Turn The Heat Up
Fiery debut from 19-year old phenom; funky blues, R&B, Memphis soul, delivered with searing gospel-influenced intensity. With Joe Louis Walker, Michael Hill, "Monster" Mike Welch and Jimmy Vivino. "Powerful, poised and intense"--BLUES REVUE
Jimmy Vivino, Guitar
Brian Mitchell, Keyboards
Michael Merritt, Bass
James Wormworth, Drums
Joe Louis Walker, Guitar and Vocals on My Turn Baby
Michael Hill, Guitar on I Always Get My Man
"Monster" Mike Welch, Guitar on Ghetto Child
Barry Harrison, Drums on Ghetto Child, My Kind Of Guy and It Don't Hurt No More
The Uptown Horns on Turn The Heat Up, Salt In My Wounds and Married To The Blues:
Crispin Cioe, Alto and Baritone Sax
Larry Etkin, Trumpet
Arno Hecht, Tenor Sax
Robert Funk, Trombone
Arno Hecht, Tenor Sax on Have Mercy
Joe Louis Walker appears courtesy of Verve Records
"Monster" Mike Welch appears courtesy of Tone-Cool Records
Produced by Bruce Iglauer, Jimmy Vivino and John Hahn
Ghetto Child, My Kind Of Guy and It Don't Hurt No More co-produced by John Snyder
Recorded and mixed by Jay Newland
Recorded at Sorcerer Sound, New York, NY
Ghetto Child, My Kind Of Guy and It Don't Hurt No More recorded at Big House Recorders, New York, NY
Mixed at BMG Studios, New York, NY
Mastered by Jason Rau and Bruce Iglauer at Monster Disc, Chicago, IL
Photos by Mick Rock
Design by Matthias Minde
Shemekia Copeland is booked by Monterey Peninsula Artists; Tel (312) 640-7500; Fax (312) 640-7515, and managed by John Hahn; Tel (212) 580-5722; Fax (212) 459-5280
Thanks to God Almighty, Sandra Copeland, Tory Edwards and family, John Snyder, Buddy Fox, Steve Hecht and everyone at Piedmont Talent, Alan Bomser, Koko Taylor, Michael Hill, Joe Louis Walker, Mike Welch, Jon and Sally Tiven, Big Time Sarah, Patrick Sibilia, Cindi Hahn, Phyllis Edwards, Marie Edwards, Rick Bates, Edward Snyder, Blackie and Red, Joe Hudson, Joe Sicurella, Floyd Phillips, Barry Harrison, Eric Cavalieri, Randy Lippincott, Geneva Vivino, Joel Perry, Bobby Kyle and the entire staff at Alligator Records.
One listen will have you shouting it; she's the Natural. Like Ken Griffey, Jr. or Michael Jordan in sports, like Brando, Picasso or Maya Angelou in the arts, Shemekia Copeland brings a natural young passion to her music that you can't ignore. Remember how smooth Junior's early highlights or Michael's hang time seemed? Or Brando's early stage intensity, or the pen of Angelou? Now listen to Shemekia's debut.
Blast furnace heat was the first image that came to my mind when I heard her live. Like the in-your-face blast when the boiler room door is opened. Shemekia delivers the boldest blues, the purest Memphis soul, the funkiest R&B and all with a touch of her unique gospel-styled phrasing guaranteed to give any atheist religion.
This 19-year-old blues diva comes into the music world from the most improbable of blues locales, Harlem. Though the Big Apple has traditionally been a jazz center, Shemekia's here to champion its big city blues. Earlier blues voices may have learned by hanging out on Delta porches or in Southside Chicago taverns. Shemekia's real music lessons came each day on the streets. The Harlem she grew up in exposed her to a richly diverse music in the air, from guitar players on corners, to saxophone duos in subway stations and bands in every neighborhood park. "When I sing Ghetto Child , I can tell you, because of what I saw in Harlem, I really mean it," says Copeland.
The deep rooted intensity she unleashes is just what you would expect from the daughter of the late Texas blues guitarist, Johnny Clyde Copeland. Her first performance was when her father called her to the stage of Harlem's famed Cotton Club when she was only eight. Her on-the-job training opening gigs for her dad during the two years he awaited a heart transplant provided her with a crash course in the power of the music. It was then that her call to sing became all-consuming. "My daddy always said to me, 'Mekia, you have to have the need to sing. People have to hear that in your voice.'" This urgency added to her already soulful singing equips Shemekia with the voice to reach blues audiences and beyond.
As committed as Johnny was to his Texas blues, Shemekia's delivery asserts her own New York originality. Whether she roars the blues, growls her bravado or whispers sensually, she has all the resources to transform simple statements into scorching moments of truth.
Shemekia has recorded a debut full of surprises and excitement. Besides her "turn up the heat" vocals, she has some pretty cool friends stopping by for this coming out party, including four of today's most inventive blues guitarists. New York's Jimmy Vivino handles the guitar duties for most of the album. "Monster" Mike Welch supplies his soulfully restrained guitar throughout her father's poignant Ghetto Child. Bronx's Michael Hill, another New York blues celeb, chips in his crying urban guitar behind Mekia on the swaggering I Always Get My Man. Finally, Joe Louis Walker's guitar and vocal sparring with Mekia on My Turn Baby pairs East and West Coast blues talent. Walker met Copeland at the Poconos Festival in 1997 and told Shemekia, "I want to be part of your first recording." When she found out he was playing at the Blue Note in New York City during her sessions, one phone call and Joe Louis was true to his word.
Though she's been regularly touring the East Coast, Shemekia is now primed to kick off national touring with slots at some major 1998 summer blues festivals, including the prestigious Chicago Blues Festival. Your first offstage meeting with her may leave you thinking, "What a sweet kid." But once she opens her mouth to sing, she displays an emotional depth that belies her years. City experiences mature children quickly, and Shemekia admits she has seen more blues each day than most people see in a lifetime.
There are always comparisons waiting to ambush or pigeonhole young talent; the next Koko, the next Aretha, the next Etta. But with Shemekia you can believe these comparisons and more. She is the Natural, destined to belt out her brand of blues, soul, and R&B well into the next century.
Art Tipaldi is a staff writer for Blues Revue and the Boston Blues Society. You can read Art's cover story on Shemekia Copeland in Blues Revue #40.