Jedd Hughes became enamored of country music growing up in Quorn, Australia, because of his father's collection of Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins records. He won first place at the Port Pirie Country Music Festival at the age of eight, and at nine began learning to play the guitar by taking lessons from his father. He toured Europe for three weeks at age 12, playing at festivals with International Music for Youth. As a teenager, he performed as a sideman for country musicians in Australia, and when he finished high school he moved to Levelland, TX, to attend the bluegrass program at South Plains College.
Terry McBride, formerly of McBride & the Ride, came to the school to give a workshop and encouraged Hughes to move to Nashville. He dropped out of school and did so, and he quickly got a job as Patty Loveless' lead guitarist. During the next two years, he wrote songs with McBride and made demos, resulting in a contract with MCA Nashville in December 2002. His first single, "High Lonesome," came out in the spring of 2004 and reached the country charts. It was followed in August 2004 by his debut album, Transcontinental.