Why Brittany Howard put Alabama Shakes on hold to create a deeply personal solo album

Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard shares why she put her successful band on pause and embarked on radical musical exploration and introspection.
Brittany Howard's debut solo album, Jaime, is out now. (Matt Sawin )

Originally published on Oct. 8, 2019

With the end of a decade nearing, you can anticipate an avalanche of lists counting down the best of anything — including the best bands of the 2010s. Alabama Shakes is sure to be among them; after all the band won three Grammys for their 2015 album Sound & Color and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.

So it came as a surprise when lead vocalist Brittany Howard decided to hit the pause button on the band. On the heels of the release of her debut solo album Jaime, Howard spoke with q's Tom Power about embarking on her own musical journey, creating her most personal record to date and the influences behind the new album.

The new album Jaime was released on September 20. (Submitted)

The album is named after her late sister, who passed away from a rare form of eye cancer when she was a teenager. Howard mined her personal experiences on Jaime, penning songs about her upbringing, her relationships and her spirituality.

"I needed it to be everything that I needed it to be," said Howard about her reasoning for creating the solo record. "I definitely didn't need other voices to do it or opinions. I just wanted to do something on my own and with my own ingredients." 

The album is a culmination of her experiences on a road trip she took across the U.S., where she was able to take time for herself and reflect. 

Howard's debut solo album Jaime is out now. You can catch her in Vancouver, performing at The Commodore on Nov. 19.

— Produced by ​Cora Nijhawan and Stuart Berman