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Jelly Roll Testifies In US Senate Hearing On Fentanyl Epidemic

12 January 2024 | 11:22 am | Mary Varvaris

"I am a stupid songwriter, y’all, but I have firsthand witnessed this in a way most people have not," Jelly Roll said in a Senate hearing.

Jelly Roll

Jelly Roll (Credit: Ashley Osborn)

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Jelly Roll has used his platform to make a powerful statement against fentanyl, testifying in a US Senate hearing called Stopping the Flow of Fentanyl: Public Awareness and Legislative Solutions. During his testimony, the country music star (real name Jason DeFord) urged lawmakers to limit the distribution of the addictive, synthetic opioid.

Reading a five-minute statement, Jelly Roll told the Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs that he was “nervous” to speak without his rock ‘n’ roll band backing him.

Beginning his speech by noting that during the time he spoke, someone would overdose – with a 72% chance of said overdose being fentanyl-related, he stated: “I am not here to defend the use of illegal drugs,” acknowledging the “unique paradox of his history as a drug dealer” who was previously “part of the problem”, Jelly Roll revealed that he now aims “to be a part of the solution.”

He added (per Stereogum), “I stand here as a regular member of society. I am a stupid songwriter, y’all, but I have firsthand witnessed this in a way most people have not. I encourage you all to not only pass this bill, but I encourage you to bring it up where it matters, at the kitchen table.”

The committee Jelly Roll testified before introduced the FEND Off Fentanyl Act in April 2023, which passed the Senate in July but hasn’t yet made the House. The Act aims to “impose sanctions on foreign persons involved in fentanyl trafficking and codify existing sanctions targeting illicit drug trafficking.”

During his moving testimony, Jelly Roll made mention of the “heartbreaking” impact of fentanyl that he sees at his concerts. He continued (via USA Today), “I see fans grappling with this tragedy in the form of music that they seek solace in and hope that their experiences won't befall others. They crave reassurance. These are the people I'm here to speak for, y'all.

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“These people crave reassurance that their elected officials actually care more about human life than they do about ideology and partisanship.”

Jelly Roll recently won the Country Music Association (CMA) Award for Best New Artist (which he subsequently dropped) and earned nominations for the 2024 Grammy Awards (for Best New Artist and Best Country Duo/Group Performance with Lainey Wilson).

Reacting to the Grammy nominations, Jelly Roll shared an openly emotional video where he said through tears, “The greatest honour an artist can ever hear is that they’ve been nominated for a Grammy. I got to hear that this morning. I haven’t cried like this since my daddy died. I tried making this video seven times, y’all. I love y’all, man, so fucking much.”