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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.

4 nominations for the 2019 Living Blues Readers’ Awards

Living Blues magazine has announced the nominees for the 2019 Living Blues Readers’ Awards. Shemekia Copeland received four nominations:

  • Blues Artist Of The Year (Female)
  • Most Outstanding Blues Singer
  • Best Live Performer
  • Best Blues Album Of 2018 (New Recordings) – America’s Child

The public, Living Blues subscribers and non-subscribers alike, can vote at www.livingblues.com by July 15, 2019. Winners will be announced in August. 

Two Blues Music Awards for Shemekia’s “America’s Child”

Shemekia Copeland won two Blues Music Awards this Thursday night in Memphis: Contemporary Blues Album and Album of the Year, both for America’s Child, released in August 2018.

Shemekia was also nominated for Instrumentalist Vocals, Contemporary Female Artist, and Song Of The Year (“Ain’t Got Time For Hate, written by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough, sung by Shemekia Copeland).

The 40th Blues Music Awards ceremony took place on Thursday, May 9, at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. According to the Blues Foundation, the event “brings together blues performers, industry representatives, and fans from all over the world to celebrate the best in blues recordings and performances from the previous year. The BMAs are generally recognized as the highest honor given to blues musicians and are awarded by vote of Blues Foundation members.”

Chicago Tribune: “The wit and humor of her collaboration”

…No track commands more attention, however, than “The Wine Talkin’,” in which veteran Cash Box Kings singer Wilson duets with the greatest female blues vocalist working today, Chicagoan Shemekia Copeland.

“We’ve gotten to know her through the years on the festival circuit,” says Nosek, in explaining the band’s good fortune to have recorded with her.

“Over the course of a five- or six-year period, if we were on the same bill, she’d come by and say hi, and her manager (and songwriter), John Hahn, would do the same. I think they really respected the fact that we’re trying to carry on this more traditional sound.”

As does Copeland herself, while similarly updating facets of it to reflect contemporary times and themes. When Hahn offered the Kings a chance to work on a song of his with Copeland, they leaped at the chance, Nosek and Wilson collaborating with Hahn to fine-tune “The Wine Talkin’.”

Copeland’s throaty tones are instantly recognizable, and there’s no mistaking the wit and humor of her collaboration with singer Wilson.

“It was like, boom, they totally hit it off, it was immediate chemistry for the two of them,” says Nosek, who plays harmonica and sings on the album.

Recording with Copeland stands as “a real compliment,” Nosek adds.

“I was a huge fan of her father,” Texas bluesman Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, “long before I knew about her. When he passed away, she came on the scene and got signed by Alligator – and I was blown away, like most people.

“They call her the new queen of the blues, and it’s a real honor, and a really amazing opportunity to record with her, hang out with her.”…

By Howard Reich about the Cash Box Sings’ new album, “Hail to the Kings!” to be released on May 17 by Alligator Records on which special guest Shemekia Copeland turns the heat up as she joins her friend Oscar Wilson for the mischievous duet, The Wine Talkin’.

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Learn more about “Hail to the Kings.”

 

“As known for her social stances as she is for her deep, mature, outstanding blues voice”

Copeland says what she wants, and she rarely apoligizes for it. She’s as known for her social stances as she is for her deep, mature, outstanding blues voice…

Her father pushed her hard and saturated her life with the blues, but Copeland soaked it in, and even today, never questions her path or her life as a blues artist. Her dad was a social activist, though it didn’t mark his career the way it did hers. He wrote a song, “Ghetto Child,” in the 1950s about children in a poor Texas neighborhood that she record and still snarls on stage as a crowd favorite, though it makes her sad to sing it.

By Dan England, before Shemekia’s performance at the Greeley Blues Jam, in Greeley, Colorado, on June 8. Read the full story in Bandwagon (pages 14 and 15).

Central Maine: “An even deeper well from which to draw”

I’ve been a fan of this powerful blues and R&B singer ever since she began her recording career on Alligator Records in 1998 at the age of 18. The daughter of the late bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland and mother of 4-year-old Johnny Lee, Shemekia has released nine albums — seven on Alligator and two on Telarc Records — including her latest, “America’s Child” (released in 2018 on Alligator), for which she’s now touring. The album broadens the singer’s genre range by embracing elements of Americana giving Copeland an even deeper well from which to draw. I reached her on her cellphone in her hometown, Chicago…. 

By Lucky Clark, who interviewed Shemekia about her latest album, America’s Child, her relationship to Maine and the audience there, before her performance at the Waterville Opera House, in Waterville, Maine on March 9. Read the full interview at Central Maine

Mercury News: “One of the most creative voices defining the blues today”

Headlining a strong program is the powerhouse singer Shemekia Copeland, daughter of blues great Johnny Copeland and one of the most creative voices defining the blues today. Only 39, she’s been a force for two decades, ever since the release of her stellar 1998 debut “Turn Up the Heat” (Alligator Records).

Inspired by the birth of her son two years ago, her latest Alligator album “America’s Child” earned her five more Blue Music Award nominations, giving her a good shot at adding to her crowded trophy case when the awards ceremony takes place in Memphis, Tennessee, May 9.

She’s up for contemporary blues female artist of the year, album of the year, and song of the year for “Ain’t Got Time for Hate.” Written for Copeland by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough, the tune is a response to the divisiveness roiling the nation and reflects her sense that she needs to weigh in on our current troubles.

“I work with great writers, and these songs are tailor-made for me,” she says. “My manager has known me since I was 8, and we talk every day about the current climate. When I had my little boy, Johnny, I really started thinking about raising a child in this world. That’s how this record came about.”

By Andrew Gilbert, before the Delta Blues Benefit concert Shemekia headlines this Saturday at El Campanil Theatre, in Antioch, California. Read the full story in the Mercury News

An NPR interview with Shemekia

Jack Adams talks with award-winning blues/Americana singer Shemekia Copeland ahead of her performance with The Commonheart at Penn’s Peak on Friday, February 22, 2019. Shemekia talks about meeting Jack for the first time; her new album, America’s Child which was recently released on legendary blues label Alligator Records; performing live; and more.

Listen to the interview on WDIY.