It goes without saying that Shemekia Copeland has the blues in her blood. The vocalist was raised on the music of her late, legendary father Johnny Clyde Copeland and she is now a force in the genre as well. In addition to a recording career spanning nearly 20 years, Copeland recently received the Living Blues Award for “Blues Artist of the Year (Female).” On Wednesday, November 11, she will perform at Iron City as the opener for the Robert Cray Band. Currently, Copeland is touring in support of her latest release, Outskirts Of Love. She spoke to us recently about her new album and her family’s rich musical heritage.
Weld: How long had you been working toward this project?
SC: It takes years. You start thinking about the next record as soon as you get done with the last one. This fell together better than we even imagined because the entire idea was to have everyone on this record who’s on the outskirts of something. Whether it’s love, social injustice or homelessness, there’s a certain scenario within every song where somebody is going through something. Right at the very end of the record it’s, “Lord, help us.” We’re all going through something and we all need the help.
Weld: Over what time period was the album recorded?
SC: What we like to do is go in and do about half, then we take a couple of months off and go back and finish it up. Everybody has their own process and this is what I’ve found works for us.
Weld: How do you approach your own career as the daughter of a legend?
SC: I’m so proud to be second generation — it’s a beautiful thing. If my father wasn’t a blues artist, I probably wouldn’t have become one. It’s an amazing gift to get passed down to you. But I don’t put pressure on myself and I’m just grateful and appreciative for what comes to me. It’s a good way to look at things.
Weld: Are you continuing to write or just focusing on touring at this point?
SC: Right now, I’m not thinking about anything. I don’t make records often — I like to take my time and I really want to have something to say before I make a record.
Shemekia Copeland performs at Iron City along with Robert Cray on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50–$50. For more information, visit ironcitybham.com.