Blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland to return to Schenectady’s Music Haven

Vocalist Shemekia Copeland performs in the free outdoor Music Haven concert series Thursday at Central Park. (photo provided)

Vocalist Shemekia Copeland performs in the free outdoor Music Haven concert series Thursday at Central Park. (photo provided)

Powerhouse vocalist Shemekia Copeland will grace the stage at Music Haven tonight, bringing music from a trio of albums that capture the hope and despair felt throughout the country over the last few years.

The blues/Americana singer has recently racked up accolades like the 2021 Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year and is on the cusp of releasing “Done Come Too Far,” the conclusion to a story she began telling in 2018 with “America’s Child” and 2020’s “Uncivil War,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The previous albums saw her reflecting on unrest in the country, both past and present.

On “Done Come Too Far,” she hits on everything from police brutality to gun violence to the continued fight for equality.

“I just felt like I wasn’t done,” Copeland said. “I felt that way, because of some of the things that have been happening, . . . [there’s] just some more things that needed to be said.”

That urgency can certainly be heard on “The Talk,” a track that traces a brutally honest conversation between a Black mother and her son about surviving an encounter with the police.

“ ‘The Talk’ was very hard for me. I have a little boy, I’ve got nephews. So that one was tough for me. I worry for my family,” Copeland said.

“Too Far to be Gone,” sees the artist reflecting on the work of historical figures like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

“A small thing like a seat on the bus changed life for the rest of us,” she sings in the opening line. “A tiny woman that you never met put us on the road but we ain’t there yet.”

While the record speaks to racial and social injustices, there are also a few light-hearted tracks. 

“All of these records are hopeful but I’m definitely not straying away from the issues,” Copeland said.

She also doesn’t view her songs as political, but rather as reflections on what she sees happening in the country.

“I find that anytime it’s something people don’t want to talk about or act like it doesn’t exist or sweep under the rug, then they want to call it political,” Copeland said. “It’s like, well, we don’t want to hear about this. We don’t want to talk about it. We want to act like it doesn’t exist. So it’s political.”

“Done Come Too Far,” which is due out on Aug. 19, was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, and produced by songwriter Will Kimbrough, who also produced the previous albums in the trilogy.

It builds on a strong repertoire of songs that began with “Turn The Heat Up” (1998), which Copeland released at 18 and also performed at Music Haven. She got her start performing at 8 years old, singing with her father, noted blues guitarist and singer Johnny Copeland, at New York’s Cotton Club.

“When I was about nine years old, my dad took me to Spain,” Copeland said. “And I didn’t know if music was going to be my thing, but I knew traveling would be, even though I was singing at the time. I knew I wanted to do something where I could travel the world and meet people . . . It was probably about when I was 16 or so when I realized this is what I was going to do with my life. I kind of got a calling.”

After more than a year of canceled tours and shows because of the pandemic, Copeland has gotten back into traveling and has been on touring nearly nonstop for months. Following tonight’s show at Music Haven, she’s off to Spain and Norway.

Her favorite part of touring and performing all over the world remains the people.

“That’s why we do it,” Copeland said. “I make a point to always communicate with the people because that’s how we’re able to do what we do. We wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

Shemekia Copeland Blues BBQ

WITH: Matt Mirabile and Mark & Jill
WHEN: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. tonight
WHERE: Music Haven, Schenectady

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Schenectady

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