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NBCBLK28: Brittany Howard: Misfit Made Good

Image: Brittany Howard

In this July 31, 2015 file photo, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performs at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Alabama Shakes released their second album, "Sound & Color," in April. Rob Grabowski / AP

Brittany Howard, 27, Athens, Alabama

Brittany Howard’s husky voice and distinctive guitar licks are partly why she was named Billboard’s 2015 Women in Music “Powerhouse” artist. The Alabama Shakes lead singer took that crown home this past December, a nice tip of the hat to an amazing year. The group’s Grammy-nominated second album, “Sound & Color,” is a critic’s darling, as is Howard’s recently released solo LP “Thunderbitch.” She even shared the Lollapalooza stage with Paul McCartney.

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Howard is biracial – her father is Black and her mother is white – and she grew up in Athens, Alabama where she also met her white band mates. “One of the reasons we started playing music together is that there wasn’t much else to do,” Howard told the New York Times.

Brittany Howard, Billboard Magazine, March 27, 2015
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes is photographed for Billboard Magazine on March 27, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Eric Ryan Anderson/Contour by Getty Images) Contour by Getty Images

She’s also tall, noticeably nearly blind in one eye and she rocked vintage clothing in a town that didn’t have nearly as many geeks and freaks as say, a New York City. “I was a strange kid,” she added. “People didn’t get me. And I didn’t expect them to.” That oddity led to celebrity. And that’s why fans find her sound, her look and her lyrics refreshing, so much so that the Shakes are touring both the South and South America this spring.


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NBCBLK presents 28 profiles of notable black entrepreneurs, policy makers, athletes, entertainers, activists, and artists NBCBLK will reveal one profile each day of the month in honor. While some of the honorees are familiar faces, others are pillars of their communities, unsung heroes with stories to tell. #NBCBLK28.

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