Soleil 2017: Country & Blues Gallery
It started when Brandon watched the movie School of Rock at eight-years-old. Also inspired by his father’s record collection, he instantly realized he wanted to play guitar. Four years later, he was cast as the principle role of guitarist “Zack Mooneyham” in the Tony Award- nominated Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway production, School of Rock the Musical at the Winter Garden Theatre.
Living in New York City welcomes great opportunity for Brandon to play with some of his most idolized musicians. He’s had the brilliant experiences of playing with members of the Allman Brothers Band including Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, and Oteil Burbridge, as well as other notable musicians such as Buddy Guy, Stevie Nicks, Lady Gaga, Slash, Jon Batiste, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Gales, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Dr. John, Otis Taylor, Gary Clark Jr., Col. Bruce Hampton, Eric Krasno, George Porter Jr., Robert Randolph, Karl Denson, Doug Wimbish, John Popper, and countless others. He has also played with Umphrey's McGee, Scorpions,Dumpstaphunk, The Revivalists, Galactic, and so many more.
Whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad, Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else. With a voice that is alternately sultry, assertive and roaring, Shemekia’s wide-open vision of contemporary blues, roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach. The Chicago Tribune says Copeland delivers “gale force singing and power” with a “unique, gutsy style, vibrant emotional palette and intuitive grasp of the music.” NPR Music calls her “fiercely expressive.”
Copeland’s return to Alligator Records with Outskirts of Love (she recorded four albums for the label from 1998 through 2006) finds her at her most charismatic, performing roots rock, Americana, and blues with power and authority, nuance and shading. Produced by The Wood Brothers’ Oliver Wood, Outskirts of Love is a musical tour-de-force, with Copeland rocking out on the title track, taking charge in Crossbone Beach, honoring her father, the late Johnny Clyde Copeland with her Afrobeat-infused take on his Devil’s Hand, tackling homelessness on Cardboard Boxand showing off her country swagger on Drivin’ Out of Nashville. She puts her stamp on songs made famous by Solomon Burke (I Feel a Sin Coming On), Jesse Winchester (Isn’t That So), Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (The Battle Is Over), Creedence Clearwater Revival (Long as I Can See the Light), ZZ Top (Jesus Just Left Chicago), Albert King (Wrapped Up in Love Again), and Jessie Mae Hemphill (Lord, Help the Poor and Needy). Friends including Billy F Gibbons, Robert Randolph, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Will Kimbrough and Pete Finney all add their talent with unbridled enthusiasm. The result is the most decidedly contemporary and musically adventurous album of Copeland’s still-evolving career.
Shemekia Copeland was born in Harlem, New York on April 10, 1979, and came to her singing career naturally. Her bluesman father recognized his daughter’s talent early on. He always encouraged her to sing at home and even brought her on stage to sing at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club when she was just eight. At that time Shemekia’s embarrassment outweighed her desire to sing. But when she was 15, and her father’s health began to slow him down, she received the calling. “It was like a switch went off in my head,” recalls Shemekia, “and I wanted to sing. It became a want and a need. I had to do it.
At 16, Shemekia joined her father on his tours after he was diagnosed with a degenerative heart condition. Soon enough Shemekia was opening, and sometimes even stealing, her father’s shows. “She grabbed the crowd with her powerful voice, poised and intense,” raved Blues Revue at the time. Eventually, though, it became clear to Shemekia who was helping whom. “Dad wanted me to think I was helping him out by opening his shows when he was sick, but really he was doing it all for me. He would go out and do gigs so I would get known. He went out of his way to get me that exposure,” recalls Shemekia.
Shemekia stepped out of her father’s shadow in 1998 with her groundbreaking debut CD, Turn the Heat Up, recorded when she was only 18. Critics from around the world celebrated her music as fans of all ages agreed that an unstoppable new talent had arrived. News outlets from The New York Times to CNN took note of Copeland’s talent, engaging personality, and true star power. “Nothing short of uncanny,” wrote the Village Voice. “She roars with a sizzling hot intensity,” added The Boston Globe.
Copeland followed up with 2000’s Grammy-nominated Wicked, 2002’s Talking to Strangers (produced by Dr. John) and 2005’s The Soul Truth (produced by Steve Cropper). In that short period of time, she earned eight Blues Music Awards, a host of Living Blues Awards (including the prestigious 2010 Blues Artist of The Year) and more accolades from fans, critics and fellow musicians. Two highly successful releases on Telarc, including 2012’s Grammy-nominated 33 1/3, cemented her reputation as a singer who, according to NPR’s All Things Considered, “embodies the blues with her powerful vocal chops and fearless look at social issues.”USA Today says, “Copeland is a singer with fervor and funk, power and range.”
Copeland 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 is a mainstay on countless commercial and non-commercial radio stations. She has sung with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, James Cotton and many others. She opened for The Rolling Stones and entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Jeff Beck calls her “f*cking amazing.” Santana says, “She’s incandescent…a diamond.” At the 2011 Chicago Blues Festival, the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois officially declared Copeland to be “The New Queen of The Blues.” In 2012, she performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Afterward, Jagger, with whom she sang, sent her a bottle of champagne.
With Outskirts of Love and a packed tour schedule, Copeland has her eyes fixed firmly on the future as she continues to break new musical ground. “I want to keep growing, to be innovative,” she says. “I’m a lifer, singing about things that bother me, using my music to help people. My dad always said ‘we’re all connected.’ I’m an old soul marching to the beat of my own drum,” she continues. “And right now, I’m making the most exciting music of my career.”
Carl Gustave is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. His musical style is a melting pot of blues, jazz, rock, reggae, and soul with a dash of Latin flavor. He has performed for audiences from around the world either as a solo artist or with a group, delivering his set with conviction and honest emotion.
Before coming to Saint Lucia, Carl received a Peabody Award in the U.S. for the song: "I Won't Do You No Wrong" which he co-wrote with film composer Richard "Koz" Kozinski. Carl wrote the lyrics, sang, and played lead guitar on the track. This song was first aired on "The ABC After School Special" in 1998. He has performed or recorded with members of the Chick Corea Band, members of theTuesday Night Music Club, the Don Henley Band (of Eagles fame), Sheila E, David Kitay, David and David, members of Kool and The Gang, Phil Upchurch, Marcus Miller, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Jeff Gotlieb, members of Maze, Clarence Clemons, as well as seasoned blues veterans such as John Houston, Louisiana 'Guitar' Red, Coco Montoya, Joe Louis Walker, Bobby Picket, Leon Ruebenhold, and others. He has also performed or worked with many of the top artists and producers in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean.
Carl Gustave has been a part of the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival scene for the last 16 years. He has also performed at other festivals in the Caribbean including Cayenne Jazz 2007, Mustique Blues Festival 2007, 2008, and 2011, and as a main stage performer at the St Lucia Jazz Festival in 2010 with his UK-based band. Gustave was a must-see performer relied on to bring the house down at the once famous Jazz on Grill. He created and hosted the Grand Finale Jam at this venue from 2010 -14 showcasing exciting performances from his international band of Best Musical Friends,"BMF". He performed on St Croix, opening for the top reggae band, Midnight in 2015, and at the Marie Galante Terre du Blues Festival 2016 as well as performing at Saint Lucia Jazz events.
Carl has also performed at numerous private, high profile, celebrity and diplomatic functions in Saint Lucia, Los Angeles, the Caribbean and in London on small and large stages. He has been performing regularly at the best hotels and bars in Saint Lucia since 1999. Carl hosts his musical friends and records at the home he calls Windsong Villa, which he designed and built in 2009. The home provides creative inspiration with amazing ocean and sea views overlooking Martinique and Saint Lucia's historical Pigeon Island.
Beckham was born in Nashville, but grew up in White House, Tennessee. He is an only child. He graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee with a degree in history. Clark got most of his musical experience playing in church and on street corners. In a Christian Post interview Beckham noted that he originally wanted to audition for American Idol at 18 years old, when it came to Nashville, but said that it was not in line with God's will at the time.
Beckham auditioned for American Idol singing "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" (originally recorded by James Brown). He was the first contestant at the first city, Nashville, Tennessee, to sing in front of the judges. He passed the audition by a split decision: approved by Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, disapproved by Harry Connick, Jr. During Hollywood week, he sang "Let's Get It On" and "Try a Little Tenderness". In the House of Blues showcase, he sang "Georgia On My Mind", earning his spot in the Top 24.
When asked what one moment stands out for him, Beckham said the time Connick, Jr. said, "I don't think you could have done that any better"—after Beckham's performance of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". "Harry's typically been tough on me," said Beckham. "He's like a coach trying to get the best out of me. And I really appreciate that."