Shemekia Copeland sure knows how to put on a show! Lively? You bet! Can the lady sing? Hell yeah! No doubt about it.
My friend (from Chicago, Shemekia's hometown) and I made it down to Humphrey's Backstage Lounge in time for the second of two shows. Shemekia and her mother were outside the double doors that lead into the Lounge, selling/signing merchandise. This may sound weird, but I prefer to buy my CDs from the artists themselves because then I know that the money is going to them rather than the record companies. I bought a couple of disks, which were promptly signed. Greg, my friend, bought a CD as well and chatted with Shemekia and her mother about Chicago. After talking for a bit, we headed in, grabbing front row center seats. I had my camera with me, ready to go.
It wasn't long before the darling blues diva jumped on stage. With a broad grin and a shake of her jet black hair, she launched into the first of many scorchers. Playing up to the crowd, Shemekia soon had folks up on their feet, out on the floor, dancing the night away. The band was having just as much fun. Even Shemekia's mom was swaying to the music.
The second song offered up was the title track from her most recent CD, "Talking to Strangers." I don't know anyone who hasn't experienced those lonely moments of single life at least once, and this song - especially live - captures the essence of life alone perfectly. You end up in a bar, late at night, talking to strangers, wondering if there isn't a little magic about to happen. Shemekia makes this song everybody's song.
The best tune of the set, in my opinion, was "Sholanda's" - life on the road for a woman means pampering at the House of Beau-tay the minute she comes home. It's an animated number, with Shemekia boppin', gesturing, and bringing you along for a day with the gals at Sholanda's place.