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Goapele (pronounced gwa-puh-lay), which means “to move forward” in Setswana has been doing just that, moving forward and making her presence felt in the music industry since 2001 as an American soul and R&B singer/songwriter. She is currently gearing up for the release of her new album “Strong As Glass” on October 21st, 2014 featuring her single Hey Boy. Produced by Keith Harris, known for hits like “Meet Me Halfway” (Black Eyed Peas) and “American Boy” (Estelle) and a collaborative songwriting process, which included Estelle, Hey Boy is a fun, summer track with an up-tempo, flirty retro vibe that makes you want to dance. The new album Strong As Glass is being released on BMG Primary Wave / Skyblaze Recordings, and will be Goapele’s fourth studio album. She worked closely with executive producer Keith Harris, who helped push the songstress creatively, which you hear throughout the dynamic project. She also worked with R&B veteran Eric Benet and producer Demonte Posey to finish this genre-bending record. There are upbeat tracks mixed with powerful ballads, hard-hitting drums, classic Goapele vocals and even a duet with one of R&B’s top artists.
Goapele’s upbringing in her hometown of Oakland, California combined with ethnic influences from her South African father and New York-born Israeli Jewish mother have created a unique artist with a passion for her music and her community. Once called the “spiritual love child of Sade and D’Angelo” by Rolling Stone magazine, Goapele has both a sensuous and serious voice that is making a difference in the music world by blending genres including jazz, soul, and hip-hop, infused with her own poetry.
Following her time getting an education at Berklee College of Music, Goapele debuted her musical talent with a self-released album Closer in 2001. At its peak, Closer was #63 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. This would not be her only taste of the Billboard ranks. In 2004, her first nationally distributed album, Even Closer, reached #24 on the Billboard Charts for Top Independent Albums. Her other Billboard accolades include her 2006 album, Change it All, which was both #32 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart and #2 on the Top Heatseekers, while the single “First Love” reached #18 on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay.
Goapele’s last album release in 2011, Break of Dawn, is her most diverse and exciting project to date. The music includes sophisticated songs revolving around love, loss, and all of life in between. “I came into this business as a young woman who wanted to be taken seriously for my music, but, now I’m more willing to share my sexiness as well. I realize that it’s possible to be both complex and provocative,” Goapele says. By collaborating with an array of creative folks including Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, Bobby Ozuma, Malay and Bedrock, this is also the first project Goapele has worked with other songwriters. Break of Dawn reveals many experiences that define Goapele, from the birth of her daughter, to tragic losses.
Throughout her career Goapele has appeared on several well-known shows like Soul Train, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and has been praised in many prestigious magazines such as Rolling Stone, Nylon, Billboard, Essence and Vibe. Goapele has also proven to be a savvy businesswoman. She is a UNIQLO ambassador and is part of the UNIQLO campaign, which is a clothing company designed for people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, etc., as well as members of all communities and social groups.
Perhaps, her most endearing quality is her constant work with the community to give back to people in need. She has performed at rallies, demonstrations, and various political events around the world. In 2006 the California-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights honored her with its first ever Human Rights Cultural Hero Award.
Goapele’s love and passion for the world pours out into her music and her “smoky and sensual” voice, as described by Billboard magazine, is sure to make your day.