​Alabama Shakes: Fearless and free

One night at the Brick, the band was playing around with some new riffs. Brittany thought about her life, and the words spilled out.

"Hated my job, and I was just trying to inspire myself to keep working, stay positive, and all this stuff."

So bless my heart and bless yours, too.
I don't know where I'm gonna go.
Don't know what I'm gonna do.
There must be somebody up above sayin',
"Come on, Brittany, you got to come on now!
You got to hold on ...
Hey, you got to hold on..."

"When we played it and come up with it, it felt really good, you know? So that's where it originated."

The song, "Hold On," would go on to become Rolling Stone's Best Song of 2012. And that night at the Brick, the crowd caught on quick.

"People were singing it as the song was developing. It's kinda crazy," said Health Fogg.

"It's funny, 'cause I think they thought it was a cover song we were playing," said Brittany. "And so they were like, 'Yeah, I know this one!' And I remember having a conversation with the guys, like, 'Hey, I think that went pretty good. We should play it like that.' And then Heath was like, 'Can you remember what you did?' 'Yeah, it was so easy.'"

The band members still had their day jobs. Brittany was delivering mail for the U.S. Postal Service. Zac Cockrell was working at an animal clinic. Fogg was painting houses. And Steve Johnson worked at a nuclear power plant.

They recorded four songs, catching the ear of a prominent music blogger. Soon, the industry was calling.

"And I remember my boss [at the post office] yelling at me, telling me I'm on the phone too much!" said Brittany.

Her father laughingly recalled, "She came home day and said, 'Daddy, something's happening. Everybody's calling me. I'm getting emails and calls. And people flyin' in to see me.' And I'm going like, 'What?'"

Despite being paid $20 an hour, she quit her post office job. Brittany had delivered her last piece of mail. "I was so excited. Even though we didn't get paid nothing, it was just the whole fact of traveling, going to the venue, playing your songs."