Brittany Howard is the lead singer for the popular rock group Alabama Shakes.
Raised in Athens, Alabama, singer Brittany Howard started getting serious about music in high school. She met bassist Zac Cockrell at East Limestone High School. The pair started playing together, eventually adding Steve Johnson and Heath Fogg to their group. In 2011, their band, Alabama Shakes, started to attract national attention. They released their debut album Boys & Girls the following year. Howard has spent much of 2013 on tour with the group.
Howard took up the guitar in her youth, and she began writing songs around the age of 13. Around this same time, she became friends with Zac Cockrell, a fellow student at East Limestone High School. The two shared a love of music and started playing together. Over time, they added Steve Johnson on drums and later brought in Heath Fogg on guitar. They formed a group first dubbed the Shakes and later known as Alabama Shakes. Howard worked as a letter carrier for the Postal Service for a time before the band made it big.
Howard and her bandmates got their big break via the internet in July 2011. Justin Gage, who runs the Aquarium Drunkard blog, posted one of their songs on his site and the response to their rock-soul sound was phenomenal. Before long, the band was being pursued by record companies. They went on their first national tour as the opening act for Drive-By Truckers that fall.
Also that fall, Howard received raves for her performance with the band at the CMJ Music Marathon. Critics hailed her as the next Janis Joplin—a comparison that she doesn’t really agree with. “I don’t think I sound like Janis Joplin. I’m a woman with a raspy voice,” she explained to Newsweek. Howard went on to explain that she believed that she sounds more like AC/DC frontman Bon Scott than Joplin.
In 2012, the band released their first album, Boys & Girls, to great acclaim. They even picked up two Grammy Award nominations for their debut record. At the Grammy Awards in February 2013, Howard lent her distinctive vocals to a musical tribute to Levon Helm of the Band fame.
Later in 2013, Howard hit the road with her bandmates for an international tour. This time around, however, Alabama Shakes were the headliners, not the supporting act. While thrilled with her success, Howard told Newsweek that “even if nobody cared, I’m still gonna make music.”