Friday night, superstar-in-the-making Jelly Roll will storm Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, headlining a marquee hometown show and using the proceeds to benefit the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center, where he himself was incarcerated as a teen.
“You couldn’t write a Cinderella story cooler than this,” the singer tells Billboard ahead of the show. “Saying that I have a headlining show at Bridgestone while I have a top-ten at country radio. I look at it like it’s my introduction party to Nashville, even though I was born here.”
Jelly -- who hinted at some special surprises and guests during tonight’s set -- says he hopes his story will inspire others.
“I think what I think I represent is just a beacon of hope,” the singer continues. “...I just feel like I represent the guy who looks at himself in the mirror every day and goes, ‘Yeah, guys like me don’t make it.’”
He goes on to say that the decade between ages 14 and 24 were rocky for him, and that he spent quite a while either incarcerated or dealing drugs. While those were dark times, his stint in the youth detention center also provided him his first real introduction to music.
“A lot of what we heard was just rapping to each other, and that got me involved in the art form,” he says, pointing out that the detention center is where he had his first rap battle. “It was our only source of entertainment. Adult jails at least get headphones.”
Jelly’s breakout country hit, “Son of a Sinner,” is currently inside the top ten at country radio.