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Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes was one of the pivotal Americana acts of the 2010s, fusing Southern soul with garage rock -- two styles that were in the air in 2012 when the group released their debut Boys & Girls. The quartet had a distinctive synthesis of these familiar styles, distinguished by the impassioned frontwoman Brittany Howard. Guitarist Heath Fogg helped give the band shape and texture but Howard was the center of gravity, singing with power and authority. Alabama Shakes garnered acclaim for Boys & Girls, earning a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2013, then consolidating that success with 2015's Sound & Color, which took home Grammys for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Alternative Music Album. Instead of building upon this success, Alabama Shakes entered a hiatus in 2018, with Howard releasing her debut Jaime the following year. At the center of Alabama Shakes is Brittany Howard, a guitarist/vocalist who began playing music while in her teens. Howard met bassist Zac Cockrell while they were both in high school, with the pair forming a group called the Shakes. By the time the group made their live debut in May 2009, they added drummer Steve Johnson, with guitarist Heath Fogg completing the lineup not long afterward. As they honed their live act, the Shakes recorded their original songs at the Bomb Shelter, the Nashville studio of Andrija Tokic. One of these completed songs, "You Ain't Alone," was posted on the music blog Aquarium Drunkard in July 2011, spurring a rush of attention from the music industry. In short order, the band added "Alabama" to their name and independently released the eponymous Alabama Shakes EP in September 2011. Alabama Shakes quickly signed with ATO Records, which released the full-length Boys & Girls in April 2012. Boys & Girls entered the Billboard charts at 16, kickstarting an eventful year for the band. Led by the single "Hold On," Boys & Girls was certified platinum and earned the group Grammy nominations for Best Rock Performance and Best New Artists in 2013; Boys & Girls also received a nod for Best Recording Package. Alabama Shakes didn't win any awards that year but their performance at the 2013 Grammy ceremony helped push Boys & Girls back into the charts; it reached a peak of number six. Alabama Shakes stayed on the road through 2013, snagging another Grammy nomination in 2014 for "Always Alright," a song featured on the soundtrack to David O. Russell's 2012 romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook. Alabama Shakes spent most of 2014 working on their second album, which appeared as Sound & Color in April 2015. Preceded by the single "Don't Wanna Fight," which climbed to 13 on the Billboard Rock Charts, Sound & Color entered the Billboard Top 200 at number one. Alabama Shakes proceeded to build on this success throughout 2015, with the album's title track, "Gimme All Your Love" and "Future People" all released as singles. The band received four Grammy nominations in 2016, taking home awards for Best Alternative Music Album, Best Rock song, and Best Rock Performance, which were granted to "Don't Wanna Fight" -- their only loss was for Album of the Year. After winning an additional Grammy for their version of "Killer Diller Blues" from American Epic: The Sessions in 2018 -- the track won Best American Roots Performance -- Alabama Shakes went on hiatus. Brittany Howard released the solo album Jaime in 2019, while Heath Fogg released an album as Sun on Shade.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo


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