The Alabama Shakes have a raw emotion and directness in their songwriting that you can’t help but be drawn in by. The band came together in 2009, and within two years, thanks to powerful live performances, an enormous buzz developed around the group. While the band is clearly talented, much of the buzz was about the incredibly powerful singer Brittany Howard- you simply cannot look away when she is performing.  Jon Pareles of The New York Times compared her to Janis Joplin, a comparison that was then often repeated, but this young African American woman has a star quality all her own.  When she sings “Hold On.” you can’t help but want to cheer her on. The Alabama Shakes’ 2012 debut Boys & Girls suggests great things to come and for that they should definitely be counted among the Twenty Black Voices for a New Century.

Read more in our Twenty Black Voices for a New Century series here.

Oh so cavalierly she flips her hair and, to her, I’m not even there. I’ve become a non-entity. Time has been unkind. To us. To everyone. But her one gesture has pulled back the years, has erased a few of those lines across her face. Again she’s that girl I met that cool night of Spring. Again she’s that girl who told me, as we rode the bus, my getting-to-know-you arm timidly across her shoulder, that I could kiss her if I wanted to. And oh so badly I wanted to. Maybe somewhere deep down inside I will always want to.


I haven’t written anything much in weeks or certainly anything worth reading. I don’t know if I’ll ever again. I’d like inspiration to surprise me. Everything comes out sounding like everything I’ve ever written. The same words. The same sentiments. How do writers not get tired of words? There are no stories left in me. I’ve written my pain and sadness and happiness away and now I’m nothing.
Still deep within me and constantly hanging over me is this need…to write.