Jimmie Allen Tears Up as' Idol' Contestant Cites Him as Inspiration: 'Made Me Feel Like There's a Spot for Me'

The Grammy nominee returned to American Idol to mentor the series' top 24 contestants as they made their live performance debuts at Disney's Aulani Resort in Kapolei, Hawaii

Jimmie Allen
Photo: Terry Wyatt/ACMA2020/Getty Images

Jimmie Allen is feeling the impact of his artistry on the stage that launched his career.

On Sunday, the 36-year-old country singer returned to American Idol — which he competed on in Season 10 — to mentor the series' top 24 contestants as they made their live performance debuts at Disney's Aulani Resort in Kapolei, Hawaii.

During the episode, hopeful musician Mike Parker's speech about Allen's impact on his burgeoning career as a Black country artist brought the Grammy nominee to tears.

"The beginning of his journey is much similar to my journey right now, and he made me feel like there is a spot for me in country music," said the 27-year-old Idol contestant in an interview, per USA Today, before performing "Best Shot," a single Allen released in 2018. "I'm going to remember this day until I leave this earth."

Allen heard Parker's comments during rehearsal and gave an emotional response. "My mom used to always tell me, 'You're not just doing this for you,'" he told the singer, calling his performance "a great moment" to witness. "Hearing you tell me that I'm an inspiration reminds me of my purpose."

Following the performance, Parker told host Ryan Seacrest he didn't realize Allen would be his mentor upon choosing "Best Shot" as his song for this week's episode. "I had no idea he was going to be the mentor," he said. "Another dream came true, and it was amazing. Thank you, Jimmie."

Allen's eyes welled with tears as he responded to Parker's onstage comments. "For him to tell me that I mean to him what Charley Pride meant to me is more than I could've asked for," he said before referencing other successful Black country musicians. "Thank you for continuing what me, Charley, Mickey [Guyton], Kane [Brown], and Darius [Rucker] want to see in this genre of music."

Judge Katy Perry told Parker his take on "Best Shot" and personal tribute to Allen could prove well for him in the competition. "This experience has helped you arrive," the 37-year-old "Teenage Dream" singer said to the contestant. "It was the things that we've been saying this whole season — all those ingredients — they were found in that song."

Luke Bryan responded similarly, also praising Parker for utilizing previous comments from the judges' panel in his performance. "Thank you for making me not have to judge. I got to sit back and really watch what we've kind of been telling you start coming all together," said the 45-year-old fellow country singer. "I could just enjoy the birth of you as an artist."

Earlier in the episode, Allen offered some general advice to the current American Idol hopefuls. "It's all about finding out what you do special and what you can learn to apply to your own songwriting skills and vocal ability," he told the 24 contestants. "Let's have fun, let's try some new stuff and let's make some music."

Last week, Allen performed his latest single "Down Home" at the 2022 Grammy Awards premiere ceremony. He was nominated for best new artist at the awards show, though Olivia Rodrigo ultimately took home the category's trophy.

On a recent episode of the Spotify: Mic Check podcast, Allen spoke about his turbulent journey from his native Milton, Delaware to Nashville in 2007. Before making it as a musician, he lived out of his car for several months to save for an apartment and assist his younger sister in paying school tuition.

"I feel like the most challenging part was trying to wrap my brain around the fact that people didn't see the potential in me that I saw in myself," he said on the podcast. "It wasn't frustrating when I was living in my car, wasn't frustrating when I was living in a trailer with no electric. I wasn't frustrated when I didn't eat for three or four days because I knew that was just a moment in time. What frustrated me was other people not seeing the potential."

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