“Poignantly, perfectly steeped”

Shemekia Copeland may have grown up in right smack dab in the middle of the hip hop era, but thanks to her father, her heart — and her music — is steeped in the blues. Poignantly, perfectly steeped.

Copeland, whose new album, Outskirts Of Love, was released in September, has been performing since she was just a kid.

The Harlem native was maybe nine or ten when she joined her father on stage for the first time, she recalled in a telephone interview last week. “It was at the Cotton Club,” said the singer in her warm, deep, raspy voice. Copeland would go on to tour with her father, the famed Texas bluesman who won a Grammy in 1986 for “Showdown,” an album he worked on with Robert Cray and Albert Collins.

Copeland toured regularly with her dad during the last few years of his life (Johnny Copeland, who had a congenital heart defect, died in 1997 during heart surgery) and credits him with preparing her for a life on the road. […]

As we spoke, Copeland, who was a personal thrill to interview, apologized if she seemed to be distracted (she did not.) She was getting ready for her interview with NPR’s Scott Simon she told me, and was putting on make-up as we chatted.

By Nancy Burns-Fusaro, for The Westerly Sun, before Shemekia’s performance at the Knickerbocker Café, in Westerly, Rhode Island, on Friday, October 23.

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