Hi People. You may not know much about me, but if we ever spent a night on the town, or a weekend on the road, I guarantee I would break into song and dance within minutes. I can’t say I’ve had lessons, but the neighbors tell me I “project well” and my friends always look forward to “hearing me rumble.”
For those who are unfamiliar, “Rumble” as defined by Miriam Webster: To utter or emit in a low rolling voice.
In case you missed Mavis Staples and Alabama Shakes on the Grammys’ Levon Helm Tribute, the Shakes also performed on SNL this past Saturday and man was it powerful.
Who are Alabama Shakes? They are the soulful Grammy nominated, southern blues-rock group belting out songs like “Hold On” and “Always Alright” from Silver Linings Playbook. Brittany Howard leads the group and not only can she rock, but she can rumble.
She sings like she means it.
Mavis Staples also sings like she means it. At the Grammys, she rumbled so hard that she left the rest of the band behind. Even before the Grammys, I rediscovered Mavis in her backstage Wilco performance on buzzfeed. She is a 73 year old force of nature. Secretly, I wish Mavis Staples was my grandma so we could belt out tunes together at family gatherings.
The Grammys re-introduced me to Brittany and Mavis and reinvigorated my search for inspiring rumblers. Luckily, technology makes it easy. Within seconds, my Pandora “Mavis Staples” station had me grooving to Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight & The Pips’.
Whether you realize it or not, these are artists everyone knows. All three of these ladies were a part of my recent wedding. Etta James’ “At Last,” was a contender for first dance. My father, despite his unbridled enthusiasm to sing-a-long, butchered Aretha Franklin’s lyrics “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” with “Hurry up, sweet, sweet pea.” And last but not least, my husband’s family name is “Gladysz.” To this day, the only way he can close out a tab is by telling a bartender that his last name is “like Gladys Knight & the Pips.”
Beyond weddings, these women shaped American music and culture. You might not be able to name all the classics, but you know soul when you hear it. Who can forget watching 13 year old Rachel Crow belting out “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Etta James) and “If I Were a Boy” (Beyonce) on X-Factor Seasons 1? Rachel rumbled so deep that judge Nicole Sherzinger was named the “The Most Hated Woman in America” after her infamous “no vote” sent Rachel home.
We love the rumble. We love soul. These women know it’s more than music and capture emotion in their performances. In honor of Black History Month, here’s to celebrating some of the rumblers who help shape my road trip playlists.
Who is your favorite “Rumbler”?
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes