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Shemekia Copeland (from the album Done Gone Too Far on Alligator Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
If she wasn’t already in contention to be crowned today’s Queen of the Blues, then Shemekia Copeland could still eye the title of today’s Queen of Soul, or the mistress of R&B, or modern music’s current greatest gift to Gospel. She’s a got a voice that plants her in the firm foundation given all of these genres, and on her explosive new album, Done Gone Too Far, she proves her mastery of each and every one. As if that wasn’t enough, she also makes a credible case for Country credibility, courtesy of “Fell in Love with a Honky”, a song that pairs some tonky with that honky. Likewise, the zydeco stomp of “Fried Catfish and Bibles” provides the setting for a ragin’ Cajun Saturday night.
In truth, Copeland defies categorization. Though she comes by her pedigree quite naturally — her father Johnny Copeland was widely recognized as one of the greatest Blues guitarists to emerge from the great state of Texas — she’s never had the need to coast on his coattails. Her verve and versatility alone qualify her for singular superstardom, but even with that kind of notoriety to her credit, she isn’t content to simply reside on her reputation.
The new album, then, is a powerful denunciation of today’s still prevalent racial inequality, and the perils facing those who are simply trying to live their lives without distancing and discrimination. Song after song offers a clear-eyed perspective on the turbulence and tragedy that confront otherwise innocent people targeted by those for whom hatred has no bounds. “Pink Turns to Red” details the all-too-common horror of children massacred in their classrooms. “The Talk” is a cautionary tale detailing the reality of being targeted simply because one may be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The wailing plea of “Why Why Why” begs for answers to questions that seem elusive at best, because there’s still so much progress that’s yet to be made.
Naturally, those that have followed Shemekia Copeland’s career have no reason to be surprised. A Grammy Award nominee, she naturally attracts outstanding studio support for each of her endeavors — in this case, a much-heralded producer, Will Kimbrough, guitar champ Sonny Landreth, blues great Cedric Burnside, and organist Charles Hodges, well known for his work with the Reverend Al Green and the Hi Records rhythm team. Yet, there’s never the slightest doubt as to who takes center stage, and given her riveting vocals and a set of mostly original material that exudes defiance and determination, the urgency, and intensity never falter. No matter whether she’s wailing relentlessly or moaning with desire or desperation, the insistent emotion can never be denied. Indeed, with Done Gone Too Far, the journey continues to even more disparate destinations. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Shemekia Copeland from AMAZON
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