1. Kristopher Neil “Kris” Allen is an American musician, singer and songwriter from Conway, Arkansas, and the winner of the eighth season of American Idol.
2. Allen was born in Jacksonville, Arkansas, to Kimberly and Neil Allen.
3. He began playing the viola in elementary school and went on to play the instrument in the Mills University Studies High School orchestra, eventually winning a spot in the Arkansas all-state orchestra. Additionally, he taught himself to play the guitar at age 13, and also plays the piano.
4. His musical influences, as stated in his Idol confessionals, include the Beatles, Jamie Cullum, Jason Mraz, Pat Monahan, John Mayer and Michael Jackson.
5. Allen played publicly for several years before trying out for Idol, even opening for earlier Idol contestant Sean Michel on multiple occasions.
6. He has described his decision to audition for American Idol as a “last hurrah” before giving up his pursuit of a music career.
7. Kris stated that “If I had not made it through in American Idol, I would have gone back to college and gotten my business degree.”
8. Allen realized during college that he wanted to play music professionally and began trying to write music.
9. He played his first gig at a local bar in downtown Conway during his sophomore year, and he went on to drop out of college in the middle of his junior year to follow his dream of becoming a professional musician.
10. Allen auditioned for the eighth season of American Idol in Louisville, Kentucky, with his brother Daniel, who did not make it to Hollywood. In the early stages of the season, he was among the finalists that received the least amount of screen time.
11. Only several seconds of his first audition was aired in its entirety.
12. Throughout the competition, Allen received many compliments for his folk-inspired interpretations of modern pop songs.
13. He played several instruments during his performances, including the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar, the keyboard, and the piano.