Hometown hero and Spokane soul singer Allen Stone made it to the finale of NBC’s “American Song Contest” Monday night representing the state of Washington. He even won the most points in the competition among his peers in jury voting, but with viewer votes added, Stone dropped from first to fifth place.
Stone, who started his music career in Seattle, prerecorded his performance for the otherwise live-taped finale so he could be with his mother, who has cancer.
“If I won, my mom would be the happiest. My mom is my No. 1 fan. My mom’s been battling cancer for the last two years,” Stone told “American Song Contest” co-host Snoop Dog during an emotional interview segment that aired midway through Monday’s finale.
“When I took the show, I told mom that I was gonna have to be gone and I didn’t need to be on the show if she needed me around,” Stone explained. “She said, ‘Don’t even think about it, you go share your music.’ So she’d be real pumped if I was chosen.”
Stone said Wednesday that knowing what was happening with his family back home was the hardest part of being on “American Song Contest.”
“Being away from my mom as she was, unfortunately, in the last stages of her battle with cancer, was the hardest part of doing the show,” he said. “For sure, mom was pretty adamant that I still go and do it and give it my all and share my music, but not being around and being away from her was tough. But the show was just so kind and considerate to the situation and my needs and they couldn’t have been any sweeter to me.”
In the finale, the Eastern Washington artist got another opportunity to perform his original song “A Bit of Both,” co-written with Lakewood native Tyler Acord, aka Lophiile.
Stone said the song, about the duality of good and bad in humans, also reflects the duality of Washington, a state full of fishermen and computer engineers, loggers and Amazon employees.
Stone said Wednesday he was surprised to win the jury vote.
“Anytime you’re given the tip of the hat by anybody — any judge, jury, committee — it’s surprising, especially if you walk around with impostor syndrome like I do. To have had a career in music as long as I’ve had is still super surprising to me.”
An Americanized version of the “Eurovision Song Contest” that’s a huge hit globally, “American Song Contest” featured artists representing 50 states, five U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., performing original songs competing for votes from viewers and jurors. The performers were a mix of rising talents and industry veterans, including finalists Chloe Fredericks (North Dakota), Grant Knoche (Texas), Jordan Smith (Kentucky), Michael Bolton (Connecticut), Ni/Co (Alabama), Riker Lynch (Colorado), Tenelle (American Samoa), Tyler Braden (Tennessee) and the ultimate winner, AleXa (Oklahoma).
On the show, Stone, 35, said he came by his interest in music from his family.
“My folks are ministers and I grew up singing in the church,” Stone said. “I started writing songs at 10 or 11. …. The feeling of singing in congregations with other people, that’s the therapeutic, ethereal feeling I get singing today.”
After the votes were tallied, Stone said he was grateful for the recognition from his peers with the jury vote, but he’s unsure what impact participating in “American Song Contest” will have on his music career.
“I do my best not to get caught up in expectations regarding music or numbers or accolades,” he said, “because I just find so much more joy in the process of making art, the process of performing and getting to sing.”
After turning down “American Idol” a decade ago, Stone — who said prior to filming that getting to “smoke out” with co-host Snoop Dogg would be a sufficient prize — is ultimately glad he went on “American Song Contest.”
“Super stoked, it was a great experience,” he recounted. “Everybody on the show was super kind, made a lot of good friends, shared a lot of good experiences and I got to meet [host] Kelly Clarkson.”