In its 364th edition, Blues Radio International features an exclusive interview and performance by Shemekia Copeland.
Shemekia has said “country music ain’t nothin’ but the blues with a twang” and this American child is out to prove it. …
Shemekia presents a message front and center with Kimbrough’s “Ain’t Got Time For Hate” adding Perkins’ pedal steel guitar, J. D. Wilkes harmonica and an eight piece vocal choir while Will’s “Would You Take My Blood” is stripped back to just the trio as she reaches out across this divided nation. Continuing their message of unity, Paul Franklin’s pedal steel guitar whines over a marching rhythm with Mary Gauthier, Emmylou Harris and Katie Pruitt singing the chorus as Shemekia runs through a roster of characters on Gauthier’s “Americans.” With the light touch of Giddens’ banjo and sparkle of Will’s National Guitar, Shemekia’s vocals quiver as she recalls simpler times with “Smoked Ham and Peaches” then she goes out honky tonking on the Morrison Brothers’ “The Wrong Idea” as Kenny Sears’ fiddle joins mid whirl. Al Perkins’ pedal steel has a seductive sway of a Mexicali ballad heating up as Shemekia sings, “Such A Pretty Flame.” Singing from her heart Shemekia covers her father’s “Promised Myself” led by Steve Cropper’s guitar. The plodding insistence of John Prine’s “Great Rain” features a duet with the man himself then things pick up force with “In The Blood Of The Blues” and “One I Love” by rocker Kevin Gorden as Wilkes’ harmonica brings it to a whirling conclusion. The Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” is just Copeland and Kimbrough’s slashing guitar before the rhythm section slips in midway. The gentle guitar intro by Kimbrough fades behind Copeland as she sings the traditional lullaby “Go To Sleepy Little Baby” a cappella.
Shemekia sings of love and hope and acceptance because as brothers and sisters we are all “America’s Child”.
By Roger & Margaret White. Read the full review in Big City Rhythm & Blues.
The blues singer’s musical excursions in Nashville have opened a new chapter in Copeland’s expansive career. Her love of the setting and of Will Kimbrough’s guitars and production gushes forth. But the ballast here is the message, a claim on the American dream on behalf of her forebears and her own child. “Would You Take My Blood?” she asks. We should be so lucky.
Craig Havigurst curated the list of the “30 outstanding albums that we’ll reach for years from now when we want to remember the sound of 2018.” Among those, Shemekia Copeland’s America’s Child. Find out the full list on Roots Radio.
The reigning Queen of the Blues, three-time Grammy nominee and multiple Blues Music Awards winner, Shemekia Copeland released her album in August via Alligator Records, produced by Will Kimbrough. America’s Child features powerhouse and soulful vocals from Copeland who sings with conviction and passion. She is the daughter of Texas bluesman, Johnny Copeland. With 12 moving songs of blues, rock R&B and country, Shemekia offers a rootsy soul-shaking album with plenty of fierce commentary. And we like to hear artists taking a stand. There’s also playfulness on the album and plenty of groove. The songs’ lyrics are rich with imagery. Steve Cropper, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, and Rhiannon Giddens, and others, guest on the album.
Read the full “Top 20 Blues, Rock, Roots Albums of 2018” list on Rock and Blues Muse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The powerhouse vocalist and daughter of the late blues great Johnny Copeland works here in Nashville with a bunch of Americana stalwarts and delivers her own state of the union.