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Real soul defies definition

Special to the Daily Shemekia Copeland brings her booming, soulful voice and ensemble to the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek on Sunday.
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BEAVER CREEK – Shemekia Copeland says she’s better off not knowing what people are saying about her, even though most of it’s good.A Grammy-nominated blues singer, Copeland has been described, among other glowing terms, as “the next Tina Turner.” This comparison was made by Robert Plant. “Well, I guess we live in a world where they have to compare you to somebody,” said the 26-year-old from Harlem, New York. “If it’s Tina Turner … I’d say that’s pretty good.”Copeland has played with BB King, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, has opened for the Rolling Stones and has appeared in movies and been featured on the likes of The Conan O’Brien Show, David Letterman and National Public Radio. “I’m one of those people that is always counting my blessings,” Copeland said.The singer launched into her career as a little girl sharing the stage with her father, late Texas blues guitarist Johnny Clyde Copeland. She slowly began stealing the show from him, and he unfortunately passed just as his daughter hit the fast track. But she says she can still sense his presence whenever she performs.”I never feel I walk on stage by myself,” Copeland said. “I always think about him. He was such a great writer and performer.”As Copeland has made her way through the charts, earning many blues music awards and eliciting rave reviews for her four albums: “Turn the Heat Up,” “Wicked,” “Talking to Strangers,” and last year’s release, “The Soul Truth,” Copeland has carried her father’s wisdom along the way.

“My father said, ‘Never read the press, because you start to believe it,'” Copeland said. “‘If it’s good, you become big-headed. If it’s bad, you become bitter and angry.’ He always told me to keep everything in perspective.”Copeland, while always responsible for the volcanic vocal delivery, doesn’t always write her own songs. Those for which she’s contributed most largely, however, certainly jump out at listeners.Take, for instance, “All About You,” an edgy, passionate, tongue-in-cheek tune with booming, soulful verses backed up by walking horn section accompaniment.Copeland wrote the song about an ex-boyfriend.”Well, we’ve all dated the selfish bastard,” she pointed out, adding that writing songs about such unpleasant experiences can be very cathartic. “Performing them is even more therapeutic,” she said. “You run into so many people like yourself who have been through the same situation. It really cracks me up.”While the media has sized up her music and her voice in every poetic way one could think of describing true soul, Copeland is hesitant about offering up her own definition.”I think it’s just contemporary music,” she said. “It’s blues music that anyone can enjoy. I can’t really say, I’m this or I’m that. For me, I just come up with an idea. I don’t put on a special song or have any of that going on. I come up with an idea, write it down and go back to it later. I’ve had a real natural progression.”

Copeland said that while her music has progressed, her attitude has evolved with it.”My voice changed and my attitude changed,” she said. “Naturally from being older and more experienced, you become more secure in yourself and who you are. I try to learn from every little thing.”With her music, Copeland hopes to encourage listeners in kind to believe in themselves, particularly women.”I want women especially to feel good about themselves and what they’re doing,” she said. “There’s such a lack of confidence in young woman. Unfortunately, the media makes it so hard to love yourself anymore. They make it so hard to appreciate your body. I want to put women in a position of power to make sure they’re confident in themselves, and to let them know not to take anything so seriously.”Contemporary bluesWhat: Soul/R &B artist Shemekia CopelandWhen: 7:30 p.m. Sunday



Where: Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver CreekInfo: Tickets are $33. For tickets or more information, visit http://www.vilarcenter.org, or call 888-920-2787Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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