No one is more surprised than Jelly Roll at how his life is unfolding. The Nashville native just launched his Backroad Baptism Tour, selling more than 550,000 tickets before the tour even began. While the overall success is massive, Jelly Roll sees each ticket as a lot of individual people who put forth the effort to see him perform.
“It’s a dream,” Jelly Roll tells CMT. “That’s 550,000 stories. That’s 550,000 people that felt impacted enough by me that they not only bought a ticket, they found a babysitter, and they drove to the show. They overpaid for parking. They paid too much for drinking. People probably drove in from hours outside of these towns. That’s somebody’s wife getting ready for date night.”
Jelly Roll began his career by performing in smaller venues, working his way up to his own tour. Although he is now the headliner, the 38-year-old is still amazed at how many people are working to make his Backroad Baptism Tour a success.
“I went and [saw] eight buses,” Jelly Roll marveled. “I saw eight wrapped semi-trailer trucks. It just instantly becomes different. You’re like, ‘Oh my God.’ I’ve been talking about this in such a casual way that I may have even forgotten how mega this is … We’ve almost sold out. It’s a half a million people. Less than half a million people lived in Nashville when I grew up. That’d be like the entire city of Nashville.”
For a man who once thought his future didn’t extend far beyond the prison walls where he spent much of his teenage and early adult years, his Backroad Baptism Tour is a reminder of the power of music, and of his fans.
“It’s the biggest tour we’ve ever done, and the way the record is already performing live is a testament to the fans coming out and resonating with the music,” Jelly Roll tells Nashville Lifestyles. “I think [the tour] is one of the places you really feel the impact of the music— seeing the fans, hearing their stories, and seeing the signs people make. They’re sharing a piece of their soul with us. I hope they leave feeling seen, heard, and like they’re not alone in their struggle.”
“A second No. 1 at country radio is something I wouldn’t have even allowed myself to dream about,” Jelly Roll tells Billboard. “‘Need A Favor’ has absolutely changed my life. It’s been incredible to watch the fan reaction and see what’s happening out there on the road. Thank you to everyone who has continued to believe in this song since the beginning and thank you to country radio for supporting therapeutic music like ‘Need A Favor’ since day one. It’s amazing to have your support and I’ve seen first-hand the impact the music continues to have with people across the country.”
Jelly Roll’s meteoric rise in country music also included winning three CMT Music Awards. It’s a night that will forever be etched in his mind.
“I didn’t go to prom,” Jelly Roll says. “I didn’t have a prom. I didn’t graduate. I’m sure that’s what it felt like … It was the greatest night.”
Jelly Roll’s Backroad Baptism Tour features a rotating list of opening acts, including Ashley McBryde, Chase Rice, Struggle 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 JellyRoll615.com