Jelly Roll has stories to tell, and shares his words of wisdom about country music.
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for what I went through. I think it gave me strength. I think it gave me my voice,” he told Fox News Digital exclusively. “Winning taught me a lot, it taught me a lot about change and being able to change.
“I was a bad person for decades, and to just change that and give a message in music and help people… I’m coming back and how important it is for me to go back.”
The “Save Me” singer, whose full name is Jason Bradley DeFord, has taken country music to the next level with his inviting and honest storytelling. He leads the pack as the most nominated male artist at the 2023 CMA Awards with five nods, including new artist of the year.
JELLY ROLL ESTABLISHED A ROLE IN COUNTRY MUSIC AFTER OVERCOMING ADDICTION AND TIME IN PRISON.
“Hearing that you have been chosen is true,” he said. “You know, I didn’t avoid … I don’t know if I even expected to be nominated, you know, and wake up and be nominated, and then be the most nominated man? And then turn around and be asked to open a reality show?”
Not only will Jelly Roll open the 57th Annual Country Music Association Awards at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, but they will also close the show with another performance.
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“On every level, it continues to be difficult,” he admitted.
WATCH: JELLY ROLL TALK ABOUT THE CMA NOMINATIONS
The “Son of a Sinner” singer has really done wonders. He grew up writing poetry in the suburbs of Nashville, and credits Johnny Cash, Bob Seger and James Taylor as musical influences, in addition to Three 6 Mafia and the hip-hop duo, UGK. He got his nickname from his mother, who also inspired him to love many types of music.
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Jelly Roll’s eclectic style and painted face is not something most country music fans are used to seeing. He started out in the music industry selling mixtapes and released more than a dozen independent catalogs before releasing his debut album, “Whitsitt Chapel,” earlier this year.
He has openly discussed his battle with addiction over the years, and at one point, he was jailed for aggravated robbery and possession with intent to sell offenses.
WATCH: JELLY ROLL PROMISES ELECTRICITY AT CMAS
“In the beginning, I did a lot of drugs. I drank a lot of codeine, cough syrup,” he told Billboard in 2021. “I took a lot of Xanax, I did a lot of cocaine, I just really got into it. I’ve been – man, I can’t remember years. And, addiction to me is more than just my problems.”
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Jelly Roll is more committed than ever to practicing what he preaches, and he told Fox News Digital that his lifestyle changes have paid off.
“The more this thing grows and the more people we help and the more I start to face my past and the things that have affected me and my mental health issues, the more I have the will to live,” he said.
“I’ve been working out. I’ve been losing weight, slowly but surely. I’m about 45-50 (pounds) down coming off the tour, going into the CMAs.”
He added, “I’m drinking less than I’ve ever drank, and I feel amazing. I’m drinking water like a fish. I’m getting it right here. I want to touch people as long as possible.”
WATCH: JELLY ROLL NEVER EXPECTED HIS SUCCESS
Jelly Roll was also nominated for male artist of the year, single of the year, music video of the year and music event of the year for “Save Me” with Lainey Wilson.
“Wednesday night, win, lose or draw, we’re going in as winners, baby,” said Jelly Roll. “The fact that we’re here, the fact that we’re the top pick, the fact that they took a risk and let us open the show … we’re going to prove, we’re going to prove to everyone that we love us, of course. And we’re going to prove the rest of the mother—– that they’re wrong.”
WATCH: JELLY ROLL SHARES INFORMATION ABOUT HEALTH JOURNEY
With success in his past and now part of his future, Jelly Roll will have a hard time convincing his younger self of what’s coming.
“If I was watching this when I was young, I would look straight at him and say, ‘You won’t believe what’s going to happen to you, you have no idea, just hold on to your seat belt, Slim. It’s ready to go crazy.’
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