Blues powerhouse wows Diesel audience

Blues dynamo Shemekia Copeland dazzled the crowd with her powerhouse voice despite the low turnout at Diesel.

“This show was not promoted well but the crowd that was here was wonderful. Pittsburgh keeps inviting me back and I’m glad to come back,” said Copeland. “You get a good feeling when you come to Pittsburgh and I love coming there.”


Copeland was in Pittsburgh in June and wowed a packed house at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

“I usually get a pretty mixed crowd at my shows. There is definitely a much older crowd that listens to blues and a lot of White people. I would definitely like to see more young people who watch MTV and VH-1 at the concerts, but fans are fans and I’m glad to see everyone. I would definitely like to see more young people, but I’m happy for any fans,” Copeland said with a smile.

This time, though the soulful singer worked her magic on a much smaller audience.

“I enjoy intimate places because I get to say more things and do more with the audience,” Copeland said. “When I’m in an enclosed setting, I get the chance to talk about personal experiences.”

But the result was still the same.

“She’s a terrific performer. She has it in her genes,” said North Side resident Don Friedman. “Her band is tight and they played just was well for 30 people as if they were playing for thousands.”

Copeland, 30, is the daughter of Texas Blues guitar legend, Johnny Clyde Copeland who always encouraged his daughter to sing even though she was too embarrassed to do so. At  15, when her father’s health was failing, Shemekia’s shyness turned into a need.

“It was like a switch went off in my head and I wanted to sing,” she said. “It became a want and I need. I had to do it.”

In 1998, at the age of 19, Copeland released her debut album, “Turn The Heat Up.” Her second studio project, “Wicked” was released in 2000 and won three Handy Awards that year.

“Talking To Strangers” was released two years later and “The Soul” came out in 2005.

Dressed in black jeans and a black and white top, Copeland performed songs from her most recent effort, “Never Going Back,” which was released on Telarc International in February.

Copeland’s magnetic voice really hit a deep chord with 30-year-old musician, Josh Braskett.

“It was disappointing that there were only about 30 people at the concert. I love blues music. Rock and roll and everything comes from the blues. Shemekia is  the real deal. She can’t fake her talent.”

Following her stint in Pittsburgh, Copeland will spend six weeks performing in Turkey before ending the year with her wedding.

When she isn’t working, Copeland loves to cook.

She plans to begin work on her next album early in 2010.

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