A meeting with the Queen of the Blues : Shemekia Copeland

She speaks about Koko Taylor, Barack Obama, Buddy Guy, BB King, Mick Jagger, Johnny Clyde Copeland, John Hahn, Arthur Neilson, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, New York, the future of the blues… Shemekia Copeland Interview (english version)

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Lors de son concert au New Morning à Paris le 26 novembre 2012 – Photos Miss Béa

You are the new Queen of the Blues. How do you feel with this title ?
It is an honour but for me, Koko Taylor was the only Queen of the blues. She is my Queen. But it is definitely an honour.

In February, you played for Obama. How was the contest ?
It was so exciting. I did not realize it was happening until I saw it on TV because I was so excited and nervous and everything to be there. It was so great. The Obamas were so nice and welcoming with everybody. You could tell that they are music fans. Of course, to be there with Buddy Guy, B. B. King and Mick Jagger, it was an amazing experience.

You are the number one everywhere in the charts. How do you feel about that ?
I feel great about it. It is always nice when you put your art, your soul and your time in a project and to see that people love it as much as you love it.

You played with Buddy Guy, B. B. King and Mick Jagger, which one was the most impressive ?
They both were impressive in different ways. Buddy Guy has so much energy and he is just so exciting. B. B. is more mellow. He has his own sound and his own style for sixty years. It is incredible. Both they are amazing and different in so many ways.

And Mick Jagger ?
It is a great showman. And he is so professional. Everything he makes, he has to be sure that is alright.

We first hear about you in 1997 on a Lonnie Shields’ CD, Blues Is On Fire. You were singing with him?
Yes, I do. I remember that. He was the first to give me a chance. It was my first recording.

It was your first recording ?
Not really the first but one of the first.

You were very young.
Yes, I was a teenager. I first recorded with my daddy but no one had heard it.

One each of your cds, there is a song written by your father.
Yes, it is my tribute to him because he was such a great artist. One of the best I had never seen. He wrote so many great songs. I can do albums and albums, there will be always a song from my father. I have my own personality but I want to pay a tribute to him.

How your authors write your songs ? Did you speak with them before ?
Yes. John Hahn knows me since I was 18 years old. So he knows everything about me. We met three times a day. He knows what I am thinking. And we talk every time. So it makes it easy to write. The other people who write me songs, know that blues is always evolving. That is important for me.

Can you speak about the title of your new CD?
When I was young, I spent all my money to buy vinyls  and it is my age. I am 33 1/3.

Arthur Neilson is with you for fifteen years ?
I think that God sent him to me ( laughs ). Arthur is by my side for so many years. He is the band leader. He is an amazing artist. He is a fantastic guitar player. We complete one and each.

Can you speak about your work with Dr John ?
Dr John is my godfather. I just loved working with him. It was like working with my father. He loves me so much and he gave me all he could to help me. He is so wonderful. A wonderful man and a wonderful artist.

On your new CD, there is a cover of Bob Dylan ?
Yes. Bob Dylan is one of the greatest songwriters of the earth.

The same question but with Sam Cooke ?
When I was a little girl, I fell in love with him. I fell in love with his voice. I listened to him over and over and over. And over. And I am listening to  his voice  now.

How is the blues scene in New York today ?
There is no blues scene. It is over. When I was a little girl, there were so many clubs. There is nothing today. No clubs. There is the B. B. King Club but they play no blues.

What is the future of the blues ?
I think the future is going. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future but I think there will be always something for the blues.

Claude Dannic    10/27/2012 Paris, France


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