Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October 2: Singer, songwriter Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, is 25-years-old today.

  Raised in Athens, Alabama, singer Brittany Howard started getting serious about music in high school. Howard took up the guitar in her youth, and she began writing songs around the age of 13. "I always felt out of place," Howard later told Paste magazine. "I wasn't a cool kid but I wasn't a nerd either. I had trouble finding my place. But when I found the music, I had a place of my own."

Around this same time, she became friends with Zac Cockrell, a fellow student at East Limestone High School. The two shared a love of music and started playing together. “II just knew that he played bass and that he wore shirts with cool bands on them that nobody had heard of,” says Howard. 

The duo would meet up after school and write songs sitting on Howard’s floor. The two played progressive rock and other genres, but soon found a calling playing roots rock. They approached drummer Steve Johnson, who was working at a local music store, asking him to join the band and soon the trio went to Clearwave Recording Studio with producer Jeremy Stephens in Decatur, Alabama, to record some of the songs they were writing. Guitarist Heath Fogg joined the band after hearing the demo.

They formed a group first dubbed the Shakes and later known as Alabama Shakes. Howard worked as a letter carrier for the Postal Service for a time before the band made it big.

Howard and her bandmates got their big break via the internet in July 2011. Justin Gage, who runs the Aquarium Drunkard blog, posted one of their songs on his site and the response to their rock-soul sound was profound.

Before long, the band was being pursued by record companies. They went on their first national tour as the opening act for Drive-By Truckers that fall. Also that fall, Howard received raves for her performance with the band at the CMJ Music Marathon.

Critics hailed her as the next Janis Joplin—a comparison that she doesn't really agree with. "I don't think I sound like Janis Joplin. I'm a woman with a raspy voice," she explained to Newsweek. Howard went on to explain that she believed that she sounds more like AC/DC frontman Bon Scott than Joplin.

In 2012, the band released their first album, Boys & Girls, to great acclaim. They even picked up two Grammy Award nominations for their debut record. At the Grammy Awards in February 2013, Howard lent her distinctive vocals to a musical tribute to Levon Helm of the Band fame.

Later in 2013, Howard hit the road with her bandmates for an international tour. This time around, however, Alabama Shakes were the headliners, not the supporting act. While thrilled with her success, Howard told Newsweek that "even if nobody cared, I'm still gonna make music."

For more about the Alabama Shakes, visit their Website at –


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