Contemporary blues standard bearers Shemekia Copeland and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have collaborated on “Hit ‘Em Back,” a new track that will be released on the Mascot Label Group’s Provogue label this Thursday, May 27. The track was recorded just two weeks ago with Copeland and Shepherd joining forces with guest performances from Robert Randolph on steel guitar and veteran blues drummer Tony Coleman who has worked with B.B. King, Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland, Albert King, and Buddy Guy.

A video for “Hit ‘Em Back” has just been released and can be viewed here.

“Hit ‘Em Back” was written at the urging of Shemekia who asked her lyricist John Hahn to write a song to address divisiveness and anger within the greater blues community. Thereafter, she reached out to Kenny Wayne asking if he would write music for the lyrics and join her to record the song. Kenny, along with producer Marshall Altman came up with the music, demo’d it, and sent it to Shemekia who just days later met them in a Nashville studio along with Randolph and Colemen.
All proceeds from “Hit ‘Em Back” will be donated to the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit whose stated mission is “to preserve the musical traditions of the south by directly supporting musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time.”

“Hit ‘Em Back” lyric excerpt
We come from different places
Worlds apart
Blues brought us together
Right from the start
Don’t care where you’re born
Don’t care where you been
The shade of your eyes
The color of your skin
We all join together
Love it like no other
I’ll always be your sister
If you’ll be my brother
Hit ‘em back
Hit ‘em back
Hit ‘em back with love
Let ‘em scream and yell
Push and shove
You gotta hit ‘em back with love.

Shemekia placed the new effort in context, “I did ‘Ain’t Got Time For Hate’ after my baby was born because I wanted to talk not only about problems but also about solutions.” That was followed by “Uncivil War” which is along the same lines. “I had thought those two would be part of a trilogy and now with ‘Hit ‘Em Back’ they are.” She went on to say, “There’s no doubt that there is racism in this country and in our business but, above all, what brings us together is music. People are angry and sometime create their own agendas that can divide us. If we can come together and make it about the music that can only help. I admit I, too, was part of the problem, putting things in virtual boxes or categories that close us off from one another; the music continues to evolve and change so the very definition of blues has expanded. You can say ‘this is the blues and that isn’t’ and I’ve been guilty of that, too, but as I’ve grown, I’ve seen it encompasses everything from rock and folk to you name it. Blues is the root of American music.

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credit Taylor Ballantyne
credit Taylor Ballantyne
credit Taylor Ballantyne
credit Taylor Ballantyne
credit Taylor Ballantyne