The 57th Annual CMA Awards were a night filled with anticipation and excitement as country music’s biggest stars gathered to celebrate the genre’s finest achievements. On Wednesday, the awards were co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, airing live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Among the many talented artists who graced the stage that evening, one name stood out in particular – Jason Bradley DeFord, professionally known as Jelly Roll, who won the New Artist of the Year.
It came as no surprise when he was crowned the winner over fellow nominees Zach Bryan, Parker McCollum, Megan Moroney, and Hailey Whitters because Jelly, 38, has been topping the musical charts with the release of his album Whitsitt Chapel featuring the single “Need a Favor.” Moreover, at the 2023 CMT Music Awards, Jelly Roll won Male Video of the Year, Male Breakthrough Video of the Year, and Digital-First Performance of the Year, all for the song “Son of a Sinner.”
During his acceptance speech, the country singer waved his award in the air and shared how thankful he was: “Nashville! I only got a second, and I’m gonna say a lot, and I’m sorry.” He continued to add, “The quickest I can say is thank you to the labels, Stoney Creek Management…you saved my life. Country radio, what’s up, baby?! I got a thousand people to thank, but most importantly, my Lord and my wife. I love you so much. You changed my life.”
Watch Jelly Roll’s entire acceptance speech for New Artist of the Year below:
With the loud cheers from the crowd, the singer also made sure to give a proper shoutout to his fellow nominees in the category, quoting, “Megan, Parker, Hailey, I love all of y’all, we’re friends. Zach Bryan, I think you are one of the hottest things on earth, not just country music, you deserve this as much as anybody else. I love you. I’m glad we’re sittin’ there partyin’ the rest of the night, baby.”
By the end of his speech, he also discussed how meaningful it was for him to win the honor, considering he turns 39 next month on Monday, December 4, 2023.
He said, “Most importantly, there’s something poetic about a 39-year-old man winning new artist of the year. I don’t know where you’re at in your life or what you’re going through, but I want to tell you to keep going, baby. I want to tell you, ‘Success is on the other side.'” He proclaimed passionately, his voice becoming louder with each line as the live audience cheered him on.
“I want to tell you, ‘It’s going to be OK!’ I want to tell you that the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror for a reason because what’s in front of you is so much more important than what’s behind you!” He concluded, “What’s in front of you is so much more important than what’s behind you. Let’s party, Nashville!” as the arena’s audience gave him a standing ovation.
In the awards, the multi-genre singer/songwriter also gave a spectacular performance, which drew more attention to his artistry, as he performed ‘Need A Favor’ with Wynonna Judd. He co-wrote the song with Rob Ragosta, Joe Ragosta, and Austin Nivarel, the latter of whom produced it. The song was sent to country radio on February 13, 2023. At last, check out the entire performance below: