Alabama Shakes

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About Alabama Shakes

“You look at people who are oppressed throughout history, they’ll always find a way to find space,” Brittany Howard tells Apple Music. “I am one of those people.” That determination goes a long way in explaining how the contemporary face of Southern rock—traditionally the domain of long-haired, mustachioed white dudes—is a queer woman of color with a pompodour. Howard is the force-of-nature frontwoman of Alabama Shakes, the group she formed in 2009 with fellow guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson. Like many fledgling bar bands, the Shakes cut their teeth playing covers of old-school favorites like Led Zeppelin and James Brown; unlike many fledgling bar bands, they quickly learned how to write songs of their own that could stand alongside the greats. Led by the laidback feel-good anthem “Hold On” and retro-soul stunner “I Found You,” the group’s 2012 debut, Boys & Girls, earned them all the hallmarks of establishment acceptance: tours with Jack White, multiple Grammy nominations, and an invitation to perform at the White House for the Obamas. Their 2015 follow-up, Sound & Color, proved there was a lot more to this group than classic-rock comfort food, as Howard howled her way through a swampy set that spanned fever-dream funk, punky rave-ups, and, in “Gimme All Your Love,” a drop-to-your-knees gospel ballad that leaves craters. The record put the Shakes at the forefront of a new wave of rootsy renegades—Black Pumas and Nathaniel Rateliff among them—updating the sounds of the South. But after three years of touring it, the Shakes took a break as Howard prepped her personal and political 2019 solo debut, Jaime, where she continued to stretch her rock ‘n’ soul roots into unpredictable new shapes.

Athens, AL, United States
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