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CD Review
Shemekia Copeland
"Turn The Heat Up"
Alligator Records 4857, 14 tracks, 63 minutes
by Ann Wickstrom
Johnny Clyde Copeland is surely looking down from that great blues heaven in the sky, and he is smiling. Who wouldn't be proud of a daughter with this kind of talent? Shemekia Copeland is just nineteen but she belts it out with a force and a feeling of someone much older, not that she hasn't already paid some dues. Shemekia grew up in Harlem and has "seen more blues each day than most people see in a lifetime."

After opening shows for her father for several years, this young blues diva has answered the call to record her first album and is now touring the country to support her efforts. Turn The Heat Up is rich with tales of passion, infidelity, lost love, and revenge. They come in the form of brash, straightforward blues; Memphis soul; rhythm and blues; and gospel blues. Michael Hill took a brief break from his Blues Mob to play guitar on "I Always Get My Man", Joe Louis Walker does the same on "My Tun Baby", and Monster Mike Welch stepped in for the axe duties on "Ghetto Child." However it is Jimmy Vivino who handles the guitar playing on the rest of the album. Vivino is a well-known, well-respected New York guitarist and is musical director of the Conan O'Brian Show. He is fast yet manages to keep the "feeling" intact. The UPTOWN HORNS are also featured on three songs.

For my money, the strongest track on the CD is the slow heartbreaker "Salt in My Wounds." Shemekia nearly knocks you off your feet as she powerfully relates her pain. In contrast, "Your Mama's Talking" challenges even the most reserved listeners to keep their feet still.

Shemekia has been regularly touring the East Coast but is now on a national tour that includes some major summer festivals. With any luck, she will work the twin cities into her schedule. This wouldn't be a show to miss!

This review is copyright 1998 by Ann Wickstrom, all rights reserved.

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