If you've been off the grid and out of touch for a while, the hottest thing in country music is an ex-con named Jelly Roll.

Jason Bradley "Jelly Roll" DeFord, born December 4, 1984, in Antioch, Tennessee, was recently named the Country Music Association's Best New Artist. He is also up for two Grammy Awards, to be handed out in Los Angeles in February.

Jelly Roll appeals to fans of several key music genres, including hip hop, country rap, country rock, Southern hip hop and country, but what is equally appealing to fans is Jelly Roll's personal story of adversity, mistakes (which cost him time in prison), redemption, and his climb to the top from rock bottom.

A Dartmouth Couple's Chance Encounter With Jelly Roll
Getty Images for CMT

The Tennessean cites a recent post to Instagram in which Jelly Roll reacted emotionally to being nominated for a Grammy Award.

"The greatest honor an artist can ever hear is that they've been nominated for a Grammy – and I got to hear that this morning. I haven't cried like this since my daddy died," Jelly Roll wrote.

After being tried as an adult, a 16-year-old Jelly Roll, convicted of charges of aggravated robbery and dealing drugs, went to prison.

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Since his release from jail, Jelly Roll has been on a roll. With his wife Bunnie DeFord (Bunnie XO) by his side, Jelly Roll has risen to the top. He commands attention.

So imagine the reaction when Jelly Roll showed up unannounced at Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row in Scottsdale, Arizona in September.

A Dartmouth Couple's Chance Encounter With Jelly Roll
Courtesy Erica Richard

Dartmouth's Steven and Erica Richard, former Scottsdale residents, were in town for a golf outing and wandering into the bar for a drink and a few country tunes when in walked Jelly Roll.

"Guy did a whole ass mini-concert," Steven said.

"He also bought everyone a drink," Erica added. She said there was no announcement. "He just showed up."

Erica said Bunnie XO wasn't with her beloved Jelly Roll that night.

"No, she wasn't, at least I didn't see her – and she's hard to miss too!"

10 Things You Didn't Know About Jelly Roll

The Jelly Roll: Save Me documentary on Hulu tells Jelly Roll's complicated life story and spares no details. He's shockingly honest about addiction, prison, his childhood and his insecurities. Here are 10 key takeaways from the project.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

11 Songs that Foreshadowed Jelly Roll's Country Music Career

Jelly Roll has taken the country music world by storm over the past year, and he will release his first full-length country album, Whitsitt Chapel, on June 2. Before he jumps right into the deepend of the genre, let's take a walk down memory lane. There are 11 songs that seemed to foreshadow his country music career.

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