Goapele: Wikis


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Birth name Goapele Mohlabane
Born July 11, 1977 (age 32)
Origin Oakland, California, United States
Genres Contemporary R&B
Neo soul
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2001–present
Labels Skyblaze/Columbia/SBMG Records
Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings
Associated acts Hieroglyphics, Mos Def, Sade, Erykah Badu, Amel Larrieux
Website Goapele.com

Goapele (pronounced gwa-puh-LAY) is an African-American soul[1] and R&B singer-songwriter. Her name means to go forward in Tswana, the language of her paternal grandmother.[2]


Early life

Goapele's South African father was an exiled political activist who struggled against the Apartheid System. He met her New York-born Israeli Jewish mother[3] who had been attending protests since the age of 12 and the couple married while in Nairobi, Kenya.[4] Both her parents inspired Goapele to become very involved in community affairs at a young age. She attended the Berkeley (California) Arts Magnet School, where she led a pre-teen peer support group. She also became involved in various groups and organizations that combated racism and sexism.[5] Today, her music often highlights the need for political and socio-economic change. She says she has been influenced by many including Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Portishead, Miriam Makeba, Prince, Caiphus Semenya, Zulu Spears, and Hugh Masekela.




Goapele returned to Oakland, California after her stint at Berklee College of Music, where she concentrated on writing and recording songs. In 2001 she self-released her debut album, Closer, which sold 5,000 copies.[6] At the same time, she was building a devoted audience through her popular live performances in the San Francisco Bay Area. "Closer" peaked at #63 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart[7]

In 2002 she reworked Closer, adding five new songs. With the help of her family formed their own independent label, Skyblaze Recordings, to oversee her musical career. She released her first nationally distributed album, Even Closer, featuring the single "Closer," through Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings. “Closer” was also featured on the soundtrack of the 2003 movie Honey. In 2004, Columbia/SME Records picked up Skyblaze Recordings for worldwide distribution and rereleased the album with additional tracks. She co-wrote and co-produced the entire album, which is a mixture of neo-soul, trip-hop, lieder, and jazz. She also toured North America with the band Spearhead. In 2004 Even Closer peaked at #24 on the Billboard Charts for Top Independent Albums.[8]

Her second album, Change it All, featuring the single "First Love" and the song "Love Me Right," was released December 2005. The album featured production work from Jeff Bhasker, Mike Tiger, Amp Live, Sa-Ra Creative Partners and Linda Perry.[9] In 2006 the album peaked at #32 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Album Charts and #2 on the Top Heatseekers while the single "First Love" reached #18 on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay.[8] Goapele appeared on Soul Train to promote the album in May 2006, in what turned out to be the show's final new episode. She also appeared on The Orlando Jones Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, ABC View from The Bay and FOX Good Day Atlanta. Her first three releases have garnered praise from the likes of magazines such as Rolling Stone, Nylon, Interview, Marie Claire, Billboard, Essence, and Vibe. She has appeared on the covers of local Bay Area publications San Francisco Magazine, Diablo Magazine, East Bay Express, SF Bay Guardian, Mugshot Magazine, and City Flight,[10] She was named the number-5 artist to watch in the July 2003 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, made the countdown on MTV’s Top 10 Artists to Watch, and collaborated with ALDO Shoes’ advertisement campaign in its fight against HIV/AIDS, which featured artists such as Avril Lavigne, Ludacris, Dave Navarro, Charlize Therron, Pink, Eve, Rosario Dawson, Eva Mendes, Bow Wow, Ziggy Marley, and Kelly Rowland.

On July 10, 2009, Skyblaze Recordings leaked "Milk & Honey" (produced by Bedrock), the first single from her fourth studio album of the same title, which is set for release in early 2010.[11] The album is being recorded at the Zoo, home of Goapele’s Oakland-based Skylight Studios and will feature production from Bedrock, Kanye West, Dan Electric, Mike Tiger, Bobby Ozuna (Raphael Saadiq, John Mayer, Erykah Badu), Malay (John Legend, Mary J. Blige), Jeff Bhasker (The Game, Kanye West, Ludacris, T.I), and other guest musicians.

Goapele is also planning to release a live DVD, taped at the Great American Music Hall, a legendary jazz club after World War II and a contemporary nightspot for Bay Area elite that has showcased luminaries such as Duke Ellington, the Grateful Dead, and Robin Williams. The DVD will spotlight Goapele alongside her live band the Heat, in a 10-song performance including original tracks and her rendition of classics.[12] She performs frequently in the local Bay Area to sold-out crowds.[13]


Apart from her solo work, she has collaborated with West Coast MCs such as Aceyalone, E-40, Zion-I, and those involved in the Hieroglyphics Crew, Detroit based vocalist Dwele as well as Clyde Carson and Mos Def on the track “Different.”

Human Rights Work

She has performed at rallies, demonstrations and various political events around the world from Cuba to South Africa. On September 14, 2006, the California-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights honored Goapele with its first ever Human Rights Cultural Hero Award[14] during the Center’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, titled “Tribute to a Dream.” The following statement was issued by the Center regarding the award:

We are proud to name internationally acclaimed, Oakland-based [singer-songwriter] Goapele the first recipient of this award. But as successful as she is, Goapele remains deeply rooted in her home community and in the struggle for human rights. We first saw her sing at rallies and demonstrations when both she and Ella Baker Center were just starting out. Today, she is still here with us, side by side, looking forward to a better day for all of our people.

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is a non-profit strategy and action center. The stated aim of the center is to work for justice, opportunity, and peace in urban America.




  • "Closer" (2002)
  • "Got It (Remix)" (featuring E-40) (2003)
  • "First Love" (2005)
  • "Love Me Right" (2006)
  • "Soweto" (featuring Hieroglyphics)
  • "Don't Be Shy" (2008)
  • "Milk & Honey" (2009)


External links


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