Caroline Jones Dives In to ‘Gulf Coast Girl’ With Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, Lukas Nelson and Kenny Chesney

"This song is extremely special," she says.

Caroline Jones Dives In to ‘Gulf Coast Girl’ With Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, Lukas Nelson and Kenny Chesney
Caroline Jones; Photo credit: Tyler Lord

Newcomer Caroline Jones enlists her superstar mentors for the sunny “Gulf Coast Girl,” bringing Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, Lukas Nelson and Kenny Chesney onboard the new track.

Built on well-traveled lyrics and a laid-back rhythm recalling the steady crash of waves, the sandy beachside jam is dedicated to the Gulf coast’s “hottest” spots — places like Destin, Florida; Gulf Shores, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana and more. But even if you’re landlocked this summer, it’s a fitting compliment to lazy afternoons full of frozen drinks and deep tans — not to mention the uniquely unassuming lifestyle found all around the “American Sea.”

“It’s a song that really pays homage to the Gulf coast of America, which has its own beautiful and unique culture, landscape and vibe,” Jones explains in a call with Sounds Like Nashville about the star-heavy track. “There’s something very special about that part of the world with this swampy Southern charm, and then these gorgeous white sand beaches.”

A Florida girl herself (on the Atlantic side, actually), Jones became friends with the trio of superstars after crossing paths with multi-time CMA Musician of the Year McAnally in Nashville’s studio scene. He took the budding artist under his wing, and later introduced her to his longtime friend and band leader, Buffett, who ended up taking Jones on tour with them in 2018. Then she ended up touring with Chesney on his Songs for the Saints Tour this spring, and the conditions were finally right for a hurricane of a collaboration. Buffett and McAnally wrote “Gulf Coast Girl” specifically for Jones — although she sheepishly admits now that she has no idea why, other than the special bond they all developed while on tour.

“Actually, Jimmy and Mac kind of introduced me to the Gulf coast and the culture behind it,” she says. “We got to film the video all over the Gulf coast, and you know Jimmy and Mac are both from that part of the world, so it’s just an honor to have them write a song for me, and an honor to sing it. There’s just so much to unpack lyrically, and Jimmy and Mac have this amazing songwriting gift. The songs seem fun and breezy on the surface but there’s so much depth to them, and ‘Gulf Coast Girl’ is no exception. Every lyric means something, whether it’s shouting out a place or one of the guys’ personal experiences. And all the places in the video are special to them personally.”

The track will be part of an upcoming project Jones plans to unveil soon, and it follows her love-struck current single, “Chasin’ Me.” But “Gulf Coast Girl” will likely be a special one to her forever. She may be lucky enough to call these country icons friends today, but Jones says they’ll always be heroes in her heart.

“I really wanted to [make music] on my own terms,” she says, explaining why she looks up to these particular artists so much … and perhaps the spark they see in her. “Jimmy is someone who has built a career and a lifestyle brand on his own terms … and Kenny is another one of that species, a superstar who’s also an incredible person with a big heart, and a very unique artistic vision for himself. … The fact that they’ve been the ones to give me a platform and opportunities, is just so beautiful and such a gift. I’ve just watched them give 100 percent of their heart and soul night after night to hundreds of thousands of people who look up to them and go to them for inspiration, and that’s the highest calling of art, I think. That’s what I hope to be doing for the rest of my life.”

Jones’ “Gulf Coast Girl” is out now, and she’ll be hitting the stage for the Fourth of July with Lady Antebellum as part of the Marne Independence Day event in Fort Stewart, Georgia. Jones will spend the rest of the summer with the Zac Brown Band on The Owl Tour 2019, and then it’s back into the studio to finish her upcoming release.