Blues on the Fox comes to Aurora
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media June 7, 2012 11:06AM
Shemekia Copeland will be at Blues on the Fox. | Photo by Carol Friedman
♦ 2:30 p.m. June 16
♦ Blues on the Fox — North River Street Park at New York and River streets, Aurora
♦ Tickets, $5
♦ (630) 896-6666
Shane Dwight 6:30 p.m.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd 8:30 p.m.
Shemekia Copeland 2:30 p.m.
The Lee Boys 4:30 p.m.
Chicago Blues: A Living History 6:30 p.m.
The Nevilles 8:30 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2012 10:03AM
Blues singer Shemekia Copeland, the daughter of the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, probably knows as much about the music of the blues than anyone else.
“I’ve been singing blues and I’ve been around the blues all my life,” said the 33-year-old performer who will appear in Aurora on June 16 at Blues on the Fox. “Anybody who hears the blues will like it. You know it’s somebody telling a story. The blues takes you through different emotions.”
Shemekia Copeland was born in New York City, but currently resides in Chicago. A blues performer for the past 17 years, Copeland has appeared on “Austin City Limits,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition.”
Copeland also has headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival and over the years she has shared the stage with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Taj Mahal and John Mayer.
Copeland’s performance at Blues on the Fox will be the first time she has appeared in the festival since she performed there in 2005. Blues on the Fox, in its 16th year, is part of the City of Aurora’s Downtown Alive! festival series. Blues on the Fox is presented by the Paramount Theatre and is sponsored in part by the City of Aurora and Hollywood Casino.
Copeland had stage experience at a very early age. Her father brought her on stage to sing at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club when she was just eight years old. At 19, Shemekia Copeland released her 1998 debut record, “Turn the Heat Up!” Her second album, “Wicked,” was released in 2000. Two years later she released “Talking To Strangers” (2002) and in 2005 Copeland released “The Soul Truth.” She released “Never Going Back” in 2009. Despite some critics saying that Copeland was taking a more forward view of the blues, she felt it was her “bluesiest” record to date.
“I went back to my roots,” she said of the CD.
Copeland is releasing her new CD (her sixth) in September. It is called “33 1/3.”
“The CD is traditional blues mixed in with funky stuff,” Copeland said. “It is me doing me.”
After years of success, the independence to record exactly what she wants to record appeals to Copeland.
“There is a freedom in that,” she said. “I enjoy making the records.”
But despite her success in the studio, live performing brings Copeland her greatest satisfaction.
“Nothing is better than being on stage in front of people,” Copeland said. “You get that energy and instant feedback.”
Copeland is receiving feedback among her peers also. It was at last year’s Chicago Blues Festival, in June 2011, that a torch, or in this case, a tiara was passed to Copeland. Joyce “Cookie” Threatt, the daughter of the late Koko Taylor, who was known as the Queen of the Blues, presented her mother’s tiara to Shemekia Copeland, who had been close to Koko Taylor for many years.
“To me, Koko Taylor will always be ‘The Queen of the Blues,’” Copeland said. “So to have this happen, how could you not be honored by it. I’ve loved her all my life. So if people feel I can fill her shoes, I’m honored.”