Home » Zac Brown collaborates with King Calaway, Blake Shelton on separate songs

Zac Brown collaborates with King Calaway, Blake Shelton on separate songs

by Cindy Watts

2 hours ago

Just call Zac Brown the current king of country music of collaboration. Brown recently teamed up with King Calaway to write and produce the band’s new single, “When I Get Home”. And Brown invited Blake Shelton to join the band on a new version of their single “Out in the Middle,” which will be on the deluxe version of their latest album, “The Comeback,” available this fall.

Brown recently came with King Calaway on stage for the CMA Fest to sing “When I Get Home” with them.

“I recognized the talent this young group has, and when we started working in the studio, so much more unfolded,” Brown told People. “I believe in these guys. When [producer] Keith Stegall bet on me and helped me make my first album, it was the launch of my career. I believe that this number can do the same for them and it is great to be able to give back. ”

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Brown wrote and produced King Calaway’s reflective and remorseful new single “When I Get Home” with Jonathan Singleton and Ben Simonetti.

“We love this song,” King Calaway singer Simon Dumas told People. “It’s very narrative, and it feels like another step in a good direction for us in terms of the maturity we’re going for.”

As for “Out in the Middle,” Brown co-wrote the song with country singer Luke Combs and songwriters Ben Simonetti and Jonathan Singleton.

The songs come on the heels of a career-changing announcement from Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins, who revealed that he was diagnosed with ALS. Hopkins told People that in 2019 during The Owl Tour, jumping started bothering him. He also noticed that he sometimes blurred his speech and could not play that fast anymore.

He spent the next two years figuring it out. Hopkins visited several specialists in search of a diagnosis. So just before Christmas in 2021, doctors in his current hometown of Atlanta prescribed an electromyography (EMG) test to see if he had damage to the nerves that control his muscles.

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The test results revealed that the bassist has ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a degenerative disease that leads to paralysis and prohibits everyday functions, including chewing, speaking and walking. According to als.org, nearly 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year. The average life expectancy is two to five years, but some people with the disease live years longer. Hopkins said so far that his ALS has developed slowly.

“In my life, I’ve been scared, I’ve been angry, I’ve been stressed,” Hopkins told People. “But I do not know if I have ever really felt anxiety before that day.”

He had another EMG done at the ALS Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, which revealed that Hopkins had ALS. Since then, he said, he has come to accept what lies ahead – whatever it may be.

“No one knows what the situation will be like in the future, so we can not sit and cry over it,” Hopkins told People.
He still suffers from weakness and balance issues, but said he has been able to keep all of his commitments. Last month, he and the Zac Brown Band embarked on their seven-month Out in the Middle tour.

“I sing as well as I have ever sung and I have never been a good player,” he told People. “The band wants to back me up about it. When I told them about my diagnosis on a Zoom call, Zac said, ‘Are you inventing all this because you’re a (bad) banjo player?’
Since sharing his diagnosis, Hopkins and his wife, Jennifer, have launched the Hop On a Cure Foundation. To donate, write “Hop” to 345-345 to help fund ALS research.

“Our vision is clear,” Hopkins said. “We have to do everything we can to generate funds to cure ALS.”

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