By Ronda Racha Penrice
After being absent from Atlanta stages for two years, the Oakland-based songstress Goapele has found herself in Atlanta twice over the course of one summer. First, co-headlining the ONE MusicFest with Common and De La Soul and now headlining her own show on Sept. 4. With a new album, Milk & Honey, on the horizon, there’s little doubt that Goapele, who used to make frequent stops in the A, will be ramping up her tour schedule.
After making enough noise with her self-released album Closer in 2001 that it was reworked a year later (Even Closer) to reach a wider audience, Goapele has been staying close to home, mainly to embrace motherhood. Although her major label debut, Change It All, released by Columbia in 2005, didn’t meet industry expectations, it didn’t stop Goapele’s momentum. Right now, she’s making moves to increase her fan base and name recognition. In celebration of the World Cup in South Africa, her father’s home country, she created “Victory” with top South African rapper Hip Hop Pantsula. On her latest album, she’s even connected with unlikely producers such as Atlanta-based Drumma Boy of Gucci Mane fame for the song "Right Here."
With a Jewish mother and South African father who instilled in her a tradition of human rights activism, Goapele can’t help but create provocative music. Without a doubt, that pedigree has made her one of the rare female artists who is involved in every aspect of her career and vision. CL caught up with her to discuss her craft, the music industry and why technology has been good for artists.
You’re definitely an artist who gets out there the way artists used to, by connecting with the people. I'm assuming you do that consciously.
I think it’s really important. Recording music is a process that I enjoy as a songwriter but I definitely really get to see that creativity fulfilled when I can see people enjoying the music. Doing live shows is the way to do that.
Are you pleased with how your career has gone? At this point in your career, do you appreciate being independent?
I appreciate being in control. I appreciate having the creative freedom and I always have. And I’ll say, even when I was with a major, I did have that, which is pretty unusual. I wish that the Change It All album got more support than it did, but I feel like I’m in a good place right now where I really do feel that I’m free to make whatever decisions that I want on whatever timeline I want. I really feel that the music industry is really changing right now. As far as radio, there are [fewer] avenues. But, as far as the Internet, there is more direct feedback and connecting with fans. I appreciate that because I feel like it gives artists like me an opportunity to really see what people are feeling in an authentic way.
You anticipated my question. I was going to ask about you embracing technology, especially since in the past technology has been linked with the doom of the music industry.
I think that it might be the music industry that has suffered from it but I don’t think artists have suffered from it. For me, it’s been a tool; it’s been a way to stay connected to fans regardless of what’s been going on. We just relaunched Goapele.com and there’s always new show information, new music on there and different thoughts and ideas I have and different stuff that’s going on. I’ve appreciated that. And even on Twitter I’ve gotten in touch with different producers and artists that I might not have run into until way later so I feel like the world is becoming a smaller, closer place.
Goapele with theDollDaze, Sarafina, Queen Sheba. $30-35. 9 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4. The Loft, 1374 W. Peachtree. 404-685-1365. www.theloftatl.com.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…
That was January of 2007, and they are 21 now, so I'm guessing 14?