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Shemekia Copeland 33 1/3

(Vinyl LP)

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Item: LDC1142
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Shemekia Copeland 33 1/3 on LP

In a span of less than two decades, Shemekia Copeland has evolved from teenage upstart to one of the most prominent voices in the blues. She’s currently the most feted woman in the blues world and actually had a coronation where she was crowned and declared “Queen of the Blues” at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2011. Shemekia earned her crown with a series of high-quality recordings and an unrelenting tour schedule that has taken her to all corners of the globe. She’s played all the major festivals and concert dates from Europe to Iraq to a memorable performance at the White House in front of an audience that included the President of the United States, sharing the bill with Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, B.B. King and other greats.

Earlier this year, Shemekia participated in two tribute concerts celebrating recently departed great Hubert Sumlin and Robert Johnson’s centennial, both at New York’s Apollo Theater in Harlem, not far from the neighborhood where Shemekia spent her childhood. Those nights she was a featured attraction along with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Derek Trucks, Elvis Costello and Taj Mahal. Clearly, she’s risen to the top of the field and that reckoning is underscored with the forthcoming album release of 33 1/3, her second for Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group.  

The album’s title is a nod to Shemekia’s past, but also an acknowledgment of where she is right now. “I always loved vinyl records,” she says, recalling her teenage years in the twilight of the vinyl era. “I loved the whole experience, looking through them in the bins at the store, taking in the cover design on the sleeve, reading the liner notes while I listened to the music. Nobody under a certain age knows that experience anymore. So when John Hahn, my manager, who also wrote some of the songs on this record, asked me what I grew up listening to, I said, ‘LPs.’ And he said, ‘How many times did they go around?’ and I said ‘33 1/3 revolutions per minute.’ He said, ‘How old will you be when this record is released?’ I said ‘33 1/3.’ It’s a meaningful number for me, especially at this time in my life and in my career.”

The material on 33 1/3 is culled from a variety of high-profile sources, including Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, pater familias Johnny Clyde Copeland and Randy Weeks. Shemekia weaves it all together with assistance from a skilled studio crew: guitarist/producer Oliver Wood (Wood Brothers), bassist Ted Pecchio (Susan Tedeschi) and drummer Gary Hansen. Various guest musicians step in along the way, including Buddy Guy. “Every one of these songs tells a story about where I am in my life,” says Shemekia. “They all connect to something that has happened to me, both good and bad. I’ve experienced a lot since I started making records and touring more than 15 years ago, and I think people want to tap into the wisdom that comes with that experience. I tried to bring a little bit of that to every one of these songs.”

While 33 1/3 takes a number of different directions, courtesy of songwriters representing a variety of styles, it always moves at the right speed, and it positions the artist right where she wants to be in relation to her music, her fans and history itself. 33 1/3 is a real album experience, something quite rare these days. To be sure, each track stands on its own but the whole is, somehow, more than the sum of its parts.

“I’ve always wanted to be a blues singer,” says Shemekia. “I never wanted to be anything else. There are so many people for whom the blues was not their genre of choice, but they landed here because they got rejected elsewhere. That was never the case for me. I want to see this music evolve and grow, and for that to happen, I have to evolve and grow as an artist. I have to be able to sing a folk song by Bob Dylan or a country song by Randy Weeks and reinterpret it in the context of the blues. It’s at the heart of just about every other form of American music. It’s a genre that tells stories. I want to tell as many of those stories as I can, at 33 1/3 and beyond.”

Shemekia Copeland 33 1/3 Track Listing:

1.  Lemon Pie
2.  Can't Let Go
3.  Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo
4.  Somebody Else's Jesus
5.  A Woman
6.  I Sing The Blues
7.  Mississippi Mud
8.  One More Time
9.  Ain't That Good News
10. Hangin' Up
11. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

 

 

 

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Related Articles
1. Lemon Pie
2. Can't Let Go
3. Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo
4. Somebody Else's Jesus
5. A Woman
6. I Sing The Blues
7. Mississippi Mud
8. One More Time
9. Ain't That Good News
10. Hangin' Up
11. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

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