Jelly Roll Testifies on Fentanyl Crisis, Says He Could 'Cry for Days' Over the Caskets He's Carried

The GRAMMY-nominated singer testified before a Senate hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Jelly Roll poured his heart out about the fentanyl crisis while offering testimony on Capitol Hill during a Senate committee hearing.

The GRAMMY-nominated country singer appeared before the Senate, Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday and offered his testimony as the committee grapples with the flow of fentanyl into the United States. Jelly Roll, whose real name is Jason DeFord, opened up about being "part of the problem" as a former drug dealer.

"I was part of the problem," he said. "I am here now standing as a man that wants to be part of the solution."

Calling it a "national emergency," Jelly Roll opened up about how the fentanyl crisis has affected the country, as he rattled off astonishing statistics about the drug crisis.

"I am here to address a dire crisis crippling our nation, one that has likely claimed the life of a friend, child, or relative of nearly everyone in this room. The opioid epidemic, especially the devastation caused by fentanyl, demands immediate action," he said in his opening statement. "It is a national emergency. Americans are dying every day, and at a staggering rate."

He went on to say that, in 2021, nearly 107,000 Americans "succumbed to overdoses, with fentanyl being responsible for 65 percent of these tragedies." Jelly Roll then added that 2022 "witnessed an even further increase in fentanyl-related fatalities. Astonishingly, the DEA confiscated over 379 million doses of fentanyl that year, enough to end every American life."

Jelly Roll then shared how the fentanyl crisis has affected him personally.

"In the past two years, I have attended four funerals for loved ones lost to recreational drugs tainted with lethal substances," he shared. "My purpose here is not to defend the use of illegal drugs, and I recognize the paradox of my past as a drug dealer now addressing this committee. The essential truth is that enacting legislation to combat the supply and distribution of fentanyl will save lives."

The "Son of a Sinner" singer offered his staunch support for the "Fend Off Fentanyl Act," a bipartisan bill that would target Chinese chemical suppliers and Mexican cartels. He urged the committee to push the bill into law.

"Fentanyl transcends partisanship and ideology," he said. "I could sit here and cry for days about the caskets I've carried of people I've loved dearly, deeply, in my soul. Good people."

He added, "At every concert I perform, I witness the heartbreaking impact of fentanyl. Fans, grappling with this tragedy in their families, seek solace in music and hope that their experiences won't befall others. They crave reassurance -- that their elected representatives value their lives and those of their lost loved ones above political agendas. My appeal to this committee, and to all members of the House and Senate, is to offer this hope. Let's demonstrate that compassion and concern for American lives are bipartisan values."

Jelly Roll has been open about his past drug abuse. The Whitsitt Chapel singer's meteoric rise to fame has been a redemption story for the ages, which is why he always gets so candid about his past struggles with drugs. Before breaking into the music scene, the "Save Me" singer was arrested over 40 times for different drug charges, and struggled with the use of cocaine for years, until finding a path to kicking the vice after his daughter, Bailee -- now 15 -- was born while he was locked up for crack cocaine possession.

"I had to learn that you could drink alcohol without doing cocaine," Jelly Roll recently told People. "It took me a long time to learn that."

"There was a long time where I just assumed, when people told me they drank without doing cocaine, I was like, 'I thought we only drank to do cocaine,'" he explained. "I thought [drinking] was to make us not feel like drug addicts. Nobody wants to snort cocaine sober, then you're a drug addict."