In the past year, Jelly Roll has accomplished some of his biggest dreams. He won New Artist of The Year at the CMA Awards, and he received his first Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for his song “Save Me” with Lainey Wilson. “Save Me” is number one on the country charts this week, and Wilson was the voice he needed to elevate and take the song to new places. It was written in 2020, during a time when the world needed more honesty. Jelly Roll recorded the song solo at first and had done everything he could for it, and knew it needed a woman’s perspective to give it new life. Wilson was having a hot steak so he asked her to sing on it and couldn’t believe how big the song had become.
Jelly Roll spent only 37 days at home last year. He feels extremely fortunate to be able to play his music around the world for people, but he’s exhausted. He called it a gift and a curse. With all the success he’s had, he has a new appreciation for being present. He knew early on that he was not going to be a great entertainer, that he was meant to be a great connector, so he focused on connection with people through his songs and shows. Before he started making country music, he was doing Hip-Hop and had no idea he could sing. Still to this day he considers himself a bad singer and is constantly developing his voice. He shared he’s changed, but his heart and his music hasn’t. Jelly Roll’s face tattoos have made him very recognizable, so it’s been hard for him to go out and do normal things. He also joked that he’s so big you can see him from the back, but it’s been a cool experience because he loves people and making them happy. But when he needs a break from it all, the best way for him to recharge and ground himself is to read and play video games.
Jelly Roll is going to perform a few songs and speak with inmates at a jail in Flint, Michigan, on December 5th. He’s played between 20 to 30 jails this year and hopes his visits serve as inspiration that the inmates there can turn their life around like he did. He noted that the Flint, Michigan jail has a barber program so he’s going to let them cut his hair as well. It took a few years for Jelly Roll to adjust to life outside of prison. He recently went back to the jail and the old halfway house he was in and realized that 13 years later he still can’t do certain things because it reminds him of his time in jail. He won’t play Spades or dominions and won’t eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos because they were a big commodity in jail. He realized those things would stick with him forever because it was such a present part of his life while he was in and out of the system for 8 years.
A quote that Jelly Roll heard this year that changed his perspective was, “If we think the purpose of life is to be happy, that’s so narcissistic of us. The purpose of life is to be useful.” He just wants to be a man of service and hopes his story and dedication to give back helps. For a long time, he used to walk into rooms and bring the energy down, so now he’s happy that he brings the energy up and gets to make others happy while helping them. He and his wife, Bunnie XO have a safe space together and he called her his best friend. He loves knowing he can call her about anything and laugh together. She is his biggest inspiration and motivation and everything to him.
Jelly Roll is playing 17 more shows this year. For more information, follow Jelly Roll on Instagram @JellyRoll615.