With a dragging rhythm that reminds of a southern drawl, topped by the deep, booming vocals of Brittany Howard, there was no way Alabama Shakes wasn’t going to make it big.
Taking home the Best Emerging Artist award at the Americanas this past weekend, the four-piece rock band that appeared on the Next Big Sound fastest accelerating artists chart in December of last year, are definitely living up to the hype. Their fan base has grown immensely since, they are selling out tour dates across the United States and Europe, attracting huge crowds at festival performances and landing slots on every late night show from Conan O’Brien, to David Letterman and most recently Jimmy Kimmel.
In the weeks leading up to them making the chart placement, Alabama Shakes were gaining Twitter followers at an average weekly rate of about 125. Since, they have attracted almost 33,000 followers, more than 95 percent of their total and their weekly average is up to about 450 if you look at the past month.
They have also seen a boost in activity on Last.fm, going from an average of 1500 plays each week last November, to somewhere between 50 and 70 thousand new plays every week this summer. They have more than 75,000 fans on Pandora, can boast close to 3 million views on YouTube and have risen to the top 95th percentile of artists and bands being talked about on Facebook.
This all started in an Alabama high school, when vocalist Howard sought out bass player Zac Cockrell and the two started writing songs together. Next up was drummer Steve Johnson, who worked at a local music store, and the quartet was complete when guitarist Heath Fogg heard their demo and hopped on board. Their debut album Boys & Girls came out in the spring of 2012 and now appears on the iTunes chart of Top Albums everywhere from Canada to Ireland to Australia.
In an industry where it can take years to break as an artist, the Shakes came seemingly out of nowhere. Off on a worldwide tour through January, most likely picking up new fans along the way, it remains to be seen just how big they can get.
Photo Credit: Pieter M. van Hattem/Contour by Getty Images.
Liv Buli is the resident data journalist for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Buli is a graduate of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and her work has appeared in Newsweek Daily Beast, The New York Times Local East Village, Westchester Magazine and more.