If you are a fan of the blues, do I have a show for you. On Feb. 16, the Waterville Opera House will host Shemekia Copeland, one of the most powerful blues singers around. Now, if her name strikes a familiar note, it’s probably because of her dad — the late Johnny Clyde Copeland — who brought her onstage at Harlem’s Cotton Club to sing when she was only 8 years old. When she was 16, she was opening his shows after he was diagnosed with a degenerative heart condition, and a short two years later she released her debut CD on Alligator Records titled “Turn The Heat Up.”

Since then, she’s released more albums, the latest being “Outskirts of Love,” marking her return to Alligator, while garnering praise from fans, critics and some of music’s biggest stars. On Jan. 12 I was able to reach her at home in Pennsylvania to talk about her upcoming return to Maine. I began by asking Copeland how she was.

Copeland: I am all right.

Q: Good to hear. Well, I first talked with you back in 1998 when you started out. We actually chatted twice that year, and I’m pleased to hear that you’re coming back up here to Maine once again.

Copeland: Aw, I love coming up there — it’s my favorite.

Q: Have you ever played at the Waterville Opera House before?

Copeland: You know, I want to say “yes” but my brain can’t process things like that right now.

Q: Well, considering all the touring you do, it’s not surprising that you can’t recall one specific venue and it does sound like you have your hands full there right now.

Copeland: My little guy, he turned 1 on Christmas Eve. He’s got a lot to say.

Q: I noticed that. And speaking of vocalizing, it’s always a pleasure listening to your albums, because as soon as you start to sing, it is so distinctive and one of a kind.

Copeland: That’s my main goal in life, not to be or sound like anybody else.

Q: Well, you’ve achieved that, for sure. Now, “Outskirts” came out in 2015. Are you working on something new?

Copeland: Yes, I just finished a record and I’m very, very excited about it. I flew home yesterday just in time for the weather to get bad there. I’m super-excited about this new record, which was produced by Will Kimbrough, and I’m ecstatic about it. My life changed drastically over the last couple of years and with the state of this country and my life changing, the record is about all of that. I’m very excited, very excited.

Q: Will this new album have some songs written by you?

Copeland: No, on this record, no. It’s funny, everybody always asks me about that. It’s hilarious to me. I’m not a writer, you know, I’m a singer. But I’m fortunate that I work with great writers, and on this record, especially. Every record we add new people writing songs, which is great.

Q: And no matter who writes it, when you sing it you make it your own.

Copeland: Well, it’s kinda easy because they are written for me, you know what I mean?

Q: Yup, I do, and seeing one of the writers on your last album was Oliver Wood, who also played guitar, supplied backing vocals and produced the CD. Well, The Wood Brothers are so hot nowadays.

Copeland: Absolutely, absolutely. I enjoyed working with Oliver Wood. We made three records together and he actually wrote a song with John (Hahn, songwriter and executive producer of “Outskirts”) on this new record, too. So, he’s not far away from me. I love Oliver.

Q: When is this new album coming out?

Copeland: Probably not until the fall, late summer/early fall.

Q: Will folks up in Waterville get to hear some of the new songs?

Copeland: No, not yet. We’re so not prepared. I mean, I literally just finished it.

Q: I understand, for sure. What will you have for a backing band on this tour?

Copeland: I’ve had the same band for a really long time; I have two guitars, bass and drums.

Q: With all the albums you have out, is it hard to put a set list together?

Copeland: You know, it is. I mean, the more records you make, the tougher it gets, so I stick with quite a lot of the latest and then I just throw the older stuff in there as much as we want, you know?

Q: When one listens to the body of your work, especially “Outskirts,” you touch on the blues, soul, blues-rock, gospel, R&B, and even country with “Drivin’ Out Of Nashville.” I love the line in there that goes, “country is the blues with a twang” — it seems wrong to call you just a blues singer.

Copeland: Yeah — no. And you know what? For me I am a blues singer. In my mind I always have been, but that really shouldn’t limit a person. As an artist I’m not limited in any way, shape or form, because everything else comes from the blues. I think people limit you because they want to put you in a box and make you be one thing or the other. I’ve always felt that that was unfair in music, so we can jump inside of different things and become whatever we need to.

Q: And this also gives you a chance to branch out a bit and put your own stamp on things, and with your voice being so distinctive, the way you handle, say, a country song or a rock song or a soul song, that puts your own mark upon it.

Copeland: Yes.

Q: Is there anything you would like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Copeland: Just that I’m really excited about coming. New England has been really good to me and I’m grateful that they have invited my band and I to come back and perform. We’re super- excited about it.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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