Jimmie Allen is quickly becoming a country music powerhouse and lent his burgeoning star power to the up-and-comers on American Idol during the All-Star Duets round on Sunday night (4/4). In one his his two duets, the singer teamed up with Idol hopeful Cecil Ray, and the two connected over far more than just music.
As they got to know each other, Allen and Ray found quite a bit of their stories intertwining. Ray opened up about his struggles in pursing music, saying “It’s not easy, I can tell you that much. I mean, financially, I’m not where I wanna be.” Allen related, as he’s previously been outspoken about his financial struggles and prior homelessness.
The two also shared common ground as fathers to young children and the challenges that come with that. “I look at you and I see me. I was broke, bro,” Allen shared. “But it was something in my son that kinda kept me moving forward…Think about your daughter, remember why you’re here.”
Their conversation led to Allen giving his phone number to Ray so they could stay in touch after the Idol days were over. “I’m here because someone decided to help me, and if I can be that for Cecil, I’m down for it,” Allen shared.
With that, the two took the stage to perform Allen’s Brad Paisley-collaboration, “Freedom Was A Highway.” While he had newfound confidence following his conversation with the Delaware native, Ray’s performance didn’t quite hit the spot for judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
“You kinda got swallowed up a little bit. There was just some pitch problems that I haven’t really heard from you,” said Bryan. “And I don’t know if it’s just because of the crazy room and the band and lights and camera and action…Just understand, man, it’s gonna get harder every round, and you’re gonna have to be on point, every round.”
Ray had another chance to impress the judges during the show, performing Tracy Lawrence’s “Paint Me A Birmingham.”