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Talking to Strangers

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The daughter of Texas bluesman Johnny Copeland puts a little New Orleans in the mix, thanks to Dr. John's production of her third album. Although Copeland's best known as a blues belter, taking after her daddy's declarative singing style, these arrangements nudge her own band's screaming guitars aside in favor of keyboards, percussion, and more languid grooves. As a result Copeland explores the softer side of her honey-and-red-clay voice in tunes like "Happy Valentine's Day" and "Don't Whisper," turning in the finest, most nuanced performance of her young career. (Copeland was only 23 when this CD was released in 2002.) "The Push I Need," a duet with Dr. John, taps the classic Hi Records sound, and "Livin' On Love" is greasy funk. The guitars are turned loose for the disc's closer, her late father's "Pie in the Sky" done as a grinding rocker.


Born: 10 April 1979 in Harlem, New York, NY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The daughter of renowned Texas blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, Shemekia Copeland began making a splash in her own right before she was even out of her teens. Projecting a maturity beyond her years, Copeland fashioned herself as a powerful, soul-inflected shouter in the tradition of Koko Taylor and Etta James, yet also proved capable of a subtler range of emotions. Copeland was born in Harlem in 1979 and her father encouraged her to sing right from the beginning, even bringing her up on-stage at...
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Talking to Strangers, Shemekia Copeland
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