Brittany Howard is a power of nature. That she heads her band Alabama Shakes, writing and recording her critically acclaimed solo album I like or lending her voice to nice causes, she’s unstoppable, she’s nice, and he or she’s not like anybody else within the music trade proper now.
The multi-talented musician entered the 2021 Grammys with 5 nominations, behind solely Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Roddy Ricch and Taylor Swift. She received a trophy, her fifth total, and made historical past. She additionally appeared in a significant TV spot with Johnnie Walker on the ceremony, standing out as one of many solely musicians to take action.
I spoke with the up-and-coming rock legend about her solo work, her newest partnership, and what it means to make historical past as a black lady in an trade that has favored white males for thus very long time.
Hugh McIntyre: Congratulations in your huge evening on the Grammys! How does it really feel to be a winner? Once more! No, each alone and in a bunch.
Brittany Howard: Oh man, tremendous fulfilling. This report may be very private for me. I named it after my sister. It was she who made me turn into a artistic particular person, made me uncover music, made me uncover artwork. So giving him his title was actually necessary to me and my household. What it means to be type of nominated in all these totally different genres … actually cool. And likewise be in a rock class with nothing however girls, tremendous cool, and in addition be the second black lady to win it [Best Rock Song] within the historical past of the Grammys.
Mcintyre: Not solely are you the second black lady to win Finest Rock Music, however you are truly the primary to win it twice. I feel this is only one signal amongst an extended line of indicators that you simply stand out on this style which for thus lengthy has been male-dominated and white-dominated. Inform me the way you see the style altering. Did he welcome you?
Howard: Yeah, I feel it is a good begin as a result of it is the beginning of a dialog. I’ll have received twice, however historical past truly exhibits that rock and roll was created by a black lady. It was created by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, when she was taking part in guitar, all people noticed her and stated, that is the brand new sound. And so they tried to repeat the sound for the report firms by making a reputation for themselves. And I am unsure that is essentially meant to be disrespectful. I feel she was simply doing one thing new and it was rock and roll. I’ve the impression that now there’s this chance, we are able to speak about the true origin the place this style comes from.
Mcintyre: I beloved seeing that your solo album was nominated for R&B and Roots and Rock for 2 totally different years. How does it really feel to be nominated in all of those classes? And what do you consider style labels on the whole?
Howard: I perceive why I bought nominated in all these totally different genres. The kind of music I made incorporates all the things. I am only a music scholar. I feel all the things is helpful, even when I am simply discovering out, that is not what I wish to do. So I feel the Grammys might need struggled to determine the place to position me, so I unfold out, which is tremendous cool. Truthfully, I feel that is the place I belong. It is probably not in a single class.
Mcintyre: Jamie actually succeeded. Clearly the critics beloved it. The trade beloved it. After being so profitable in a band, had been you nervous about going out by yourself? Had been there excessive expectations?
Howard: Actually, I used to be tremendous uncertain and unsure. I simply knew what I’ve all the time wished with Alabama Shakes and what I’ve discovered individually is to observe the place creativity takes you. So, it doesn’t matter what excites you, you need to go in that path. My ship was crusing to do this sort of solo enterprise to lastly be artistic. And I used to be actually nervous about it. I wasn’t certain, however I knew that was the place I used to be pointed, so to talk, and making a report and being so private, they’re open and it was scary and I wasn’t certain what everybody was going to assume. Lastly, in the long run, it actually did not matter. I did one thing that I used to be pleased with and to be joined by followers and friends and this music trade and past, it is actually breathtaking and wonderful. And that simply provides me extra gasoline to maintain going and hold creating and hold listening, which motivates me.
Mcintyre: I am all the time after I discuss to musicians who’ve a number of totally different tasks… You went solo and also you’re in multiple band. If you write or are within the studio, how do you identify what is true for which undertaking and the way that course of works for you.
Howard: Hm. I do not know the best way to reply it. I feel possibly it is an lively factor, you already know what I am saying? Like, typically it simply matches that group of individuals and typically it does not, then possibly it matches right here. I by no means know who I am writing for. I am simply writing. After which I made a decision later.
Mcintyre: I’ve heard this reply earlier than. So it seems to be like it’s occurring. I imply, there is no such thing as a rhyme or cause. Such as you stated, you are feeling it.
Howard: Sure. It is like making a recipe after which you need to determine what your whole elements had been. It’s a bit like that.
Mcintyre: So it has been 5 or 6 years since Alabama Shakes’ final album. What’s the standing of the group?
Howard: The standing of the group now… Everyone seems to be elevating their youngsters, residing their life and doing their passions and up to now that is the place it has been. And that is cool to me, it sounds prefer it’s cool with guys. And that is all of the replace I’ve for the time being. I imply, everyone seems to be doing nice. I’ll say loads.
Mcintyre: So what is the subsequent step for you musically?
Howard: Yeah, that is an amazing query. I have no idea. I by no means know. I form of simply introduce myself and allow them to come to me. After which I understood it afterwards, it was a bit the identical manner as after I was writing. I wasn’t certain if a few of the songs, I wasn’t certain in the event that they had been for Alabama Shakes or what they had been for, however it was clear that it was one thing totally different. So I form of let this complete course of unfold naturally.
Mcintyre: Talking of the Grammys, I noticed your business with Johnnie Walker on the present. I used to be glad to listen to you sing! Inform me a bit of bit about what you do with the model and the way it got here to be, as a result of I do know it is greater than only a spot.
Howard: To the appropriate. Sure. So I first recorded the model of “You will By no means Stroll Alone” for this Johnnie Walker Maintain Strolling TV spot, this business that I did. I have no idea. It was only a tune that has quite a lot of common which means, strolling in the dead of night due to solidarity, conserving it collectively, particularly through the coronavirus and all the things we have been by means of final yr. And in order that’s the place it began. It was an amazing expertise. And that is after I first discovered about their First Girls and I Fund Girls program, which supplies grants to women-owned companies, that is tremendous cool. And I positively wished to be part of it.
Mcintyre: Now the tune, as you stated, it is a traditional. And that makes quite a lot of sense for the time being, clearly. Was it your resolution, their resolution?
Howard: I feel creatively it was like a hunt for what the tune is. Tips on how to speak about what is occurring now? And at last, what message will we wish to convey? Which positively brings folks collectively and simply hope. Hope that someday we are able to all come collectively once more. And I feel this tune simply talked about it. That is why we adopted him.