Country Star Jelly Roll Gives Powerful Testimony on Fentanyl Before Congress

Country Star Jelly Roll Gives Powerful Testimony on Fentanyl Before Congress

Country music singer-songwriter Jason DeFord, aka Jelly Roll, understands the criminal mindset like a hacker turned white hat.

According to Biography, the 39-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, who has rapidly risen to fame over the past couple of years, had a difficult early life involving drug addiction and prison time for robbery and intent to distribute.

DeFord turned his life around and found success in music, blending country, rock and hip-hop influences.

He has won major country music awards, including the Country Music Association New Artist of the Year, and was nominated for a Grammy.

On Wednesday, Deford testified before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, according to The Hill. 

Deford made an impassioned plea to the House, urging legislators to pass the FEND Off Fentanyl Act to combat the supply and distribution of the dangerous synthetic opioid.

DeFord started out by establishing that he had no political alliance.

“I am neither Democrat nor Republican. In fact, because of my past, my right to vote has been restricted, thus … I have never paid attention to a political race in my life,” he said.

Deford made the case that the fact that he is apolitical makes him the “perfect person” to talk about the fentanyl issue, “because fentanyl transcends partisanship and ideology.”

Deford went on to make the analogy of 190 people a day dying of Fentanyl every day, comparing it to the number of people on a 737 plane.

“Could you imagine the national media attention it would get if they were reporting that a plane was crashing every single day and killing 190 people?” he asked. “But because it’s 190 drug addicts, we don’t feel that way.”

Deford talked about the funerals he has attended, “I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I’ve carried,” he said, explaining that addiction could start with as little as a pain pill taken after a car wreck.

“How fast it spirals out of control, I don’t think people truly, truly understand,” he said.

Deford admitted that his past as a drug dealer constituted a “paradox.”

“But equally, I think that’s what makes me perfect to talk about this,” he said. “I was a part of the problem. I am here now standing as a man that wants to be a part of the solution.”

When he was dealing drugs, Deford said he truly believed that it was a “victimless crime.”

“My father always told me that what doesn’t get you the wash will get you in the rinse. Now I have a 15-year-old daughter whose mother is a drug addict,” he said.

“At every concert I perform, I witness the heartbreaking impact of fentanyl,” DeFord said, “I see fans grappling with this tragedy in the form of music, that they seek solace in music and hope that their experiences won’t befall others.”

Describing himself as “a stupid songwriter,” Deford encouraged the committee to “not only pass this bill, but … to bring it up where it matters, at the kitchen table.”

By Deford’s own admission, he is an unlikely vessel to speak about the fentanyl epidemic.

But nothing defines American success better than someone who has hit rock bottom and turned his life around.

Deford’s tone had no self-righteousness or pretense, only a humble willingness to use his platform to save lives.

When it comes to the grim realities of addiction and crime, “Jelly Roll” speaks with the hard-earned authority of one who survived the mountain rather than just reading the map.

Unlike psychologists and lawmakers, who merely study and pontificate, DeFord had the credibility of someone of a survivor who is now determined to help others break their chains.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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