Harold Allen takes the life experiences that we all share, the events that touch our hearts and creates music that speaks directly to the soul in each of us. Whether in an intimate setting accompanied only by his guitar or onstage playing with his band the Bonfire Choir to thousands, he strives to connect with his audiences in a way that makes his music touch each of them. A cowboy through and through his life is steeped in the traditions of country, but Allen’s music is stamped with his own unique style. He honors the past, but refuses to live in it and that is why he continues to push the boundaries of country music forward, creating an exciting new blend that is as emotionally potent as it is commercially appealing.
Growing up on a rural Nebraska cattle farm, Harold was surrounded by music. Country music was most often heard on the farm, it’s what his dad loved and like many boys his age, because his dad loved it, he thought it was “old people” music. Harold considered himself a rocker and by high school he was learning to play the songs of Led Zeppelin and the Steve Miller Band on his guitar. Peru State College recruited him to play football for the Bobcats straight out of high school. Even though he felt he wasn’t really big enough, strong enough or fast enough, he figured, why not? He made it through one season.
The lure of the music was always near and Allen decided he would rather be singing hits on the stage than taking them on the football field. So, he went to the big city – Lincoln, Nebraska. It was there, at the University of Nebraska, that he embarked on a serious study of music. “My classes opened me up to all kinds of music, opera, classical, folk and led me on the unlikely path from a rural farm to New York City with sights on Broadway.” Allen had a number of successes with regional theaters and in the touring casts of Broadway shows. It was while he was on the road with Oklahoma! that he had an epiphany, one that shaped his dreams and defined his path. “I heard “Silence On The Line” by Chris LeDoux, and my eyes opened and I knew that I wanted to tell stories like that,” says Harold of the fateful event. Hearing the story that song told, Allen knew he was done interpreting other people’s stories and set out to pursue a career in telling his own.
He used his downtime on the road to write songs, to tell the stories of his own life and of those around him. The stories took him back to his Nebraska roots, their melodies reflected the music of his youth. He continued to write…..and write and write, amassing an impressive catalogue of songs, and then it was time to strike out on his own.
Armed with his new material Harold was always willing to play for anyone that would listen to his songs and he began playing around New York City. In a short time, Allen and his band were regulars at venues such as Hill Country, The National Underground and Arlene's Grocery, where he recorded his album, Live from Arlene’s Grocery. He even had a regular spot in the subway where he sold over 2000 CDs, mostly to people that told him “I hate country music, but I like your songs.”
But to follow the dreams of his heroes, he had to follow their paths and that path lead to Nashville. “Moving to Nashville to make it as a country singer is pretty much the same thing as moving to NY to make it on Broadway...it's a cliché and I know it is. The difference, for me, is that I never really felt at home in New York – from my very first visit to Nashville, this town felt like home. I could feel the community atmosphere here and I knew there’d be tons of inspiration for future songs from the people and places I’d meet here. Now I’m just excited to see where this road leads and I’d love it if you’d come along for the ride.”
Whether in a songwriting session, in the studio or on stage, Harold Allen travels that road every day.