Your first headlining gig at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium is a milestone moment for any country artist, since the famous venue is hailed as the Mother Church of Country Music. But to make that debut in the middle of a pandemic like Jimmie Allen, just after the death of a true country hero? That’s something else.
Allen stepped on to the Ryman’s hollowed floorboards for the first time on December 17, 2020, playing to a socially distanced crowd and countless more online. And he captured the experience for a new behind-the-scenes video premiering exclusively on Sounds Like Nashville.
Following the “Best Shot” and “Make Me Want To” hit maker before his big show, the Backstage at the Ryman clip finds Allen talking candidly to the camera. He explains what playing at the Ryman means to him personally — and in the context of country music — as one of his heroes, Charley Pride, had passed away from COVID-19 just five days earlier.
Pride sold upwards of 75 million records in the middle of the 1960s and ’70s, Allen explained, and is still an inspiration African American country artists like himself. The Backstage clip also shows Allen rehearsing with chart topper Darius Rucker, who joined the show for a stirring rendition of Allen’s “Why Things Happen” in Pride’s honor. And Allen says he hopes his performance sends a message, one that Pride helped tell in his own way.
“The history remains as far as who the artists are [playing at the Ryman,]” he said. “It doesn’t matter your sexuality orientation, it doesn’t matter your skin color. This is a place you can play, and it’s all about the music.”
Just like it has been since last fall, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium continues to invite fans for socially-distanced concert events — with upcoming shows including an appearance by Chase Rice on April 23. Fans can visit ryman.com for more information and livestream tickets. Jimmie Allen recently recently shared a video for his unreleased song, “Big In a Small Town.”