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Exclusive O&AN Contest: Enter to win one of three copies of Shemekia Copeland’s “The Soul Truth” by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org containing your name and mailing address and the word “Soul” in the subject line. Winners will be chosen at random from all entries. Deadline for entry is Friday, April 6.
At the youthful age of 26 Shemekia Copeland has arguably one of the most recognizable voices in the blues genre with her powerhouse delivery and soulful presence that literally drips with raw talent.
Copeland—the daughter of late great Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland—was encouraged by her father from an early age and started singing at the tender age of eight. A decade later, Copeland landed her first publishing deal with the celebrated Alligator Records who released her groundbreaking first outing “Turn the Heat Up” to critical acclaim, which almost instantly made the young ingénue a superstar of roots music.
Three albums and numerous awards later (including a Grammy nod for 2000’s “Wicked”), Copeland is recognized now more than ever as a legend in the making. With “The Soul Truth” her latest, and possibly most significant release to date, Copeland proves beyond a doubt that she has inherited the torch that has been carried over the years by Koko Taylor, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and other soul divas of the past 50 years. Produced by renowned Stax guitarist Steve Cropper, “The Soul Truth” proves that Copeland’s vocal skill—backed by the phenomenal fret work of Cropper himself on the album—is nearly without restriction and transcends the boundaries of most contemporary roots music. She delivers brick-house vocals and unmistakable performances that touch the heart and stir the soul and leave the audience begging for more.
Shemekia recently took a few minutes to chat with O&AN over the phone from her Chicago home.
O&AN: As a blues performer, you have doubtless spent a lot of time on the road in clubs and the like. What would you say have been the biggest changes in the business over the years since you released your first album in 1997?
SC: Everything is changing in the business, so we really have no choice but to change with it. We’ve been touring on The Soul Truth for a while now but the tours and everything are not like they used to be. Clubs on the blues circuits are closing down everywhere so there are fewer places for blues artists to play. Sometimes we just go out for the weekend and then sometimes we’re on the road for a couple of nights at a time. A long time ago I would do the big two month long tours and be out on the road forever at a time but not any more.
O&AN: Do you find that because of who you are as the daughter of a blues legend and all of the attention that has been drawn to your talent in the past several years people treat you differently or pressure you to live up to pre-conceived ideas about you and your work?
SC: I don’t really allow myself to feel any extra pressure because of who I am. Life is pressure enough, you know what I mean? There ain’t any need in trying to add no extra pressure on myself so I don’t think about what other people expect. I just go out on that stage and do what I gotta do and try to do the best I can.
O&AN: Your unique background clearly informs and inspires your music and performance style onstage and in your albums. What other sources of inspiration do you draw from for your work?
SC: My father was inspirational. My mother was inspirational. Y’know? My Aunt Phyllis. I’ve got a great boyfriend and I wanna be just like him when I grow up. All of these great people in my life inspire me to do better. They deserve a lot of the credit for my success because I couldn’t do it without them. Mainly, though I draw my inspiration from God. I gotta put him first before anybody or anything.
O&AN: There are a number of blues performers who talk about how being onstage is a spiritual experience for them. Do you feel that way about the work that you do?
SC: It is an extremely spiritual thing for me to perform and be able to entertain and stir emotions in people. The older I get the more spiritual I think what I do is becoming. There is just something about being up on that stage with all eyes on you. I saw Koko the other night in Joliet, Illinois. She had been off for the past four months unable to work. She was opening for Buddy Guy that night and it was a really great show. When she got done she was thanking the audience and she was so happy that she glowed. She’s 78 years old and was so incredibly happy to be up there on the stage singing for people who loved her and then she started crying. And when she started crying I started crying and so did everyone else. It was incredible because that’s just how wonderful it is to be up there doing what I love. It makes me so happy I could cry.
O&AN: You work in an environment that is predominantly male in an industry that rewards males better than it does females. How do you feel that fact affects you as an artist and a performer?
SC: I know that as a woman I’m a minority within my own genre, but I really try not to let that bother me so much and it’s hard as hell, you know what I mean? Men get paid more and get treated better. That’s in any business, not just this one so you just have to roll with the punches. I’m just grateful because people like Koko Taylor and Ruth Brown paved the way so that it’s not as bad for me now as it was for them when they first came through. Because I’m walking in their footsteps I definitely do not have to go through a lot of the stuff they did.
O&AN: If I may say so, I imagine your tenure with Alligator Records has helped a lot as well. I’ve always gotten the impression that they always treat their artists well.
SC: I’ve been with Alligator Records for a long time now and they have a great team of people who work really hard to do right by me. I have a great love and respect for all of the people that I work with because it just cannot be done without these people in the background doing their part no mater how small a part it may seem. Even down to the lady whose job it is to take care of my Web site, Beverly Howle. She does such a great job for me and I really appreciate her. I am extremely hands –on with every aspect of the process. Everybody has got my number and they can call me for anything. I’m pretty involved in everything but I’m actually going to work on how not to be so much. It’s a difficult thing to let go and allow someone to be in control but it’s something I feel I need to do for myself.
O&AN: What was it like working alongside such a great talent as Steve Cropper in the studio while you were recording The Soul Truth?
SC: This guy is so filled with energy and wisdom and knowledge it was amazing for me to find myself in the same room with him. I think even more importantly than doing the music that some of the wisdom he would share and the stories that he would tell were just incredible. It was a great thing. I feel like I formed long lasting friendships in the making of The Sole Truth. Now I got an Uncle Cropper too, y’know what I mean? These were not just producers, these are men that love me and care about me and are really concerned about me and my career. That makes it a whole different kind of thing than just making a record. We made long lasting memories.
O&AN: What is the next step for you? What are your goals for the future?
SC: I got all kinds of dreams and goals and aspirations for the future. But you know what? I don’t even think about that so much any more. I think the older I get that my mind process is changing and I have started to really just be grateful that I’m working and supporting myself by doing something that I love. I’m just praying that I will be able to continue to do that. At this point that seems to be enough for me. When I first started out I had it all planned out. By this time I was gonna have this and that. By that time I wanna be able to do this and so on. Now I’ve just started to realize all of that isn’t what it’s all about.
O&AN: Do you think that’s a hard lesson for people in the industry to learn as they are starting out in building a career?
SC: It’s a hard lesson for some people to learn but it really wasn’t so much for me. Some people have to have this huge crash before they learn to let go and just be grateful for what they have, but I think that when I create all of these high goals and such in my mind that when I don’t achieve them exactly as I planned I often feel a little like I failed. I have people always telling me how successful I am and I try not to let that affect me and just be grateful because I know so many people every day who just hate their jobs and the only reason they are there is so they can support themselves but that’s not the only reason that I get up on that stage. I get up on that stage because I love what I do.
Shemekia Copeland will be performing at the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar in Printer’s Alley Downtown on Wednesday, April 4, at 8:00 p.m.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.