Interview: Allie Colleen’s Heart Shines Through Her Music
Oklahoma-raised country singer Allie Colleen delivers her own brand of authenticity and depth through honest lyrics and soulful vocals. Her songs carry a believability -- whether happy, hopeful, angry or sad -- which makes listeners feel as though they're peeking through a window into her heart.
Colleen released her debut album, Stones, on April 9, and one month later -- for Mother's Day (May 9) -- she focused in on its penultimate track, "Make Me a Man," spotlighting it as a single. When the song idea came to her, she went to her co-writer, Eric Dodd, and played him a verse and chorus, but she wanted to make sure he understood how important it was before they wrote it.
"Make Me a Man" is dedicated to single parents. It came to her after watching her mom, Sandy, go through a tough season; in the song, she asks God to bring someone who check all the boxes into her mom’s life.
"This is not eHarmony for Sandy," though, Colleen says with a laugh -- her mom is in a happy relationship now. Still, Colleen admits that after she performs the tune, she has to warn people not to "DM my mom."
Colleen, as she points out in an Instagram post, has "had the privilege to watch both my parents fall in love" after their divorce at the turn of the millennium. She also has deep love for her "bonus mom," fellow country artist Trisha Yearwood, whom Colleen says "married us all when she married my dad" -- that would be country superstar Garth Brooks. ("We all exchanged rings," she shares.)
You won't hear Colleen tout their names often, though. She learned early on -- well before her professional music career was taking shape -- that she didn't want to get by on her family's accolades.
"I can sum it up in one story: I went to a small Christian school in Oklahoma, and in fourth grade, I sang in chapel. A girl in my class asked about singing, and I told her I wanted to be a singer one day. She told me that she did, too," Colleen recalls. "After school, in pick-up line, the girl told her mom that she wanted to be a singer like me. Her mother said, ‘Well, Allie has famous parents, so she will make it, but you don’t, so you will never make it.’
"I’m sure not gonna hear someone can’t be a singer because they don’t have famous parents."
Colleen co-wrote all of the 11 songs on her debut disc, with the exception of "Blame it on the Weather" -- that one, she wrote alone. She admits that while she thought she was writing it for someone else, the song turned out to be a message to herself.
Colleen's first single from Stones, "Playin’ House (I Don’t Give a …)," meanwhile, asks a hard question in a relationship that has come to a fork in the road. The bittersweet love song calls on a partner to decide if they are ready for commitment, or if it’s time to move on: “If words were water, boy, I’d be drowning by now / Boy, is this love or are we just playin’ house?” she sings.
Then there's “Don’t Give Your Heart to a Cowboy,” Colleen's second release from Stones. It serves as a warning against falling in love with someone who leaves their “leavin’ boots on your porch.” The narrator delivers this bit of wisdom, however, only after experiencing that particular sort of heartbreak herself.
Stones also includes "Pink Lemonade," a bluesy, flirty song that’ll make listeners want to slow dance, and "Only Oklahoma," in which the singer asks herself if she made the right decision leaving the Sooner State when she did. "Wildflower" is a celebratory track about a mother giving her daughter the freedom to be herself -- and assuring her that she’s meant to be different -- while the title track is a message to haters: They won't break her.
"When you work on a project for so long, you have to take some living time. When you’re being so creative, you can have your head down and miss some things," admits Colleen, who says she's excited for summer, being on the water and finding time to go out and experience new things now that her album is out in the world. Still, she'll be collecting inspiration to get back to writing for a new project, too.
Prior to sharing Stones, Colleen has released a few other songs, including "Best Friend" and "Road You Take," written two years apart, but about the same person. Through her honest delivery, listeners hear the singer move from the sting of betrayal to the process of forgiveness.
Mid-pandemic, in May of 2020, Colleen offered up the inspirational “Close Enough." Its lyric video concludes with the message “Be kind. Love one another. Help who you can. Pray for who you can’t.”
Colleen has an obvious heart for people, both on and offstage. Her biggest lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic? “I will never take for granted the one person in the crowd," she says.
Colleen admits that she used to be disappointed if there was a light crowd at one of her shows; now, though, she is grateful for just one person who will listen. After spending 2020 singing to masked faces and via livestreams, she is ready to see fans' expressions and interact with the people listening to her music.
She's also hopeful that people will get to know her music before arriving at a show. "It’s nice to see people downloading songs and following socials after a show," Colleen explains, "but I think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could experience the music together?'"