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On May 20, 2009, Kris Allen was declared the winner of the eighth season of American Idol, becoming the first married contestant to claim the title, as well as the sixth winner from the Southern United States (only Jordin Sparks, raised in Glendale, Arizona; David Cook, from Blue Springs, Missouri; Lee De Wyze, from Chicago, Illinois; and Nick Fradiani, from Guilford, Connecticut, were from outside the South).
Allen also became the first winner to accept a trophy shaped like a microphone.
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." Allen realized during college that he wanted to play music professionally and began trying to write music.
Allen performed at three concerts in Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas, 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 studio of local Fox affiliate KLRT-TV.
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." In the finals, 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.
Allen's Idol coronation song, "No Boundaries" and his version of "Heartless" both charted within the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. Additionally, he taught himself to play the guitar at age 13, and also plays the piano.
Allen's post-Idol self-titled album was released on November 17, 2009, by Jive Records. His musical influences, as stated in his Idol confessionals, include the Beatles, Jamie Cullum, Jason Mraz, Pat Monahan, John Mayer and Michael Jackson.