Winner of the eighth season of American Idol, Allen beat out fellow contestant Adam Lambert to claim the title previously held by David Cook.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Ark., Allen was musically inclined from a young age, skilled at the guitar, viola, piano and ukulele. He pursued a business degree at the University of Central Arkansas, though he dropped out to follow his dream of a professional music career.
In September 2008, Allen married his girlfriend of seven years, high school sweetheart Katy O’Connell. Throughout the Idol competition, Allen often played his own instruments, putting new twists on songs like Kanye West‘s “Heartless” and Bill Withers‘ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
After Ryan Seacrest declared Allen the winner in May 2009, the singer released his debut single, “No Boundaries,” which debuted at No. 27 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary Chart.
Allen released his self-titled debut album in November 2009. The song “Live Like We’re Dying” peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
The singer and his wife welcomed son Oliver Neil in July 2013.