Jelly Roll teased an epic performance to kick off the 2023 CMA Awards, and he did not disappoint. The singer-songwriter began the show by singing his recent No. 1 hit, “Need A Favor.” joined at the chorus by a surprise guest, Wynonna Judd, and backed by a full church choir.
“The feeling of performing at the CMA Awards is unreal in itself,” Jelly Roll said ahead of the CMA Awards. “The feeling of opening the CMA Awards is a totally different thing. They were like, ‘You’re gonna get to perform this year.’ Right then, I was like ‘No way.’ I immediately got nervous. … They called back and said, ‘We think they want you to open the show.’ I was like, ‘You’re kidding me.’ I think the only honor bigger than maybe winning a CMA is getting to open the CMAs.”
Jelly Roll also closed out the CMA Awards, singing “Love Can Build A Bridge” with K. Michelle. The two, who performed the song for A Tribute To The Judds album, were joined by a choir for the final performance of the night. Jelly Roll vowed to honor The Judds, and their lasting legacy in country music, with their iconic song.
“The ‘Love Can Build A Bridge’ tribute, to me, is the biggest honor I’ve had, ’cause I’m honoring the legacy of The Judds,” the Nashville native explained. “The opportunity to honor the story of Wynonna and Naomi — I don’t think it could be more of an honor than to do that. And I’m getting to do it next to who I think is one of the greatest vocalists of our generation.
“And, I am going to respect The Judds,” he added. “I’m going to perform with love and reference, and I’m going to step out of the way, and let K. Michelle take people to church.”
Jelly Roll won one CMA Award, for New Artist of the Year, a category he shared with Zach Bryan, Parker McCollum, Megan Moroney and Hailey Whitters.
“There is something poetic about a 39-year-old man winning New Artist of the Year,” Jelly Roll said from stage. “I don’t know where you’re at in your life or what you’re going through, but I want to tell you to keep going, I want to tell you, success is on the other side. I wanna tell you it’s gonna be okay. I want to tell you that the windshield is better than the rearview mirror, because what’s in front of you is so much more important than what’s behind you.”
Find all of Jelly Roll’s music and upcoming shows at JellyRoll615.com.