By Marisha Scott
The first time I heard Goapele’s voice was in 1997 on an underground cassette single called Don’t Explain. The song was a part of a collaborative series by female singers, producers, MCs, visual and spoken word artists who were active in the East Bay at the time. The project’s message was about the criminalization of and violence against our youth. Almost two decades later, these same issues are once again at the forefront in this country and Goapele has risen from humble roots to international stardom. Now, on the cusp of the release of her 4th album, she reminisces on the past and looks forward to the future. Join me, in a discussion with this dynamic songstress, as she waxes on a variety of topics dear to her heart.
On October 21st, Goapele officially releases Strong as Glass, the follow-up to 2011’s Break of Dawn. In her own words, this album is “a tribute to the heart, soul and mind of a woman; to our emotional spectrum, tempo and range.” Glass is fragile yet, growing up has taught Goapele that her strength lies in that very vulnerability. A woman of emotional depth and breadth, Goapele says, “Often I feel like a powerful independent woman, yet delicate and sensitive in other moments.” The creation of this album only served to strengthen this development. She says that she stretched far outside of her comfort zone and also expanded vocally.
Goapele is very excited to present this album, featuring all new collaborations with some of her favorite artists. “Keith Harris mainly produced the album. I did a duet called My Love with Eric Benet. We really collaborated well and we even sat and co-wrote a ballad in the studio.” Another exciting collaboration to be found on the album is with producer, Damonte Posey on Some Call it Love.
There is also a new version of the single, Hey Boy, featuring Snoop Dogg. “Working with Snoop was a lifelong dream come true! It’s amazing to have a vision and see it happen naturally, in due time. I love the strong Cali vibe that Snoop brings. It’s a part of a deep West coast lineage. Hey Boy has a retro, live feel that felt natural.”
Generally subtle with her lyrics, Goapele says that working with other writers helped her to be more upfront. “Although this made me feel even more vulnerable during the recording process, it pushed me and I feel like, wow, now that I’m on the other end, it feels really empowering.” She enjoys seeing her words woven together with the words of other writers. It’s interesting and creates a varied and rich texture to the songs.
See the full interview in the Dec/Jan 2015 issue of Heart & Soul