Photo courtesy of Allie Colleen Music
It happens every so often when a new artist comes on the music scene and you know right away that they have “it.” Allie Colleen is one. A 2018 graduate from Belmont University, who already has been labeled one to watch by Wide Open Country, Country Thang Daily and Music Mayhem, Allie’s easy laid back style, mixed with her songwriting and performing skills, has her as a new force on the country music scene. Her fresh style is a mix of classic country with emerging country and it’s working for her.
Allie, a native of Owasso, Oklahoma, who currently calls Nashville home, started her musical career when she was just 14. Allie’s debut album Stones is a collection of 11 songs, of which Allie has writing credits on all but one of the tracks. The songs, all being personal to Allie, tell the stories of love, love lost, personal growth and family. Allie had a “sit down” with me and we spoke about her debut album Stones, her school years, family, dreams, the current state of women in country music, as well as some surprises. Here is our fun and insightful conversation.
CN: Hi Allie, good morning, thank you for having me as your first interview of the day.
AC: Absolutely, I am happy to start my day off with you.
CN: You are an Oklahoma girl living in Nashville, where do you consider home now?
AC: I am not sure, I always trip my friends up. I say, “I’m heading home.” They say, “You’re coming home? Where were you?” I say, “Oh no, I am heading to Nashville now.” I don’t even think I have figured it out yet.
CN: You are a split between Oklahoma and Nashville?
AC: Yeah, Oklahoma is just my family, home to me is those people. It’s my Momma, my aunts and uncles, cousins, my grandparents and nieces and nephews. All of them are in Oklahoma. Until that ever changes, or until I can convince all of them to move up here, Oklahoma is definitely home to me.
CN: Your album Stones is just out and already has a buzz around it, do you feel that this is your moment? Can you feel the momentum?
AC: Thank you. I do feel it. Also I am very proud of this album. I feel like if people hear the album it’s going to be big deal. It’s going to be a big album for me, a moving force for my career and the rest of my life. I think that people will continue to go back to Stones. The only thing that I am aware of business-wise is people need to hear it. That is the biggest challenge with music these days, to just get people to listen to it. There’s so much music out there. If we can do our job right, market it right and get it in the right hands and all that stuff, I know this album will be huge for me.
Photo courtesy of Allie Colleen Music
CN: It’s feeling that way and it’s definitely already going in the right direction. Bobby Bones has noticed you and you are on three different “artists to watch” lists. Your social media has been great and getting high numbers of views and streams. Your pop up concerts have been amazing.
AC: Thank you, we’re trying so hard. With so many talented people just in Nashville alone, and in the music world, we really believe in it, it’s a matter of getting people to hear it. We are working hard and we are really proud of it.
Video (audio) courtesy of Allie Colleen – Topic
CN: It is going to be fun to watch Stones take off. It is going to be fun for me to say that I interviewed you way back when. This will be a big moment for me too.
AC: (Laughing) I love that.
CN: You attended Belmont University and studied song writing. Is that something you can be taught? Is it like teaching a painter to paint? It’s all natural talent. How does that work?
AC: Yes, you have to be accepted into the songwriting program, so everyone already has a foundation. All of us can already write, different types and different levels. The thing that Belmont provides is so different, and I was questioning it as well when I entered. How do you grade someone’s songwriting? As far as it goes, with someone’s song, if they wrote it, in their minds, they nailed it. Belmont acknowledges that and they teach it really as a business. There are so many people who don’t play an instrument or sing, but just write music for a living. I think that was the really big difference for me with Belmont. We were all the really weird music kids who wrote music. Most of us had never written with other people, we have just been writing alone since we were kids. To come to Nashville and be put with a group of people who we have to write with, we are given assignments and told what to write about. For the first time we are being told what to write about instead of writing about our personal stuff. It challenged you. We all brought our own things to write about and molded it.
CN: It was probably refreshing and fun to be with people with the same mindset and likes for the first time?
AC: Absolutely. As I said, we were all the weird music kids who were all used to doing everything by ourselves for so long. Then you enter Nashville and every single person here is “the weird music kid,” like, even your UBER driver is the weird music kid. There is a camaraderie to it.
CN: Is there anyone from Belmont that you went to school with that you will continue to write with and stay connected with?
AC: Absolutely, one of my very best friends here in Nashville, her name is Carly Rogers, we met at Belmont. She is an amazing artist, very talented. She has a couple of cuts on my record as a songwriter. She cut a song that I wrote with her as well. We write professionally together and we are cutting each other’s music which is really cool. A kid that we graduated with that I am such a fan of, his name is Jake Wesley Rogers. He’s just amazing. We had a writing class together, so we wrote together. Lucky for him and lucky for me that we are both very busy. I never see him but he’s one of the kids from Belmont that I am such a fan of.
CN: It must be so much fun for you all to keep tabs on each other and see what everyone is up to.
AC: It’s great to see how they did it differently than we did it. Jake is in a totally different music genre than I am and it’s fun to see how he’s making it go. It’s a really cool town to get to do what we do in it.
CN: With your writing being so personal and raw, do you find it hard to put it out there for everyone to hear, or do you find it therapeutic?
AC: I find that I never really minded it too much putting myself out there and my personal stories out there and the things that I go through. That’s the really sweet piece of advice that my Dad gave me as a kid. My Dad does music too, we don’t do anything in music together, we never really have. My dad is a sports guy. I do remember being a kid and mentioned being insecure to play something I wrote, and he just kindly was like, “Hey kid, you chose to do this, we don’t have that luxury anymore. When you go through something and write about it, there are times you can hold it personal that it’s yours, but we have a duty, and people need to hear those songs.” Ever since then I’m just honored to share my stories and my reflections and what I have gone through and all that stuff.
AC: I will say as I’m getting older, and I am writing about my family and other people, and maybe even relationships that are ending, I don’t want anyone ever to see that person in a bad light. That is what I am personally having a hard time with. We just came out with this amazing album. We had 12 songs for it, but it only has 11 on it. It was one of those moments that I felt completely naked singing this song, even in front of people playing it. I was like, “I am not comfortable with this yet to give it to the world.” One day I will release that song, it’s about my childhood, and there are kids out there who need it. I was not ready yet to let it go, and let other people put their mark on it. I want to keep it safe for a little while.
CN: Are your friends getting nervous that they are going to end up in one of your songs?
AC: My friends, unfortunately, don’t think about it until it’s too late. They don’t think about it until they hear it and they say, “Oh crap!” Then I’m like, “Sorry. You know how it is.”
CN: Your first song you wrote as a kid when you were 14, do you ever go back to that and take a look at it or play it?
AC: I still play it. I played it the other week. I have a buddy of mine and we go and play goofy sets at really late times at night in Nashville. To practice songs and to be able to perform like we used to in our bedrooms as kids, just for ourselves. When we do that I will play my very first song.
CN: That’s amazing!
AC: It’s cool for my friends to see my growth. The chorus is the same word five times. It’s a cool growth moment, I love that song.
CN: Do you think you will ever record it?
AC: I don’t know. If I do ever record it, it will be more of a winning thing like a prize or auction item. I don’t think I would ever put it out, it’s not that good, it just means something to me.
CN: Do you have a favorite song that you have written, or is that like asking if you have a favorite child?
AC: I have a couple, for different reasons. I am sure that changes just like your favorite song changes. Right now, the current for me is my most recent one, just because I spend so much time with it. Typically for me, because I am such a personal writer, it’s something that I am going through, something that’s pushing me and helping me, and right now that’s the case. I wrote a song a couple of weeks ago that challenged me, and it taught me a lot about myself. It forced me to move in a lot of different ways in my life. Right now that’s my baby, I am taking care of it because its taking care of me
CN: When you find an inspiration for a song, is it one of those things that you have to pull over and write it down in a notebook or do you wait for writing sessions?
AC: It’s always different. At this time of day nobody has time to stop. I don’t have a cool notebook or a napkin to write on, I just use my phone. I will either just jot the title down and I will look at it in a month and it will hit me differently. If it’s a melody, I will flip on my voice memo. If I’m driving or walking, I will sing whatever the heck is going through my head. I might go back to it that night, it might be a year, or I might go back to it in a week. The process is always so different.
CN: Is there something that you do that would surprise people to know about you? What is a fun fact about Allie?
AC: Honestly, there’s quite a lot I am sure, because I’m kind of weird and wonky. Two things come to mind. My fun fact has always been that I was my high school mascot. I was a big ram and my name was Rambo. I was my high school mascot when I was not playing soccer. My second thing that people do not know about me is that I have narcolepsy. I don’t know if you know what that is, but it’s when you fall asleep all the time. I am medicated for it, so you would never know unless you catch me without my medication. I have two little sleep “zz’s” tattooed behind my ear for my narcolepsy. That’s just a little tidbit.
CN: So, I was not expecting anything like that. I am back at the ram. Is that one of those things that you put the big plastic ram head on? Do you have to try out for that? How does that come about?
AC: My assistant soccer coach was in charge of picking the mascot. Since she knew I was goofy and would do that kind of stuff, she said I could miss conditioning if I went to try out to be the mascot. I said, “Deal.” I thought, “I’m not going to be a mascot, but I will try out.” The audition was you had to get in the suit and you had to go and hang out with kids. I had to go into a room with first and fifth graders and show that I can interact with them and have fun with them. So that’s what I did, and I didn’t think anything about it. They posted a mascot thing. I thought it was understood that it was a joke with my coach when I tried out. I didn’t realize that she really needed a mascot. Me and this kid named Will split being the mascot. Will always took the mascot job for the first half of the game, which always meant that I had to sit in his sweaty suit for the second half of the football game.
CN: Will was a smart guy, I am sure he’s running a huge company now.
AC: (Laughs) He has to be.
CN: There seems to be a new breed of women in country music. They are not fitting the traditional mold of what a female country artist looks like. Uber-talented Ashley McBryde comes to mind right away, tattoos and t-shirt wearing. I put you in the same category. Do you feel and see the change coming in country music? Maybe we can have stations regularly play three women in a row.
AC: Oh my gosh, maybe, am I’m here for it. I really do feel it. It’s always such an interesting thought and conversation too. When I looked at country music when I was raised, it was all women. It was Sheryl Crow and Terri Clark and Reba was still killing it at the time. Trisha, Jamie O’Neal and Carrie Underwood, even Kelly Clarkson bled into it. It was just women, all women and the same three dudes. I was so blown away and I loved it. I remember that shift right at the middle, the thick of my life and I was like, where did they all go? Where did the women go? It was really frustrating especially because I was growing into this business. I was really anxious to see what it was going to look like and what I was going to have to look like to do well.
AC: I am so glad I came to town and fell in love with Ashley McBryde as an artist and who she is. She is such a trailblazer for what she looks like. Absolute babe, gorgeous, no doubt about it, but the tattoos and the way she carries herself, and the stage performance, and what she decides to wear and all those things. It was such a moment for me, I’m just going to settle into Allie now. I am going to see what that does. Anything else I am not going to like anyway, it’s not going to be natural, it’s going to be weird. But two, Ashley set that up for me. I think she has set that up for a lot of women.
AC: Gabby Barrett is as beautiful and strikingly feminine as she is all the time, that’s a cowboy right there. You don’t want to mess with Gabby, you don’t want to mess with Ashley, you don’t want to mess with Caylee Hammack, you don’t want to mess with anybody. Tenille Townes is too Canadian to be threatening, but it’s gorgeous women doing what they do, and not doing what anyone else wants them to. I am honored that I might be able to be a part of this. It’s exciting to be around these women.
CN: I will start pushing Ashley McBryde’s social media that there should be a tour with you two..
AC: Please do it! I did a bucket list show where I opened for her. It was magical. My social media that day was, “Not bad for a girl opening for Ashley McBryde.” It was so cool and awesome. For one, to play a show and be there, and have fans like hers being so just there. Her fans are there for her, and they show for the opener as well. They are that special of a crowd, who are like, “We came here for music, and whoever Ashley is going to bring with her to open we’re going to listen to her.” It was so special and so rewarding. I don’t know what was cooler, taking the shot with Ashley before the show, or sitting there in the front row watching her and becoming an audience member. People around me were like, “Can we get selfies?” I said, “Yes, dude, but after the show. I am watching Ashley right now.” It was amazing!
Photo courtesy of Allie Colleen Music
CN: One last question and it is called “One Grab.” You are running out of your house. You, your family and your pets are all safe and with you. You can run into your house and grab one item, what do you grab?
AC: I am going to grab, and it might sound silly, but I am going to grab my microphone. My beautiful family, my road family and band family, got me a sparkle rhinestone-covered microphone, a really, really nice microphone. It has my initials “AB” on it. I haven’t really used it yet, it needs a transmitter on it. When I sit at home and sing to myself I use it. It replaced the hair brush that I used to use growing up. I just dance around the house because somebody that loves me gave it to me. That’s what I would run back in and grab.
CN: Thank you so much Allie!
AC: Thank you so much, I look forward to talking to you again sometime.
CN: I look forward to seeing you on the road.
AC: Awesome thank you so much.
Photo courtesy of Allie Colleen Music
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For more information on Allie Colleen please visit her website at alliecolleenmusic.com.
*Featured photo courtesy of Allie Colleen Music.