Jelly Roll Makes Surprise Visit To Inmates At Chesterfield County Jail Following Viral TikTok: ‘We Need A Favor’

Jelly Roll took time to “spread some love” at the Virginia jail.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

August 14, 2023

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Jelly Roll; Photos Courtesy TikTok, Instagram

Over the weekend, Jelly Roll took a break from his busy touring schedule to bring some joy and inspiration to a group of inmates involved in the Helping Addicts Recover Progressively (HARP) Program at Chesterfield County Jail.

Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard is responsible for starting this voluntary jail-based treatment and recovery program to help inmates who struggle with addiction. Since its inception in 2016, the program has seen great success and has even earned worldwide recognition. 

The members of this positive group are often seen posting clips of themselves to social media, sharing their steps to recovery. Recently the group has been reaching out to Jelly Roll in particular, asking for him to pay them a visit and give them a “hope shot.”

“Jelly Roll we need a favor!” the group wrote on a TikTok that has garnered more than 570,000 views. “We need you to stop by the Chesterfield County Jail… We need you to come through with a hope shot, speak life, love, strength and hope.”

Watch

As a former inmate himself, the rapper turned country artist has always been open about his time in prison and his own battle with addiction. So when he heard that these inmates were not only fans of his music but also of his life-changing story, he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to visit this group and see what the program is all about.

“Spread Some Love”

On Saturday, August 12, Jelly Roll stepped into the room full of prisoners and instantly became teary-eyed as he heard them chanting his name. The inspiring moment was captured on video and shared on the program’s account as well as on Jelly Roll’s social media pages. 

“First of all let me just say, I heard y’all needed a favor,” he said, earning a round of hoots and hollers. 

Jelly Roll went on to express his excitement for seeing a program like HARP find so much success among the inmates looking to change their lives for the better. 

“I don’t think y’all even realize the impact that y’all are having. Whenever I was in here, we didn’t have a program like this, we didn’t have people like us come talk to us,” he explained.

For the remainder of the visit, Jelly Roll led a sing-along of his fan favorites “Save Me” and “Son of a Sinner” and posed for photos with the inmates. 

The group put their arms around each other and swayed from side to side as they poured their hearts into every note of the tunes alongside the award-winning country artist. It quickly became clear that the power of music is incredibly alive in this program, and the surprise appearance from Jelly Roll served as a further reminder that their lives are not defined by their past mistakes.  

@harptiktok

@Jelly Roll your lyrics speak to our souls! Thank you for sharing them with us.

♬ original sound – HARPTOK

“Who You Were Is Not Who You Are”

At the end of the documentary-style clip, the “Need a Favor” singer reflected on this visit and admitted, “I’ve never been to a jail where the energy level was this high.”

“Somebody told me this and it changed my whole life – ‘who you were is not who you are,’” he continued before stressing that HARP needs to be expanded “worldwide.”

Jelly Roll may be an award-winning singer/songwriter now, but he didn’t have an easy journey to success. He was just 15 when he entered the juvenile justice system after attempting armed robbery. 

Jelly Roll performs at the VIP Stage at Nissan Stadium on Friday, June 9 during CMA Fest 2023 in downtown Nashville; Photo Courtesy CMA
Jelly Roll performs at the VIP Stage at Nissan Stadium on Friday, June 9 during CMA Fest 2023 in downtown Nashville; Photo Courtesy CMA

“It was a heinous crime, admittedly. It was horrible. We robbed a couple of guys for some weed, but they called the police because we took some money and stuff,” he shared on Joe Rogan’s podcast while promoting his recently released documentary titled Jelly Roll: Save Me.  

Regret

As a result of this crime, he spent most of his young adult years in prison.

“I regret it every day of my life,” he continued. “I spent my 15th, my 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th birthdays incarcerated. “My daughter inevitably, by the grace of God, will get a car on her 16th birthday. You know, like the dream sh*t – with the ribbon. It’s gonna be a big moment. But they didn’t even give me an extra piece of cake for dinner. You know what I mean? Like, I didn’t have a guard tell me happy 15th, 16th birthday. You don’t get a family visit. I missed high school completely. I think I was in high school for like… six weeks.”

Now the Nashville native is using the platform he’s gained from his growing music career to give back to his community and especially those who have found themselves in similar situations, like the members of HARP. 

Jelly Roll; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Jelly Roll; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

On Tour Now

Jelly Roll is currently in the midst of his 44-date headlining Backroad Baptism Tour. This trek kicked off on July 28 with a sold-out show at Bank Plus Amphitheater in Southaven, Mississippi and runs through Saturday, October 14, where he will wrap up in Tampa, FL. 

Hosted by Josh Adam Meyers, Jelly Roll’s Backroad Baptism Tour features support from Ashley McBryde, Caitlynne Curtis, Chase Rice, Elle King, Merkules, Struggle Jennings, Three 6 Mafia and Yelawolf on select dates.

In the midst of his headlining tour, Jelly Roll will also serve as support on several dates of Eric Church’s The Outsiders Revival Tour. 

For a complete list of tour dates, visit Jelly Roll’s official website HERE.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.