Sister Hazel is an alternative rock band from Gainesville, Florida, whose style also blends elements of folk rock, pop, classic rock 'n' roll and southern rock. Their music is characterized by highly melodic tunes and prominent harmonies. Most of their songs have optimistic lyrics. The band's instrumentation often features abrupt shifts among electric, acoustic and a cappella, with striking use of tacets. Though often described as alternative, Sister Hazel leans toward an upbeat sound and away from the clashing punk discordance often associated with the alternative rock genre. Sister Hazel formed in Gainesville, Florida in 1993 and was named for Sister Hazel Williams, a local nun who ran a homeless shelter. The group released its self-titled debut album in 1994 through its independent record label, Croakin' Poets and shortly after its release, singer/guitarist Ryan Newell and drummer Mark Trojanowski joined the band. Newell played on the album before officially joining the group. The band's second album, ...Somewhere More Familiar was released in 1997 and sold approximately 30,000 copies through its initial pressing, prompting Universal Records to sign the band. Universal re-released ...Somewhere More Familiar in late 1997. A single from the album, "All For You" hit No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains the band's most successful single. The band's third album Fortress was released in 2000 by Universal. The band worked with producers Mike Clink (Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Heart), Richie Zito (Cheap Trick), and Paul Ebersold (3 Doors Down). The album featured minor pop hits "Champagne High" and "Change Your Mind" (the latter inspiring a YouTube video to an episode of Veronica Mars). In 2003, after the band split from Universal, they released their fourth studio album, Chasing Daylight, on the Sixthman label and toured throughout the year to promote the album. The band's internet presence emerged during this time period, and hardcore fans dubbing themselves "Hazelnuts" studied setlists, shared bootleg concert recordings, and initiated a promotion scheme with the band through their official website. 2003 also saw the simultaneous release of Live*LIVE, a two-disc live album, and A Life in the Day, a live DVD. In 2004, Sister Hazel released their next studio album Lift. Songs from Lift were re-recorded for 2005's Lift: Acoustic Renditions, an EP of studio acoustic takes on five of the songs, offered exclusively through Apple's iTunes Store. In July 2005, the Sister Hazel album was re-issued again by Sixthman, in response to claims that the album had become difficult to find in stores. Sister Hazel then promoted their album, Absolutely, which was released on October 10, 2006. The band also continued to tour and hold annual fan gathering events, The Rock Boat and The Rock Slope. Absolutely is the band's highest charting album on the Billboard charts following Fortress and it received 4 out of a possible 5 stars from Allmusic, a tie with Fortress's score. On June 5, 2007, Sister Hazel released a "hybrid" album entitled BAM! Volume 1. It contains B-sides from the Absolutely recording sessions and some from previous albums. Sister Hazel also released a holiday album called Santa's Playlist on September 25, 2007. On February 9, 2008, Sister Hazel performed a live concert at Daytona International Speedway for the Budweiser Shootout. Sister Hazel released a live acoustic album on June 17, 2008 entitled Before The Amplifiers, Live Acoustic on Croakin' Poets/Rock Ridge Music. The record features sixteen tracks, including the band's hits, fan favorites, and live concert staples, all in a stripped-down, acoustic format. The album was recorded on January 12 at Nickel & Dime Studios in Atlanta (other bands who have recorded there in the past include Indigo Girls, The B-52's, Shawn Mullins) in front of 100 lucky fans who were chosen at random from more than five thousand entries. At the July 18, 2008 concert at Wolf Trap Farm Park, drummer Mark Trojanowski took paternity leave for his newborn child. Former Vertical Horizon and current Doobie Brothers drummer Ed Toth played in his place. On July 9, 2009 Ford Motor Company announced a collaboration with Sister Hazel to promote the company's new Sync Technology, which is available on a number of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles. The band has been chosen to be the face of the company's "Sync My Ride" website, www.syncmyride.com. The band released their seventh studio album of original songs (tenth album overall) on August 18, 2009. The album, entitled Release, contains 12 tracks and is on the Rock Ridge Music label. On the day of release, Release was the number one album on iTunes. The band entered the studio less than six months after releasing Release and began work on their new album, Heartland Highway. The album was released on October 12, 2010, and featured "Stay a While" as the first radio single.