Athens, Alabama based rock band Alabama Shakes have been slowly but steadily making their way into the mainstream over the last several years. Known for their soulful, blues sound the group has something unique and all their own to offer to the world of music today. Consisting of lead singer, Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson the Alabama Shakes rose to gaining radio play seemingly out of nowhere with their hit song “Hold On” back in 2012. The group actually formed in 2009, though, when they all met in various ways while in school. Each of them bonded over a mutual love of music and soon began writing and performing their own songs together.
The early years of the Alabama Shakes were spent singing in sports bars and country dives at night while they all worked a wide variety of jobs during the day. Cockrell worked at an animal clinic, Fogg painted houses, Johnson worked at a nuclear power plant, and Howard spent his days working as both a fry cook and a postal worker. The foursome worked hard between 2009-2011 while they traveled between Alabama and Nashville as they began recording their debut album Boys and Girls. Their big break came when a music blogger named Justin Gage found a photo of Cockrell performing online. He contacted the band and featured their song “You Ain’t Alone” on his blog in July 2011. Soon after the group was being flooded with requests from record labels nationwide.
The Alabama Shakes debuted at number sixteen on Billboard charts and quickly began to make thier way to the top. This group began touring extensively, opening for Jack White and also performing at several festivals including Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. They were nominated for several awards including three Grammys and their album has gone on to sell almost 800,000 copies in the United States alone.
The Alabama Shakes soon after began recording their second major album, Sound and Color. The album, like their overall sound, is influenced by a plethora of artists. From AC/DC to Janis Jopin, David Bowie to Aretha Franklin the Alabama Shakes have the uncanny ability of taking the best from all of these artists and mixing them together into something that is completely different and altogether wonderful.
They may have somewhat unexpectedly fallen into the public eye with their music but they have worked hard and earned their place in the music world. They possess the hard work ethic and talent as well as the bond as a group that will keep them playing on our radios for years to come. They most recently were seen at the 58th Grammy Awards where they won Best Alternative Music Album for Sound and Color as well as Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for their song “Don’t Wanna Fight”. This is only the beginning for this group of friends from Athens, Alabama who bonded over something so simple yet so life changing as a mutual love of music.