Jelly Roll still has some obstacles that even he can’t overcome. The reigning CMA New Artist of the Year has had hit singles in countries all over the world, countries he can’t visit because of his felony conviction, for armed robbery, from events that took place when he was still a teenager.
“This felony carries with me,” Jelly Roll told CBS Sunday Morning. “It’s sad. It prohibits me from a lot, and a lot of stuff that I didn’t think it was going to prohibit me from, but it really does prohibit me a lot. I finally got a passport, and I was so excited that America was wililng to let me leave. And I didn’t realize that other countries had to let me come. That’s my new hurdle.
“We had a No. 1 in Australia for three weeks this year,” he continued. “We could probably go to Australia and do arenas, and I’m not able to go right now. We could probably go to the UK and do arenas, and I can’t go. We could probably go to Canada and do arenas, but they won’t let me go. So it’s so funny that, here I am becoming a global artist, and I’m restricted still to my own yards.”
Jelly Roll spoke to CBS Sunday Morning from the jail cell he once inhabited. He still returns to prisons, halfway homes and more, this time to offer a message of inspiration to others that they, like he did, can turn their lives around.
“The windshield is bigger than the rear-view mirror for a reason, because what’s in front of us is so much more important than what’s behind us,” Jelly Roll recently told inmates in Michigan, who were graduating from a program aimed at teaching them skills needed for employment. “For you it might be welding, for you it might be barbering. Whatever it is, find that thing. And it might be just starting with simply being a good father.”
As someone who once thought his life was without hope, and he was destined to spending his days in and out of the prison system, it’s important for him to share a message of hope wherever he goes.
“I’m trying to just encourage, inspire and entertain, the 39-year-old explained. “I’m just trying to get you free for a minute. When I go to juveniles, I’m trying to get you to understand that you’re loved.”
For a long time, even after he started having success, Jelly Roll didn’t believe he was worthy of all the awards, accolades and recognition he was receiving. But now, the two-time Grammy Awards nominee is starting to accept, albeit slowly, that it’s his hard work that is paying off for him, and that he is worthy of all that is happening to him.
“I’m starting to [believe it],” he says. “I didn’t at first. And I’m still dealing with imposter stuff. I’m still dealing with talking to my therapist about that: Do I really deserve this? I’m still a guy that’s haunted by my past. There’s a very dark hallway between my ears.”
Jelly Roll just celebrated his third No. 1 hit, with “Save Me,” a duet with Lainey Wilson. He’s back at radio with “Halfway to Hell.” Find all of Jelly Roll’s music and upcoming shows at JellyRoll615.com.