Jelly Roll’s journey to success in the music industry didn’t come easy. Prior to launching his career, he had been in and out of juvenile centers between the ages of 14 and 24. But last month, he sold-out Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, his largest show to date. To him, the show was a homecoming, a celebration of how far he’s come, and a reason to give back to incarcerated youth in hopes his story will inspire them. He recently visited the cell he spent 18 months in 22-years ago. During his time there, he thought he threw his whole life away, now he looks at it with pride knowing he was able to turn his life around. When he’s in town, he tries to visit the juvenile center once a week to show the inmates love. He shared that no one did that when he was in there, but that’s why he goes in hopes his story will connect with people and inspire them to know they can turn their life around.
We asked him about what his advice he has for the Chrisleys, who will be going to jail later this month for their roles in federal bank fraud and tax evasion. He shared to keep your faith in God and make the best of the time in there. He explained that how you chose to spend your time in prison will make or break you as a person. Getting letters in jail is important too. Anyone showing they care is big.
His debut country song “Son of a Sinner” came together unexpectedly with co-writer Ernest. He was throwing a party when Ernest stopped by his house while waiting for his food order. He grabbed his guitar and started playing. They had no intentions of writing a song, but it all came together in about 20 minutes before Ernest left to get his food. He called him the next day to finish the song and knew it was going to be something special. “Son of a Sinner” is about to become his first country number-one. To celebrate, he got his mother full-time care with a nurse, so she doesn’t have to go to a nursing home. And for himself, he has a new chain on the way and got a new tattoo of a rock to celebrate playing Red Rocks Amphitheater.
These days, a normal day for Jelly Roll is focused around his calendar. There’s his tour schedule and his home schedule. When he’s on tour he stays up until 6 or 7 in the morning and wakes up around 4 in the afternoon to have breakfast and get ready for the show that night. When he’s on his home schedule, he’s in dad mode. He hangs out with his kids and wife, writes some songs and plays video games.
He’s working on new music and hopes to have a new album out this Spring. He released the first single from it called “Neon Favor” and is excited for people to hear the new music he’s been working on. He has a different process of writing songs than most. He doesn’t believe in writing a full record, instead he likes to write pieces of songs and then focus on whatever sounds the strongest. He rather write three choruses and then focus on whichever sounds the catchiest to him still a week later.
Jelly Roll had a number one song on the rock charts a few months ago, and his shows aren’t your traditional country concert. There is a mix of hip-hop, rock and country. When asked if he still has to work hard to convince people he’s country, he hopes he always will work hard to convince people they can change, and reform can happen.
Jelly Roll has an ABC documentary in the works expected out later this year.