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.
Early in 2012, 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 album release of 33 1/3.
For Shemekia, it s all about ushering the blues an art form that stretches back to the early 1900's into a fast-paced new century and keeping the music true to its roots, making it relevant to a new generation. Her latest step in this ongoing journey is 33 1/3, an 11-song CD set 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 the 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."