Alabama Shakes

  • Blues rock band from Athens Alabama, formed in 2009. The band members are Brittany Howard (lead vocals, guitar, primary songwriting), Zac Cockrell (bass guitar, songwriting), Heath Fogg (guitars, backing vocals, songwriting), and Steve Johnson (drums, backing vocals, songwriting).
  • Howard and Cockrell were high school classmates who listened and wrote music together after school. After graduation, they had jam sessions twice a week. Johnson heard Howard sing at a party, and started attending the jam sessions after Cockrell invited him. They made demo tapes of their own music, as well as covers of hard rock and soul music. Fogg was a member of another band, and in May 2009 he invited the trio to open for his band at a gig – they used the name The Shakes for the performance. Fogg soon joined The Shakes, and they performed at sports and country bars in Alabama, fine tuning their sound. They started recording an album in Nashville, funding it themselves.
  • Their breakthrough occurred when a Los Angeles-based music blogger and Sirius XM radio host found a picture on-line of Howard performing. He contacted the band, and then he posted their song You Ain’t Alone on his blog. The next day, the band was given several offers for a recording contract. The blogger put them in touch with industry managers to help them in business matters. In September 2011, a 4 song EP was released online, the self-titled Alabama Shakes. This led to an invitation to perform at the CMJ Music Marathon industry showcase in New York. After a successful performance, they negotiated a recording contract with a label, changing their name to Alabama Shakes, since there were many other bands using the name The Shakes.
  • Their debut album, Boys & Girls, was released in 2011. It was acclaimed by critics, reaching #8 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and selling over 1 million copies in the U.S. The lead single, Hold On, reached #1 on the Adult Alternative chart, and was chosen the best song of 2012 by Rolling Stone. A second single, I Ain’t the Same, reached #15 on the same chart. They earned 3 Grammy nominations with the album.
  • They released their second and most recent album in 2015 – Sound & Color. They spent over a year in the recording studio, as they didn’t have any new songs written when they started. The album debuted at #1 on the album chart, and the lead single, Don’t Wanna Fight, reached #2 on the Adult Alternative chart. They performed the song on SNL in February that year, and in 2016 it won 2 Grammy awards, for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song. The album won them a third Grammy, for Best Alternative Music Album.
  • They won a fourth Grammy award in 2018 for Best American Roots Performance, for the song Killer Diller Blues, which was part of the award winning documentary film The American Epic Sessions (check out this film about a sound engineer who restores the first electrical sound recording system from 1925, and then 20 contemporary artists record songs using the device. If you’re a member of your local PBS station, you should be able to watch it).
  • In 2017, Howard started a side project, a trio called Bermuda Triangle. They have 3 singles on their webpage, and they did a small tour in 2018.
  • Howard definitely is the pulse of Alabama Shakes. She credits Bon Scott of AC/DC has influencing her soulful singing style. If you’ve not heard this band – watch this video, and you’ll hear and see something amazing, that you just don’t hear with new music today. Howard will blow you away – download this song, and go listen to more of their music!

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