Goapele Mohlabane, known to her legends of fans merely as Goapele (pronounced Gwa-pa-lay, which means “to move forward” in Setswana, a Southern African language), is about to write a new chapter of her career with the release of her hot new CD, Break of Dawn, and a series of eight concerts at Yoshi’s Oakland, Nov. 17-20.
The Oakland native kicked off her career in 2001 with a nine-song promotional disc called Closer that gained her regional attention and sold out live performances around Northern California. In 2002, Goapele added five new songs to the debut CD and re-released it, this time as Even Closer. San Francisco’s hip-hop giant KMEL added the CD’s first single, “Closer,” to their playlist, and that catapulted her to national attention with positive reviews in Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone. In 2004, Even Closer peaked at Number 24 on the Billboard Charts for Top Independent Albums.
Following in her activist parents’ footsteps, Goapele became involved with community affairs at a very young age to combat racism and sexism and create political change. Her music often reflects the need for social justice and human rights. The San Francisco Chronicle said, “Goapele has expanded from homegrown talent to national discovery…She possesses a keen social sensibility that, coupled with a poet’s eye, delivers heavy messages with uncommon grace.”
Goapele’s second album, Change it All, was released in 2005. It contained two huge singles, “First Love” and “Love Me Right,” which shot up the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album Charts. Two other CDs, Change it All and Victory, followed. Goapele’s style has been described as contemporary R&B, neo-soul, and trip-hop, but her music is much more than that. The talented singer/songwriter also infuses her music with jazz, soul, hip-hop and blues. Goapele was born to a Jewish mother from New York and a South African father, so she freely blends her American DNA with her African heritage. Rolling Stone Magazine once said of Goapele, “This Spiritual love child of Sade and D’Angelo mixes sweet soul vocals, jazz funk instrumentation and hip-hop rhythms by underground Bay Area beatmasters. Goapele can kick it in the streets as in the lounge.”
With the release of her fifth CD, Break of Dawn, on Oct. 25, Goapele is back after a six-year break that produced her daughter Bahia Osun. From Goapele’s website: Recorded mostly at Zoo Studios in Oakland, Break of Dawn digs deep while honestly revealing the many layers of experience that defines Goapele, from the birth of her daughter to the deaths of her father as well as a close friend.
“Play” is the first single from Goapele’s Break of Dawn and it is as sensuous and hot as anything you’ll hear in a long while. The local exotic beauty has got it, and if you don’t already, you should get to know Goapele!