Brittany Howard – Paving Her Own Path

Brittany Howard – Alabama Shakes 

Hailing from Athens, Alabama the band forms in 2009. Consisting of lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, keyboard player Ben Tanner, and drummer Steve Johnson. Before finding the career, she is to destine to follow, she was like the rest of us working a variety of odd jobs to make ends meet. The most recent before her career in music was working at the Post office. While the work included long hours, she always managed to make it to the band rehearsals.

Furthermore, despite working all the odd jobs music was always at the fore front. Something that not just Brittany but the rest of the band were very much dedicated to. Showing off their music chops and testing out their music. Coming together for jam sessions and recording home demos at Brittany’s grandmother’s house. They practiced and honed their craft and eventually start playing locally to test out their music to a live audience. It’s what you do when you grow up in a small town with nothing to do. But then again, you also find creative ways to keep yourself busy. 

Their Path To Music – Alabama Shakes

In 2009, as a band, they start recording their debut album by doing the arrangements at home then traveling to Nashville to record the album. While still working and performing locally. So, how do they make the leap to stardom? Well, in 2011 a Los Angeles blogger and SiriusXM host, Justin Gage, starts playing their music and shortly after, the music labels and management companies started knocking on their doors. Next, they record a four-song ep and the word gets out about a new band to check out. 

In 2012, with their debut album “Boys & Girls.” the album connects with the critics and music fans as well. There was just something about the band’s sound and tone and Brittany’s soulfulness that resonates with the listener. They tour Europe, then a summer tour with Jack White and then they perform at a variety of festivals. In 2013, the group receives three nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards: Best New Artist, Best Rock Performance for “Hold On”, and Best Recording Package for their debut album, “Boys & Girls”. 

All I can say is that when I heard her sing, I thought to myself Wow! She truly has a gift and then to see her performing live, you find yourself in a better place and frame of mind. This is a woman that has a lot on her mind and on stage, she truly knows how to shine with her band or even when she’s performing solo. She commands the stage and doesn’t hold back on anything – in a good way.  

After a long rigorous tour, promoting their first release, the band releases their second record “Sound & Color” in 2015. Which debuts at number one on the Billboard 200 and goes on to win four Grammy Awards. While “Hold on” is dubbed the best song of the year by Rolling Stone Magazine. 

Taking a Leap and Going Solo

In 2018, Brittany tells the band that she wants to take a hiatus from performing. Not quitting as a band but instead to just take time off to work on a project that’s near and dear to her heart. She became inspired to do a solo album after a long road trip that went from Nashville to Topanga California. The result is an album titled “Jaime” after her sister who died of cancer as a teenager. Her sister was the person who taught her piano and how to write poetry.

While it’s a memorial to her sister, it’s also about her and the need to create this personal project and find herself. While letting others know who she really is as person, artist, and musician. Making this album and taking the time to embrace such a cathartic experience is daunting, but at the time, it was necessary for Howard. Check out the NPR tiny desk performance below to hear some of the tracks.

Side Projects 

Thunderbitch – is a side project of Howard’s that allows her cut loose her wild side while conjuring up the souls from rocks past. Basically, a homage to her favorite rock bands and artists. Well. it’s not for the timid but for anyone that loves punk and loud rock it’s pretty bad ass!  Along the lines of an amped up New York Dolls and Velvet underground. Truly, I’m looking forward to what happens next with this one! Then I see NPR talking about a new band called “Bermuda Triangle”, turns out, that it’s Howard, Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser. Three amazing singers and songwriters that came together to create this supergroup. Featuring songs with drum machines, heavy harmonies and someone on a standup bass.” Along the lines of sad dance hall music? check them out below: