When legendary blues guitarist Johnny Copeland was diagnosed with a heart condition, nobody could predict that his decline in health would launch the rise of another superstar: his daughter, Shemekia Copeland. Dr. Oz talks to the late musician's wife, Sandra, and their daughter, Shemekia, about Johnny's legacy and Shemekia's own successful career.
Dr. Oz first met Johnny in 1995 after the musician suffered a heart attack and Dr. Oz was called on to operate. Dr. Oz says his former patient fought hard during the last few years of his life, undergoing eight heart surgeries and a heart transplant before passing away in 1997.
Sandra and Shemekia say that after recuperating from each surgery, Johnny would go right back to work. Shemekia, who was 16 at the time her father first became ill, began touring with him and learning the ropes of the music business. "With him getting sick the way he did, I had to grow up really fast in two years," she says. "It just was like a whirlwind."
Through his life and his illness, Shemekia says her father taught her much more than music. "I just had this strength and I don't know where it came from, but it was almost like he jumped inside me and gave me all the strength that he had, and I was able to just go on and live my life and be strong for my mom and everybody else in my family," she says.
Now a successful musician in her own right, Shemekia has produced four critically acclaimed albums and has toured across the United States and overseas. Sandra says Johnny laid down a solid foundation for their daughter's success before he passed away. "Her father knew from birth that singing would be what she would do in life—he never expected her to do anything other than sing," Sandra says. "And I asked him where did he get that or why he would even say that and he said, 'Baby, I just feel it—I know she's going to be a singer and I know she's going to be better than I."
Sandra and Shemekia say Johnny's legacy has affected other aspects of their lives, too. Sandra says she quit smoking and changed the way she eats. Shemekia also says she's adopted a healthier lifestyle. "After my dad had his heart problem, we changed our lives, changed the way we eat, changed the way we think about food and everything," she says.