News from the Blues
With less than two months to go to the second annual Amelia Island Blues Festival, there is an increasing number of news items to share.
Last Friday morning, the Blues Festival Committee proudly presented the Baptist Medical Center Nassau Auxiliary with the long awaited luxury Courtesy Shuttle it donated from last year’s Festival proceeds. The Amelia Island Blues Festival Inc. is a 501©3 non profit that selects worthy causes in the community and music initiatives to donate to if available. Besides once again the Baptist Medial Center, beneficiaries this year will also include the local high school music instrument program and a magnificent worldwide music education initiative called Playing for Change, which has its annual Global Music Day on September 22nd. This video shows the PFC band covering recently departed Blues great Etta James’ “I’d rather go blind” in preparation for the Annual Show.
Winner of the Battle of the Blues
The 2nd Annual Amelia Island Blues Festival (AIBF) is less than two months away and already promises to outshine its very successful inaugural event. Taking a major step forward, the event has landed a true national level blues diva to headline the musical talent and a well-traveled bluesman to MC the three day festival at Main Beach, scheduled for September 14 – 16, 2012.
At a young age, Shemekia Copeland is already a force to be reckoned with in the blues. She’s opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival and numerous festivals around the world, scored critics’ choice awards on both sides of the Atlantic, The New York Times and The Times of London, and shared the stage with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Taj Mahal and John Mayer. Heir to the rich tradition of soul-drenched divas like Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor, Copeland’s shot at the eventual title of Queen of the Blues is pretty clear. By some standards, she may already be there.
Born in Harlem, New York, in 1979, Copeland actually came to her singing career slowly. Her father, the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, recognized his daughter’s talent early on. He always encouraged her to sing at home, and even brought her on stage to sing at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club when she was just eight. At the time, Shemekia’s embarrassment outweighed her desire to sing. But when she was fifteen and her father’s health began to fail, her outlook changed. “It was like a switch went off in my head, and I wanted to sing,” she says. “It became a want and a need. I had to do it.”
Her second album, Wicked, released in 2000, scored three Handy Awards (Song of the Year, Blues Album of the Year, Contemporary Female Artist of the Year) and a GRAMMY nomination. Two years later, New Orleans R&B legend Dr. John stepped in to produce her third recording, Talking to Strangers (2002), which Vibe called “a masterful blend of blues-rock and ballads.”
She joined Telarc International for the February 2009 release of Never Going Back. This new chapter in the Shemekia Copeland story represents a crossroads on her ongoing artistic journey – a place where numerous new avenues are open to her. While she will always remain loyal to her blues roots, Never Going Back takes a more forward view of the blues, and in so doing points her music and her career in a new direction.