When it comes to celebrities and their offspring, sometimes it takes a while for kids to connect the dots that their parents are bigger than just the title of “mom” or “dad.” And for Jelly Roll, that rings true.
The genre-bending artist, 38, told Taste of Country in a recent interview that it wasn’t until he sold out Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in late 2022 that his teenage daughter Bailee Ann began to take notice of her daddy’s success.
“She’s Dealing With It Well” Jelly Roll Said Of His Daughter’s Reaction To Fame
Speaking about his baby girl’s reactions to his rise in country music, Jelly Roll said, “She’s dealing with it well. The cool thing is she didn’t realize it was happening until now. Weirdly enough, no matter how successful I’ve been on the independent level, it’s like playing the Bridgestone (Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena), and stuff like that has made her go, ‘OK, dad’s on fire! This is a big deal.’”
Since headlining a show at the Bridgestone Arena, Jelly Roll, whose real name is Jason DeFord, has continued to stay on fire, drawing more and more fans with his authenticity, sheer talent, and music, which often speaks to those who have dealt with addiction, pain and loss. Already, he has topped both the country and the rock charts with his hits, “Son Of A Sinner” and “Dead Man Walking,” respectively. He also recently broke the record for the longest reign on Billboard’s Emerging Artist chart.
And, in a way, Jelly Roll has his daughter to thank for that.
Jelly Roll Admits His Daughter Bailee Changed His Life
In fact, the day he was informed that he had a daughter who had been born, Jelly Roll, who spent over a decade in and out of the jail system, decided to make a permanent change for the better. That day, he chose to find his way out of the system for good.
“I could no longer be selfish…. There was something that was solely relying on me,” Jelly Roll, who openly shares information about his past, told 105.7 The Point. “I knew that that was an important task. So I wanted to take it seriously. And I did. I take it very seriously to this day. She’s 14 years old. My wife [Bunnie XO] and I have had full custody of her for seven years, as soon as [we] got together.”
Jelly Roll recently swept the 2023 CMT Music Awards, taking home trophies in all three categories for which he was nominated. They include Male Video of the Year, Male Breakthrough Video of the Year, and the CMT Digital-First Performance of the Year, all for his debut No. 1 smash, “Son Of A Sinner.” He also walked the CMT Music Awards red carpet with his wife Bunnie XO.
“I Think She’s Just Proud Of Me”
While Jelly Roll didn’t mention his daughter in his acceptance speeches, he did take a moment to share his gratitude for her afterward, telling Entertainment Tonight that she has “changed my life in so many ways.”
“I think she’s just proud of me,” Jelly Roll said. “She knows the story. She knows how real it is. I’m just proud of her.”
“I just kept thinking, you’re gonna forget everybody, so just speak from the heart,” he recalled of the night of the awards ceremony. “And I’m sorry, my daughter most importantly, I wanted to thank her, and I forgot to, and I love you, Bailee Ann, so much. I thought about it the moment I walked off stage. You’ve changed my life in so many ways. But it’s just unreal. This is bigger than just a single award for us. We came from nothing.”
He Shares A Duet Titled “Tears Could Talk” With His Daughter Bailee
While his focus is set on being a role model and acceptable father to his little girl, fans have gotten to see Bailee Ann step into the limelight and her daddy’s shoes.
The Antioch native has previously brought his daughter out on stage as a guest during various concerts, including one at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Texas as part of a tour that included Shinedown and John Harvie. The two treated fans to their daddy/daughter duet “Tears Could Talk” from Jelly Roll’s 2010 A Beautiful Disaster album.
“It’s awesome because she’s 14 now, right? So she can fly out on the weekend and come hang out,” Jelly Roll says of having his daughter on the road. “It was a little rougher when she was young, but now she’s like a little roadie. She loves music, she plays the piano and the guitar. She’s also into the drama stuff and the theater stuff at school. She’s finding her way to express herself, and I encourage that. So I think it helps.”
In July, Jelly Roll will embark on his upcoming Backroad Baptism Tour, following the release of his country album, Whitsitt Chapel, due out on June 2.