Shemekia Copeland Turns Up the Heat at North Liberty Blues & BBQ

Three-time Grammy nominee Shemekia Copeland (Photo by Mike White)

With a Grammy-nominated headliner this Saturday, July 13, the North Liberty Blues & BBQ Festival is expecting another great turn out.

“Shemekia Copeland is one of the great blues voices of our time. No one comes close to the sheer firepower that Copeland conjures at will.” –Chicago Tribune

Shemekia Copeland never holds back. Her instantly recognizable voice—capable of being sultry, assertive, and roaring—delivers every song with unparalleled honesty and passion. She has performed thousands of gigs at clubs, festivals, and concert halls all over the world and has appeared on national television, NPR, and in newspapers, films, and magazines. She’s sung with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, and James Cotton. She opened for the Rolling Stones and entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Jeff Beck calls her “amazing.” Santana says, “She’s incandescent … a diamond.” In 2012, she performed with B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, and Gary Clark Jr. at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.

When Copeland broke onto the scene in 1998 with her groundbreaking Alligator Records debut CD Turn The Heat Up, she became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with. News outlets from The New York Times to CNN praised Copeland’s talent, larger-than-life personality, and true star power.

“Copeland is a powerhouse, a superstar … she can do no wrong.” –Rolling Stone

Over the past 20 years she has earned three Grammy nominations, eight Blues Music Awards, and a host of Living Blues Awards. She won the 2017 Living Blues Readers’ Award for Blues Artist of the Year (Female), the same distinction she won the year before. She also took home the 2016 Blues Music Award (BMA) for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of  the Year. Outskirts Of Love won the BMA for Best Blues Album of the Year.

Her wide-open vision of contemporary Americana roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with an up-to-the-minute musical and lyrical approach. Now, with her new album, America’s Child, Shemekia is standing on the cusp of her greatest success. Her intensely empowering, American music is as insightful as it is fun. NPR Music says, “She brings a perfect balance of authority and understatement to each song.” No Depression adds, “When Shemekia Copeland opens her mouth, everybody pays attention. She pierces your soul. This is how you do it, and nobody does it better than Shemekia Copeland.”


This Saturday, Shemekia Copeland will be capping an exciting lineup of blues and blues-inspired music in North Liberty’s Centennial Park. Southern Culture on the Skids, Gloria Hardiman & The Monday Night All-Stars, Kevin Burt, Joe & Vicki Price, and Brian Johannesen will also be rocking the event, which drew 17,000 people last year!

But long before the jams begin and that barbecue is done cooking, Centennial Park will be hopping with do-gooders ready to run as the North Liberty Community Pantry hosts their annual Turkey Trot 10k, 5k, and family 1-mile races on Saturday morning in conjunction with the “Thanksgiving in July” community-wide food drive. The chip-timed races begin and end in the park between 9–10:30 a.m. Register here to join the trot!

Iowa favorites Joe and Vicki Price take the stage at 1:30 p.m.

The North Liberty Blues & BBQ festival means fun for everyone. From 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. you can bring your family (ages 2–18!) to “The Pit” for a range of fun art projects, inflatable rides, pony rides, a giant corn box, face and body painting, games, and more—including activities in a shaded tent.

While the kids are doing their thing, grab a cold one from the Iowa Craft Beer Tent, featuring brews from around the state to suit every type of taster: hop lovers, cider fanciers, beer snobs, and those who just want a cold pint. Root beer and water are also available. No less than 15 area breweries will be represented.

And, of course, you’ll want to cruise the “Junge Food Alley” from 11 a.m.–10 p.m. for a smorgasbord of mouthwatering barbecue prepared by an array of pit masters. Traditional barbecue favorites such as ribs, pulled pork and burnt ends, as well as ice cream, pizza, sno-cones, and more will be calling your name.

Southern Culture on the Skids will be spreading their rock and roll gospel at 7:15 p.m.

The music starts at noon and goes well into the evening:

Brian Johannesen • 12–1 p.m.

Joe & Vicky Price • 1:30–2:45 p.m.

Kevin Burt • 3:15–4:45 p.m.

Gloria Hardiman & The Monday Night All-Stars • 5:15–6:45 p.m.

Southern Culture on the Skids • 7:15–8:30 p.m.

Shemekia Copeland • 9–10:30 p.m.

To read more about the artists, visit the festival website. Oh, and did we mention? It’s free.