Caroline Jones: How A Song Jimmy Buffett Wrote Led To Meeting Her Husband

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Caroline Jones reflected on some of the most unforgettable moments she shared with late music legend Jimmy Buffett, whom she credits as a longtime friend and mentor. Buffett died on September 1, 2023 after a four-year battle with a skin cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma. He was 76. Jones appeared on the latest episode of Get Real with Caroline Hobby, where she hailed Buffett “one of my most primary, most important mentors,” quickly in the conversation. She went on to share some of her cherished memories with Buffett, including the song he wrote for her and how that song led to Jones meeting her husband.

Jones, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who is known for her solo work in addition to joining Zac Brown Band as the group’s first female member, shared the story of how she met Buffett through Mac McAnally, a singer-songwriter, musician and producer who is a longtime friend of Buffett’s and led the Coral Reefer Band. Early in her career, Buffett invited Jones to join the star-studded lineup of a hurricane benefit concert in Tallahassee, Florida. The lineup also included Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Jake Owen and others, and “I was so awestruck,” Jones remembered.

“I feel so lucky (to have had Buffett as a mentor), and actually when I found out that he passed away, that was my first thought. My husband came in and — because we'd had a show the night before, and I still get goosebumps — my husband came in and he was like, ‘Jimmy passed (away),’ and I was like, I just obviously started crying, and I was like, ‘God, I just feel so grateful and so lucky to have been in his orbit.’ He influenced so many millions of people with his positive, you know, almost childlike joy. But to have been up close and personal, that doesn't come around with a lot of people in this world, you know. So, I just feel so lucky to have been mentored by him. But I got connected to him through Mac McAnally. He's an amazing songwriter, musician, and has been his right hand man, or was his right hand man, for decades. They were best friends.”

Jones is part of an all-star lineup honoring Buffett at a tribute show hosted on Thursday (April 11) at Hollywood Bowl. The full lineup includes: Paul McCartneyEaglesJon Bon JoviZac BrownJackson BrowneBrandi CarlileKenny ChesneyEric ChurchSheryl CrowScotty EmerickJack JohnsonCaroline JonesMac McAnallyJake OwenPitbullJake ShimabukuroThe Coral Reefer Band and other special guests.

The Homesite artist told podcast host Caroline Hobby that she still speaks about Buffett “like he’s still here. It’s still so odd that he’s not.” She also told the story of Buffett and McAnally writing the song “Gulf Coast Girl” for her, which they sing background vocals on along with Chesney and Lukas Nelson. That song led to Jones meeting her husband. His mother heard it and sent it to her son, Nick Dana, “because he was working in Pensacola at the time, which is on the Gulf Coast. and she just texted it to Nick and she was like, ‘I feel like this is the kind of girl you’ll end up with.’” Eventually, Dana’s mom and sister helped make that meeting happen.

Jones and Dana, a sailor, tied the knot in 2021. They welcomed Baby No. 1, Declan Tudor Dana, on November 29, 2023.

The “Million Little Bandaids” star delved into her “extremely unique life story” throughout the conversation with Hobby. That includes the moment she got the call from Zac Brown inviting her to join them on the road, how she ended up becoming a permanent member of the band, growing up in a non-musical household in Connecticut before attending an arts high school in New York City, and more.

“After finishing school, Caroline made her way to Nashville to further her songwriting craft and she immediately felt right at home,” the Get Real with Caroline Hobby episode description reads. “For many years, Caroline focused solely on music, not allowing herself to really have a personal life. She shares about the synchronicities that led up to her meeting her sailor husband. Caroline details how they moved to New Zealand right after meeting one another and the magic of falling in love in such a beautiful place while the world was shut down during the pandemic. Caroline also recently became a mother. She talks about her home-birth, how she’s evolved into motherhood and more.”

Find Get Real with Caroline Hobby on iHeartRadio here.