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Goapele 2015.jpg
Goapele, Beverly Hills, California on June 25, 2015
Background information
Birth name Goapele Mohlabane[1]
Born (1977-07-11) July 11, 1977 (age 38)
Origin Oakland, California, United States
Genres R&B
Neo soul
Trip hop
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2000-present
Labels Skyblaze Recordings (2001-2009)
Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings(2001)
Columbia Records (2002-2006)
Decon Records (2009-2011)
Jordan House/Primary Wave Music (2014-present)
Associated acts Hieroglyphics, Mos Def, Sade, Erykah Badu, Amel Larrieux
Website Goapele.com

Goapele (pronounced /ˈɡwɑː.pə.l/; born Goapele Mohlabane[1][2] July 11, 1977), is an American soul and R&B singer-songwriter. Her name means to move forward in Setswana, a Southern African language.[3]

Early life[edit]

Goapele's South African father Douglas Mohlabane was an exiled political activist who struggled against the Apartheid System.[4] Goapele's New York-born Israeli Jewish mother Noa[5] had been attending protests since the age of 12. Noa attended Friends World College and was studying in Nairobi, Kenya, where she met and married Douglas.[6] Goapele and her older brother DJ Namane Mohlabane[7] were raised in a California South African exile community.[8]

Both of her parents inspired Goapele to become very involved in community affairs at a young age. She attended the Berkeley 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.[9] In high school, she sang in the Oakland Youth Choir and became part of a music group called Vocal Motion. Upon high school graduation, she attended Boston's Berklee College of Music.

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, Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, Portishead, Miriam Makeba, Prince, Sade, Caiphus Semenya, Zulu Spears, and Hugh Masekela.

Goapele and boyfriend Theo Rodrigues[10] have a daughter together, Bahia Osun (born May 2007).[11][12][13][14]


Even Closer[edit]

Goapele returned to Oakland after her time 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.[15] 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.[16]

In 2002 she reworked Closer, adding five new songs. With the help of her family, she formed her 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.[17]

Change It All[edit]

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.[18] 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.[17] 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,[19] 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 Theron, Pink, Eve, Rosario Dawson, Eva Mendes, Bow Wow, Ziggy Marley, and Kelly Rowland.

Break of Dawn[edit]

On July 10, 2009, Skyblaze Recordings leaked the single "Milk & Honey" (produced by Bedrock), the first single from her third studio album of the same title.[20] However, in August 2011, she announced that the album would be titled Break of Dawn. The album is being recorded at the Zoo, home of Goapele’s Oakland-based Skylight Studios and will feature production from Drumma Boy,[21] 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. After many delays, the album was finally released on October 25, 2011.[22]


In celebration of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa Goapele released the single "Victory" featuring South African emcee Hip Hop Pantsula, a prelude to her upcoming musical project Victory, which was released in Winter 2010[citation needed] and feature an array of artists from the African continent as well as throughout the Diaspora.[23] The leading track was recorded in English, Setswana, and Xhosa and tries to draw attention to the need for education and resources to combat Africa's most crucial dilemmas. The album will also encompass philanthropy, political and social activism. Proceeds from the project will go to ANSA (Artists for a New South Africa) a non-profit organization working to combat HIV/AIDS, assist children orphaned by the disease, advance human and civil right, educate and empower youth and build bonds between the U.S. and South Africa through Arts & Culture.[24]

In 2014, Goapele signed with singer Eric Benét's record label Jordan House and is in the process of recording new material for her new label.[25]

Strong as Glass[edit]

In 2014, Goapele released Strong as Glass- her fifth studio album. The lead single was "Hey Boy" featuring Snoop Dogg and the video was released September 10, 2014 on YouTube.


Apart from her solo work, she has collaborated with West Coast MCs such as Aceyalone, E-40, Zion-I, Mac Mall, 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[edit]

Goapele 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 her with its first ever Human Rights Cultural Hero Award[26] during the center’s 10th-anniversary celebration, which was titled “Tribute to a Dream.” The following statement was issued by the Center regarding the award:

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.


Studio albums
  • "Closer" (2002)
  • "Got It" (2003)
  • "First Love" (2005)
  • "Love Me Right" (2006)
  • "Soweto" (featuring Hieroglyphics) (2008)
  • "Chocolate" (2008)
  • "Milk & Honey" (2009)
  • "Victory" (featuring Hip Hop Pantsula) (2010)
  • "Undertow" (2013)
  • "Hey, Boy" (2014)[27]
Guest appearances
  • Hieroglyphics - "Make Your Move" from Full Circle (2003)
  • J Boogie's Dubtronic Science - "Try Me" from J Boogie's Dubtronic Science (2003)
  • E-40 - "Show & Prove" from Breakin' News (2003)
  • Triple Threat - "How U Talkin?" from Many Styles (2003)
  • Aceyalone - "Moonlit Skies" from Love & Hate (2003)
  • Planet Asia - "Upside Down" from The Grand Opening (2004)
  • Tajai - "Dedication" from Power Movement (2004)
  • SupremeEx & Tajai - "Meaning" from Nuntype (2005)
  • The Team - "Sunshine" from World Premiere (2005)
  • Amir Sulaiman - "They Don't Know" from Like a Thief in the Night (2007)
  • Zion I - "Life's Work" from Shadowboxing (2012)
  • Ben Williams - "Voice of Freedom" from Coming of Age (2015)


  1. ^ a b Swan, Rachel (August 5, 2009). "Goapele Gets Closer to Home". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  2. ^ MacNeil, Jason. "Goapele > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Goapele". Goapele. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  4. ^ Nero, Mark Edward. "About Goapele". About.com. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  5. ^ "Goapele Biography - Selected works - Goapele, Music, Closer, 2005, Morris, and Change". Biography.jrank.org. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  6. ^ "News". VIBE. 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  7. ^ Crooks, Peter (October 2009). "Old Soul/New Scene". Diablo Magazine. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  8. ^ "Harvest Time Staff". Harvest Time. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  9. ^ "Information Not Found". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  10. ^ 20November 2002 http://www.sfbg.com/37/08/art_music_goapele.html
  11. ^ Golden age: 100-year-old metal artist still creating beautiful pieces In May 2007, Ries found a new source of inspiration, when his great-granddaughter Bahia was born to Goapele Mohlabane, Noa's daughter. Ries' most recent projects were a spoon for Bahia, as well as a mezuzah that was recently installed at Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville.
  12. ^ http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/13/2953088/back-after-having-daughter-goapele.html Now in her 30s and the mother of a 3-year-old daughter
  13. ^ 5 August 2007 http://wandaspicks.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=132&Itemid=2
  14. ^ 28 July 2010 http://goapele.com/blog/?p=401
  15. ^ MUSHKASHA. "Deep Reflections of The Acquarian". fmshai.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2004-07-07. 
  16. ^ "ASCAP J.A.M. - Where the Future of Music Begins". Ascap.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  17. ^ a b "Music News, Reviews, Articles, Information, News Online & Free Music". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  18. ^ "Change It All, Goapele, Music CD - Barnes & Noble". Music.barnesandnoble.com. 2005-12-27. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  19. ^ http://www.goapelepress.com
  20. ^ Harlem says: (2009-07-11). "Goapele Milk & Honey:New Goapele Album Song Music". Rnbmusicblog.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ Kwateng, Danielle (July 27, 2010). "Goapele Talks About Her "Victory" and Upcoming Album". Madame Noire. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  23. ^ "New Music: Goapele with Hip Hop Pantsula - "Victory"". About.com. July 21, 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  24. ^ Theatrix (July 20, 2010). "Goapele X Hip Hop Pantsula Present "Victory"". Goapele.com. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  25. ^ "YKIGS Live: Eric Benet Talks Signing Calvin Richardson & Goapele, Finding Stars in the Subway, New Music". interview. youknowigotsoul.com. Retrieved 4/6/2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  26. ^ Article Tools. "Changing It All With Goapele | ymib.com - Daily Inspiration". ymib.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  27. ^ "Urban/UAC Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on 2014-07-11. 

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External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goapele — Please support Wikipedia.
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Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:03:45 -0700

While enjoying fried chicken, baked fish and mouth-watering gumbo at New Orleans' famous Dooky Chase's at Essence Festival earlier this month, soul singers Luke James and Goapele spoke candidly about the evolving music industry and the effect it has ...

The BoomBox

The BoomBox
Sat, 11 Jul 2015 11:20:12 -0700

Goapele, which means to “move forward” in Setswana (a south African language), studied at Berklee College of Music before becoming a recording artist in 2001. On her 2011 debut album Closer, the songbird infused socially-conscious lyrics and her ...


Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:45:00 -0700

Songstress Goapele is best known for hits neo-soul like “Closer" and “Strong as Glass,” but will she be incorporating the New Orleans sound into her new music? The ESSENCE Festival alum sat down with our Entertainment Director Cori Murray at this year ...


Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:52:30 -0700

You may know Goapele worked with the ”American Boy” singer to pen her latest single “Strong as Glass,” but did you know “Power” star Omari Hardwick joined the party?! “Omari is an incredible actor and phenomenal songwriter as well,” Goapele shared at ...


Fri, 03 Jul 2015 02:56:15 -0700

Essence Music Festival Headliner, Oakland native and South African beauty, Goapele, is renowned for a number of reasons. For starters, her voice is the stuff of dreams; a raw and eclectic mix of Soul and R&B, the kind of music that you listen to while ...

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Fri, 09 Oct 2015 07:37:30 -0700

Goapele, who is known for her sensuous and serious voice, opens Oct. 15 at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Goapele blends jazz, soul, hip-hop and poetry in her performances. Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This ...


Sat, 04 Jul 2015 11:28:43 -0700

The evening started off in the Superlounges with Bay Area chanteuse Goapele. The "Strong as Glass" creator took full command of the Verizon Now Playing stage. She teased the attendees, moving through her own tracks and on to those of iconic figures ...


Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:43:07 -0700

... some of the most prolific black political rappers today. Its performers have included Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Saul Williams, Rebel Diaz, Goapele and Shock G of Digital Underground, the Oakland-based hip-hop group that gave 2Pac his start.

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