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For the month of February, in celebration of Black History Month on XPN, we’re presenting a new series called Black Inspirations. We’ve asked contemporary Black artists to share some of their influences from the Black music vanguard. The series continues today with a testimonial from Shemekia Copeland.

Dynamic blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland has been a favorite of XPN listeners for close to 20 years, and her 10 albums have earned her awards and acclaim, and landed her on the Billboard charts. When we asked her to talk about one of her musical inspirations, she went with Ruth Brown, the “Queen of R&B” whose recording career stretches across four decades from the late 50s to the late 90s. Here’s what Shemekia had to say.

I choose Ruth Brown because she was the ultimate artist. Her voice, entertaining and style was epic. I was honored when she agreed to record with me on my second album, Wicked. We did a song called “If He Moves His Lips.” My other favorites by Ruth are “Teardrops In My Eyes” and “Fine Brown Frame.”

Below, listen to Shemekia Copeland’s favorite Ruth Brown songs, chosen for Black Inspirations on WXPN.

Shemekia Copeland’s most recent album, Uncivil War, was released on Alligator Records in October of 2020.

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