- - Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Winning “American Idol” can be a blessing and a curse. Just ask Kris Allen, the good-looking Southern boy who beat out flamboyant singer Adam Lambert to capture the crown on Season 9. While you are given national exposure and instant fans you still have to prove to the world you are more than just “that singer from TV.”

In the seven years since Mr. Allen won, he has tried to please fans while staying true to himself, a journey full of both joy and pain. He released four solid pop albums to impressive sales and fans delight and toured across the world. But a 2012 car crash left Mr. Allen with a shattered wrist and the wonder if he would ever play guitar again. While still in the cast, he ignored doctors’ orders and relearned to play. That same year, he and and his wife welcomed their first child into the world.

The summer sees him recovered and hitting the road in support of his latest CD,”Letting You In.” That tour will see him playing The Hamilton in the District Wednesday. Mr. Allen discussed his time on “Idol,” the car crash and how fatherhood has changed him.

Question: How did you life change after winning “American Idol”?

Answer: The great thing about the show is it takes these people who have some sort of talent in music — like me, a little kid from Arkansas — people who may have hopes and dreams of being in the music industry, and makes them real. To me it was this faraway thing that I could never achieve. As much as I wanted to be in it, I probably wouldn’t have ever found my way in. For me it was this opportunity that said, “This dream can be a real thing for you.” The biggest change is I get to play my music for the people.

Q: But you were a working musician before the show.

A: I was making music. But I also had to have another job. The ceiling to what I could do before the show were local gigs in bars for three to four hours to make 50 bucks. I hope to make more than 50 bucks tonight. [laughs]

Q: Did you have to give up control of your style and image while on the show?

A: I don’t know if it was because they didn’t think I was going to make it very far or what. I would pick a song, thinking, “There is not way it’s gonna get clearance.” On movie night I picked “Falling Slowly” from “Once.” Not your typical “Idol” song, and they came back immediately and said, “That’s cleared. You can do that.”

It just kept on going that way through the show. I felt like I had a lot of freedom to wear what I wanted, play what I wanted, sing what I wanted.

Q: Did playing piano and guitar give you an advantage?

A: I think America sees someone like myself, and they see it’s not just a voice. It’s the musicality of it all. People see that you can play an instrument and think you can immediately write songs.

Q: Is that the case?

A: I wouldn’t call myself good at it at the very beginning. I’ve become good at it through a lot of practice, through being with co-writers and just being honest with myself. Learning to write what I feel. Trying to convey an emotion through words is not easy.

Q: The show gives you a shot of fame, but how do you maintain a career from there?

A: That’s the hard thing. I feel like it’s an uphill battle for people in the “Idol” world. We have our fans from the TV show but not from the music industry. It’s been an interesting road trying to gain respect from people.

When I came off the show, I realized I had so much to learn. Still do.

Q: Was there a bias against you because you were “the singer from TV”?

A: I think to some people. Some of America said, “Oh, he’s from the show. He’s probably kinda lame.” [laughs] I enjoy watching those people come to my show and say, “All right, man. I get it now.”

Q: The rumor is that once you win on “Idol,” they basically own you and your music. True?

A: I think that the “own” thing is a little harsh. Very harsh actually.

What they do is give you a management contract with the creators of the show. They also give you a record deal. But it wasn’t some crazy 360 deal. Actually, it was a pretty good deal. Everyone there was trying to help, whether they were doing things in the right way or not.

Q: How is your wrist these day after the car accident?

A: The wrist is OK. I don’t have full movement. I think I have 25 percent of wrist function.

In that recovery time I leaned a lot about myself. Learned that writing music and playing guitar was really what I wanted to do forever. It was something I was doing, but the accident gave me realization that I needed to take this seriously.

That year off, where I had three surgeries, I was in a cast, and all I had were my fingers. So I just kept playing guitar. I don’t take any of it for granted anymore: playing for people. It’s insane that there are actually people listening to my music all over the world, which is amazing. Now it has been seven years, and the fans are still listening to my music.

Q: How has becoming a father changed you?

A: You’re not doing things for yourself anymore. You’re thinking about someone else. And that is not a burden. I want to take care of this being. It becomes the thing you love the most.

Kris Allen’s “Letting You In” tour comes to The Hamilton Wednesday evening. Tickets are $15 to $25 by going to Ticketfly.com.


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