Chicago Tribune: “Shemekia Copeland goes on the road again”

Photo Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune

Now that her son is 2-½ years old, Chicago blues singer Shemekia Copeland decided she’s ready to hit the road again in a major way.

So she’s now in the midst of touring with Robert Cray while hopscotching around the country playing other shows, including Friday night’s performance at the Ravinia Festival, where she’ll open for Buddy Guy. (…)

“Since Johnny was born, I haven’t done a whole lot of touring,” adds Copeland, referring to toddler Johnny Lee Copeland-Schultz.

“I’m already missing him. But Johnny is pretty set. He’s in school. He’s got his little routine, and I think he already has a pretty good understanding of what mama does (…).

“Now I’m excited about getting out on the road and touring this record, seeing how people feel about it.”

She refers to “America’s Child” (Alligator Records), an album she released last summer that bristles with pointed social commentary. New songs such as “Ain’t Got Time for Hate” (by John Hahn, her manager, and Will Kimbrough), “Americans” (by Mary Gauthier and Hahn) and “Would You Take My Blood?” (by Hahn and Kimbrough) confront the ugly racial and socioeconomic pandering peddled by some politicians these days.

Copeland’s efforts won her two honors from the Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards, for album of the year and contemporary blues album, as well as nominations for instrumental vocals, contemporary blues female artist and song of the year (for “Ain’t Got Time for Hate”). (…)

But Copeland apparently is just getting warmed up; she’s planning her next album. (…)

At the moment, Copeland also finds herself saddened by the recent death of Dr. John, who produced her 2002 album “Talking to Strangers,” his funky, New Orleans sensibility bringing forth the deepest blue shadings of her art. He also duetted with her on his 2014 album, “Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch.”

“I’m heartbroken,” says Copeland. “He was so amazing to me throughout my whole career, and just being supportive and loving.” (…)

“He’s just a national treasure. I think New Orleans should shut down for a month to celebrate Dr. John.” (…)

By Howard Reich, before Shemekia’s performance this Friday evening at Ravinia Festival. Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.