Jelly Roll On the Past He Can’t Escape: ‘I Get Death Threats’

It might come as a surprise, but not everyone is a fan of Jelly Roll. The Nashville native has a by now well-publicized story of transformation and redemption, trading in prison walls for concert stages. But his story is rare, leaving a life of crime and addiction in favor of healthier choices, and it doesn’t sit well with those who were not able to escape the life he did.

“Somebody looked at me the other day and said, “Jelly Roll, I haven’t met one person that doesn’t like you. Do you have any enemies?” Jelly Roll tells Apple Music Country’s Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen. “I said, ‘Yes, I do, I have 20 of them, and they all live in the same neighborhood. And they all hate that I’m successful in their soul.’ I get death threats… I have to hire extra security. I have people from my past contact me all the time and feel like I owe them something. I mean, it’s just insane.”

Jelly Roll might have people out to hurt him, but he understands their anger and frustration. By his own admission, his story is unlikely, and no one knows that more than he does.

“That’s the problem with the Jelly Roll story, is that as much as it’s heart touching … it’s easy for me to say I’m a changed man,” the “Save Me” singer admits. “I’ve let this stuff go. But there were 15 years there that I was just a horrible human. I made horrible decisions, I didn’t do right by people. There’s a lot there. The problem is that’s a true story. And what I’ve learned is people that didn’t go on to change their life and do better hate that I did. And that’s just a part of it too.”

Jelly Roll wrote all 13 songs on his Whitsitt Chapel album, including “Hungover in A Church Pew,” “Behind Bars,” “Dancing With The Devil” and more. It’s where he feels most like himself, more than any other aspect of his career.

“I’m a songwriter above everything,” Jelly Roll acknowledges. “I think people don’t understand that if a sweet old lady catches me in a grocery store and she goes, ‘Well, you’re an interesting looking young man, what do you do for a living?’ My instinct is not to say I’m an artist, I’m a singer, I instinctually go, ‘I’m a songwriter.’ So I love songwriters; that’s my favorite hang to be honest.”

Due to his love of songwriting, both his and others, Jelly Roll just dropped a previously-unreleased song, “Dragging These Roots,” as part of Apple Music’s Lost & Found. The new platform highlights songwriters, and previously-unreleased songs, by pairing artists with songs that have never been heard before, such as “Dragging These Roots,” which was written by Ben Hayslip, Josh Thompson and Jesse Frasure.

“Immediately it was like, ‘Hey man, this is shining a light to old songs and songwriters.’ I was in,” Jelly Roll says. “I didn’t have to be sold on nothing else …  I was like, ‘Oh, this is for songwriters, I should do this. Oh, this is about songs that got overlooked. I should do this. Oh, there’s a song written by Jesse Frasure in there, I got to do this’  So it just started becoming a no-brainer.”

“Dragging These Roots” is available in Spatial Audio on Apple Music. Jelly Roll’s Backroad Baptism Tour kicks off on Friday, July 28, joined by a rotating list of opening acts, including Ashley McBrydeChase RiceStruggle Jennings, Caitlynne Curtis, Elle King, Merkules, Three 6 Mafia, Yelawolf and Josh Adam Meyers. Find Whitsitt Chapel and all of Jelly Roll’s music and upcoming shows at

Read ‘Jelly Roll: 11 Things to Know About the Reformed Singer’ here.