Country artist Jay Allen performing at Alzheimer’s Purple Gala

The fight against Alzheimer's will get extra help this weekend from a rising country music star who knows all too well the pain of the disease.

Jay Allen was working to start a music career in Nashville several years ago when he found his calling.

"I was kind of just doing what everyone else was doing," said Allen in an interview from his Tennessee home. "I was aspiring to do something for myself with music, and then my mom got sick."

His mother, Sherry Lynn, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at 51 years old. She died within three years.

"She lost her entire personality," remembered Allen about the sudden onset of the disease and its rapid progression. "The sweet, loving, selfless mother we all knew, vanished very quickly."  The pain of losing her never went away.

"I just wrote a song about it. I didn’t know what else to do," recalled Allen.

He called the song "Blank Stares." It’s about the longing that family members have for the love and memories trapped behind the blank stares of their loved ones stricken with the brain deteriorating disease. Allen wrote the song with a friend of his at a music group with Sony, and soon it got in front of record executives.

"He heard that song when I turned it in," Allen explained about the reaction from the studio leader. "He called me crying, told me his story that he was a caregiver for his dad for the last five years of his life. And he said, ‘Make me a promise. I will get this in front of some very important people. You promise that we give away every dime that we make back towards the fight against Alzheimer's.’  And I said, yes sir."

The song was played heavily on the SiriusXM channel The Highway, and he was invited to perform it at some Alzheimer's Association events, but still Allen felt he could make a better connection.

Jay Allen spoke with FOX 9 via Zoom about his upcoming performance and how he channeled the pain of losing his mother into his song "Blank Stares". (FOX 9)

"I got to a point where I was sharing this story ‘till I was blue in the face," Allen said. "So I brought my sick mom on stage, and I wrapped my arms around her and hers around me. And I told the story and I sang the song.  And a guy took a video.  He put it on his Facebook page, and it got hundreds of millions of views."

For the first time, Allen said he realized the song had a purpose: to show a real human story of loss and to create a safe place for others to share their stories and to feel like they’re not alone.

"I’ve been touring nonstop ever since," said Allen of his mother’s song that led to an independent record deal and his chance of making music a career. "And this leads to an opportunity to come to this gala."

Allen will perform for more than 800 people who are registered to attend Saturday’s Alzheimer’s Purple Gala at the Depot in downtown Minneapolis. The gala will raise funds to support research and support programs offered by the Alzheimer’s Association.

"I’m going to come guns blazing and give all I have with all my heart and share that song and that story," said Allen.