In the Thursday, April 27, edition of The New York Times, journalist Alan Light profiled an unlikely star for the historic paper: Jelly Roll.
Titled “Meet Jelly Roll, the Rapper Turned Country Singer Rousing Nashville,” the profile dives into Jelly Roll’s journey from a “former addict and drug dealer” to the guy who swept the CMT Music Awards in April.
“It was an absolute dream come true, the best-case scenario, and I’ve had a worst-case scenario life up to this point,” Jelly Roll told Light. “I spent my entire childhood feeling like I didn’t belong—in every situation, I felt like the uncomfortable fat kid. So that was like my high school prom and the graduation I never had, on national television.”
Preparing for Whitsitt Chapel
On June 2, Jelly Roll will celebrate the release of his latest album, Whitsitt Chapel, named after a church located on Pleasant Hill Road in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitsitt Chapel Baptist Church was the church Jelly Roll grew up attending, and his faith journey and own spirituality will no doubt saturate the 13 tracks on the new album.
The opening lyrics to the upcoming album’s first single, “Need a Favor,” capture that journey as Jelly Roll sings, “I only talk to God when I need a favor / And I only pray when I ain’t got no prayer.“
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“My music is a constant cry for help and growth,” he said in the Times, “it tells a story of change, and I wasn’t ready for this before now.”
While Whitsitt Chapel is being heralded as Jelly Roll’s first country album, “Need a Favor” has already taken rock radio by storm this year, something Jelly Roll has recently grown accustomed to.
Among artists like Muse, Bush, Halestorm, Ghost, Falling in Reverse and Shinedown, Jelly Roll had the second most-played song on rock radio in 2022 with “Dead Man Walking” from his album, Ballads of the Broken (the No. 1 song was Three Days Grace’s “So Called Life”).
No matter how much success he’s experienced or is currently experiencing on the rock side of things, though, it’s clear that Jelly Roll has grown a huge fanbase with the country music audience.
As Light described in the Times profile, Jelly Roll “has long been studying the careers of country legends and what he can learn from their relationship to their fans.”
Jelly Roll explained, “They’ve stayed true to themselves. You know who they are, and they know who they are and who they’re singing for.”
What’s Next For Jelly Roll?
Jelly Roll has live shows scheduled throughout much of the year, including a high-profile slot at this year’s Tidalwave Music Festival in Atlantic City and two nights at the legendary Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington.
But there’s no question he’s focused on getting Whitsitt Chapel in the hands of his fans first and foremost.
“This is unreal, ya’ll, this is the biggest release of my whole life,” Jelly Roll told his fans about the new album during a 420 livestream Q&A on April 20. “I don’t have the biggest fanbase, but we are the mighty 300. This is fucking Sparta. I’ll take my little fanbase and we’ll kick another fanbase’s ass. Every time.”
More than anything else, though, it seems that Jelly Roll has a higher goal in mind beyond album releases and massive tours.
Light reveals some of this goal as he explained Jelly Roll’s hope to help those who struggle with addictions in Nashville. “He donated all the profits from [a recent show in Nashville] and, working with the local nonprofit Impact Youth Outreach, built a recording studio inside Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center,” Light wrote.
“That’s not even scratching the surface of my plan,” Jelly Roll admitted to Light. “I’m going to build halfway houses and transitional centers—that’s my real heart.”
Watch Jelly Roll’s Official Music Video For “Need a Favor”
You can read Light’s profile of Jelly Roll here and check out Jelly Roll’s complete tour schedule at this location.
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