America’s Child is a groundbreaking, genre-bending work of beauty. Shemekia is one of the great singers of our time. This record introduces listeners to another side of her, and I predict it will result in many new fans. Her voice on these songs is nothing short of magic.
– Mary Gauthier
Shemekia Copeland is the real deal. America’s Child goes deep, and Shemekia‘s voice—a national treasure—carries the songs effortlessly, whether topical, personal, spiritual, political or just plain raucous fun. Shemekia rears back her head and what comes out is humanity made vocal.
– Will Kimbrough
Award-winning vocalist Shemekia Copeland releases her potent new Alligator Records album America’s Child Friday, Aug. 3. Produced by Americana Instrumentalist of the Year winner Will Kimbrough (a frequent visitor to the area who also plays guitar on the album) and recorded in Nashville, America’s Child is a courageous and fiery statement of purpose, a major step forward for a singer whose musical consciousness continues to expand as her star continues to rise.
This is by far Ms. Copeland’s most compelling work yet, with music swelling beyond blues and into spirited Americana, with elements of rock, soul, and country. Her instantly recognizable voice—capable of being sultry, assertive and roaring—delivers every song with unparalleled honesty and passion. The three-time Grammy nominee’s wide-open vision of contemporary Americana roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with an up-to-the-minute musical and lyrical approach.
From the anthemic opening track “Ain’t Got Time for Hate” to the closing lullaby, the traditional “Go to Sleepy Little Baby,” Ms. Copeland sings with passion and insight about the chaos and uncertainty in the world while still finding joy all around her.
With guests including John Prine, Rhiannon Giddens, Emmylou Harris, Steve Cropper, J.D. Wilkes, Al Perkins, 30A Songwriters Festival veteran Mary Gauthier and members of the Time Jumpers, America’s Child bursts with Ms. Copeland’s bravado and embraces with her tenderness.
Ms. Gauthier and songwriter-executive producer John Hahn wrote two striking songs for the project. “Smoked Ham and Peaches” is a search for truth and tranquility in America, featuring Ms. Giddens on African banjo. “Americans” celebrates our collective diversity in all its forms and colors. Mr. Prine joins in for a stirring duet on his own “Great Rain.” Mr. Cropper adds his scorching guitar to the ballad “Promised Myself,” written by Ms. Copeland’s father, the late bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland. And her version of “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” transforms the Kinks song into a blues-fueled declaration of independence.
Upon the birth of her son Johnny Lee Copeland in 2017, Shemekia, with fresh eyes, began to take an even deeper look at the state of the world. Of the new album, she says, “After having a child, I started thinking about the world I brought him into, how it actually is and how I wished it was and all the things he will have to go through.
“And to live in this world today, you have to have a strong foundation like I did to make it through. So that’s what America’s Child means to me. I’m truly grateful to all the artists that joined me on this record—it wasn’t about the genre for anyone, it was about the music and mutual love and respect.”
With America’s Child, Shemekia Copeland is standing on the cusp of her greatest success. Her intensely empowering, American music is as insightful as it is fun. Upon release of the album, she’ll tour nationwide, including a showcase performance at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville in September.
– Marc Lipkin, Alligator Records