Jelly Roll has been making music for many years now. He started out in hip hop, then went into rock, and is now setting his sights on country music. He stopped by The Bobby Bones Show to share some of his story, and talk about his connections to Nashville and country music.
While Jelly Roll is not his legal name, it was the name his mother gave him when he was a young, "chubby kid" and it stuck. Jelly Roll currently has the number 1 song on the rock charts with "Dead Man Walking," which he’s very excited about. Lately though he’s been focused on putting together a full blown country album. He considers himself a singer/songwriter so he doesn’t tend to stick to one genre of music. He’s written with Brantley Gilbert and Ernest in recent months, and Ernest was one of the co-writers on Jelly Roll’s new country song "Son Of A Sinner." The song is Jelly Roll really leaning into his roots. He is from Antioch, Tennessee so he has always wanted to be a country artist.
Whenever fans catch a Jelly Roll show, they get every kind of music, plus a DJ to give it all the "old school" vibe. This year Jelly Roll is headed out on 10 tour dates with Gilbert, and 30 dates with Shinedown. When asked how he got together with Gilbert, Jelly Roll shared that people kept telling both of them that they needed to meet one another so they finally made it happen. He also has a friendship with The Rock. Turns out The Rock has deep roots in Nashville, and he heard one of Jelly Roll’s songs. He wanted to make a video to it, and ever since that video happened, the two have been friends. The Rock was the first one to congratulate Jelly Roll on his Opry debut.
Jelly Roll has a very inspiring story that he loves to share in hopes of connecting with people. He comes from a middle lower class community where he was the youngest child of 4. His dad was a meat salesman for his own family company called DeFord Wholesale Meats, and his mom struggled with addiction and mental health. He spent about 12 years in and out of the jail system until he had an awakening moment sitting in his jail cell. A guard knocked on his cell door to tell him that he had a daughter. That moment made Jelly Roll realize that because of the good father he had, he wanted to be a good father to his daughter. After getting out of jail, Jelly Roll admitted he wasn’t qualified to do much more than talk and sing. So he focused on making music. Some of his music career was also inspired by his mother, because music really changed her life when she was going through all of her things. So he wanted to make music that would impact others like songs impacted his mother.
Now Jelly Roll is married to Bunnie, and they have children together as well as full custody of Jelly Roll’s daughter. He and Bunnie are the best of friends, and he joked that he can’t surprise her with anything. When it comes to parenting, Jelly Roll said that he focuses on having an open dialogue and being honest with his kids. His daughter is his "little homie, my road dog," he likes to keep her close to him and help her grow.
When looking at Jelly Roll, fans will see a lot of tattoos particularly on his face. His first ever face tattoo of a cross and teardrop was done while he was in prison. And his son’s name "Noah" is tattooed above his eyebrow. He also really enjoys alcoholic drinks, especially tequila. That’s why he enjoys golf so that he can drink at any time of the day and no one can judge him. He does not enjoy golf for the clothes though, they make him feel very goofy. The only time he will ever wear a nice shirt is to play the Opry.
Jelly Roll will be doing a show in Nashville later this year where 100% of the proceeds will go to building a music center for the local juvenile detention center. Not only that, he plans to match the proceeds with his own money. He is super passionate about helping young kids get out of the judicial system cycle and is sure to put his money where is mouth is.