Blues Calendar Blues: Shemekia CopelandThis month’s featured artist on my Blues Calendar is something a little different. I was surprised when I read Shemekia Copeland’s bio and learned she is not quite 30 years old. After I tracked down one of her albums and gave it a listen, I was even more amazed at the power in her voice.
“I never knew I wanted to sing until I got older,” Copeland said. “But my dad knew ever since I was a baby. He just knew I was gonna be a singer.” Her father, the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, recognized his daughter's talent early on. He always encouraged her to sing at home and even brought her on stage to sing at Harlem's famed Cotton Club when she was just eight. At that time Shemekia's embarrassment outweighed her desire to sing. But when she was 15 and her father's health began to slow him down, she received the calling. “It was like a switch went off in my head,” recalls Shemekia, “and I wanted to sing. It became a want and a need. I had to do it.”
From the calendar:
Endowed with a tempestuous voice that has won her comparisons to Etta James, Shemekia Copeland (b. 1979) belongs to a new generation of blues singers. She moves easily between styles, signing blues, rhythm and blues, soul, rock, and funk. Encouraged by her father, the late guitarist Johnny Copeland, who liked to bring her on stage to sing with his band when she was only fifteen, Shemekia went on to work with the great pianist and blues producer Dr. John and the soul guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper. Already she has received countless awards and appeared in the most prestigious blues festivals.The calendar’s recommendation is Copeland’s 2002, Dr. John-produced Talking to Strangers. I was able to track down that disk and have a couple of songs from it for you to sample. “The Push I Need,” co-written by Dr. John, features him on vocals as well as piano and organ.
Talking to Strangers.mp3
The Push I Need.mp3
To learn more about Shemekia Copeland, or to buy her music, visit her official Web site.