Shemekia Copeland's father thought she had serious talent. Even at age 8.
Her father, legendary blues guitarist Johnny Clyde Copeland, definitely knew something about talent. Before she was 10, he put his daughter on stage at Harlem's Cotton Club but at the time, stage fright and embarrassment got the best of her.
By age 15, when her father's health began to fail, her thoughts on singing started changing. "It was like a switch went off in my head," she explains. "It became a want and a need. I had to do it." By age 19, she recorded her first record "Turn The Heat Up!"
Her latest album, "Never Going Back," showcases her ongoing musical evolution, her desire to push the limits of the genre. On "Never Going Back," Copeland covers one of her father's tunes "Circumstances," telling NPR's Liane Hanson that the song's message still holds true today.
"You have some very highly educated people that can't find jobs because of circumstances, because of the way the world is right now," Copeland said.
A few tracks later, Copeland re-imagines Joni Mitchell's "Black Crow." Her simmering, jazzy take on the Mitchell classic is thoughtful and lyrical.
Copeland insists that she doesn't want to limit herself, that blues is a genre that's wide with possibility. She joins us, along with guitarist Arthur Neilsen, live in studio.
- Hear Shemekia Copeland at The Bull Run: Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m.
This segment aired on November 18, 2011.