Jelly Roll Rules The 2023 CMT Music Awards

He also performed “Need A Favor.”

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

April 3, 2023

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Jelly Roll accepts the Male Video of the Year Award onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT)

Jelly Roll took home three belt buckles and delivered an impressive performance at the 2023 CMT Music Awards on Sunday (April 2).

The Nashville native was on hand to accept all three of his awards throughout the evening. 

Bunnie Xo and Jelly Roll attend the 2023 CMT Music Awards; Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CMT
Bunnie Xo and Jelly Roll attend the 2023 CMT Music Awards; Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CMT

CMT Hot 20 Countdown host, Cody Alan, surprised Jelly Roll with his first award as he arrived on the red carpet alongside his wife Bunnie XO. 

“What is this? I just won an award? Let’s go! What a way to start the night, baby! Let’s go. This motherf******’s heavy. Y’all just did that for real? I thought I was doing an interview,” he said. “What a way to start, baby. Cody Allen just told me that I won the award for digital first performance tonight, baby. What a way to start the night. They told me I was coming to walk the carpet.”

During the show, Jelly Roll took home the award for Breakthrough Male Video of the Year for “Son Of A Sinner.” After embracing his wife, Bunnie XO, the 39-year-old singer/songwriter took to the stage to accept the belt buckle trophy. 

“They let a loser win tonight, baby,” he shouted. “They let a loser win tonight.”

He went on to thank those who made this possible for him. “I wanna thank my record label Stoney Creek, I wanna thank my management, I wanna thank my beautiful wife, miss Bunnie DeFord. This is more than an award. First of all, this is for the fans, baby, the only fan-voted awards show in America. This is for the underdogs, baby, this is for the losers and the have-nots. God takes the impossible and makes it look small. Let’s go, baby!”

Later in the broadcast, the “NEED A FAVOR” singer was presented with the award for Male Video Of The Year for his chart-topping hit, “Son Of A Sinner.” 

“I love y’all so much. Thank you, CMT Baby. Look at that, three awards in one night,” Jelly Roll, who is now a three-time CMT Music Awards winner, said. ”I hope y’all give me a second here, I’m a little emotional. I started drinking, because I didn’t think I was gonna win again.” He went on to say, “It may have looked like it was only 30 yards, but it took me 39 years to walk from over there to right here.”

Jelly Roll then shared a motivational message with fans. 

Jelly Roll accepts the Male Video of the Year Award onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT)
Jelly Roll accepts the Male Video of the Year Award onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT)

“I want you to know that I don’t know what you’re going through and I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I know you can overcome it. I promise you, you can…and you can be whatever you want to be, I promise you that,” he added. ”I told them I wanted to be a country music singer and I’m standing here at the CMT Awards with the Male Video Of The Year, baby. When God got something for you, nothing can get him away.”

He also shouted out his mom during his acceptance speech. “Mama, I know you’re watching, Mama, Look at your baby boy,” he said.

“I wanna thank Country Radio for accepting me, knowing who I was and letting me do it my way the whole way to this stage tonight,” Jelly Roll concluded. ”That means the world to me, y’all. And I wanna thank the country music community for standing behind me and standing next to me through all this, and for everybody in this crowd. Listen close, this will be the most important thing I say tonight, we’re shutting sixth street down tonight, baby. Meet me there.”

Jelly Roll performs onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT
Jelly Roll performs onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT

Additionally, the genre-bending hitmaker also took to the stage to perform his current single, “NEED A FAVOR,” during the coveted awards ceremony. 

Joined by his full band and a choir, Jelly Roll belted out the lyrics to the tune.

“I only talk to God when I need a favor / And I only pray when I ain’t got a prayer / So, who the hell am I, who the hell am I / To expect a Savior, oh / If I only talk to God when I need a favor / But God, I need a favor / Amen, amen,” he sings on the chorus.

YouTube video

Written by Jelly Roll, Austin Nivarel, Joe Ragosta and Rob Ragosta, “Need A Favor” was released to country radio in mid-February. The song details the story of a character who turns to prayer as he’s trying to convince his love interest to stick around. He realizes that he doesn’t necessarily deserve the favor, but he’s willing to do whatever it takes at this defining moment in his life.  

“NEED A FAVOR” will appear on Jelly Roll’s upcoming new album, WHITSITT CHAPEL.

Arriving on June 2, the project is named after the church the Antioch native grew up attending and will feature 13 tracks.

WHITSITT CHAPEL serves as Jelly Roll’s debut full-length country record via BMG/Stoney Creek Records. Among the tracks featured will be his fan-favorite tune “Save Me,” “SHE,” and a collaboration with Brantley Gilbert and Struggle Jennings. 

“This album is about growth and gratitude happening in my life. I wanted to create a project that felt hopeful. I believe the worst feeling a person can have is feeling hopeless or worthless. This is therapeutic music. Real music for real people with real problems,” Jelly Roll shared in a statement.

Co-hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini, the 2023 CMT Music Awards featured performances from Blake Shelton, Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Lainey Wilson, and Tyler Hubbard. 

Additionally, the show included one-of-a-kind collaborations, including a 10th anniversary of CMT Next Women of Country celebration featuring Alanis Morissette with Lainey Wilson, Ingrid Andress, Madeline Edwards, and Morgan Wade. Gwen Stefani and Carly Pearce joined forces for a special collaboration, while Kane Brown and Katelyn Brown teamed up for the television premiere of their chart-topping duet, “Thank God.” 

The Black Crowes and Darius Rucker delivered a first-time collaboration of “She Talks To Angels,” and Wynonna Judd and Ashley McBryde will also take the stage together. 

Ashley McBryde and Wynonna Judd perform onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT)
Ashley McBryde and Wynonna Judd perform onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT)

The show also included a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan from Gary Clark, Jr. and a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute from Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash & Warren Haynes and LeAnn Rimes & Wynonna Judd as honorary “Honkettes.”

Rising stars Avery Anna, Chapel Hart, Jackson Dean, Lily Rose, Nate Smith, and Megan Moroney made their CMT Music Awards performance debut on the Ram Trucks Side Stage.  

Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, Charles Esten, Dixie D’Amelio, Dustin Lynch, HARDY, Ian Bohen + Jen Landon (Yellowstone), Jon Pardi, LeAnn Rimes, Madison Bailey (Outer Banks), Max Thieriot (Fire Country), Megan Thee Stallion, Noah Schnapp (Stranger Things), Parker McCollum, Peter Frampton, Shania Twain, Steve Howey (True Lies) and Travis Kelce appeared as presenters. 

The coveted awards show aired live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas on Sunday, April 2 at 8/7c on CBS. It was also available to stream live and on-demand via Paramount+. 

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.