Huge cheers for Copeland’s blues
THE blues, replete with its stories of love — looking for love, being in love and love lost — filled the green space of Emancipation Park in St Andrew on Friday.
The event, Blues on the Green, organised by the United States Embassy in Jamaica, featured American Grammy-nominated blues singer, Shemekia Copeland.
The gutsy vocalist thrilled the thousands who gathered in the park for the annual event which is staged in celebration of Black History Month.
From the moment she took the stage, it was clear she would make her audience warm up to a music not among the popular genres in Jamaica.
With all the sass and deep-seated passion required to confidently and accurately deliver this musical style, Copeland — who is the daughter of legendary Texas blues guitarist Johnny Clyde Copeland — was spot on as she belted out tracks Giving You Up, Lemon Pie, The Other Woman and Big Loving Woman. She dedicated the latter to the females in the audience, encouraging them to go home, get naked, look themselves in the mirror and scream: "I am the most beautiful woman in the world," which went over well with the predominantly female guests seated throughout the venue.
However, it was with her next track that she stepped up her showmanship. The track, Ghetto Child, was written by her father and Copeland dedicated it to her parents, who she said stood by her decision to become a blues singer.
"When I was in the second grade, all the kids in school would perform hip-hop tracks or Whitney Houston songs, and that was all right. When it was my turn to sing, I went up on stage, put my hands on my hips that had not developed yet, and said, 'I wan't to make love to an alligator,'" she recalled. The audience could not contain their laughter.
"My mother was called in by the teacher after my performance and she calmly told the teacher 'My baby wants to be a blues singer and that's what blues singers do," Copeland continued.
She then launched into the track and midway she stepped back from the microphone, continued singing the chorus and made her way through the audience.
With her unamplified voice still carrying on the cool evening air, Copeland further mesmerised and earned a standing ovation from her audience.
She would wrap up her set with a spirited rendition of Stand Up and Testify and, for her encore, delivered Let The Good Times Roll to great applause.
Ahead of Copeland, the National Culture Group for the Blind and Othneil Lewis and Friends were the evening's openers.
The annual embassy concert continues to be a calendar event attracting patronage in record numbers. This year the organisers can again take a bow for a well-organised event with great entertainment and a truly great vibe.