The duo was founded in 2003 by Bush and Kristen Hall (acoustic guitar, background vocals), and became a trio when Jennifer Nettles was brought in as lead singer. Before joining Sugarland, Nettles fronted the Jennifer Nettles Band, and Hall had achieved success as a solo artist and songwriter. Bush's earlier musical career included being half of the duo Billy Pilgrim (along with Andrew Hyra), recording for Atlantic Records in the 1990s.
Signed to Mercury Nashville Records in 2004, Sugarland broke through that year with the release of their debut single "Baby Girl", the first single from their multi-platinum debut album Twice the Speed of Life. The trio became a duo in 2006, when they also released their second album, Enjoy the Ride. This album produced their first two #1 singles (in the U.S.), "Want To" and "Settlin'", and won the duo a Grammy for "Stay". In 2008 they released their third album, titled Love on the Inside. This album produced three more #1 singles with "All I Want to Do", "Already Gone", and "It Happens".