When his song “Blank Stares” went viral in 2019, Jay Allen was instantly pushed into the spotlight as was his personal healing put to music after his mom’s passing. Since then, Jay earned national recognition through his appearance on season 22 of The Voice, but also continued to make a huge impact through his healing story and amazing efforts with the Alzheimer's Association. We had the incredible opportunity to check in with Jay just a few weeks before CMA Fest and chat with him about his schedule at the fest, his impactful single “No Prayer Like Mama’s,” his humbling work with the Alzheimer's Association, and so much more!

(Interview by: Jeffrey Kurtis

1) The 50th CMA Fest is coming up in just a few weeks and you’re going to be at the Hard Rock Café during it on Sunday June 11th at 6PM. What are you looking forward to most about playing a show in Nashville during this milestone event?

The last time I played at CMA Fest was in 2019 after my song “Blank Stares” went viral. My mom had just passed away a few months prior and a couple thousand people showed up for my performance. CMA Fest will always have a special place in my heart because of that moment, and I couldn’t be more pumped to be back to help celebrate 50 years on June 11!

2) Playing on the last night of the Fest, and at a venue that the many can attend who don’t have the 4-day tickets for the nightly shows at Nissan Stadium, how do you feel this positioning is perfect for bringing new fans to your music through this performance?

If it were up to me, all of my shows would be free, so I love that so many are going to be able to attend. And a side note — this is my first time playing at The Hard Rock in Nashville, so it’s extra special for me. 

3) Plugging this Hard Rock Café performance…why do fans absolutely need to add it to their calendars and what can they expect from it?

I hope everyone shows up and packs the place! We’re releasing a new fun song called “Jello Shot." Let’s party!

4) Besides this performance itself, are you taking part in any other events surrounding CMA Fest weekend? Autograph signings, Etc.

Yes, I’ll be at Music Row Live on June 7!

5) We recently had the awesome opportunity to review your latest single “No Prayer Like Mama’s,” but for someone who hasn’t heard the song yet, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I wrote “No Prayer Like Mama’s” right after I came off The Voice as one last final thank you to my mother, and to say thank you to all the other great mothers out there. This song was a sort of turning point for me as I moved on from a painful time in my life and into a new season. 

6) You recently released the ultra-powerful accompanying music video for the song as well. In what ways do you feel the visual piece enhances the song most?

It was really important to me that people feel a sense of awe when watching this video.  For me, the filming process brought me a sense of healing and finality to the grieving process. It’s brought me a lot of joy to hear how it’s impacted others in beautiful ways as well. 

7) You have an incredible knack for delivering songs with pure heart wrapped within the emotion of the lyrics. Another in line with this is 2018’s “Blank Stares,” which is about your mother’s battle with early-onset Alzheimer's. How important is it to you that you say something meaningful through your music?

As an artist, I feel that it’s important for me to help others through music. Sometimes a song is simply a needed moment of not feeling like you’re alone anymore, and that’s why I’ll always offer my voice as a safe place for people. Whether that’s a song about Alzheimer’s or a fun song that makes you feel good, I wholeheartedly believe in the power of music. 

8) The success of this song led to your amazing work with the Alzheimer's Association. What does it mean to you to have your music speak so loudly that it’s literally helping a cause like this that’s so close to your own heart.

To me, there’s nothing more important than utilizing your gifts to help others. The National Alzheimer’s Association is family to me, and I look forward to experiencing the day when this disease no longer exists. 

9) Humbling for sure for you, but congratulations on earning The Caregiver Award from the National Alzheimer's Association and on raising 100 million dollars to help fight Alzheimer’s. While these awards and accolades honor your personal efforts, in what unexpected ways have you been profoundly inspired by the individuals you’ve met who are battling Alzheimer’s?

I’ll always be the last person to leave the venue after one of my shows because that’s where the real work is done. I’ve had countless life-altering moments with individuals that have lost or are currently losing someone they love, and I’ve held strangers in my arms as they’ve cried on my shoulder. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, but if I can offer even just a moment of hope, I’ll gladly do so. 

10) We always end with this one, but what one piece of advice can you offer to someone who is just starting out and trying to break into the music industry?

When I first moved to Nashville, I quickly learned that a career in music is the farthest thing from easy. It didn’t take long before I was already wanting to give up, so I played what I thought was going to be my last show before I packed up and called it quits. I played to a crowd of 12 people sitting at a bar with their backs turned toward me. I put my guitar away and was about to leave when Billy Currington approached me out of nowhere and shook my hand. The words he said to me were so simple, but at the same time so impactful — “Jay, I just watched your show… don’t ever leave. The last man standing wins.” June 13 will be my 10-year anniversary in Nashville. 



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