Harvey Tillis

What better creative challenge can a photographer have than to try visually capturing the heart and soul of a woman singing the blues?

– Harvey Tillis

Harvey Tillis documents corporate, nonprofit and government agency events and case studies; provides visual storytelling through photo essays and editorial portraits on location, and creates fine art collectable photography of people and places with strong elements of design and color.



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Harvey Tillis - Brittany Howard

Brittany Howard

S.P.A.C.E., Evanston, Illinois – December 18, 2011 © Harvey Tillis

The Alabama Shakes were still considering quitting their day jobs when photographed at this performance on their first US tour.

Born in Athens, Alabama in 1988, Brittany Howard, the Alabama Shakes’ lead singer, began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 13. Growing up with musical influences such as Elvis Presley and Motown, the artist felt out of place when she was younger, and in a 2012 interview she told Paste Magazine, “I wasn’t really any particular way –I wasn’t a cool kid but I wasn’t a nerd either. I had trouble finding my place. But when I found the music, I had a place of my own.” Her passion for music further blossomed in high school where she met bassist, Zac Cockrell; the two eventually added drummer Steve Johnson and guitarist Heath Fogg to the group which made its live debut in May 2009 under the name “The Shakes,” later becoming “Alabama Shakes”. During the band’s early years, Howard continued to work as a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service, but she always remained conscious of the vital role that music played in her existence. “When I write songs, I talk about things I don’t usually talk about…when I’m on stage in front of people who are listening and looking at me, it’s like I have to be brave every time. It’s liberating; it feels like a relief…singing is a way for me to talk about myself: this is what I’m going through, and this is who I am.” The band got their big break when Justin Gage of Aquarium Drunkard Blog posted on one of their songs. They quickly gained popularity, and the rest is music history. Howard and her band won the 2016 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, Sound & Color.


Harvey Tillis - Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland

S.P.A.C.E., Evanston, Illinois – March 31, 2016 © Harvey Tillis

Photographed on her latest US tour, after performing internationally and at the White House. Harlem, New York, native, Shemekia Copeland had her talent recognized from a young age by her father, renowned Texas blues guitarist Johnny Copeland. He encouraged her to sing at home and even brought her on­stage at the tender age of eight to perform at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club. In 1998, Shemekia came of age as an artist with her groundbreaking debut album, Turn The Heat Up, recorded when she was only eighteen. Copeland’s wide­open vision of contemporary Blues, Americana, Roots and Soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach. At the 2011 Chicago Blues Festival the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, and Joyce “Cookie” Threatt, daughter of Koko Taylor, surprised Shemekia onstage with her mother’s tiara, and crowned her the new “Queen of the Blues.” In addition to the 100,000 cheering fans in attendance, special guests to view the presentation included Shemekia’s manager John Hahn, Marie Dixon, widow of Willie; Jimmy Ree’s daughter Rose, and Alligator Records CEO Bruce Iglauer. Shemekia won the Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year at the 37th Annual Blues Music Awards, her fifth award within this category and ninth in total. Copeland’s latest album on Alligator Records, Outskirts Of Love, received a Grammy Award nomination in the Best Blues Album category, and the prestigious UK publication, The Blues Magazine, named it the 2015 Album Of The Year. In the magazine’s review, writer Rev. Keith Gordon says, “Shemekia Copeland is one of the best singers performing today. A rich blend of blues, soul and roots-rock that will astound the casual listener while rewarding Copeland’s longtime fans. Pure joy.” Editor Ed Mitchell calls it “a mature masterpiece of modern blues.”

Harvey Tillis - Ann Harris

Anne Harris

S.P.A.C.E., Evanston, Illinois – 2009 © Harvey Tillis