Jay Allen Shares Update On New Music And Teases Major Career Change
He also opened up about married life.
Jay Allen; Photo by: Dave Bjerke/NBC
When The Voice alum, Jay Allen lost his mom to her battle with Alzheimer’s in 2019, his world was flipped upside down. However, despite all the sadness, he found a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, Allen is sharing his story through music and his philanthropic efforts to try and connect with his listeners in a way that might help them heal from their own journeys.
His recent releases, “No Present Like The Time,” and “No Prayer Like Mama’s” both pay tribute to the Iowa native’s mom, as he learns to celebrate the life he has in front of him and continue moving forward. No matter what he does, Allen makes sure his mom’s legacy is never forgotten. He constantly strives to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s through donations, charity events, sponsors, etc.
The singer/songwriter propelled his music career after joining Season 22 of The Voice. Since his time on the show, Allen has continued to wear his heart on his sleeve with his wife and fellow country star, Kylie Morgan, by his side. The pair tied the knot on Sunday, Nov. 27 after a series of delays from Hurricane Ian.
As he approaches the next chapter of his career, the “Blank Stares” singer has set his sights on tapping into his rock side with his recent release. He shared his plans to drop a countrified cover of 3 Doors Down’s “Here Without You,” a song which he revealed stems from the sounds of his childhood.
The idea to drop a track that steps outside the bounds of country music is an ongoing theme in the industry right now. On many different levels, artists are finding the confidence to embrace the kind of music they want to make, regardless of the traditional confines of country music.
“I think people are desiring to hear that sound again, you know, so I’d love to be a part of it,” Allen shared.
Jay Allen took some time to chat with Country Now during the 2023 Country Radio Seminar (CRS), which was held in Nashville from March 13-15. Keep reading to find out more about his journey with grief, the makings behind a powerful new music video, and married life.
Additionally, Allen teased that he has a major announcement on the way that will greatly impact the next chapter of his career.
You’re so open and personal in your songs like “No Prayer Like Mama’s.” Is it ever hard to be that vulnerable with your music?
I find that actually, it’s the opposite for me. It’s like, you know, if I wanna be an artist, that comes with an obligation, you know? And so my experience is when you’re stripped down, completely honest and authentic and talk about the things that are really hard to talk about, that not a lot of people may even want to talk about, that’s when you have connectivity, you know, when people relate to you. For me, I’ve shared my story of loss over the years and it’s helped people find healing because of it. So I’m an open book.
What was it like to finally put this song out into the world?
So, you know, when I came off The Voice, I quietly dropped a song called “No Present Like The Time.” Then, we released this one a little quiet as well. And for me, it’s like the light at the end of the tunnel, you know, it’s like telling the end of the story. I feel like I’ll never preach, but I will always tell my faith confidently. I do believe that I have a mother that I lost, but she went home, you know, and she’s still with me and guiding me and loving me from afar. That gave me a sense of like, “I’m okay now.” The grieving process was very long for me, couple years that I was in a dark place. Even though I was going to war against a disease and being an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, I was in mentally, not in a great place for a while until this last year. I feel like I’ve finally got there in my head and my heart’s in a really good spot. So “No Prayer Like Mama’s” is just saying what I believe. I feel like I’ve been given almost a release to move on to what’s next, and we’re already planning to drop some rock and roll songs.
Can you talk about what it was like filming the music video for “No Prayer Like Mama’s”?
We just got it done. I just finalized everything, and it was really hard to film. Again, it felt like a moment. Like everything about it, the music director sought out the location, it’s this place called the Pretty Place in South Carolina. It’s on a campground on a mountain, and it actually went viral on TikTok. There are some of the most beautiful views in the country. It’s like overlooking a mountainside. You can see 20 miles off the side of this cliff, and it’s a chapel built on the edge of a cliff. They pitched it to me, “what if we do all the performance shots with that in the background? You’re actually in the chapel singing, looking out to the sky, like you’re talking to your mom.” I was like, “that’s beautiful.” And so, we looked up how much it would cost, and they quoted us at $2,300 every two hours and we needed it for like the whole day. I was like, well that doesn’t make sense cause that kills my budget right away. So, the music video directors said, “we feel like God’s calling us to push a little harder, so we’re gonna send over your story.” They responded and said, “we’ve never done a music video here, we thought we never would, but we’re gonna offer this venue to you for free of charge.” So they gave it to us for the day and that was literally the only way that we could have that spot.
Did being in this location help you connect with the song on a different level in a way?
It was one of those things where we showed up and you know, talking about my faith, I feel like there’s, for me, I don’t believe in coincidences. Obviously, things just happen in life sometimes, but that’s not been my story. Even down to a simple music video for me, this song, whether a lot of people hear it or not, my intention was to say, “Hey, this is what I believe and now I feel like I can kind of move on a little bit and start to show other sides of me and do other things musically.” So that day we showed up and it was supposed to be the most beautiful view, but it was dark and gloomy and cloudy and you really couldn’t see the view. And I’m like, “oh man, this defeats the purpose.” I literally started singing and I get to the first hook, “there’s no prayer like mama’s,” and a beam of light came through right down on my face. We all just started like tearing up and that’s how the rest of the day went.
Growing up, did your parents have an influence on your love of music?
Mama loved country music; she couldn’t go to sleep at night without the clock radio blaring the local country radio station. My dad probably didn’t sleep a wink in their entire marriage because of it. My dad on the other hand, is a hippie. He’s got a shaved head, back in the day he had a mullet, but it’s like, okay, it’s so long that it’s not even a mullet anymore. It’s just dirty, bro. But I remember he had an awesome vinyl collection. [He] was always listening to rock and roll, like the legends of rock and roll, and he came downstairs one day, he had a jean jacket with a collar popped and he had a matching one for me. I was 10 years old. He goes, “put this on it’s time for you to go to your first concert.” So he rolled up the windows in the 91 Ford Bronco that he had and he hot boxed me all the way to a Styx concert, and I fist bumped to “Mr. Roboto” and fell in love with rock and roll music cause of my dad.
You’ve been teasing that your next release is going to be a cover of “Here Without You,” originally by 3 Doors Down. So, what inspired you to record this song and how do you plan to make it your own?
During that era, you know, we remember like Nickelback and Third Eye Blind and 3 Doors Down, that was an era of music that really affected a lot of us. For me, I was like in high school, couple first years of college, and there’s a song that always stood out to me, “Here Without You.” We’re talking about the what’s next and now prepping to go to country radio. I don’t know anything about country [radio], I’ve never done the radio tour thing like Kylie. So I’ve just been kind of watching from afar, and the radio team has been talking about how a song works is it becomes familiar. And so I shared that with my producer and he reached out to me, he said, “how about we cover a song that’s already been a hit? Take an old rock song and make a little country.” So we literally took “Here Without You” and made it my own. Put pedal steel on it and made it a little country.
What has it been like to build your music career alongside your wife, Kylie Morgan? Do you leave work at the door when you’re home?
It does not stay on the road or in the writer’s room. It literally is all we talk about. All we do, our relationships, it evolves around that. It’s just in our fiber. You know, for me, Kylie and I, even though, like you said, coming up together, Kylie decided that she was gonna be a country artist the day that she was born. She told her mom when she was 12 that she was gonna not go to college, she was gonna move to Nashville and be a country singer. So, she’s had her eye on that one prize since she was a little kid, you know? So I don’t see like a comparison. It’s like for me, I became a philanthropist cause my mom got sick and I went to Oregon’s Alzheimers. Music happened to be tied to it, and that led to me becoming an artist. I am so inspired by her and encouraged by her. I feel like we’re just on a team together. Like, we’re on a football team, we have the same goal, so it’s cool. I was with someone in the past that wasn’t in music, and it was really hard. You know, we just have an understanding of each other. We go two days without talking sometimes cause we’re on the road. One time she called me and she said, “where are you at?” We had just sound checked in, and I said, “I’m in Pittsburgh.” She goes, “you’re kidding me, I’m in Pittsburgh.” We had no idea. Sometimes we’re getting ready to go to the airport and we’re on the same plane, had no idea that we’re on the same flight going somewhere. So it’s fun, yeah. That works for us.
When you’re both off the road, what’s your ideal date night?
Well, I would wanna park my butt on the couch and do nothing and watch a show, and Kylie has ADD and the moment I come off the show, she has plans for the next two, three days while we’re home. So we’re always bar hopping. We’re foodies so we love checking out new restaurants. We live on the east side, so we bought a house where we can literally like walk to The Fox, you know, or Mickey’s Tavern. So, yep, we love to go out and about and drink with friends and have dinner with friends.
Is there anything that’s surprised you about married life so far?
I felt like we were already married. It was just kind of like, you know, people in the church that get baptized, it’s really, that you get baptized for everyone else to show them that you believe in God. Getting married was really saying, “Hey, we’re in this forever.” It was really for everyone else to say, “thank you for supporting us and loving us. You’re our people.” So, nothing has really changed at all, you know?
So what do you have coming up next in terms of goals for this year?
I’ll get to make an announcement here in the coming weeks. I really had a plan going into The Voice, you know, I know a lot of people have a certain idea of why they’re going on The Voice, that was not mine. I mean, again, being out of contract now, I can tell you there’s a casting agency involved, I’m sure you’ve heard of, that reaches out to artists that they want on the show. It’s very storyline based, so they liked my story. They reached out the last four years, and I always politely declined until this last year. I thought, “man, I’ve really taken this as far as I could on my own. What better way to put more eyes and ears on this than go on the show?” So they had my back from top to bottom, but also you have to be free of all contracts. So, I was kind of in a negative spot contractually with a few people, and I got to get out of it because of that. So I got to hit a fresh start button. Then when I came off the show, a very important guy that owns a record label called. So, I’ll be able to announce something very soon.
Fans can keep up with Jay Allen on Instagram.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.