News

A full interview in Forbes

Photo Mike White

Shemekia Copeland is an award-winning R&B/Americana singer considered one of the great blues voices of our time. Born in Harlem, New York City and daughter of Texas blues guitarist and singer Johnny Copeland, young Shemekia first performed at the Cotton Club when she was 9. At 16, her father took her on tour as his opening act, establishing her name on the blues circuit.

In 1998, she landed a recording contract with Alligator Records, and released her first album, Turn the Heat Up!  Other albums followed: Wicked, Talking to Strangers, and The Soul Truth. At the 2011 Chicago Blues Festival, she was presented with Koko Taylor’s crown and officially honored as the new ‘Queen of the Blues.’ Her album, Outskirts of Love peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Top Blues Albums, and her latest eighth album, America’s Child on Alligator Records has just been released. She has earned multiple Blues Music and Living Blues Awards, Best Blues Artist Of The Year and a Grammy nomination.

Margie Goldsmith “caught up with the busy performer in Buffalo where she was on tour.” She asked Shemekia about her childhood and her teenage years, her albums, her performance at the White House, her collaborations with Dr. John, John Prine, and Steve Cropper, about her band, her son, and her new album, America’s Child, in which she sings “about chaos and uncertainty.” “And yet, you still find joy all around you,” adds Margie Goldsmith, before asking: “So are you optimistic about America?” Read the full interview in Forbes

Reading Eagle: “A genre-bending plunge deep into the American psyche”

The last couple of years haven’t exactly been business as usual for Shemekia Copeland (…) For starters, on Christmas Eve 2016, she gave birth to her first child, Johnny, named after her Blues Hall-of-Famer father, Johnny Clyde Copeland.

Then, inspired by her baby’s presence in her world, she went to work on “America’s Child,” 12 no-holds-barred tracks recorded in Nashville, Tenn., with producer Will Kimbrough and a host of head-turning guest artists including John Prine and Mary Gauthier. What resulted was a genre-bending plunge deep into the American psyche at a moment in time when the nation needs all the self-reflection it can get.

On a rare break from touring —she has played 40 shows since releasing the album in August— Copeland answered the phone on Election Day morning having just returned from voting in her hometown of Chicago. 

She said she was hoping the results that were to come that night would yield change, which is not surprising to anyone who has seen her CD’s cover photo of an African-American child draped in an American flag, or heard the song “Ain’t Got Time for Hate.” (…) “I felt like that song made a statement about what this record is about: our country and what (our country) is all about,” Copeland said. “And (hate) is not what we’re about. We’re about love and inclusion.”

By Don Botch, before Shemekia headlines the Reading Blues Fest Finale, on Sunday, November 18. Read the full story in the Reading Eagle.

A Shemekia Copeland and Alligator Records special on CKCU (Canada)

Ontario, Canada-based CKCU opened its November, 11, Black and Blues show with a Shemekia Copeland special, presenting “blues and soulful tunes over the years on Alligator Records.”

The show featured songs from six of her eight albums: Smoked Ham And Peaches, In The Blood Of The Blues, Great Rain, Would You Take My Blood?, Ain’t Got Time For Hate from America’s Child, Devil’s Hand, Wrapped Up In Love Again from Outskirts Of Love, Ghetto Child, I Always Get My Man from Turn The Heat Up, It’s 2 a.m. from Wicked, Livin’ On Love from Talking To Strangers, and Breakin’ Out from The Soul Truth

The Black and Blues show, hosted by John Tackaberry and airing every Sunday from 9 pm to 11 pm, presents, “blues, rhythm and blues with some sixties soul.” Listen to the show on CKCU

Tampa Bay Creative Loafing: “Especially poignant”

Shemekia Copeland’s new album, America’s Child, features a lot of the no-holds-barred attitude that so much of the 39-year-old blues singer’s 30-year discography possesses, but something about the 12-track effort feels especially poignant.

Copeland told CL that she always wishes she could ask her father —the late, great Texas blues great Johnny Copeland, who died in his 50s— about things like the rapidly changing music industry and the state of the world, but she also said that much of her purpose in music is to complete a lot of Dad’s unfinished business. 

“I’ve never said that before, but I truly believe that his work wasn’t quite finished,” Copeland said before a quick run through Germany. “It was like he left me here to finish it.”

We spoke with her about the thought of performing for Trump, traveling and more. 

Ray Roa interview Shemekia Copeland before her performance on November 11 at The Attic at Rock Brothers Brewing in Tampa, Florida. An interview in which she talks about “finishing dad’s work, not performing for Trump and more.”

Read the full interview on Tampa Bay Creative Loafing

Tampa Bay Newspapers: “A courageous and fiery statement of purpose”

Copeland recently released “America’s Child.” Produced by Americana Instrumentalist of the Year winner Will Kimbrough and recorded in Nashville, the album is a courageous and fiery statement of purpose, a major step forward for the singer whose musical consciousness continues to expand as her star continues to rise. (…) 

“America’s Child” is by far Copeland’s most compelling work yet, with music swelling beyond blues and into spirited Americana, with elements of rock, soul, and country. Her instantly recognizable voice – capable of being sultry, assertive and roaring – delivers every song with unparalleled honesty and passion. The three-time Grammy nominee’s wide-open vision of contemporary Americana roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with an up-to-the-minute musical and lyrical approach. (…) 

On Tampa Bay Newspapers, before Shemekia’s live performance at The Attic at Rock Brothers, in Tampa, Florida, on November 11.

Read the full story.

Blues Blast Magazine: “Distinctive performances that come from the heart”

(…) Tracks like the razor-sharp “In The Blood Of The Blues” confirm that Copeland remains a first-rate blues singer. Even more impressive is “Promised Myself,” done as a tribute to her father, Johnny Clyde Copeland. She keeps her emotions under control, using meticulous phrasing to convey the heartache in his original tune. Lead guitar on the track is handled by the another legend, Steve Cropper.

The singer is not afraid to share her thoughts on the state of modern society. The twin guitar attack of Kimbrough and Al Perkins on pedal steel guitar create a gut-wrenching backdrop on “Ain’t Got Time For Hate,” a steadfast pleas for understanding across the land. Another standout track is “Would You Take My Blood,” with Copeland breaking things down to the heart of racism, asking, “Would you take my blood, or would you rather die, than share your life with mine?”.  (…) 

Kimbrough creates a number of haunting musical landscapes, and Copeland does the rest, time and again turning in distinctive performances that come from the heart. (…) 

By Mark Thompson. Read the full review in the November 1, 2018 issue of Blues Blast Magazine

Get Ready To Rock: “A contemporary roots album with substance and depth”

Shemekia Copeland’s ‘America’s Child’ is very much an album of our times. The title is an all enveloping concept that leads into a bunch of related, philosophical and at times analytical songs that shift from the micro to macro, suggesting that the cultural diversity to be found in track ‘Americans’ is a cause for celebration, rather than much of the current polarity in the US. 

Copeland is an emotive singer with a fine range who uses her vibrato sparingly. She explores a contemporary take on the blues with Americana, funk and gospel influences, on an album that focuses on lyrical meaning and the quality of songs.

‘America’s Child’ is her 8th album, and casts her as mature interpretative vocalist who though not contributing any songs, effectively curates and brings to life an album that has a social conscience at its core (…) 

‘America’s Child’ is a contemporary roots album with substance and depth. And if you follow the linear thematic trail, dive into the musical sweep and enjoy her passionate attack and emotive phrasing, then it reveals itself as an album with plenty to say as part of a fresh take on the blues

By Pete Feenstra, who gives Shemekia’s America’s Child 4 stars. Read the full review for British magazine Get Ready To Rock