The era of brassy, big-voiced blues and soul divas isn’t over.
But with legendary vocalists like Aretha Franklin, Bettye LaVette, Mavis Staples and Candi Staton still carrying the torch, it’s fair to say the era has blown out a whole bunch of candles on a whole bunch of birthday cakes.
Which is why the emergence of Shemekia Copeland — Harlem native and daughter of Texas guitarist Johnny Copeland — is so promising.
If it seems like Copeland has been around for a while, well, it’s because she has. With her father’s prodding, she sang on stage at New York City’s famous Cotton Club at age 8, and at 19 she released her debut album “Turn the Heat Up!” Her second album, “Wicked,” landed Copeland a Grammy nomination.
Eleven years later, Copeland has staked her career on three sections of solid ground: deeply personal songs about struggle, faith and hope; a fun personality and fiery live show; and a sturdy, stirring voice that will send shivers down your spine. Add it all up and you can rest assured that, with Copeland barely into her 30s, the diva tradition will be in good hands well into the 21st century.
— Ben Salmon