Country Star Recalls Living in Car for Months Before ‘Idol’ Auditions

Jimmie Allen on American Idol

ABC/YouTube Jimmie Allen performs in Hawaii on "American Idol" in 2022

“Support the dream till the dream supports you.” That’s the mantra that inspired country star Jimmie Allen to work odd jobs and long hours for years before he hit it big in Nashville. In fact, when he sat down with fellow “American Idol” alum Jennifer Hudson on her talk show, he revealed just how hard things got while he was chasing his dreams, including having to live in his car for months before his “Idol” audition.

Jimmie Allen Tells Jennifer Hudson How He Got By Before His Music Career Took Off

When Allen appeared on “The Jennifer Hudson Show” on October 5, 2022, she said that she hadn’t realized he, too, had been on “American Idol.” Hudson told him she placed seventh, which was during the show’s third season.

Allen, who appeared in 2011 during season 10, laughed and said, “I placed about 33 positions below that” and she exclaimed, “No!”

“I was Top 40, but it was fun!” he replied.

When Hudson asked what he did before “Idol,” Allen said he did everything possible to make ends meet, having moved to Nashville in 2007 with $21 in his bank account.

He said, “I drove this Chevy Malibu — passenger door didn’t open by the way — and I found this trailer on Craigslist. Get to the trailer, found out it didn’t have electric. I was like ‘oh well’ so I blew up my little air mattress as the gas station down the street. And this is where it gets funny…”

Allen explained that, because the inflated mattress couldn’t fit in the vehicle and he couldn’t strap it to the top, he taped half it to the roof on the passenger side and drove two miles down the street holding the other side with his hand out the driver’s window. He lived in that trailer for six months, he said, and then lived in his car for another two months. Meanwhile, Allen said, he worked lots of odd jobs to make ends meet.

“Overnight stock at Walmart, server, I was collecting trash, waste management at a middle school,” he said, adding that middle school boys are “nasty” and “pee on the floor,” which got a laugh from the audience.

Allen married Alexis Gale in 2020 and they share two young daughters, Naomi and Zara. He also has an eight-year-old son, Aadyn, from a previous relationship. When Aadyn was younger, Allen told Hudson, he was still doing odd jobs and playing gigs to provide for his son, focused on making sure he didn’t feel overshadowed by his dad’s drive to succeed.

“As a parent, chase your dreams. Never stop,” Allen said. “But your child shouldn’t have to sacrifice what they need and what they want in order for you to be successful. So I just was like ‘we’re still gonna go to Disney World’ so I would pick up a couple extra shifts, made sure he never missed a meal. So yeah, I did what I had to do.”

Jimmie Allen Says Friends He Made on ‘Idol’ Kept Him Going

Jimmie Allen, Scotty McCreery

Getty“American Idol” alums and friends Jimmie Allen and Scotty McCreery

Though Allen was cut from “American Idol” just before the Top 24 live shows, he made lasting friendships that wound up being pivotal for his career.

He told Hudson, “Scotty McCreery won that year, so I’m still friends with him. And Lauren Alaina, yes. And Scotty, after I met him, he got a record deal then. I got a record deal like seven years later, but he was the first artist to take me on tour. Yeah, so it was fun!”

The two remained close after McCreery won “Idol” and his career took off. According to Newsweek, when McCreery went on tour with his debut album months after the “Idol” finale, he took Allen along to be his opening act.

After that, Allen played every gig he could find, and worked odd jobs too, until he finally got his big break in 2017, signing his first record deal with Broken Bow Records. McCreery — who was well-established as a rising country star by then — took him out on the road again as the opening act for his 2018 concert tour.

Allen has returned to “Idol” in recent years, including serving as a mentor and performer during season 20, in the spring of 2022. A decade after “Idol,” he was also nominated in the Best New Artist category at the 2022 Grammys. Currently, he’s appearing on “The Voice,” serving as a behind-the-scenes advisor to Blake Shelton’s team.

After years of doing everything possible to make ends meet, Allen’s career is finally red hot. Next up, he hits the road on October 15 for a 43-city tour, opening for Carrie Underwood.