Oliver Wood Is "Taking Shemekia Copeland Out Of Her Blues Box"

For her new record 'Never Going Back' (out 2.24 on Telarc), Shemekia Copeland enlisted producer Oliver Wood, one half of the Wood Brothers band (the other is Chris Wood, member of Medeski, Martin & Wood), to help bring her beyond her blues comfort zone and coax the genre into a new generation.

Reflecting on the experience of working with Shemekia on 'Never Going Back, ' Wood highlights the limitlessness of Shemekia's talent and artistic bravery:

On Shemekia's voice: "We all know Shemekia can belt out a vocal as well as anyone, so we wanted to give her a chance to be a little more subtle at times - she happens to be a blues singer, but she could have become any kind of singer she wanted- she's very talented."

On the production style: "Production-wise we were going for rawness and emotion. We made a real effort not to overdo things or polish things. The idea was to keep things raw, loose and pretty spare."

On the song selection: "This album has elements of blues, gospel, jazz and country...styles that have all blended and overlapped for a long time. [Shemekia] wanted to express herself differently than she had in the past, so we chose from an eclectic bag of tunes. Not that they don't have blues in them-Shemekia gives the blues to anything she sings!"

On Shemekia's personality and courage: "Shemekia is very talented, has a great voice, is fun to work with and is a mostly flexible non-diva- I'd work with her anytime! She seemed to really trust me and the ideas I had - and we both had a vision of doing something she really let me push her out of her comfort zone a few times. It's a little scary to try a new direction and put something out that you've never done before and aren't known for - it took courage to do that and I think she grew by pushing herself...and the results are fantastic."

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