John Driskell Hopkins

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John Driskell Hopkins
Born (1971-05-03) May 3, 1971 (age 46)
San Antonio, Texas, United States
Years active 1992–present
Associated acts

John Driskell Hopkins (Hop) (born May 3, 1971) is best known for his role as a founding member, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter for the Grammy Award Winning group Zac Brown Band. Hopkins co-wrote, with Zac Brown, Wyatt Durette and Shawn Mullins, the Zac Brown Band's third single: "Toes" from their 2008 major-label debut The Foundation. It was the second number one single for the band. Hopkins also co-wrote, with Zac Brown, Wyatt Durette and Sonia Leigh, the second single from the band's third major-label album Uncaged entitled "Goodbye in Her Eyes." Hopkins co-wrote the band's first number one hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart "Heavy Is the Head" which featured Chris Cornell and was the second single from their 4th major label studio album Jekyll + Hyde released in 2015.


Hopkins was raised in Gainesville, GA, the eldest of 4 brothers. He graduated from Florida State University 1993 with a degree in General Theatre.[1] During college at Florida State University, Hopkins was the front man of a band called The Woodpeckers. After college, Hopkins moved to Atlanta. In 1996, he formed his rock band Brighter Shade, with whom he still plays. Brighter Shade recorded two albums by the early 2000s. During that time, Hopkins got involved with the production end of the scene; producing, recording and collaborating on several projects in the Atlanta area, including one with Zac Brown. After several years of friendship with Brown, in 2005, Hopkins joined the Zac Brown Band on bass guitar and vocals.

In 2011, Hopkins joined forces with bluegrass band Balsam Range. In January 2013 they released their debut CD called Daylight to critical acclaim.[2][3]


Hopkins heard Balsam Range on bluegrass radio in 2011 and was so impressed, he immediately bought all their music. They later met, and made an immediate personal and musical connection. They decided to join forces and record a CD. In September 2012, the album Daylight was completed, and officially released January 2013.

If you drew line graphs plotting the changes each song brings to a CD – tempo, subject, mood … – some CDs would flatline and the majority would show moderate spikes up and down. Daylight's graph would look like the EKG of a person on speed, and every song is a good one. I hope Hopkins is already planning his next CD.[4]

Balsam Range is a 5 piece bluegrass powerhouse out of Haywood County, NC, and include members: Buddy Melton (fiddle, vocals), Darren Nicholson (Mandolin, vocals), Marc Pruett (Banjo), Caleb Smith (guitar, vocals), and Tim Surrett (bass, dobro, vocals). Their accolades include: voted Best Old-Time/Bluegrass Band of 2012 in Asheville's Mountain Xpress, IBMA Song of the Year Award Recipient "Trains I Missed 2011", 2013 IBMA "Album of the Year" for Papertown, and were also the 2014 IBMA "Entertainer of the Year" Recipients. Hopkins and Balsam Range continue play shows together often.

In 2014, Hopkins has also collaborated with GA native bluegrass group the "Dappled Grays" on several shows, including 2 sold out nights at the Georgia Theater opening for The String Cheese Incident.[5]

Brighter Shade[edit]

Hopkins formed aggressive songwriter band Brighter Shade in 1996. The original line-up consisted of Hopkins on vocals and guitar, Andy Birdsall on vocals and guitar, Sean McIntyre on bass, and Marcus Petruska on drums. They recorded their self-titled debut in 1996.

Later, a second line-up followed featuring Hopkins and Birsdall, but added members; Wilder Embry on bass, Damian Cartier on keys and John Woodward and Eric Sanders on drums. They recorded Brighter Shade's sophomore album, Divine Ignorance in 2001.

Brighter Shade still plays periodic gigs in and around the Atlanta area.

Hopkins' recording studio "Brighter Shade Studios" shares the name-sake of his band, and was where the Zac Brown album "Home Grown" was recorded in 1998. Brighter Shade Studios was also used in the recording of first two major albums of the Zac Brown Band; The Foundation and You Get What You Give.[6][7]

Acting career[edit]

Hopkins graduated from Florida State University in 1993 with a degree in General Theatre. His first film, Careful What You Wish For starring Nick Jonas, Isabel Lucas, and Paul Sorvino was released in May 2015.[8]


  • Brighter Shade Brighter Shade (1996)
  • Divine Ignorance Brighter Shade (2001)
  • Daylight John Driskell Hopkins and Balsam Range (2012)
  • In The Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays John Driskell Hopkins and The Atlanta Pops Orchestra (2015)


  1. ^ "John Driskell Hopkins". John Driskell Hopkins. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  2. ^ "John Driskell Hopkins". Zac Brown Band. Archived from the original on 2014-05-09. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  3. ^ "John Driskell Hopkins". John Driskell Hopkins. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  4. ^ Larry Stephens, The lonesome Road Review
  5. ^ "About". Balsam Range. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Brighter Shade | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  7. ^ "CD Baby Mobile". Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  8. ^,.  Missing or empty |title= (help)