Shemekia Copeland starts Blues Series

Queen of the Blues Shemekia Copeland will feature in the inaugural concert of the Blues Series at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Thursday & Friday, Nov. 10 & 11, 2011, 7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.

The event will be held at the Allen Room at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street, New York, New York.

There is a reason they call Copeland the torch bearer for Queen of the Blues. Rare is the New York native who has been ranked as one of the world’s top blues performers, but that is the case with this whirlwind dynamo of a singer.

She can belt out old school Chicago-style a la Koko Taylor, or rock the blues like they do in Texas, a trait she gets by her birthright as the daughter of Houston blues legend Johnny Copeland. Despite her youth, she has nearly two decades of touring experience and owns any stage on which she performs.

Born in Harlem, New York, in 1979, Copeland actually came to her singing career slowly. 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.

While still in her 20s, Copeland opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival and numerous festivals around the world, scored critics choice awards on both sides of the Atlantic and shared the stage with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Taj Mahal and John Mayer. Heir to the rich tradition of soul-drenched divas like Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor, Copeland’s shot at the eventual title of Queen of the Blues is pretty clear. By some standards, she may already be there.

At only 19, Shemekia stepped out of her father’s shadow with the Alligator release of 1998 debut recording, “Turn the Heat Up!” and the critics raved. Her second album, “Wicked,” released in 2000, scored three Handy Awards (Song of the Year, Blues Album of the Year, Contemporary Female Artist of the Year) and a GRAMMY nomination.

Two years later, New Orleans R&B legend Dr. John stepped in to produce her third recording, “Talking To Strangers” (2002). Copeland released “The Soul Truth” in 2005. The album was produced by legendary Stax guitarist Steve Cropper (who also played on the CD), and featured generous doses of blues, funk and Memphis-flavored soul.

She joined Telarc International for the February 2009 release of “Never Going Back.” While she will always remain loyal to her blues roots, “Never Going Back” takes a more forward view of the blues, and in so doing points her music and her career in a new direction.

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