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Jelly Roll ‘had a lot of time’ to write songs in prison before finding massive success in country music

Jelly Roll ‘had a lot of time’ to write songs in prison before finding massive success in country music

Jelly Roll chose to make his time spent behind bars useful by putting pen to paper and working on his craft – making music.

The 39-year-old musician admitted he spent a lot of time writing songs while serving time in jail.

"A little bit of both," Jelly Roll explained when Martin Short asked if he started writing music as a child or in jail during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." "I was always writing songs to kind of like connect with my mother because she loved music. But in jail is when I really started – I had a lot of time."

"I was like maybe I should invest this time in something positive, and I wrote a bunch of songs," he continued.


With limited resources and no access to instruments, Jelly Roll noted he made music at the time using a table.

The country music star then sang a freestyle song while using the desk on set to create his beat, much to the delight of Short and co-guest, "Glee" star Jane Lynch.

"That is fantastic," Short said while the audience cheered.

Jelly Roll also explained the moment that changed his "entire life" and led him to a different lifestyle.

"I was incarcerated as a juvenile for some horrible decisions and I ended up in kind of that rotating door of the system for like a decade," he told Short. "I had a daughter, and it changed my entire life, man. It was almost like the Damascus Road experience where Saul turned to Paul for me."


"I was incarcerated, and they knocked on my door and told me she was born. And I just wept. It's the first time I'd cried, and I can't quit crying now," Jelly Roll joked. "Now I cry if I just see a squirrel in the street. I'm like, ‘The little squirrel!’ Spent 30 years not crying, and now I can't stop."

Jelly Roll is a father to two children; daughter Bailee Ann and son Noah Buddy. The "Son of a Sinner" singer and wife Bunnie XO recently revealed they are trying to have a child, their first together.

The musician hosted CMA Fest, which aired Tuesday night, along with fellow country star Ashley McBryde. The festival originally happened from June 6 through June 9, but last night, fans got to watch from home in a televised three-hour special.

Despite sound issues during the broadcast, many were eager to see Jelly Roll in a new role.

"I've been waiting on Jelly Roll to get a hosting gig," one X user wrote. "He's a natural!"

"Can't wait to watch the CMA Fest television special! Jelly Roll and Ashley McBryde hosting is a bonus!" another added.


Jelly Roll, known formally as Jason DeFord, began his singing career in 2003. However, he did not become mainstream until 2022 with the release of "Need a Favor" and "Son of a Sinner."

"I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for what I went through. I think it empowered me. I think it gave me my voice," he told Fox News Digital at the 2023 CMAs. "It taught me a lot about overcoming. It taught me a lot about changing and the ability to change.

"I was a horrible human for decades, and to just be able to turn that around and give a message in the music and help people … and just try to give back as much as I can in every way I can is very indicative of where I came from and how important it is to me to always reach back."

Jelly Roll grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and has been open about his struggles with substance abuse.


He testified in front of U.S. lawmakers in January regarding fentanyl use. He also spent time behind bars for aggravated robbery and possession with intent to sell.

"It is important to establish earlier that I am a musician and that I have no political alliance. I am neither Democrat nor Republican. In fact, because of my past, my right to vote has been restricted," Jelly Roll testified. "Thus far, I have never paid attention to a political race in my life. Ironically, I think that makes me the perfect person to speak about this because fentanyl transcends partisanship and ideology."

He further explained, "I was a part of the problem. I am here now standing as a man that wants to be a part of [the] solution."


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