Jelly Roll + Wife Bunnie Rocked by Two Family Deaths Ahead of CMA Awards
"It's really hard, but it's also a release of emotion and energy, so it's almost therapeutic," he tells Taste of Country's Evan Paul when asked how he performs on the same day as tragedies like these. "We're also in a place now where we're talking about eight, 10, 12,000 people waiting for you, man. Babysitters and hotels — I know they understand, but I never wanna leave them hanging."
On Twitter, Jelly Roll shared that a young man he's always referred to as his nephew was shot and killed in South Nashville late last month. Then, on Nov. 3, Bunnie said "her final goodbyes" to her mother, later confirming she'd died in an Instagram post. The couple have been married for six years and together help raise Jelly Roll's daughter.
"I woke up this morning to a call that a kid I’ve called my nephew for most of his life was shot and killed in South Nashville last night," he wrote. "My heart is hurt, my spirit is low, my mind is scattered."
One could even include actor Leslie Jordan's death as a third heartbreak Jelly Roll has faced in the last two weeks. The two bonded early on, and the rock-rap-country singer remembered Jordan as a "beautiful soul."
"You supported me early on when people were still confused by me," he wrote on Oct. 24. "Thank you so much for your life and the many smiles you put on our faces for years. Love you always Leslie- REST IN PEACE my fellow hunker downer."
Jelly Roll (real name Jason DeFord) is honest about his past as a drug dealer who spent several years in jail. On Instagram, he's shared his and his wife's story in some detail. Both were coming out of toxic relationships, and both knew difficult lives that may often lead to imprisonment or death.
"A hooker and a convict held hands on one dark night in the desert and made a decision to change our lives together and go all in our dreams," he wrote on June 30. "Those same two dreamers dealt with everything life could bring them from losing friends, to having to bet the farm on every hand we was dealt, working through growing pains, dealing with the highs and the lows. Now those same two are still running strong like a couple of wild horses."
Jelly Roll's interactions on social media are overwhelmingly positive. Even dark spots like those shared above come with a silver lining. Often, he's an inspiration.
"Man— im not asking for a Pat on the back - but I show up," he tweeted on Nov. 4. "Time and time again - no matter what’s happening in my personal life, no matter how drained I am I still show up and I still lay it all on the floor every time… every single I time I leave it all right on the floor."
Fans are following his lead and responding to his songs and story.
Look for Jelly Roll and Bunnie to walk the 2022 CMA Awards red carpet on Nov. 9. He says he'll be dressed in all black like Johnny Cash, and she'll be wearing something sheer and sexy.