Brittany Howard is best known for her work with her band, Alabama Shakes, and her first solo release, her album ‘Jaime’, is named for her sister, who died from cancer while they were still teenagers. ‘Stay High’ is the first single from the album, and is an ode to joy in which Howard reflects on her upbringing.
Howard’s collaborators on the album include engineer Shawn Everett, Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell, jazz-based keyboard player Robert Glasper, and drummer Name Smith. Discussing her solo debut, she says,
“It’s my first time making decisions on my own, being the captain of the ship. It brings up existential questions—why am I here, why do I do this? People think that touring in a band is super-fun, and it can be, but nothing about it is normal. You miss out on a lot of stuff, so I need to make sure I’m doing it for the right reasons.”
In the lyrics for ‘Stay High’, Brittany highlights the significance of where she’s from and how the people there aren’t always pleasant or even likely to have a smile on.
The ‘Stay High’ video is set in Howard’s hometown of Athens, Alabama – and for the first time, she herself is onscreen. In the clip, viewers follow a working man (played by ‘Brooklyn 99’ star Terry Crews) as he clocks out of his blue-collar job and makes his way home through his small-town community. For the entirety of the video, we get a spotlight on rural Southern living, and although it may not be glamorous or invoke traditional feelings of being high, this man and the colourful characters that make themselves part of the scenery are feeling an intense sensation.
Speaking of the video, Howard says,
“The actors are my family and friends. Terry Crews plays a man who isn’t out to change the world, he plays a man who just wants to come home to those who understand and love him best. We see his inner beauty, grace and humanity in a place that is so often misunderstood.”
“I got an email from the Brittany Howard, asking me to be a part of a song she wrote that was all about her dad and how special he was to the family. And she poured her heart out in this letter. I couldn’t believe it. Brittany was like, ‘we can shoot it in L.A.,’ and I said, ‘No, I’m coming to you, we’re going to Alabama. We’re going to where you grew up, to where your family is.”
Find out more about Brittany Howard here.