Jelly Roll Gets Emotional Headlining CMA Fest Just Steps From The Jail Where He Once Served Time

Terry Wyatt / Stringer / Getty Images

Jelly Roll headlines night three of the 51st annual CMA Fest in Nashville

CMA Fest is a four-day music festival that takes over downtown Nashville, Tennessee every June. The event is considered to be one of the biggest events in country music, drawing an estimated 90,000 attendees per day and showcasing more than 300 artists.

The star-studded lineup of performers for the weekend included Luke Bryan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cody Johnson, HARDY, Lainey Wilson, and more. Jelly Roll, who is a Nashville native, had the honor of closing out the show on Saturday night, June 8th.

In addition to headlining, Jelly Roll served as co-host alongside Ashley McBryde for the CMA Fest television special, which will air in July.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Country Music Association (@cma)

Jelly Roll gets emotional as he reflects on how far he has come

In his younger years and prior to turning his life around, Jelly Roll served time at the Davidson County Juvenile Correctional Facility, which is located next door to Nissan Stadium, where the concert took place. He regularly shares the struggles of his past and now advocates for at-risk youth.

During his set, Jelly Roll acknowledged his upward journey to one of country music’s biggest stages, just a stone’s throw away from a significant location in his troubled past. The 39-year-old asked the CMA Fest crowd to sing loud enough for the young adults in the facility to hear. He knows they can hear, he says, because he was once one of them.

“I was in and out of jail, I was in and out of drug addiction, and tonight I am headlining CMA Fest.” 

Jelly Roll paused and let the tears stream down his face as he took in the emotion of the moment. The crowd erupted in cheers of support. He continued:

“I am here to tell you that whatever you want to do in your life, you can do it. I don’t give a **** what anybody says to you.” 

The rapper-turned-country singer then dedicated his hit song “Son of A Sinner” to “all the people that live between right and wrong.”

Watch Jelly Roll’s emotional speech below (warning: some language may not be suitable for all ages).  

And hear Jelly Roll’s song “Son of a Sinner” below! 

Want to save this article?

Get this sent to your inbox, plus, get new articles & videos from us every week!

Sponsors / Partners

Interested in becoming a partner?

Contact us for more info

Unapologetically Country

Receive daily updates with the best country music videos, news, and more!