Shemekia Copeland
Turn the Heat Up
Alligator 4857

Shemekia Copeland has limitless potential and impeccable blues credentials. The daughter of the late Johnny Clyde Copeland, the 19-year-old New Yorker has a big voice and the backing of Alligator Records.

On her debut release, Turn the Heat Up, Copeland follows solidly in the footsteps of her influences, which include Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Koko Taylor, to name a few. The recording is packed with funky, pulsating, in-your-face grooves that are traditional but delivered in contemporary fashion. Occasionally, she sounds her age, but overall Copeland fully has the measure of the material, particularly "My Kind of Guy" and "I Always Get My Man." She’s equally at home with slow blues and gospel-flavored material, such as "It Don’t Hurt No More" and "Married to the Blues."

Copeland gets celebrity support from Joe Louis Walker, who adds vocals and so-good-it’s-funny guitar to "My Turn Baby," and Mike Welch, who plays guitar on Johnny Copeland’s "Ghetto Child."

No doubt Shemekia Copeland will evolve as an artist and performer in the coming years. It will be intriguing to see if she stretches out in future releases to encompass jazzier, less hard-driving arrangements (which might better showcase her vocal skills and personality) or whether she’ll stick to the format and approach outlined on Turn the Heat Up. In any case, she should be a mighty force to be reckoned with on the blues scene for as long as she chooses.

— Bryan Powell



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Boulder, CO, USA.