NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – At the 2020 CMA Awards, Jimmie Allen became the first Black performer nominated for New Artist of the Year since Darius Rucker 11 years prior. Allen would go on to lose to Morgan Wallen. But the CMA Awards allow a two-year period for artists to be nominated in the category, leading to Allen getting a second chance at history – and he made it.

At the 2021 CMA Awards, Jimmie Allen won New Artist of the Year, becoming only the second Black artist to do so – Rucker won in 2009.

“You know, as someone who has wanted to do country music for a long time, coming from – I’m being honest, being a black guy from Milton, Delaware – people never heard of Milton, Delaware – to win this award – it’s a special night, special moment,” Allen said backstage after the win.

Allen dedicated the win to his father who passed away in 2019, “my dad introduced me to country music. I wish he was here tonight.”

The 36-year-old was able to celebrate the big night with family, including his mother, sister, and wife, all of whom were present to see him give a tearful acceptance speech. Backstage Allen said he feels country music is back to focusing on the music.

“It’s not about the shell the person comes in, it’s about what exists in the shell – You crack the egg open. You see what’s inside. And that’s how I look at where country music is now. It’s about the egg. It’s about the music, not about the shell that the music comes in,” Allen said.

Mickey Guyton was also nominated for New Artist of the Year, making this the first time two Black artists were ever nominated for the award in the same year.