With a recording career that began in 1998 at age 18, award-winning vocalist Shemekia Copeland has grown to become one of the most talented and passionately candid artists on today’s roots music scene. When Shemekia first broke on the scene with her groundbreaking Alligator Records debut CD Turn The Heat Up, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with. News outlets from The New York Times to CNN praised Copeland’s talent, larger-than-life personality, dynamic, authoritative voice and true star power. With each subsequent release, Copeland’s music had evolved. From her debut through 2005’s The Soul Truth, Shemekia earned eight Blues Music Awards, a host of Living Blues Awards (including the prestigious 2010 Blues Artist Of The Year) and more accolades from fans, critics and fellow musicians. 2000’s Wicked received a Grammy nomination. Two successful releases on Telarc (including 2012’s Grammy-nominated 33 1/3) sealed her reputation as a fearless and soulful singer.
Her latest release Uncivil War—recorded in Nashville with award-winning producer and musician Will Kimbrough at the helm—is a career-defining album for three-time Grammy nominee Copeland. With songs addressing gun violence (Apple Pie And A .45), civil rights (the Staple Singers-esque message song, Walk Until I Ride), lost friends (the Dr. John tribute Dirty Saint), bad love (Junior Parker’s In The Dark) as well as good (Love Song, by her father, legendary bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland), Uncivil War is far-reaching, soul-searching and timeless. Guests on Uncivil War include Americana superstar Jason Isbell, legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, rising guitar star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, rocker Webb Wilder, rock icon Duane Eddy, mandolin wizard Sam Bush, dobro master Jerry Douglas, and The Orphan Brigade providing background vocals.
In June 2021, Shemekia led the list of winners at the 42nd annual Blues Music Awards, taking home the awards for “contemporary blues album” for Uncivil War, “contemporary blues female artist” for the second year in a row and the night’s top prize, the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award which her father, Johnny Copeland, won in 1983. She was also named “blues artist of the year” and “best blues album of 2020” by the 28th annual Living Blues Magazine Awards readers’ poll.
Shemekia Copeland has performed thousands of gigs at clubs, festivals and concert halls all over the world, and has appeared in films, on national television, NPR, and in magazine and newspapers. She’s sung with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Dr. John, James Cotton and many others. She opened for The Rolling Stones and entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Jeff Beck calls her “amazing.” Santana says, “She’s incandescent…a diamond.” In 2012, she performed with B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, Gary Clark, Jr. and others at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. She has performed on PBS’s Austin City Limits and was recently the subject of a six-minute feature on the PBS News Hour. Currently, Copeland can be heard hosting her own popular daily blues radio show on SiriusXM’s Bluesville.