Will Allen Stone win the “American Song Contest”? Local singer-songwriter represents Washington in new NBC interstate music competition
Allen Stone made his mark at the “American Song Contest” party three weeks ago in Austin, Texas. A songwriter from each of the 50 states, five territories and Washington, DC, was represented courtesy of a photograph at the party, which touted NBC’s latest musical reality series.
Most of the attendees were glamorous, and then there was the bespectacled Everyman who resides on the South Hill. The laid-back neo-hippie with oversized bezels has always emphasized substance over style while showing off his soulful, sleek and playful R&B.
It’ll be fascinating to see how it goes for Stone, who is vying for Best Original Song in a contest decided by jury votes and a televised fan vote.
“It should be about the songs,” Stone said. “It shouldn’t be about what you wear, lights, fire and dancing. It should be about vocals, lyrics and melody. I’ve always been about music.
“I’d rather see James Taylor and his acoustic guitar than see Pink fly around the arena on a trapeze. Not that there’s anything wrong with what Pink does. She has a great voice and is amazing But one song is just enough for me.
Stone, 35, flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday and will be in Hollywood until Monday, when his song “A Little Bit of Both” will be released. “All I have to do is show up and sing well,” Stone said. “I used to do that. I will run.
“I don’t have to worry about anything else. I don’t have to run the lights or shoot confetti out of a cannon. As long as I remember my words, I’ll be fine. The most important thing for me is not to catch COVID. It could put a wrench in everything.
The COVID-19 protocol is in place. Stone’s wife and son flew to Los Angeles with him, but the set is closed. “There are tests up to nausea,” Stone said. “The set is really tight. I will do my best to stay healthy and represent Washington State.
Fighting in song is a strange concept for the native of Chewelah. “It’s weird to me that there’s competition with art,” Stone said.
There has always been competition with art. Ten years ago, Brian Wilson detailed in an interview that he viewed the Beatles as competition, and that pushed him to greater heights when he wrote songs for the Beach Boys. But the back-and-forth between the Beatles and the Beach Boys wasn’t for a TV show.
“It’s just super weird, but I still look forward to the experience,” Stone said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to represent Washington State. The opportunity to perform an original piece of music for my state is amazing.
Did Governor Jay Inslee send Stone a lucky charm? “No, I didn’t get the go-ahead from the governor,” Stone said. “He has bigger issues to deal with. If I represent Washington well and win this thing, maybe I’ll get a key to the Climate Pledge Arena.
Or maybe Spokane Arena. Stone lived in Seattle for a few years and even does a spot for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which still plays on the airport intercom. “I think that was my biggest hit,” Stone joked. “I go up to people at parties and say, ‘Hi, I’m Allen Stone from Sea-Tac Airport.’ ”
Stone does his best to keep his head straight. “I have to be like that because when I was 20 I had my ups and downs,” Stone said. “It was an emotional roller coaster. I was logging in too often with results, like how many people had bought this or that and if I was nominated.
“So I’m older and I realize that I have to be focused. I am also excited about the process. Hey, I pay my rent with music, and everything else is icing. I think it will be great fun and something I will always remember.
This will be especially the case if Stone meets Snoop Dogg, co-host of “American Song Contest” with Kelly Clarkson.
“I’m going to do my best to increase my tolerance in case Snoop invites me into his trailer to burn one,” Stone said. “Maybe that will be the consolation prize. I don’t know what we earn, but I know it’s not a million dollars. Maybe I can do a reverse bong while Snoop holds me by the ankles.
“American Song Contest” airs on NBC at 8 p.m. Monday.