Shemekia Copeland Mike White

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with many blues performers and one of my favorites happens to be coming up to a new-to-me venue in Sidney called the Snow Pond Center for the Arts, and it’s there on Dec. 9 that Shemekia Copeland will be electrifying the audience with her own signature brand of this multifaceted genre. Her latest album’s called “Uncivil War” and it’s a hard-hitting honest view of what’s happening in our country nowadays served up with unflinching truthfulness and a power that only Ms. Copeland could deliver. When I learned about this upcoming show, I contacted her label and requested a few minutes of her time to learn more about that album and what this amazing performer’s been up to recently.

Q: It’s so good to be talking with you again; it’s been a while since last we spoke. I understand that you are coming back up to Maine again.
Copeland: I am and I’m very excited, I love Maine.

Q: Have you ever performed at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts before?
Copeland: I don’t think so, I don’t remember being there, I was actually talking about that this morning with one of my guitar players and he said, “I don’t think we’ve ever been to this place before.”

Q: I haven’t either, but I did talk with Christa Johnson (Director of Development) over there and she’s so looking forward to your show, I told her, “And well you should!”
Copeland: (Chuckle)

Q: And I must say that your latest release, “Uncivil War,” is a gut-punch on a lot of the songs.
Copeland: Thank you, in this country if you actually talk about what’s going on, people will say you’re being political and really you’re just stating facts, you know what I’m saying?

Q: Yup, I do.
Copeland: I don’t consider myself as political so much as I consider myself giving people information, putting the information out there, and these are things that are happening right in front of our eyes; and I like putting it out there so we can see because, after all, if we don’t deal with these things, if we don’t feel the things, we can’t act and overcome it and learn from it because it is just missed and you’ll never ever move forward, you know?

Q: I do.
Copeland: I just feel that as American people we are so much the same. If we just turn off the news and stop and listen to one another, and learn about each other, we can stop letting the media tell us who each others are, we need to learn that for ourselves. That’s been one of my biggest blessings: being able to travel and meet people from all over this country and all over the world, because I already know better.

Q: And what you do by bringing these observations to us through your music is so important nowadays especially, it’s very much needed.
Copeland: Well, thank you so much. I’m glad you take it that way because it’s meant to bring unity, it’s meant to bring people together which is where we should be, together. I mean, we’re all the same, I swear, if we take the politics away, literally, and take the politicians away, as American people we could get so much done and so much accomplished. The politicians have become masterful at figuring out ways to pit us against one another, they keep us fighting over small things that don’t matter and while we’re doing that they’re behind the scenes just doing whatever they want to do: Republicans and Democrats alike.

Q: But you do see hope for the future, don’t you?
Copeland: Oh, I’m a woman of faith so hope is within when you have faith (laughter).

Q: Good point, I wish I had more faith, but I understand. Now it’s meat-and-potatoes time, what can people expect from your show in Sidney, seeing you haven’t played there before.
Copeland: Oh, my God, we just have a great time, we have so much fun. I mean, I’ve been with my band for a very long time and we’re excited to be out on the road, we’re excited to be making music, we’re excited to see our fans, so I think this is going to be one big, huge party with some great music, you know what I mean?

Q: Yes, I do. And you have got quite a few albums to choose songs from — do you put a little more emphasis on the “Uncivil War” album?
Copeland: Yes. I mean, I’ve got so many records so I pull out some classics but I’ll be focused mostly on the latest record, for sure.

Q: Just out of curiosity, where am I calling today?
Copeland: Well, last year, Oct. 31st, my husband got a job in Oceanside, California, that’s where I am living right now. So coming to Maine (chuckle) is a long trip for me now. I grew up on the East Coast and then I was in Chicago for 17 years and now I’m out here — it’s a whole different thing and I’m loving it.

Q: Last question time, is there anything, Shemekia, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Copeland: No, not really, I’m excited about coming, it’s been a couple of years and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people up there in Maine.

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 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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