Nine O'clock Blues: Second Generation Blues Voices
Second generation Blues artists have made a major impression on the genre.
I hope you were able to catch Muddy Waters’ son, Big Bill Morganfield at Tuna Fish & Peanut Butter a couple of weeks ago. While John Lee Hooker, Jr. is far less well known than Big Bill, he does front an excellent band and deserves more attention.
There are many others in the second generation, but my attention here will be on two we’ll be hearing this week on The Nine O’clock Blues; Johnny Copeland’s daughter Shemekia and Eddie Taylor’s daughter Demetria. Both have new albums out and both albums are well worth a listen.
Shemekia Copeland is by far the better known of the two, having risen to headlined major festivals like the Chicago Blues Festival and appeared on stage with people like The Rolling Stones, B. B. King, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton and has performed for Mrs. Obama at the White House.
While only in her thirties I believe Shemekia deserves to be mentioned alongside divas like Koko Taylor, Etta James and Ruth Brown, all of whom are among Copeland’s influences.
I find Shemekia Copeland’s singing to be wonderfully passionate and stunningly forceful, giving her music an urgency and timeless power.
Shemekia’s father, the late Texas Blues guitar legend, Johnny Clyde Copeland recognized his daughter’s talent early on and took her to sing at the Cotton Club in Harlem when she was only 8. But it was at age 15, as her father’s health was starting to fade, that she really decided her direction in life. “It was like a switch went off in my head, and I wanted to sing,” she says. “It became a want and a need. I had to do it.”
Copeland released her first album in 1998 when she was only 19. The critics raved. The Village Voice called her “nothing short of uncanny,” while the Boston Globe proclaimed that “she roars with a sizzling hot intensity.” I raved too and played a full set of her music the week that the CD came into KUNC’s studios.
Her latest album is “33 1/3” and we’ll sample it this week on The Nine O’clock Blues.
Also on the show will be a track from “Bad Girl” by Demetria Taylor. She is not just a second generation Blues artists, but comes from a major Blues family with a grandfather and father who both played guitar. Her father Eddie is by far the best known, his top credits being his work with Jimmy Reed, though he also worked with John Lee Hooker, Walter Horton, Sam Lay and others.
Demetria’s mother and several of her siblings were or are Blues artists. As if she needed any more influence, the Taylorhome was often host to greats like Floyd Jones, Carey Bell, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Littlejohn, Sam Lay, Willie Kent, Taildragger, Eddie Shaw, Johnny B Moore and Magic Slim.
Demetria lists her vocal influences as Etta James, Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, and, most importantly, “The Queen of the Blues” Koko Taylor (No Relation to the Eddie Taylor Family). Those influences are obvious every time Taylor begins to sing. Everything I said about Shemekia Copeland could easily be repeated for Demetria.
Tune in this week for The Nine O’clock Blues and enjoy two of the most powerful voices in contemporary Blues.