Jelly Roll Says Becoming a Father Was His ‘Damascus Road Experience’

Jelly Roll is unsure where he would be without his daughter, Bailee. The singer-songwriter was in prison when he found out he had a daughter, an event that became the impetus for the change he desperately needed in his life.

“I always compare it to the Bible, the story about the Damascus Road experience, where this figure named Paul turned from Saul to Paul,” Jelly Roll tells Fox & Friends. “And it’s almost like he separated the two things from that day forward. From that day forward, I looked at the old me as a different person than Bailee’s father.”

While still incarcerated, Jelly Roll vowed to either go to community college or pursue music. Although the career paths might be vastly different, the end result of what he was trying to accomplish was the same.

“I wanted to matter,” the 38-year-old maintains. “More than anything, I wanted to be an example. I wanted to be the man that she wants to look to date one day, ’cause that’s what our daughters look to us [for]. I just knew that I wanted to be a father, and that was important to me.”

Jelly Roll decided it was music that he wanted to pursue the most, although he hit plenty of roadblocks in his pursuit. Fortunately, those who tried to deter him only became the fuel he needed to work even harder to make his dreams come true.

“[They said] everything from my voice wasn’t strong enough … that fat people wouldn’t be accepted in the music business, that my background was going to hinder me from anybody taking me seriously,” Jelly Roll recalls. “Somebody once told me, ‘If your tattoos just looked a little better.’ I was like, ‘Well, we had limited resources in jail, so …'”

Jelly Roll began as a rapper, but he always knew he was pulled to country music. While his childhood was hard, it did instill in him a love of country music, thanks to his mother.

“Country music is my soul,” Jelly Roll says. “My mother introduced me to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson when I was a kid, and all through the ’90s, you just heard Garth Brooks blaring out of our house. I’ve seen Garth Brooks live more than anybody on earth.”

Jelly Roll just celebrated his second No. 1 hit, with “Need A Favor,’ the debut single from his  2023 Whitsitt Chapel album. The song was an honest look, from his perspective, at his own complicated relationship with faith, and his own attempt to remove himself from the past that continued to haunt him.

“I think it just touches to the core of the spirit of shame,” Jelly Roll explains. “I think it was an honest cry that people need — we all need to feel but have never said out loud. To say, ‘I feel too shattered beyond repair. Life has broken a lot of my dreams.’ But I’m also here on Fox & Friends to tell y’all, you can turn anything around.”

Jelly Roll is currently on his Backroad Baptism Tour. Find all of Jelly Roll’s music and upcoming shows at

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