Alabama Shakes

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Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes Way Out West 2013.jpg
Brittany Howard and Zac Cockrell of Alabama Shakes at Way Out West 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden
Background information
Origin Athens, Alabama, United States
Genres Roots rock, Southern rock, blues rock, soul, Americana, garage rock
Years active 2009 (2009)–present
Labels ATO (US)
Rough Trade (UK)
MapleMusic (Canada)
Website Official site

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.[1] 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.[2][3]


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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6][7]

Alabama Shakes released the four-song EP Alabama Shakes September 2011, which gained media attention (including by NPR),[8] and earned them an invitation to play at the CMJ Music Marathon industry showcase in New York.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11][12]

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.[13]

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".[14] Recently, Jack White tapped them to launch a series of singles for Third Man Records.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

Boys & Girls was certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000 in the United States on March 13, 2013.[18]

A new Alabama Shakes album, titled Sound & Color was released on April 21, 2015.[19][20][21]

Media appearances[edit]

The band made their US national television debut on February 7, 2012 on Conan,[22] where they performed their first single, "Hold On", and a web-exclusive performance of "I Ain't the Same".[23] 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".[24][25] 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.

They were confirmed to play Glastonbury Festival on 24-28 July 2015 the day and stage is yet to be confirmed.

Band members[edit]

Alabama Shakes
  • Brittany Howard – lead vocals, guitar
  • Zac Cockrell – bass guitar
  • Heath Fogg – guitar, backing vocals
  • Steve Johnson – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Touring member[edit]

  • Ben Tanner – piano & keyboards, percussion, vocals (2011–present)



Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
Boys & Girls 6 36 4 18 62 5 7 34 48 3
Sound & Color

Extended plays[edit]

  • Alabama Shakes EP (September 13, 2011)
  • Heavy Chevy EP (2012)


Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)





"Hold On" 2012 93 17 15 1 34 81 11 10 49 Boys & Girls
"You Ain't Alone" Live at Third Man Records
"I Ain't the Same" 15 41 Boys & Girls
"Hang Loose" 2013 11 65
"Don't Wanna Fight" 2015 16 21 2 82 21 Sound & Color
"Gimme All Your Love" 29

Music videos[edit]

Title Year Director
"Hold On" 2012 Stephen Shirk/Chris Hershman
"I Ain't the Same" Jane Pollard
"Sound & Color" 2015 Mario Hugo

Songs in film[edit]

Year Song Appearance
2015 "Don't Want to Fight" Silicon Valley, Season 2, Episode 5 (Final Credits)
2014 "I Found You" A Long Way Down (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2013 "Driva Man" 12 Years a Slave (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2012 "Always Alright" Silver Linings Playbook (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)


Year Recipient Award Result
2012 Alabama Shakes Q Award for Best New Act Nominated
Americana Music Honors & Award for Emerging Artist of the Year Won
2013 BRIT Awards for International Group Nominated
Grammy Award for Best New Artist Nominated
"Hold On" Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance Nominated
2014 "Always Alright" Nominated


  1. ^ Spera, Keith. "The Alabama Shakes is a soul-rock band on the rise". Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ "55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees". The Recording Academy. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Mary Colurso. "Alabama ties: 2013 Grammy nods for Alabama Shakes, Casting Crowns, Civil Wars, more". Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Dregni, Michael (July 2012). "Bringing it all home". Vintage Guitar. p. 112. 
  6. ^ Mongillo, Peter (8 February 2012). "Once a cover act, Alabama Shakes rock and soul band draws notice". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Peisner, David (2 February 2012). "Muscle Shoals Revival: Alabama Shakes Take Off". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Berman, Ben. "The Alabama Shakes: Right At Home with Newfound Fame". OffBeat. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "PUSH: MTV's 11 Artists To Watch In 2012". 2012-01-02. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  12. ^ William Michael Smith (2012-01-18). "All Shook Up". Houston Press. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  13. ^ "Events". The Fonda Theatre. Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  14. ^ "Alabama Shakes nominated for an mtvU ‘Woodie’ for live performance". 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  15. ^ "Alabama Shakes Conquer The World". American Songwriter. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Thompson, Stephen (1 April 2012). "First Listen: Alabama Shakes, 'Boys And Girls'". NPR Music. NPR. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Newport Folk Festival Schedule" (PDF). Newport Folk Festival. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "RIAA News Room - Nine Acts Spring Forward With New Multi-Platinum Awards - Mar 13, 2013". 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  19. ^ "Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes Shares Her Tour Must-Haves | InStyle". 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ "Alabama Shakes Share 'Don't Wanna Fight', Announce New Album". 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  22. ^ Elizabeth Hoekenga. "Alabama Shakes will play Huntsville show in March, making TV debut on 'Conan'". Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  23. ^ Unterberger, Andrew. "Alabama Shakes Bowl Over Conan in TV Debut". SPIN. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  24. ^ Navaroli, Joel. "SNL Archives | Episodes | 02.28.2015". SNL Archives. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ a b c d e "Alabama Shakes Album & Songs Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2014-09-10. 
  27. ^ " - Discography Alabama Shakes". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  28. ^ a b "Alabama Shakes - Belgium (Flanders) Charts". Hung Medien. 
  29. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Danish Charts". Hung Medien. 
  30. ^ "Alabama Shakes - French Charts". Hung Medien. 
  31. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Irish Charts". Hung Medien. 
  32. ^ a b "Alabama Shakes - Dutch Charts". Hung Medien. 
  33. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Swedish Charts". Hung Medien. 
  34. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Swiss Charts". Hung Medien. 
  35. ^ Peak positions in United Kingdom:
  36. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - April 24, 2015". Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  37. ^ [1][dead link]
  38. ^ Rock, Canadian (2012-07-18). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock - July 17, 2012". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  39. ^ Rock, Canadian (2012-10-09). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock - October 10, 2012". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  40. ^ Rock, Canadian (2013-02-26). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock - February 26, 2013". Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  41. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Chart history". Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  42. ^ "Canadian digital download certifications – Alabama Shakes – Hold On". Music Canada. 

External links[edit]