The young singer is still exploring the possibilities of the genre.
SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR
Three albums into her career, Shemekia Copeland has emerged as one of the top female blues singers in the world.
Her father, the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, helped his daughter break into the business, bringing her on tour as his opening act when she was only 15. Whatever whispers of nepotism existed at the time soon fell silent when the Harlem-born singer's natural talents became known. With street smarts and a rousing voice, Copeland continues to push modern blues into new directions.
"I always seek new challenges," said Copeland, calling from Seattle, Washington. "I personally don't like to do the same thing over and over again so I try to do something different on every record. I never get comfortable because when you get comfortable, I think you lose a lot of your edge. I want to stay hip and keep on creating new things."
From her 1998 debut "Turn the Heat Up" to the 2000 Grammy Award-nominated follow-up "Wicked" and her most recent album "Talking to Strangers," which was produced by the legendary pianist Dr. John, Copeland's powerful and honest style has evolved in a relatively short amount of time. If a through line exists in her music, it's her commitment to experiment with her songwriting and vocal talents. This includes her next project, which is still untitled and is due out next summer. This time, Copeland enlisted producer Steve Cropper to helm her bluesy ship.
"[This album] is a big difference," Copeland said. "Different producer. Different approach. It's definitely the opposite of what I did with Dr. John [where] we didn't use horns or anything like that. This record has horns on it and it just has a little bit more soulful kind of thing."
As for her live show, Copeland is still touring "Talking to Strangers" and is scheduled to perform Friday at Wilbert's in Cleveland. (Her show in Youngstown was cancelled.) Perhaps the one aspect of her music that remains unfulfilled is finding a larger, more mainstream audience.
"For some strange reason, they don't want to play this music on the radio," Copeland said. "They don't want to take this seriously. And I don't know why, but that's just the way that it is. I don't think that has anything to do with us. I think that has to do with the world. I have no idea why the rest of the world doesn't get it. I mean, but as far as I'm concerned, that's their problem, not mine."