Kris Allen (born June 21, 1985) is an American singer-songwriter from
Conway, Arkansas and the winner of the eighth season of the reality television
series American Idol. Prior to Idol, he self-released a 2007 album entitled
Brand New Shoes.
Kris Allen was born in Jacksonville, Arkansas to Kimberly (née Wood) and Neil Allen. He has one younger brother named Daniel who is a student and cheerleading coach at the University of Central Arkansas. Kris attended Murrell Taylor Elementary School, Fuller Middle School and Mills University Studies High School, where he was active in the school's orchestra as a viola player and later went on to win a spot in his state's all-state orchestra.
Along with the viola, Kris taught himself how to play the guitar at age 13, and is also proficient with the piano and the ukulele. In 2007, he self-produced an album entitled Brand New Shoes with college friends and bandmates Michael Holmes (drums) and Chase Erwin (bass). Songs from the album began being widely distributed during his time on Idol.
Kris is a devout Christian. He was a worship leader at New Life Church in Maumelle, Arkansas, as well as at the Chi Alpha campus ministry of the University of Central Arkansas, where he was a business major. He has done missionary work around the world, including in Burma, Mozambique, South Africa, Spain and Thailand.
On September 26, 2008, he married longtime girlfriend Katy O'Connell Allen.
Kris auditioned for the eighth season of American Idol in Louisville, Kentucky with his brother Daniel, who did not make it to Hollywood.
Throughout the competition, Kris received many compliments for his folk-inspired interpretations of modern pop songs. He played several instruments during his performances, including the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar, the keyboard, and the piano. His performance of "To Make You Feel My Love" as part of the Top 11 earned praise from the judges, with Simon Cowell commenting, "I am genuinely beginning to think you have a shot of doing well in this competition." On the Top 9 show, he performed his own arrangement of "Ain't No Sunshine" on a keyboard, with a few musicians on stage, which earned praise from the judges. Cowell lauded it as Allen's "best performance so far."
On the first Top 7 night, Kris chose to sing the Oscar-winning song from the indie film Once. While Randy Jackson described it as "pitchy from note one", Kara DioGuardi declared it "one of your best moments ever." Due to time constraints, Paula Abdul and Cowell did not comment, but on the following night's results show, Cowell stated "Kris, you were brilliant." On the second Top 7 show, Kris brought back the guitar for the fourth time and performed an original, acoustic version of "She Works Hard for the Money", complete with bongo drums and the band on stage. This earned praise from all four judges, with Abdul remarking "There aren’t many men who are willing to shop in the women’s department. You shopped and found a perfect fit." For his second Top 3 performance, Kris impressed the judges with an acoustic arrangement of Kanye West's "Heartless", prompting Jackson to state that he preferred it to West's original and The Fray's cover version. Cowell agreed and said, "I had written you out of the competition but that has changed after that performance."
After being voted into the Top 3, Kris returned home to Arkansas and his hometown to film the material for the next two American Idol episodes. Kris was greeted by a crowd estimated to be greater than 20,000. Kris performed concerts in Little Rock and Conway, playing many of his popular songs during the competition, including "Man in the Mirror", "Ain't No Sunshine", "Falling Slowly" and "She Works Hard for the Money" at the venues, as well as "Come Together" at the local Fox News studio. He accompanied all of these songs with his guitar. During the final show, he performed with Keith Urban, singing Urban's single "Kiss a Girl".
On May 20, 2009, Kris was declared the winner of the eighth season of American Idol, becoming the first married contestant to claim the title.
This Kris Allen Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub