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Singer and songwriter Allen Stone describes himself as "a hippie with soul," and his music reflects both sides of this formula; his vocals and melodic style show the clear influence of classic soul and R&B of the 1960s and 70s, while his lyrics reveal an idealism and passion that recall the folk-inspired singer/songwriters of the same era. Allen Stone was born in 1987 in Chewelah, Washington, a small town not far from Spokane. Stone's mother was an obstetrician while his father was the pastor of a local church; Stone grew up on gospel and Christian music, and began leading youth worship groups when he was only 14. He had little exposure to secular music as a child, but in his teens, he developed a taste for classic soul music, and started collecting vintage R&B sides, as well as golden age singer/songwriters. After graduating from high school, 18-year-old Stone left Chewelah to attend junior college in Spokane; a year later, he transferred to Bible college, but after a single semester he dropped out and relocated to Seattle. He began writing songs, and soon put together a band with a handful of local musicians; Stone and his group became a regular presence on the West Coast club scene, and developed a reputation for powerful live shows as they played up to 200 dates a year. In 2010, Stone recorded an album called Last to Speak that he released digitally through his own Stickystones label. A second album, simply titled Allen Stone, followed in the fall of 2011, and quickly became an independent success story; online sales took the album to the Top Five of the iTunes R&B/Soul chart, and it placed on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, all without a formal distribution deal. As Stone and his band played more and bigger shows, they were invited to appear on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Last Call with Carson Daly, and features on Stone were published in Esquire and Billboard. The artist-friendly ATO Records label signed Allen Stone in 2012, and reissued his eponymous album in the summer of that year.
Allen Stone is an American soul musician from Chewelah, Washington, United States. His website states that people describe him as a soul and R&B singer, yet he sees himself as a "hippie with soul."Deming, Mark. Allen Stone Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved February 15, 2013. Cite error: The named reference A_Brief_History was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
Stone was born on March 13, 1987 in Chewelah, Washington, a small town about 45 minutes north of Spokane with a population of approximately 2,600 people.
Allen Stone began his career singing at his father's church. His father was a preacher and his mother was an OB/GYN nurse. He sang in the church since he was 3 years old. By 14, Stone was leading worship at his church and playing the guitar. The draw of music for Allen was mainly being able to express himself to a crowd of people.
Allen did not discover soul music until he was a teenager. Once he discovered the music, he started collecting classic albums from the 1960s and 1970s. He was 15 when he heard Stevie Wonder's album Innervisions.
When one of his friends became successful in music, Stone decided to become serious about his musical career. Stacie Orrico, a close friend of his when he was a teen, had come out with a record and had become successful. "She was traveling, singing everywhere, and recording," Stone says, "She was just a year older than me and I was like, 'Man that would be so much fun to do, sing and actually have people listen.'"
When Allen was 18, he moved from his hometown to Spokane, Washington, where he attended community college for a semester followed by a year at Moody Bible Institute in Spokane. After that year, Stone had a realization. He stated in an interview with SF Gate, "I learned the history of the church and the conception of the Bible and learned about the religion and really just, like, didn't believe it... I got to the point where it was like, 'I don't believe this is the truth.'" Not long after, he moved to Seattle, Washington to pursue his musical career.Stone, Allen. "Allen Stone's twitter account". Twitter. Cite error: The named reference A_Brief_History was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Hilderbrand, Lee (30 August 2012). "Allen Stone lost religion - found soul". SF Gate. Retrieved 9 October 2012. Thompson, Erica. "Freshman Haze: Allen Stone". The Juice. Billboard. Retrieved 9 October 2012. "Allen Stone - Full Performance (Live on KEXP)". Youtube. December 1, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
Stone has been influenced by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Meters, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Jamie Lidell and James Morrison. The New York Times compared his socially conscious music to the likes of Donny Hathaway, Bill Withers and two of his musical influences Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.Cite error: The named reference Billboard was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "A Brief History...". Allen Stone Website. Retrieved 9 October 2012. Pareles, Jon (10 November 2011). "The Look Said One Thing, The Voice Something Else". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
He has self-released two records, "Last To Speak" (2010) and the self-titled "Allen Stone" (2011).
Stone had been touring cross-country for a few years and sold a self-released album on the Internet. However, it was not until October 2011, when his second album was released, that his career began to truly kick off. On this album, he was backed by Raphael Saadiq's rhythm section and Miles Davis' keyboardist Deron Johnson. A few songs on "Allen Stone" were co-written with Andy Grammer.
"Allen Stone" peaked at the number 2 spot on the R&B/Soul charts on iTunes and hit #9 and #35 on the Billboard Heatseekers and R&B/Hip Hop Album charts, respectively. USA Today called Allen Stone a "pitch-perfect powerhouse".
On October 26, 2011, he performed his song "Unaware" on Conan.
In 2012, he was featured on the song "Neon Cathedral" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis off of their album The Heist.
Then on January 3, 2013, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and sang "Sleep".Cite error: The named reference SF_Gate was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Billboard was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Allen Stone - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-08-27. "Fall music preview: Under the radar". USA Today. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2013. "Allen Stone's Soulful Performance on Conan". Retrieved 15 February 2013. "Allen Stone performs 'Sleep'". Retrieved 15 February 2013.
Social commentary in music
On Allen Stone's self-titled album, a few songs discuss social and political issues, such as "Unaware," "Contact High," and "What I've Seen".
A live music video of "Unaware - Allen Stone - Live From His Mother's Living Room" on Stone's YouTube account has been viewed over 3,000,000 times. Stone wanted to have a different and weird setting for this video, so they went to his mom's house and recorded it in the living room.
This song has socially conscious lyrics about the economic crisis: "Everyday, the deficit grows/You spend more than you own/Papa always said to me/'Keep a close eye on your authority'" and "Everyday, taxes increase/So is this our land or is this our lease?/Papa said, 'Son, it's the land of the free,'/As he broke his back trying to make ends meet."Cite error: The named reference Billboard was invoked but never defined (see the help page).