Born and raised in Southern California, country music singer Gary Allan grew up in a family that took music seriously.
As a young teen, he began playing his guitar at gigs with his father. With a soulful, raw voice that complements his affinity for hard-core traditional country music inspired by such legendary greats as Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash, he has attracted a diverse fan following.
Despite the rewards of success, however, Allan has experienced his fair share of grief and personal loss. In the end, he credits the healing power of music for getting him through the hard times. His 2013 album, Set You Free, chronicles his personal journey from, as he puts it, darkness into light.
At 46, the singer considers himself set free — free to pursue personal and creative opportunities, and free to produce and sing his own music.
Palm Springs Life caught up with Allan as he returns to his native state for a Sept. 5 show at the Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Your music has been characterized as having “old school flair” and raw country style. Is there a secret to producing this balance and bringing this feel to the stage?
"I just try to stay true to myself, and I think that shows in my music. I am never going to sing about something I don’t know about or believe in. I think you would be able to tell that in my voice. Instead, I think the honesty and emotion comes through in my music. I want to keep it that way in the studio and when I play live."
You took your storytelling to another level with Set You Free and have alluded to referencing your personal life where you come out of darkness into light. What advice would you give others seeking to “come out of the storm?”
"I think it is different for each person, but for me, I had to keep writing and keep playing music. Those two things were my own therapy and the things that helped keep me going."
Do you feel your renewed sense of energy and “happiness” comes through to your audiences? Has this changed how you perform?
"Every Storm has been a great song of hope for people. The response we get when we play it each night is amazing. We have received some powerful stories from fans, and it’s quite moving to know we were able to touch people so deeply through that song."
What’s next in your musical journey?
"I am in the process of working on a new album now. It is always a fun process, but a bit stressful at times, too. You want to make something the fans will like, while at the same time staying true to yourself. I’m starting to play a few new things live now and so far, we are getting a good reception. Hopefully we are finding the right mix."
What do you like to do when you are back home in California?
"When I am in California, I want to surf as much as possible. I try to stay close to the ocean so I can hit the waves whenever I have downtime. Mom, family, surfing, and great food — those are my usual California priorities.”
Gary Allan headlines at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula at 8 p.m. Sept. 5. Visit www.pechanga.com/tickets for more information.