Jimmie Allen Delivers Tearful Speech After Winning New Artist of the Year at the 2021 CMAs

The CMA Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan, are broadcasting live from Nashville on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC

Jimmy Allen
Jimmie Allen. Photo: ABC

And the CMA Award for 2021's new artist of the year goes to … Jimmie Allen!

Allen, 36, took home the coveted prize on Wednesday in Nashville during the 2021 CMA Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan.

The singer began his acceptance speech in tears as he thanked his father who died in 2019 for "introducing him to country music."

He then went on to reflect on his road to stardom and thanked those closest to him.

"Five years ago I spent my last $100 and came to the CMAs 50th to watch Charley Pride perform on stage, and I got to perform with him last year. Everyone who voted for me, thank you. My wife, I love you. My kids, my mother's here. My manager Ash Bowers," he said.

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He continued, "Ash found me playing at a writer's round at Puckett's grocery store in Franklin and signed me after 10 years of being here, living in my car, living in a trailer, working every job, this is amazing."

The singer is currently the reigning new male artist of the year at the ACM Awards, and at the CMAs, and beat out Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Mickey Guyton and HARDY for the trophy.

He ended his speech with, "Thank you country music. This is for my hometown in Delaware."

Allen, who recently competed on season 30 of Dancing With the Stars, also took the CMAs stage to perform "Freedom Was a Highway," his hit song with Brad Paisley.

Following his historic win at the ACM Awards in April — he was the first Black musician to win the prize — Allen told PEOPLE he was unsure if could ever get to this position in his career as a Black man.

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"Growing up listening to country music, I loved it. It's all my dad listened to," he said. "My dad was like, 'Well, you should be a country singer,' and I was like, 'Yeah, nah, they're all white. I don't know if they let people like me even sing country music.'"

He continued: "Then he played me a song. It was 'Kiss an Angel Good Morning,' and I was like, 'I like this song, it's nice, but what's the difference?' And he showed me a picture of Charley Pride and that changed my life."

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Allen went on to express the importance of representation, and praised artists like Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown, Darius Rucker and more for helping pave the way.

"I get messages on Instagram and Twitter from parents that tell me and thank me for getting into country music because their son or their daughter see me and they say I remind them of them," he said.

The CMA Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan, are broadcasting live from Nashville on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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