps me going happens at the end of the show. I go to the merch booth and I stand in line and I’ll be the last person to leave and I’ll listen to everyone’s story. I’ve had young guys come up to me and I had a young high school kid come talk to me. He said, “I have never told anyone this, but after school every day, I go home and take care of my sick mom. I’m a caregiver.” He goes, “I felt like I could tell you that because of what you just did on stage.” So that keeps me going. I’m always going to be vulnerable because of that. I know someone out there needs me to be vulnerable, so then they can feel like they can be vulnerable. 

How does the crowd react when you share her story? Does it shift the atmosphere towards a more solemn tone, or do you feel it sparks something within them, creating a livelier atmosphere?

I mean the first, 75% of our show is very little talking and all rock and roll. It’s 3 Doors Down songs, Matchbox Twenty songs, and a lot of cover songs. Then we get to this moment where we break it down during the set. I do a three piece acoustic thing, and then I take it to church. The band kind of backs up and we tell our story. I do “No Present Like the Time,” which is our radio single right now, and I do “Blank Stares.” There’s a voicemail at the beginning with my mom talking that we play, and I think everyone’s kind of lubed up by then and maybe a little tipsy. They know what to expect if they’ve been following me, so they know it’s coming. There’s usually not a dry eye in the place, including my own, and it tends to be a very powerful moment. 

Jay Allen; Photo Provided
Jay Allen; Photo Provided

What is your favorite part about being out on the road?

So what’s really cool is we were in vans forever. It was probably five years of being in really crappy vans, never knowing when they were going to break down, or if we were ever going to make it. Our alignment was so bad that we were supposed to be at 10 and 2, but we were at like 12 and 6. I finally just got to a point where I could afford a mini tour bus. It’s the biggest Mercedes sprinter van you can get. It’s fully decked out, and it’s basically like luxury on the road. That upgrade has probably been my favorite part.

As you plan to release an album in 2024, can you provide a sneak peek into what fans can expect in terms of themes, collaborations, or the overall sound of the album?

I’m married to Kylie Morgan so everything up until now, I feel like musically, has been kind of rushed. It’s been like, oh, we got to put out a single. In Nashville we have what’s called “track guys,” where you can literally go into your kitchen with a laptop and make a track. It’s programmed, so it’s pretty robotic. I’ve done that up until now, but I think we’re in a state where I’ve been vulnerable on stages and in interviews. I haven’t done that well with my music outside of “Blank Stares,” so my goal with this record is I want it to sound real. We decided to go with Matt McClure. He produced a lot of Lee Brice’s stuff including some of the most beautiful vocal, present, raw country sounding tracks like “I Drive Your Truck.” There’s still an emotional thread in them. So we want him because of that and we’re right in the thick of it with him making the record. I would say it will be the feat of my life when this comes together. We’re hoping to release it this summer or late spring. Even if it takes a year, I just want to get it right. 

If you could choose anyone to collaborate with on a song, who would you choose and why?

Obviously I love country music, but I’m a huge rock and roll fan outside of that. Mom introduced me to country music. We’re very country, and we’re loyal to country, but also I’m influenced by rock and roll. My dad’s a hippie and so through him my favorite band became Matchbox Twenty. I actually opened for them last year, which was awesome. Then I made friends with Chris Daughtry and we’ve actually been DM’ing back and forth. When the time’s right, I’m going to put my name in the hat to do something with Daughtry. I don’t know if he’d ever do anything country, so I may have to lean a little bit more into the rock side of things to make it happen. I’ve written some rock songs that I’m just holding onto and waiting for the right moment. So yeah, I would love to do something with Daughtry. 

What are your goals and aspirations for 2024?

I think 2024 is a year where I am fully invested in my artistry. I’m really all in. I’ve separated the two, philanthropy and being an artist.While the philanthropy thing will always be a part of me, now it’s time to make music. We went to the Amazon Country Heat show and the Warner lunch at CRS, and I was like, “I should be on that stage and I’m going to get on that stage.” We’re going to work towards getting there and it starts with the music. I’ve done it backwards up until this point. I fought for a cause and I think a lot of artists that come in, they make great music and then they want to align with the cause, which is fine. We aligned with the cause because my mom died and I fought for her and we’ve done some really good things in the world, but now I’m going to put all the chips in on the artist side of it and create great music.

Fans can keep up with Jay Allen on Instagram @Jayallenmusic.

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Lexi Liby

Written by

Lexi Liby

I am a senior at Kansas State University, where I am majoring in Communication Studies. Throughout my time at college, I’ve had the opportunity to publish a few of my pieces in the University’s newspaper, The Collegian, and I’ve created my own website. I’ve previously interned for Country Insider, an iHeartMedia-owned country music industry newsletter and I am currently interning for CountryNow, a Red Light Management owned publication. I’m very passionate about music and writing, so I hope to find myself in a career that incorporates both of these passions.