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America’s Child and Ain’t Got Time for Hate in the Top 100 for 2018

The Americana Music Association has released the Top 100 Albums and Songs for 2018 according to the amount of radio play each album and song received. Shemekia Copeland’s America’s Child is among the albums, and her Ain’t Got Time for Hate is among the songs!

The Americana Music Association annual report gives listeners a glimpse into the albums, songs, and artists that gained traction in the format over the year, and is a good tool to see what you might have missed in the year’s releases.

See the full lists on Saving Country Music

America’s Child “album of the year” for New City Music

With “America’s Child,” Shemekia Copeland has given us something real; and just as Mavis Staples’ most recent recording was penned and steered by Jeff Tweedy, Copeland here had a strong guide in producer and collaborator and Americana Instrumentalist of the Year winner Will Kimbrough, who plays guitar and organ and writes several songs. Kimbrough fronted Will & The Bushmen in the 1980s, and penned songs for many greats since, including Emmylou Harris, who contributes backing vocals here, and has become a serial collaborator, including with Staples. “Shemekia Copeland is the real deal,” Kimbrough says. “‘America’s Child’ goes deep and Shemekia‘s voice—a national treasure—carries the songs effortlessly, whether topical, personal, spiritual, political or just plain raucous fun.  Shemekia rears back her head and what comes out is humanity made vocal.”

Maybe this is the best record of the year. Every time I listen, I think, have I heard any album better than this in 2018, from end to end? There are moments of levity and moments of seriousness and heartbreak; it’s not a perfect album, but the one constant is her palpable passion, and that is Shemekia Copeland through-and-through.

By Craig Bechtel. Read the full review on New City Music

Down At The Crossroads: “A great piece of Americana”

Her new album, America’s Child, produced by Nashville’s Will Kimbrough, is a compelling piece of work that sees Ms. Copeland branch out beyond the blues in which she’s made her name. To be sure there are great blues numbers here, but there’s rock and country too –overall it’s a great piece of Americana. …

The album has a stellar cast of collaborators on the album – John Prine, Mary Gauthier, Emmylou Harris, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Cropper and others. …

Shemekia Copeland is no stranger to biting social commentary in her work – in her 2015 album, Outskirts of Love, she addressed victims of date rape in Crossbone Beach and of domestic violence in Drivin’ Out of Nashville, the homeless, in Cardboard Box, and those living in poverty in Lord Help the Poor And Needy. And no less in American Child, she offers a social commentary and critique of the way things are in the United States at the moment in the songs I Ain’t Got Time for Hate, Americans and Would You Take My Blood. …

There’s no shortage of emotion on this album, driven by the conviction and clarity of Ms. Copeland’s vocals, which range from tender in the closing lullaby to playful in One I Love to sassy on The Wrong Idea to earnest in In the Blood of the Blues, and everything in between. Although it’s not an out and out blues album, there’s a fine bluesy feel throughout, driven by the excellent guitar skills of Will Kimbrough and Steve Cropper. The song arrangements and tight band work combine with Ms. Copeland’s voice to make this an authentic and memorable album. …

By Gary W. Burnett. Read the full review on Downatthecrossroads

In Pop Matters’ 20 best Americana albums of 2018

Shemekia Copeland represents some of the year’s best articulations of the American spirit, both musically and thematically. Copeland is a towering singer, with a knack for telling deeply-felt stories and finding bone-deep grooves that add fresh vitality to her traditional forms. On America’s Child, the sentiments of tolerance and inclusion and let’s-all-stop-yelling-at-each-other are nice reminders of the American dream even while acknowledging how far we are from the American reality. And speaking of diversity, Copeland may be known primarily as a blues artist, but with John Prine, Rhiannon Giddens, and Emmylou Harris on board, America’s Child is, yes, an Americana album, borrowing from a range of American musical traditions and refusing to be bound by any genres or ethnic lines. How American.

By Steve Leftridge. Pop Matters put Shemekia’s America’s Child at #15 in its “20 best Americana albums of 2018” list. 

Chicago Reader: “Hard-driving, roots-rich ensemble”

When 19-year-old Shemekia Copeland exploded onto the blues scene in 1998 with Turn the Heat Up (Alligator), the reaction was immediate: adjectives like “sizzling,” “storming,” and “incendiary” began following her around like starstruck groupies; some reviewers even dragged relics like the dreaded “red-hot blues mama” out of storage to describe her.

Overheated as some of the encomiums may have been, most captured who she was as an artist pretty well, but some of them missed the mark: Within the intensity Copeland poured into virtually every song, she seemed to be singing from the depths of hard-won experience, delivering “grown folks’ music” before she was even out of her teens.

In the years since, she has further expanded her thematic and emotional range by delving into such hot-button themes as religious hypocrisy (“Sounds Like the Devil,” “Somebody Else’s Jesus”), domestic violence (“Ain’t Gonna Be Your Tattoo”), and date rape (“Crossbone Beach”).

On this year’s America’s Child, she augments her usual hard-driving, roots-rich ensemble with such guests as John Prine, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Cropper, and Emmylou Harris. Throughout the record, she summons a persona that’s both righteous and welcoming: “Ain’t Got Time for Hate,” “Americans,” and “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” are celebrations of free will, diversity, and tolerance. On “One I Love” her protagonist is a woman in an unspecified unconventional relationship taking on the haters, and —as if to remind some of her less-than-woke listeners where her music really comes from and what it really means— “In The Blood Of The Blues” is a jubilant, unabashedly militant proclamation of its living African diaspora heritage.

By David Whiteis in the Chicago Reader, before Shemekia’s performance at the City Winery in Chicago, on December 26 and 27, 2018. 

In Taste Magazine’s 10 Best roots & blues albums of 2018

Shemekia is the daughter of Texas blues legend Johnny Copeland, and she launched her career by crafting a northern-soul version of her daddy’s music. On her last two albums, however, she has applied that big-lunged, big-funk blues sound to some of the best songwriters in Nashville. On this album, she fleshes out the possibilities of songs by Mary Gauthier, John Prine, Oliver Wood and Kevin Gordon. This is the best of both worlds: terrific literary songwriting coupled with a tradition older than any college curriculum.

By Geoffrey Himes. He put Shemekia’s America’s Child in Paste Magazine‘s 10 Best roots & blues albums of 2018. 

In Folk n Root’s “Best of 2018”

“Starting tomorrow, Monday, December 9, our Feature Show, which runs 3 times a day, most days of the week, will be spinning tracks from our picks for the best new roots music releases of 2018,” writes Folk n Roots Radio, who put Shemekia Copeland’s America’s Child in the list, as well as John Prine’s Summer’s End. The radio station also adds: “Tune in and remember, if you like the tunes, buy the records.” 

Get the full Best of 2018 list on Folk n Roots Radio

The Roanoke Times: “A blues legacy with class and some sass”

Photo by Natalee Waters / Special to The Roanoke Times

Yes, she is a blues singer. A phenomenal one. Copeland’s powerful voice, whether gliding or blasting off, was in tuneful and soulful control during a 95-minute set. … Behind her, a four-piece band provided seamless grooves and twin-guitar firepower. …

Copeland had legitimate material, too — including songs from her latest album, the Americana-influenced “America’s Child.” She showed how to rock the blues with a mixture of showmanship and sass, even a bit of diplomacy.

By Tad Dickens, in a story titled “Singer Shemekia Copeland carries a blues legacy with class and some sass”. Read the full review of Shemekia’s performance at Jefferson Center in Roanoke, Virginia, in The Roanoke Times

“Get this album yesterday”

This recording is chock full of memorial tunes brought to life through Copeland’s unique, powerfully convicting voice. The album radiates sincerity, whether Copeland’s giving into the possibility of a dalliance despite knowing of the hazards of heartache in “Promised Myself” or holding up a mirror to our nation’s diversity in “Americans” — a sneaky and tricky rhythm monster of a song. I have little patience for insincerity in music, doubly so when the musician wades into political issues, but Copeland’s integrity, both within the music and the power of her convictions, is refreshing and penetratingly honest.

Copeland reaches her zenith on “In the Blood of the Blues,” a compelling appreciation of the power of the blues to salve the suffering of slaves and console the victims of Jim Crow. It’s potent, heady stuff enlivened by Will Kimbrough’s searing guitar and Copeland’s incendiary vocals — they’re the perfect instruments to evoke the song’s passionate sentiments. This song is so well conceived that it rivals Billie Holiday’s recording of “Strange Fruit” for sheer emotional intensity.

Get this album yesterday. 

By Randy Murphy. Read the full review on the Cascade Blues Association website.