Shemekia Copeland is a blue musician who has been part of the Alligator Records family in Chicago since her debut in 1998. Her latest album, “America’s Child,” grapples with the resurgence of hate in the United States, particularly since the election of President Donald Trump.
One of the more moving tracks is “Would You Take My Blood?”, where Copeland, a black woman, rhetorically confronts a racist or white supremacist. She wonders if they would take her blood if they were dying and needed a transfusion.
“You made it clear a thousand times that you think I’m not your kind. But if your life was fading fast, your next breath was your last,” Copeland sings, “Would you take my blood? Or would you rather die than share your life with mine?”
Copeland does not ask for respect with this song. She demands it. She wants to know if a person would really die a racist instead of accepting her generosity.
In an interlude, she declares, “We’ll never stop the hatred, the killing, and the pain until we look inside and see we’re all the same.”
The rhythm and tempo of the song give it a brooding quality. It builds as Copeland sings the verses and chorus, gradually amplifying the intensity until the final minute and a half of the song, where Copeland shows off her vocal power.
Copeland was interviewed by AL.com and recalled a performance of the song in Bangor, Maine. “You can’t get whiter than that up there, you can’t. I mean, you could try, but it just doesn’t happen. And I did ‘Would You Take My Blood?’, and I got a standing ovation.”
Like other songs on the album, it came from Copeland’s desire to speak to the current moment. She also recently gave birth to a son. Becoming a mother forced to more deeply contemplate the state of the world.
“Sometimes I feel like things will be worse for him than they were for me, because I feel like, in some ways, things are getting worse instead of getting better. That’s what the record is about—a lot of that,” Copeland told Rock and Blues Muse.
Through rhythm, blues, and a bit of soul, Copeland is able to show her capacity to overcome hate if only those who make the world hate-filled will recognize the supreme foolishness of their bigotry.
Listen to “Would You To Take My Blood?”: