Shemekia Copeland - The new queen of blues.
Born into the blues, Shemekia Copeland’s almighty voice guaranteed she was never going to have to stand in her father’s shadow.
"Nothing has been better than ageing, because I think when you grow up in a business and you start out so young, it’s difficult to evolve,” says Shemekia Copeland. The daughter of the Texas bluesman Johnny Copeland, Shemekia followed her father’s footsteps into the blues and started touring with him while still in her teens. She released her debut album, Turn The Heat Up, in 1998 when she was just 18. Now she’s just released her eighth album, Outskirts Of Love, and at 36 she sounds stronger, more heartfelt and more confident than ever. “For me, ageing has been one of the best things to ever happen to me, ageing and growing and just experiencing everyday life. You look at the world differently as a teenager than you do when you’re an adult,” she says.
“As far as being a woman, as I’ve aged, building my confidence has been a wonderful thing. I don’t think I even realised I was insecure when I was young. I think most people who met me would have said, ‘Oh she’s a pretty confident girl.’ But I think all girls have insecurities. The older I’ve got, the more accepting I’ve been of myself. Being married and travelling this world, going to Iraq and Kuwait, there have been so many things that have changed me. When you’re 18 you think you know everything, you don’t think you’re ever going to be changed and then you just continue to change, continue to grow, and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, what’s happening here?’”
That personal growth has a musical counterpart reflected in her new album’s stylistic range, roving over a landscape that includes R&B, gospel and even a stopover in country music. “It’s funny, I think I’ve always been clear that I’m a second-generation blues artist and I’m so proud to be called a blues singer – I always have been – but I think that blues music is evolving and it’s growing every day,” says Copeland. “I want to be a part of that, I want to be a part of the change that helps people to see that this music is great and it’s also growing like every other genre. I would like a young girl 30 years from now to listen to Bessie Smith and go, ‘Wow, that’s cool,’ and then to listen to Koko Taylor and go, ‘Whoa, look what she did!’ And then listen to Shemekia Copeland and say, ‘Whoa, she did something completely different!’”