Zac Brown Band all began with a restaurant owner dreaming of a career in music. Zac Brown, a Cumming, Georgia native, started a band in his college days but they disbanded before an album was finished recorded. The September 11, 2001 tragedy prompted him to pursue what he loves most, music, because life was too short to do something he did not enjoy.
He formed Zac Brown Band in 2002 with bassist John Hopkins and fiddler Jimmy De Martini. They even started their own label a year later, calling it Home Grown. In 2004, Brown sold his restaurant in Lake Oconee, Georgia to buy a tour bus. Together with his band, Brown toured full-time, hitting venues and festivals. In the same year, they released an indie album called "Far From Einstyne".
The line-up got bigger when violin/fiddle player and harmony singer Jimmy De Martini were added to the Zac Brown Band. A second independent album was released in 2005 under the title "Home Grown". They band grew once more with the addition of John Driskell Hopkins in bass. Brown's university affiliate Coy Bowles left his band to become the full-time member of Zac Brown Band and Chris Fryar joined the band as drummer.
In 2008, the band were signed to Live Nation Artist Records but the label closed, prompting Atlantic Records to overtake the distribution of the band's single "Chicken Fried". Their big break came that year when the album "The Foundation" was released. Beside peaking at number 2 on Billboard Hot Country chart, the album was also certified two times platinum in the U.S.
Their commercial success continued as Clay Cook became the band's multi-instrumentalist and high harmony singer. "I'd been tryin' to get him in the band for three years, and you know, it's been a journey, but I always knew [he could make us better]. I'm a harmony fanatic. I love big harmonies and things, and we didn't have a high tenor, and Jimmy [De Martini], my fiddle player, sings a lot of the high stuff now, but havin' somebody that can actually sing on top of that, we've added a four-part harmony now that's searing, and the guy's a monster player, too," Brown recalled.
In 2009, the band received four nominations for the 2009 CMA Awards: New Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, and Music Video of the Year for "Chicken Fried". The accolade was continued with Grammy nominations for Best Country Album, Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocals and Best New Artist. They won the 2010 Grammy award for Best New Artist.
From there, Zac Brown Band were a frequent nominee in top country music awards events, taking as much as nine at the 46th annual Academy of Country Music Awards. The album "You Get What You Give" was released in 2010, peaking at number one on Billboard Hot 200 chart.