The singer and songwriter Goapele mixes jazz, neo-soul, and trip-hop to dramatic effect, creating an original sound that has propelled her for more than two decades.
• Goapele is the daughter of exiled South African political activist Douglas Mohlabane. Growing up in the Bay Area, she sang in the Oakland Youth Choir and performed in the group Vocal Motion.
• After high school, she attended Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and began to refine her songwriting skills.
• She returned to the Bay Area after college and sold 5,000 copies of her 2001 debut album, Closer. The following year, she formed her own label, Skyblaze Recordings, and reissued the album as Even Closer, featuring five new songs. The LP reached the Top 40 of Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart.
• Her 2005 sophomore album, Change It All, cracked the Top 40 of Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart.
• After a six-year break, she returned with her third studio album, 2011’s Break of Dawn. It proved her most successful LP, reaching No. 11 on the R&B chart and landing in the upper half of the Billboard 200.
• Goapele rounded out the decade with Strong as Glass in 2014 and DreamSeeker in 2017. In addition to making music, she’s a noted activist who has spoken out about issues like prison reform and police brutality.
BORNJuly 11, 1977