Jelly Roll had a surprise up his sleeve when he took the stage to close out the 2023 New Faces of Country Music show on Wednesday night (March 15) in downtown Nashville. The rapper and country singer revealed the details of his forthcoming debut country album on stage during his triumphant performance.

Jelly Roll is set to release Whitsitt Chapel on June 2 via Stoney Creek Records. He titled the album after his childhood church in Nashville, and he offered the industry-only crowd of radio programmers, journalists and other country music insiders a pair of new tracks during his performance, calling Brantley Gilbert and Struggle Jennings to the stage to join him on a collaboration titled "Behind Bars."

Jelly Roll's set was the highlight of the annual industry showcase, which caps off the yearly Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. The New Faces show has been a rite of passage for almost every A-level country artist going back decades, but Wednesday night's show offered quite a different energy than years past due to Jelly Roll's outsider status in the industry. That became insider status right before everyone's eyes as the crowd of seen-it-all country radio insiders stood on their feet for his entire set like excited fans from out of town.

The performance represented an unexpected changing of the guard in country music, which tends to be conservative in what it will embrace and endorse. As recently as five years ago, absolutely nobody in country music could have predicted that the new face of country music in 2023 would be covered in tattoos — and, frankly, if anyone had entered the stage in years past by addressing the assembled crowd, "What's up, motherf---ers," security might very well have escorted them off the premises.

Other highlights of Jelly Roll's set included his opening song — a new track titled "Halfway to Hell" — as well as his career-altering No. 1 hit, "Son of a Sinner," his current single, "Need a Favor," and his closing number, "Save Me."

Jelly Roll's show-closing performance capped off a night of strong showings from the other 2023 New Faces. Frank Ray turned in an energetic, tight and satisfying set that showcased him as one of the most purely entertaining artists in country music today, while Jackson Dean's rough-and-ready performance offered a mix of vocal gravel and an unexpectedly sweet falsetto.

Priscilla Block's set was an endearing mix of empowerment and self-deprecation, and Nate Smith was a revelation, giving one of the best sustained vocal performances to grace the New Faces stage in years.

Jelly Roll is set to embark on his headlining 2023 Backroad Baptism Tour in July. The track list for Whitsitt Chapel is to be announced. See the album cover below.

BBR/Stoney Creek Records

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