Shemekia Copeland is the daughter of the four-time Blues Music Award winning bluesman Johnny “Clyde” Copeland. Growing up in a household surrounded by music she inherited the urge to perform. At the age of eighteen Shemekia released her 1998 Alligator Records debut “Turn The Heat Up” receiving her first four BMA nominations. Her next three Alligator Records albums won eight BMA awards including two for “Album of the Year”, and four for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist”; and also received a Grammy nomination. Shemekia left Alligator and recorded two albums for Telarc Records, growing her reputation, only to later return to Alligator.
On her 2015 “Outskirts Of Love” she broadened her blues with rootsy Americana once again winning a BMA and receiving her second Grammy nod. Shemekia’s 2018 album “America’s Child”, produced by Will Kimbrough and featuring a duet with John Prine, resulted in her winning another BMA for “Album of the Year” and her third Grammy nomination. Since returning to Alligator, Shemekia has twelve additional BMA nominations, winning four times, and this from just her last two releases.
On “Uncivil War” Shemekia remains on her lyrically adventurous path as she continues to blend her blues with R n’ B, and Americana. Once again she is reunited with producer/guitarist Kimbrough and the rhythm section of bassist Lex Price, and drummer Pete Abbott. Special guests include guitarists Steve Cropper, Duane Eddy, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Jason Isbell, and Webb Wilder; organists Phil Madeira and Steve Conn; Jerry Douglas, dobro; and Sam Bush, mandolin. Eight new songs were co-written by Shemekia’s “godfather” Executive Producer and manager John Hahn; seven with Kimbrough, and one with Wilder. Also included are four selected covers.
The Hahn/Kimbrough songs include “Coltilda’s On Fire”. The true 1859 story of the last known U.S. slave ship to arrive in Mobile Bay, Alabama. At the time slavery had been banned for fifty years but continued illegally. The ship was burned and scuttled to hide the evidence. The wreckage was found in 2018 and finally verified last year. An intense opener vocalist Shemekia and guitarist Kimbrough, are joined by lead guitarist Isbell, an Alabama native.
Shemekia sings “Walk Until I Ride” a civil rights anthem inspired by The Staple Singers, “No Heart At All”, and the title track “Uncivil War” with organist Conn; featured on these three are dobro sensation Douglas with mandolinist Bush joining on the later. “Money Makes You Ugly” features guitarist “Kingfish” Ingram. “Dirty Saint” is a tribute to the late Dr. John with whom Shemekia had shared several duets, and it features organist Madiera. “Apple Pie And A .45” addresses gun violence and is performed by the core band of Shemekia, Kimbrough, Price and Abbott. Because they had worked together previously these songs by Hahn and Kimbrough, fit Shemekia like a glove. “She Don’t Wear Pink”, written by Hahn and Wilder, feature “Rebel Rouser” and twang guitarist Eddy, joining guitarists Wilder and Kimbrough.
Selected covers include Shemekia with a sensitive interpretation of Jagger/Richards “Under My Thumb”; Junior Parker’s “In The Dark” first recorded in 1969, and now featuring guitarist Cropper; and “Give God The Blues” written by Shawn Mullins, Madiera, and Chuck Cannon, first recorded in 2012. On each of Shemekia’s albums she always includes one of her father’s songs; this time she includes “Love Song” recorded by her father on his 1992 album “Flyin’ High”. These are fabulous versions.
Shemekia is always stretching her boundaries, growing her artistry to be the best vocalist she can be. She is destined to win a Grammy. Just you wait and see.