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BRITTANY HOWARD


BIO: The story of the Alabama Shakes begins in a high school psychology class in Athens, Alabama. Brittany Howard, who had started playing guitar a few years earlier, approached Zac Cockrell and asked if he wanted to try making music together. "I just knew that he played bass and that he wore shirts with cool bands on them that nobody had heard of," says Howard. They started to meet up after school and write songs sitting on Howard's floor. "It had that rootsy feel, but there was some out-there stuff," says Cockrell. "David Bowie-style things, prog-rock, lots of different stuff. We started to come across our own sound a little bit, though it's evolved a lot since then." Steve Johnson worked at the only music store in town, and Howard knew he played the drums. She invited him to a party where, she says, "he met everybody from our side of the tracks." The three young musicians began working together, further expanding their style and approach. "Steve is kind of a punk-metal drummer," says Howard, "so we embraced that edge he brings to everything he does." The trio soon went into a studio in Decatur to record some of the songs they were working up, and this proto-demo found its way into the hands of Heath Fogg, with whom Howard had been familiar because he had been the lead guitarist in what she describes as "the best band in our high school." Fogg, who by now had graduated from college, asked them to open a show for his band, which they agreed to do—on the condition that he play with them. The response was immediate: "That first show was really explosive," says Howard.” Though they had been focusing on original material ("It's just more fun to write than to learn someone else's music," says Cockrell), as the band—newly christened the Shakes—began playing out, they added more cover songs. They played classics by James Brown and Otis Redding, but also by Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. "We had to find music we could all agree on and figure out how to play together," says Howard, "and that had a lot of influence on how we play now." Attempting to record their songs with the honest sonic qualities they cherished, the Shakes bought a few microphones and a vintage Teac mixing board and set up in Howard's house—which didn't work, since she lived right next to some railroad tracks. They eventually found their way to a Nashville studio in early 2011, where the songs they cut included "You Ain't Alone" and "I Found You." When they appeared at a Nashville record store, people started to take notice of the group’s relentless, hard-charging live attack, and Howard’s magnetic stage presence. One especially ardent fan raved about the band to his friends, which included Justin Gage, the founder of the Aquarium Drunkard blog. Gage wrote to Howard, asking if he could post one of the Shakes' songs. She sent back the yearning, intense "You Ain't Alone," which he put up in late July, calling it "a slice of the real." And, literally overnight, all hell broke loose. "I woke up the next day to emails from record labels, managers, publishing companies," says Howard. "At first I thought, everybody's making a mistake!" Gage also emailed “You Ain’t Alone” to the Drive-By Truckers' team. The band was immediately blown away and offered the Shakes an opening slot, sight unseen. (Patterson Hood of the Truckers later noted that the group “totally blew us off the stage in Winston-Salem.”) Yet even as the attention and the pressure were mounting, the band—who by now had changed their name to the Alabama Shakes—continued to break new ground musically. Their first single, the hypnotic, show-stopping plea "Hold On," grew out of an on-stage improvisation. "We threw out that riff," says Cockrell, "and Brittany started singing along, and the crowd started singing with her like it was a song they already knew." In October, the Shakes gave a performance at the CMJ Festival in New York City that earned a glowing review from the New York Times. Jon Pareles described the band as "a thunderbolt dressed in bluejeans," with music that's "aching when it’s slow and growling and whooping when it’s fast." NPR named them one of the best bands of 2011, while MTV called them one of the top bands to look for in 2012. As word of mouth spread, more offers to tour came in, and the band members were finally able to quit their day jobs; until this point, all the writing, recording, and touring had to be done around such responsibilities as Howard's work as a mail carrier and Johnson’s hours toiling as a night watchman at a nuclear power plant. Now, with expectations at fever pitch, the Alabama Shakes have delivered Boys & Girls—six of the songs from that initial Nashville session, and another five recorded during the rest of the year. From the heart-rending title song to such stomps as “Rise to the Sun,” the album demonstrates the sense of groove and space the band learned from their idols, along with a blistering force and emotion that simply can’t be learned. Overwhelmed by the response they've already received, there is one perception of the band that they want to challenge. "A lot of people think we're a soul revival act," says Cockrell. "That's an honor to me, classic R&B is my favorite kind of music, but everybody has their own influences. Brittany is way more into rock and roll—she likes things pretty amped up most of the time." "Retro soul is not what we’re going for, though it's understandable why people say it," says Howard. "We take inspiration from that, but we all understand Black Sabbath, too. On the record, we left a lot of room for whatever we want to do in the future." The release of Boys & Girls marks the arrival of a major new rock and roll band. To the members themselves, though, what's been most exciting has been the reaction they have felt on stage, whether tiny local dates or under the glare of the media. "It seems like everyone can tell how into it we are," says Cockrell. "Every show, people say they can feel how much we love what we're doing."

Latest Articles


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by TV News Desk - August 24, 2021

The band’s first new music since 2015’s GRAMMY® Award-nominated THE WATERFALL, MY MORNING JACKET reaffirms the rarefied magic that’s made My Morning Jacket so beloved, embedding every groove with moments of discovery, revelation, and ecstatic catharsis....
Alanis Morissette Joins 'We Are Moving the Needle' SoundBoard Photo Alanis Morissette Joins 'We Are Moving the Needle' SoundBoard
by Sarah Jae Leiber - August 12, 2021

Morissette joins founder, Emily Lazar, and previously announced We Are Moving the Needle SoundBoard members members such as Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers, Brittany Howard, HAIM, Vanessa Carlton, Christina Perri, Imogen Heap, and Linda Perry....
Childish Gambino Reimagines Brittany Howard's 'Stay High'
by Sarah Jae Leiber - July 20, 2021

“Stay High” Childish Gambino Version is from Jaime Reimagined, which features fresh takes and remixes of the 11 songs found on Howard’s 2019 solo debut album, Jamie....
Dylan LeBlanc Announces 'Pastimes' Covers EP Photo Dylan LeBlanc Announces 'Pastimes' Covers EP
by Sarah Jae Leiber - May 20, 2021

Now, the Muscle Shoals songwriter is taking a moment to pay homage to the artists who inspired his unique sound with the Pastimes EP, due out June 18 on ATO Records, a self-produced collection of six covers that LeBlanc says inspired him musically and spiritually. ...
Lollapalooza Returns To Celebrate 30th Anniversary Photo Lollapalooza Returns To Celebrate 30th Anniversary
by Sarah Jae Leiber - May 19, 2021

In accordance with current local public health guidance, full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results will be required to attend Lollapalooza 2021. For patrons who are not fully vaccinated, a negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained within 24 hours of attending Lollapalooza each...
My Morning Jacket Unveil First US Headline Tour in 5 Years Photo My Morning Jacket Unveil First US Headline Tour in 5 Years
by Sarah Jae Leiber - May 18, 2021

My Morning Jacket will present a wide-ranging live set encompassing new music alongside fan favorites and classic greatest hits from their epic catalog....
OUTSIDE LANDS Single Day Tickets On Sale Today Photo OUTSIDE LANDS Single Day Tickets On Sale Today
by Alexa Criscitiello - April 29, 2021

Another Planet Entertainment and Superfly have announced that single day tickets are available for Outside Lands 2021. ...
DAYGLOW Announces 2021 North American Tour Dates Photo DAYGLOW Announces 2021 North American Tour Dates
by Sarah Jae Leiber - April 13, 2021

The tour will be the first time Dayglow, also known as 21-year-old Sloan Struble, will get to play songs from his forthcoming album Harmony House which it out on May 21st on Struble’s own Very Nice Records in partnership with AWAL.  ...
DAYGLOW Shares New Single 'Woah Man' Photo DAYGLOW Shares New Single 'Woah Man'
by Sarah Jae Leiber - April 01, 2021

Today Dayglow, also known as 21-year-old Sloan Struble, shares the third single off of his forthcoming new album Harmony House (set for release on May 21st on Struble’s own Very Nice Records in partnership with AWAL), “Woah Man.” ...
Dayglow Shares New Song “Woah Man” Photo Dayglow Shares New Song “Woah Man”
by Alexa Criscitiello - March 31, 2021

Earlier this month Dayglow was announced to play in the upcoming season for the iconic Austin City Limits TV program. It was a big moment for the Texas-native and shows an artist poised for the next phase of what has already been an exciting career. He will join Brittany Howard, Leon Bridges, Jon Ba...
Bonnaroo Announces 2021 Lineup Photo Bonnaroo Announces 2021 Lineup
by Sarah Jae Leiber - March 31, 2021

Hailed by the New York Times as the summer event that “revolutionized the modern rock festival,” Bonnaroo has drawn high-profile media attention and critical acclaim for two groundbreaking decades. ...
VIDEO: Brittany Howard Performs 'Short and Sweet' on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE Photo VIDEO: Brittany Howard Performs 'Short and Sweet' on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE
by Stage Tube - March 17, 2021

Brittany Howard performs the song Short and Sweet on Jimmy Kimmel Live. ...
Life is Beautiful Unveils Unprecedented 2021 Music Lineup Photo Life is Beautiful Unveils Unprecedented 2021 Music Lineup
by Sarah Jae Leiber - March 10, 2021

The Full 2021 lineup includes Billie Eilish, Green Day, Tame Impala, A$AP Rocky, Illenium, HAIM, Young Thug, Glass Animals, FISHER, St. Vincent, 6LACK, Modest Mouse, Dillon Francis, Ludacris, Don Toliver, LANY, Brittany Howard, San Holo, J.I.D, Surfaces, Gorgon City, EARTHGANG, and more....
Recording Academy Partners With Top Brands For 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards Photo Recording Academy Partners With Top Brands For 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards
by Sarah Jae Leiber - March 09, 2021

Bulova, Facebook, IBM, JBL, Mastercard, Pandora, PEOPLE, and SiriusXM are all supporters of this year's GRAMMY Awards, as well as events taking place throughout GRAMMY® Week....
BLACK PUMAS to Perform at 2021 GRAMMY Awards Photo BLACK PUMAS to Perform at 2021 GRAMMY Awards
by Sarah Jae Leiber - March 08, 2021

The band’s debut album Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition) is nominated for the night’s biggest award, Album of the Year, and their hit single “Colors” is nominated for Record of the Year and Best American Roots Performance....
GRAMMY Awards Announce Full Performer Lineup Photo GRAMMY Awards Announce Full Performer Lineup
by Sarah Jae Leiber - March 08, 2021

Additionally, Music's Biggest Night® will pay tribute to the independent venues, which have been greatly impacted by the pandemic....
Pandora LIVE Countdown to the GRAMMY Awards to Feature Haim, Brittany Howard & CHIKA Photo Pandora LIVE Countdown to the GRAMMY Awards to Feature Haim, Brittany Howard & CHIKA
by Sarah Jae Leiber - March 03, 2021

Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy® will host the evening and lead a roundtable discussion with all of the evening’s performers.   ...
Sanya N'Kanta Shares New Song 'Waste My Time' Photo Sanya N'Kanta Shares New Song 'Waste My Time'
by Sarah Jae Leiber - January 20, 2021

Today, the Jamaican-born, Charlotte-based musician Sanya N'Kanta has shared his new song 'Waste My Time.'...
Lilly Winwood Gears Up To Release Debut Album 'Time Well Spent' Photo Lilly Winwood Gears Up To Release Debut Album 'Time Well Spent'
by Sarah Jae Leiber - January 07, 2021

East Nashville-based Americana artist, Lilly Winwood, is gearing up to release her debut album Time Well Spent on January 29....
Independent Venue Week Celebrates the Passage Of the Save Our Stages Act Photo Independent Venue Week Celebrates the Passage Of the Save Our Stages Act
by Sarah Jae Leiber - December 22, 2020

Independent Venue Week congratulates the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) on its monumental effort leading to the passage of the Save Our Stages Act. ...
The Ally Coalition Announces 7th Annual 'Talent Show' Photo The Ally Coalition Announces 7th Annual 'Talent Show'
by Sarah Jae Leiber - December 15, 2020

The Ally Coalition (TAC) has announced that its 7th Annual Talent Show will take place as a livestream event, for the first time ever, Monday, December 21 at 9pm EST exclusively on Twitch. ...
Lilly Winwood Releases Music Video For 'Few More Records' Photo Lilly Winwood Releases Music Video For 'Few More Records'
by Sarah Jae Leiber - December 07, 2020

Americana singer/songwriter Lilly Winwood released the music video today for her current single “Few More Records.” ...
VIDEO: Brittany Howard Performs 'Revolution' on THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT Photo VIDEO: Brittany Howard Performs 'Revolution' on THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT
by Stage Tube - November 25, 2020

Friend of the show Brittany Howard, who was just nominated for an incredible six GRAMMY awards, joins us on this special night to perform a high-energy take on 'Revolution' by The Beatles....
Youtube Music And NIVA Reveal Schedule For SAVE OUR STAGES Festival Photo Youtube Music And NIVA Reveal Schedule For SAVE OUR STAGES Festival
by Sarah Jae Leiber - October 14, 2020

YouTube Music and the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) today revealed the schedule for this weekend’s Save Our Stages Festival (#SOSFEST), a three-day virtual music festival featuring all original content on Friday, October 16 through Sunday, October 18....
Body Language Share 'Travel Guide' LP Photo Body Language Share 'Travel Guide' LP
by Sarah Jae Leiber - October 09, 2020

Premiering on Glide, Brooklyn-based Body Language's album Travel Guide is now out everywhere on Om Records....