10 Things You Didn’t Know About Zac Brown

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The country musical group, Zac Brown Band (ZBB) have been hugely successful since they started touring and releasing music back in 2002. They have six albums, 16 charted singles, 11 of which have reached the number one spot, won numerous country music awards and even three Grammy Awards for Best County Album, Best New Artist and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals — this band is unstoppable! What makes Zac Brown Band so unique is not only their incredible sound which can waiver from rock, country, folk to a more recent sound of pop or electronic, but also the fact that the band is made up of eight members who play a range of instruments from the fiddle to the ukulele to the mandolin! The heart and soul of ZBB is the lead singer Zac Brown, who is responsible for starting the band. In honor of his upcoming 39th birthday, here’s a look at 10 things you might not have known about country singer, Zac Brown!

10. Childhood

Zachry Alexander Brown was born and raised on Lake Lanier in Cumming, Georgia. Zac Brown has always surrounded himself with a lot of people, from his large band to his five children and it might have something to do with the fact that he comes from a big family. He’s the second oldest of 12 children! Raised by his stay-at-home mother and stepfather who was a dentist, he bounced around to a few different schools from Mashburn Elementary School to the Lakeview Academy in Gainesville to South Forsyth High School and at the age of 17-years-old he moved to Dahlonega and attended Lumpkin County Highschool. In his teenage years, Brown was a camp counselor at Camp Mikell in Toccoa, Georgia and at Camp Glisson, a United Methodist summer camp in Dahlonega, Georgia. Zac Brown got his first guitar when he was only 8-years-old and enlisted in classical guitar lessons with one of his stepfather’s patients. He continued his lessons for two years, but he became more interested in bluegrass music. He said his interest developed from visiting his father and brother on the weekend and in his mid-teens he took lessons from a vocal coach at his local church in Cumming, Georgia.

Larry Busacca via Taste of Country

Larry Busacca via Taste of Country

9. Zac Brown Band

It’s pretty clear from Zac’s instrumental and songwriting talent that he’s been surrounded by music his whole life. But he claims he didn’t develop a strong desire to pursue a musical career until he attended the University of West Georgia and was a member of the Zeta Kappa chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. It was during his post-secondary education when he really became involved in playing music as a band and writing songs. The changing point in his life was when 9/11 happened. At that time, he immediately decided to drop out of school and pursue a career in music full-time. He hit the road at 19 and began touring the Southeast states with a drummer and his dog, Pete. This marked the beginning of what would soon become Zac Brown Band. The band got their start just by playing music around Georgia in 2002 anywhere they could.

A photo posted by Zac Brown Band (@zacbrownband) on

8. Chicken Fried

Zac Brown Band’s debut single “Chicken Fried” is arguably still to this day one of their best and most widely recognized of hits. Zac Brown co-wrote the song with Wyatt Durrette back in the early 2000s. The two met when Wyatt was working as a bartender in a club that Brown used to play in all the time. They ended up bonding over their shared interest for music and started writing music together. The first song they wrote was “Whatever It Is,” another huge hit for ZBB. Zac had a song that he had started and he decided to share it with Wyatt. The two wrote down a bunch of things that were important to them and added it into his already existing song. What’s surprising that some people might not know is that “Chicken Fried” was actually released by another band before ZBB. At the time, Zac wasn’t signed to a record label or anything and he gave the song to another Georgia group called the Lost Trailers to record, but he gave it to them under one simple condition — that they don’t use it as a single. Of course, the band went against their word and released it as a single in 200. Brown quickly put an end to that by taking legal action to request the song be removed from the radio. He later rerecord it and release it as a Zac Brown Band single in 2008.

7. His Own Record Label

Before making it really big, Zac created his own music label called Home Grown which was later renamed “Southern Ground” for legal reasons. Now known as Southern Ground Artist, Inc, the company has signed many up and coming acts like Sonia Leigh, The Wood Brothers and Blackberry Smoke. “I started in the music business sitting on a bar stool, wringing beer out of my tip money. I understand the journey of an artist. And I want to really mentor people who have mojo, can write their own songs, and give themselves to their music,” said Brown. He also said it’s important to him to stay true to his roots and support musical acts coming out of Atlanta, Georgia. “I’d like to think there’s a movement coming out of Atlanta that’s like [Memphis-based soul label] Stax was, back in the ’60s,” he said. The studio space he bought for the label is an old Presbyterian church that once served as Monument Studios, the recording spot for the early rock and roll label. Many albums have been created there like Neil Young’s Prairie Wind and Kris Kristofferson’s first three records. The space came with vintage equipment like microphones and mic stands and the entire place is built from exotic guitar wood. It’s truly an inspirational space! 

Source: www.nodepression.com

Source: www.nodepression.com

6. He’s an Entrepreneur

In addition to making music, Zac Brown has managed to build up an entire lifestyle brand under the umbrella of “Southern Ground.” Brown has numerous business ventures including a recording studio, restaurant, food festival, metal shop, customs design company, custom designed jewelry by his wife and even an overnight children’s camp! Outside of this lifestyle brand, Zac has also released his own wine called “Z Alexander Uncaged.” One of his first investments was when he opened a southern-cooking style restaurant with his father back in the day and used the location to perform with his band on the weekend. “Some artists do backstage meet-and-greets; I do an Eat & Greet. And we’ve just opened the Southern Ground Social Club, a mash-up of great Southern food, art gallery, knife shop, leather shop, and tattoo parlor in Senoia,” said Brown. His camp, known as Camp Southern Ground, is on 500 acres in Fayetteville, Georgia. The goal is to integrate all kinds of children on an organic farm so kids can learn about nutrition, where food comes from and learn to be with children from all different walks of life — mainstream, underprivileged and those with special needs.

5. He Enjoys EDM Music

Even though Zac Brown is the lead singer of one of the most popular country music groups, his interests span outside of country music. He’s opened up lately about his growing love for EDM music and it’s clear after the release of their newest album, Jekyll + Hyde, that it’s a genre they are willing to explore. Their ability to venture outside of one singular genre is why many people love and respect ZBB, but it also doesn’t sit too well with some of their die hard country fans. Regardless, Brown as admitted that not only is it beneficial for them to expand their fan base, but he just enjoys it. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Brown said, “I’ve been making some more electronic music, which I really enjoy doing. I don’t ever want to stop making country, and I don’t want to stop making electronic music, either.” One of their newest songs was a collaboration with the popular Swedish DJ, Avicii, called “Broken Arrows.” When it comes to those who criticize his new efforts, he said: “You can de-select the songs that you don’t want to have on the record, but I hope we always put something out that has a lot of songs that the majority of people will love. So I’m working on new electronic music, and we’ll be writing the new Zac Brown Band record along the way.”

4. His Children

In an interview with The Boot, Zac Brown admitted he and his wife weren’t going to stop until they got a boy. “We’re just going to keep on going until we get a boy. If that’s 13, then I doubt I’m gonna be able to pull that off, but we’ll see.” Well, they didn’t quite have to go up to 13, but close enough! Zac Brown and his wife Shelly now have five children. They have four girls: Justice, Lucy, Georgia and their most recent child born in 2014 was a boy named Joni. What’s great about Zac Brown is that fact that, despite all of his success and fame, he remains a humble artist and person. Growing up in the South in a big family where he had to learn how to work hard and reap the benefits is something he wants to pass along to his own children. He believes the biggest disservice a parent can do for their child is to not give them good values or a proper childhood. “I want them to grow up canning in the kitchen with us and making preserves. To learn what it means to really fish. What it means to have a job. I want to make sure they know that there’s no free ride. You don’t want spoiled kids in high school that end up being worthless later on. I want to teach them perspective. That’s important,” Brown said.

  A photo posted by Shelly Brown (@shellybrown) on

3. Involved in a Drug Bust

A few months ago in April of this year, Zac Brown’s name was in the headlines everywhere, but not for any good reason. The typically private and well-to-do musician found himself in the middle of a scandal after he was present in a hotel room during a drug bust. TMZ broke the news and reported that arrests were made at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach after cops were called in to check out a suspicious vehicle. A man was found inside the car and arrested for having more than 30 grams of cocaine. He told officers he had arrived with two women, both of whom went upstairs to the rooms. When the police checked out the hotels rooms they arrested another man for possession of marijuana and the two women for cocaine. Unfortunately, Zac Brown was an unsuspecting guest in the hotel room and, although he wasn’t involved in any of the arrests, he was taken off the police report in an attempt to keep his name out of the news. It didn’t work and Brown eventually released a statement on his own accord and said: “My dad always said nothing good ever happens when you stay out late. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way last week, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I attended a private gathering at a Miami-area hotel and had only been there for a short time when police officers arrived and arrested two people in the room who had just showed up a few minutes before. I did not know these people and had no idea that there were drugs in their possession. I cooperated fully with the authorities and am not part of any ongoing police investigation….”

RICK SCUTERI/INVISION/AP

RICK SCUTERI/INVISION/AP

2. First Kiss With his Wife, Shelly

Zac and his wife Shelly have been married for nearly 10 years and he still remembers their first kiss. During an interview with Big Machine Label Group, Zac Brown said their first kiss was on New Years Eve. “We ended up on New Years’ Eve playin’ a show, my date had stood me up and I remember walkin’ back to my friends with like two minutes before midnight and thinkin’, I’m not gonna have anybody to kiss on New Year’s. And there she was, standin’ right there and I remember kissin’ her and then that was game over.” The couple now shares five children together with their youngest being born in 2014.

A photo posted by Zac Brown Band (@zacbrownband) on

1. Dress Blues

One thing fans of Zac Brown Band might not know is that each record has a cover song that they picked up from another artist, reworked and recorded themselves. One of Zac’s favorites was on their newest record, the song “Dress Blues.” It’s clear from listening to many of Zac Brown’s songs that he has an extremely strong sense of patriotism and a huge respect for men who serve their country. The song “Dress Blues” is an ode to those men who fight for freedom and give their lives to the American people: “Every record we do, we do one song we didn’t write. This is that song. It was written by Jason Isbell, it was on a record he did 10 years ago, and it floored me. I just wanted to show the world this song, do it our way, and I arranged a version of ‘Taps’ in the middle of the song. I’ve been to military funerals, and when they played ‘Taps,’ it just killed me. This song is about a young solider who got blown up by an IED, and he’s going home in his dress blues. Just the way the song is written, how American it is, is incredible. Jewel sang harmony on that song,” said Brown in an interview with The Boot.

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