Jelly Roll is a native of Antioch, Tenn., a suburb located about 12 miles south of Nashville. On December 9, he capped a massive year by headlining Bridgestone Arena. As he spent the year crossing over from a career built on rap and into mainstream country radio, he reflected on the icing on the cake – a sellout at the arena in his hometown with thousands of fans and nearly a dozen of his closest musician friends.
In a chat with Music Mayhem, here recalls just how emotional it was as he performed for more than 15,000 people.
“My first thought was, ‘Don’t cry,’” he said. “‘Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.’”
He brought several guests out to mark the occasion, and that’s when it all got real for the “Son Of A Sinner” singer.
“It was just unreal, man,” he said. “What was crazy was reading the paperwork for the people that agreed to come out and sing with me, and seeing it like that was like, ‘Oh my God. This is huge.’ You know what I mean? For sure. Because even during rehearsal, they would all come at separate times, so you just never seen the flow of the show together. So there was a moment after the show, I was sitting in my green room where I was like, ‘I can’t believe I had Riley Green and Tech N9ne on the same show.’ My only regret that night is that I didn’t get a picture with Tech N9ne and Riley Green together.”
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All of the proceeds from the show were donated to Impact Youth Outreach, a local organization close to Jelly Roll’s heart.
“I was in the juvenile on Thanksgiving and we were feeding the kids and every one of them would walk up to the window where we were serving food out of ’em and go, ‘Jelly, are you really building studios up here?’ And that was cool to see that the buzz was already running through the juvenile.”
The funds will be used to build recording studios for at-risk youths to pursue their own dreams. He hopes he can have a hands-on role.
“When I first talked to Robert Sherill about this, I told him I didn’t wanna just put money into it,” he said. “I wanted to put some labor into it. I got back to that old unit that I was incarcerated in and looked at my old cell and I just felt such a sense of pride about what we’re doing for those kids.”
It’s a position that he couldn’t fathom when he was there himself.
“You couldn’t have told that kid sitting in B pod and cell 20 that he was going to go on and sell out the arena downtown and give all that money back to that juvenile. That was when I realized – when I was standing there looking at my old cell. And I hope that, hopefully, this sheds light on a situation that is easily glossed over. If you don’t know a kid that’s been in trouble or had a tough upbringing like that, then you don’t think about the impact that it’s having on those kids.”
Jelly Roll recently followed his crossover smash, “Son Of A Sinner,” with a powerful song about addiction titled “She.”
Additionally, Jelly Roll recently released a brand-new song “NEED A FAVOR.”