Acapella in an Auto Tune Universe: Kris Allen making international musical waves… ---story: L. Carole McDonald
The first thing you need to know about who Kris Allen is comes from his music, a quality that can only be understood by seeing this kid connect to an audience, with an energy that is as palpable as the August Arkansas air. If I had to compare him to someone, it would maybe be John Mellencamp integrity with Harry Connick, Jr. cool. Sprinkle in some Garth Brooks heart and fun with the crowd. At 23 years of age, born in Jacksonville and living no further away than Conway, it might seem that he couldn’t have paid the dues we seem to require from our “credible” musicians. Come with me on this. He started playing the viola in the fourth grade and continued through high school, along with playing baseball (“so, Mr. Sissypants, you HAD to play the viola…”) He picked up one of his Dad’s guitars and taught himself to play when he was 13. When asked the first song he taught himself, it was “Santana or Stevie Ray Vaughn, I don’t remember.” He wrote, recorded and produced “Brand New Shoes,” an impressive first effort, while working at Razorback Pizza in Conway for $100 a night, three hours every Thursday. One song in particular, “Wipe it Away” could be a Grammy contender with a little collaboration with, ahem, Allison Krause and T-Bone Burnett, maybe? (It was released in 2007, before “Raising Sand” was on the radar.) Now 25, he doesn’t know what he makes per concert. (Someone asked him if recent statistics posted about his fees were true. I suspect the number of charitable concerts he’s done had something to do with the figures.) He is signed with Jive/19 and has a publishing contract with Universal Music Publishing. His first single, “Live Like We’re Dying” written by the Script’s Andrew Frampton, Stephen Kipner, Danny O’Donahue & Mark Shehan, has remained on several different charts since it’s release, on Sept 21st of 2009.as has his second single “The Truth.” Kris will be inducted into the Entertainers Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock on Sept. 9 set for 6:45 p.m.
In a recent phone interview with Kris, this is what he had to say: NF: How old were you when you played your first paying gig? KA: Umm, I would have been 19… What is the biggest venue you’ve played? Well, doing the National Anthem in the Super Dome was cool, (for the NFC playoff game) but playing Madison Square Garden was probably the one that “You wrote or co-wrote 9 of the 12 songs on your self-titled album, as well as the 2 bonus releases. Any co-writes in the works for the next album? “I haven’t been in the studio since I’ve been touring, but I have been working on some things that I’m real excited about”. “You have a phenomenal voice and your live shows are building your fan base. Have you considered a live album?” “After the second album comes out, we might try to do that, it would be cool!” “You had lots of time and legal constraints on your first album, having to write and record a lot of it during your tour last year. What can we look for on your next album?” “We are taking our time and doing it the right way. There will be more of a flow to the next album”. “If you could play for 4 people, living or dead, who would they be?” (no hesitation) “Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson….and probably Katy” (his wife) ‘cause she always gets so excited when I do something really good”. Maybe, Garth Brooks? He’s a little intimidating. Why? Cause he’s Garth Brooks! But YOU’RE Kris Allen! But he’s GARTH BROOKS!!! You have pretty eclectic taste: Kings of Leon, Radiohead, Allison Krause, Jamie Cullum. Anybody new I should be listening to? I just bought a CD by Shuan McConnell I like a lot. He’s really good. Have you read anything interesting lately besides Skymall? I’m almost finished with John Lennon’s biography. I know that you and Katy are moving back to Arkansas. Will we see you and the Kris Allen Band playing around here some? We’ve just kind of jammed a couple of places when we were in town. You never know… You are known for doing lots of giving back, with Heifer Project (his fans even raised enough to give over 50 cattle for his birthday) Tom’s shoes, Bridge to Rwanda, and travelling to Haiti, to name a few. There has been discussion about you going to Afghanistan to play for the Troops, how does that happen? Someone approached my Management about going, and they asked if I would want to do it. It’s kind of scary, but if they can go over there and fight I can go over there and play for them.
If you get a chance to see Kris and the Kris Allen Band (who are as tight as a band that has played together for much longer than a year), do this for me: Close your eyes for a second and take in that energy, listen to that voice. You’ll know what you need to know about Kris Allen. His fall schedule should be posted by press time at KrisAllenOfficial.com, including more headlining shows.