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Shemekia Copeland's growing into her legacy

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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Shemekia Copeland figures she's grown into the blues.

The daughter of the masterful Johnny Clyde Copeland was just 17 when she released her first album. Fifteen years later, she feels her just-released fifth title "33 1/3" (which also happens to be the singer's current age) shows experience, wisdom and even a little bit of wear 'n' tear -- all for the better of the music.

"I have grown and aged with my albums," explains Copeland, who was part of this year's R&B night at the White House with Mick Jagger, B.B. King, Jeff Beckand "33 1/3" guest Buddy Guy. "When you're 18, man, even when you're in your 20s, nobody cares what you have to say. I knew that, so I tried to stay on topics that I knew and understood and not to do songs than an 18-year-old or a 20-something-year-old wouldn't know anything about.

"Now, I've gone through so many things in my life. I've gone over and performed for the troops in Iraq and Kuwait. I've played the White House. You've paid taxes and know what it's like to try to buy a house...little things like that add up. It's called life, and it gets into your music."

Copeland adds that even from a young age she "didn't get into the blues to aspire to become rich. You get into it to make a difference." But she's always been well aware of the legacy that hangs over her -- and Copeland has learned to deal with that as well.

"I didn't think about it that way, and I'm glad I didn't," she explains. "When people even talk about it, it gives me goose pimples. So if I'd have thought about it I probably would've freaked out."

Shemekia Copeland performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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