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Jelly Rolls Gets Emotional Discussing ACM Awards Win (Exclusive)

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Jelly Roll is feeling grateful to be alive after a year filled with nominations and wins for his music. 

On Thursday, the 37-year-old singer took to the stage of the 2024 ACM Awards to accept the trophy for Best Music Event along with his collaborator, Lainey Wilson, for their song “Save Me.” After the win, he popped backstage to discuss with ET’s Rachel Smith his emotional acceptance speech and why he was nearly moved to tears in the moment alongside the Yellowstone actress, 30. 

“I was so emotional because it saved me,” he shared of their meaningful single. “‘Save Me’ was really the beginning of me finding my real voice and it was kind of me stepping out of my shell and being comfortable and just being open and vulnerable.”

He added, “I always wrote vulnerable music but never to that degree and it just changed my whole life. You’ve got to remember, I dropped ‘Save Me’ in the middle of 2020, it was a really dark time, and people connected with it and I get thousands of messages about how much that song has helped people. This song meant so much to me and I was so emotional because I think tonight was the last night it qualified for any cycle. So if I didn’t win tonight, it never got what I thought it deserved.”

Jelly Roll poses with his ACM AwardGetty Images

During the live broadcast, Wilson first took the stage to deliver her own remarks following their win and quickly passed the torch over to Jelly Roll, who got up to the mic and shared that with “no pun intended,” their song really did change his life for good. 

“I’m going to try not to get emotional but no pun intended, but seriously, this song saved me,” he said on stage.”I was in a dark place, I wrote it from my soul — I knew people would connect with it.”

He continued, “One year ago today Lainey and I stood on this stage and debuted it. This song is a triple platinum record, I wrote it with a high school friend, we never thought we’d be songwriters, I never thought I’d be standing here.”

As he went on, Jelly Roll doubled down on his shock and gratitude at the honor and candidly shared where a younger version of himself thought he would end up in life. 

“I thought I would die or go to jail and I’m standing here as an ACM Award winner,” he said as the camera flashed to his wife, Bunnie XO, in the audience clapping and nodding. The Whitsitt Chapel artist previously served time behind bars before turning his life around through music. 

Jelly Roll holds his ACM Award on stage with Lainey WilsonGetty Images

Before exiting the stage after his first win of the night — the singer took one last moment to get the already-fired-up crowd even more raucous, calling out, “You hear what I’m talking about, Texas? Let’s go baby.”

Jelly Roll was honored with four nominations at the ACM Awards on Thursday, including nods in the Entertainer of the Year and Male Artist of the Year categories. The signs of recognition are just the latest after he took the GRAMMY Awards and the CMTs by storm earlier this year.

At the CMT Awards in early April, he pulled off a clean sweep in all of his nominated categories, a feat he also did in 2023. He spoke with ET’s Cassie DiLaura backstage after the wins and shared his surprise at another round of trophies he would be taking home. 

“I don’t know what to say. I’m out of words. By the last time I got up there, I was like, ‘Man, this is crazy,'” the artist shared. “It’s just unreal, man.”

Jelly Roll with a CMA AwardScott Kirkland/Disney via Getty Images

In June 2023, Jelly Roll spoke with ET and explained the importance music has played in his life and why he continues to make music for those who find themselves in a similar situation to the one that he went through before his success. 

“I think at some point in life, everything in life has let me down. But music was always my constant,” he shared. “Like, when I had nothing else, I had a boombox. When I was incarcerated, I had a set of headphones and a little radio.”

The 59th annual Academy of Country Music Awards streams live May 16 on Prime Video. Check out all the nominees and the full winners list.

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