There was not a dry eye in sight at the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday (June 11) evening. Multi-platinum performer Craig Morgan stepped into the legendary wooden circle to deliver his chart-topping hit “Almost Home.” Before he began his 2002 ballad, he invited country newcomer Jelly Roll [Jason DeFord] to the stage to accompany him on the track.
Jelly Roll’s unconventional upbringing turned him into the successful genre-bending artist he is today. The heavily tatted singer was only 14 years old when he started to make questionable decisions, leaving him in and out of the juvenile justice system.
While navigating challenging times, the Nashville native attended a show at the Opry featuring Morgan. As Jelly Roll sat within the church-like pews, the military veteran’s “Almost Home” consumed the sacred venue.
“Jelly Roll shared that he had come to the Grand Ole Opry one night during a hard time in his life, and he watched Craig step into the circle and sing ‘Almost Home,’” shared the official Opry Instagram account. “And the song deeply moved him and inspired him.”
The sentimental show served as a full-circle moment for the fast-rising star. The two tackled the early 2000s hit and lured listeners in with their chill-provoking harmonies. However, Jelly Roll solidified his place within the genre with his soulful pipes and distinctive country-rock blend.
Following the jaw-dropping act that is destined to go down in history, Morgan surprised Jelly Roll with a heartfelt keepsake. The chart-topping artist personally penned the lyrics of “Almost Home” and framed the sheet music for the crossover artist.
“You inspired me,” Morgan pointed out while presenting the gift. “I knew how important that song was to you. So, I hand-wrote a set of lyrics for you to the song and signed it for you. I want you to hang this up next to all the gold-platinum records that you have.”
As tears began to swell in Jelly Roll’s eyes – ticket-holders praised his growth as an individual and musician with a ringing round of applause. Following the career milestone, the musician took to his Instagram stories to thank the country community.
“Thank you again to everyone who came out to the Grand Ole Opry,” Jelly Roll shared in a selfie-style video. “It was an unreal experience. I see y’all out there. It meant so much to me,” he added with gratitude.
Although Jelly Roll was born and raised in Nashville, he relatively recently leaned into his country roots with “Son Of A Sinner.” Jelly Roll’s vulnerability was effortlessly pushed to the forefront of the 2021 hit, as it conveys his complex struggles with addiction. It was his old-world storytelling that immediately resonated with fans, shooting the track to the top 30 on the Billboard Country Music chart and became the most-added song on country radio upon impact. The rapper turned country crooner co-wrote the sonically pleasing ballad alongside ERNEST and David Ray Stevens. While dipping his toes in country, his single “Dead Man Walking” scored the No.1 spot on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart.
While relishing in his new profound success, Jelly Roll plans to use his powerful platform and voice to help at-risk children. The hitmaker is set to take Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on December 9, 2022 for a benefit concert. 100 percent of the proceeds will go towards building a music center for a local juvenile detention facility. The friendly giant told “The Bobby Bones Show,” that he would match the profits with his own money.
Until Jelly Roll provides a helping hand to those in need, he will be hitting the road with Brantley Gilbert on the Son Of The Dirty South Tour. The nationwide trek will kick off on June 30 in Jacksonville, Florida, and will wrap in late August.
Jelly Roll was not the only one honored at the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night, as critically acclaimed musician Don Schlitz and Charlie McCoy was asked to be a member of the prestigious institution by long-time friend Vince Gill.