Alabama Shakes is an American rock band formed in Athens, Alabama, in 2009. The group consists of lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, keyboard player Ben Tanner, and drummer Steve Johnson. The group received 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.Spera, Keith. "The Alabama Shakes is a soul-rock band on the rise". Nola.com. Retrieved January 27, 2012. "55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees". GRAMMY.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved December 7, 2012. Mary Colurso. "Alabama ties: 2013 Grammy nods for Alabama Shakes, Casting Crowns, Civil Wars, more". AL.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
The band originated when lead singer-guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell, both then attending East Limestone High School near Athens in Limestone County, Alabama, began meeting after school to write songs. 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.
Although they had been working on original material, they worked up cover songs by Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Otis Redding, AC/DC, and others to fill a "one show only" 45-minute set, under the name The Shakes. The band later added Alabama to their name to differentiate themselves from other bands called The Shakes.
Alabama Shakes released the four-song EP Alabama Shakes September 2011, which gained media attention (including by NPR), and earned them an invitation to play at the CMJ Music Marathon industry showcase in New York.
The successful CMJ show in October 2011 caught the attention of Jon Pareles of The New York Times, who praised Howard's singing (comparing her to Janis Joplin) as well as the band's energy and musicianship. The clarity of Howard's presentation of the lyrics is distinctive. In late 2011, the band's song "You Ain't Alone" was used in a Zales jewelry ad and Alabama Shakes made MTV's list of Eleven Artists To Watch In 2012.
In the span of less than a year, the band went from virtual obscurity to playing venues such as the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee and in Los Angeles, the Troubadour and Music Box Theater.
In November 2011, the band was signed by Rough Trade Records in the United Kingdom and ATO Records in the United States. In February 2012, the band was nominated for an mtvU Woodie for "best live performance". Recently, Jack White tapped them to launch a series of singles for Third Man Records.
The band's first full-length album, Boys & Girls, was made available in its entirety for live streaming from the Internet on April 1, 2012. In June 2012, the band played a closing set for the first night of the 2012 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. In July of that year, the band also performed at the Newport Folk Festival.
Boys & Girls was certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000 in the United States on March 13, 2013.
A new Alabama Shakes album, titled Sound & Color was released on April 21, 2015.Brittany's musical inspiration came primarily from her elder sister Jaime. Jaime died in 1998 of retinal cancer. See Hermes, Will (March 14, 2013). "Alabama Shakes' Soul Power". Rolling Stone Magazine. Dregni, Michael (July 2012). "Bringing it all home". Vintage Guitar. p. 112. Mongillo, Peter (8 February 2012). "Once a cover act, Alabama Shakes rock and soul band draws notice". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 12 May 2012. Peisner, David (2 February 2012). "Muscle Shoals Revival: Alabama Shakes Take Off". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 May 2012. Powers, Ann (14 October 2011). "How To Keep It Real When Making New Soul: Three Attempts". The Record: Music News from NPR. Retrieved 29 October 2012. Berman, Ben. "The Alabama Shakes: Right At Home with Newfound Fame". OffBeat. Retrieved 27 January 2012. Pareles, Jon (21 October 2011). "At CMJ, a Critic’s Imagination Come to Life, Out of Alabama". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2012. "PUSH: MTV's 11 Artists To Watch In 2012". Buzzworthy.mtv.com. 2012-01-02. Retrieved 2015-04-24. William Michael Smith (2012-01-18). "All Shook Up". Houston Press. Retrieved 2015-04-24. "Events". The Fonda Theatre. Retrieved 2012-08-14. "Alabama Shakes nominated for an mtvU ‘Woodie’ for live performance". Weldbham.com. 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2015-04-24. "Alabama Shakes Conquer The World". American Songwriter. Retrieved 10 April 2012. Thompson, Stephen (1 April 2012). "First Listen: Alabama Shakes, 'Boys And Girls'". NPR Music. NPR. Retrieved April 2, 2012. "Newport Folk Festival Schedule" (PDF). Newport Folk Festival. Retrieved 7 February 2013. "RIAA News Room - Nine Acts Spring Forward With New Multi-Platinum Awards - Mar 13, 2013". Riaa.com. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2015-04-24. "Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes Shares Her Tour Must-Haves | InStyle". News.instyle.com. 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2015-04-24. Terry, Josh (2015-02-10). "Alabama Shakes announce new album, Sound & Color, premiere “Don’t Wanna Fight” — listen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2015-04-24. "Alabama Shakes Share 'Don't Wanna Fight', Announce New Album". Overblown.co.uk. 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
The band made their US national television debut on February 7, 2012 on Conan, where they performed their first single, "Hold On", and a web-exclusive performance of "I Ain't the Same". On April 12, 2012, the band performed on the Late Show with David Letterman for his birthday episode.
They made their UK television debut on April 24, 2012, where they appeared on Later... with Jools Holland and performed "Hold On", "Be Mine" and "Hang Loose." On August 14, 2012, they appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
In September 2012, the band performed at Bestival on the Isle of Wight, alongside The xx and Stevie Wonder. They were featured on the February 16, 2013 edition of Austin City Limits where they performed "Hold On", "Always Alright", "You Ain't Alone", "I Ain't the Same", and "On Your Way".
They appeared on Saturday Night Live on February 16, 2013, performing "Hold On" and "Always Alright". On February 28, 2015, they performed on SNL for a second time, performing "Don't Wanna Fight" and "Gimme All Your Love". They also appeared at the BottleRock Napa Valley music festival in May 2013.
On June 22, 2013 they performed at Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware. Their 2013 summer tour included the Glastonbury Festival (GBR) in June, and the Pukkelpop Festival (BEL) in August. In January 2015 it was announced that the band will perform at the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and the band will also play two sets at the annual Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia in April 2015. The 28th of June the band will play at the Rock Werchter festival in Belgium.Elizabeth Hoekenga. "Alabama Shakes will play Huntsville show in March, making TV debut on 'Conan'". AL.com. Retrieved 2015-04-24. Unterberger, Andrew. "Alabama Shakes Bowl Over Conan in TV Debut". SPIN. Retrieved 2015-04-24. Navaroli, Joel. "SNL Archives | Episodes | 02.28.2015". SNL Archives. Retrieved March 11, 2015. Minsker, Evan (March 1, 2015). "Alabama Shakes Perform "Gimme All Your Love" and "Don't Wanna Fight" on "Saturday Night Live" | News | Pitchfork". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 11, 2015.