Goapele: Never standing still

Goapele describes herself as a mother, a songwriter, a social activist, and an entrepreneur. We catch up with the multi- faceted and talented artist


How do you pronounce your name and what does it mean?
WHUAP-o-lay. It’s my grandmother’s maiden name. It’s a family name in Setswana and it means ‘to move forward’ or ‘to proceed.’ 

Who is Goapele and where are you from?
I’m an artist, a mother, a songwriter, a social activist, and an entrepreneur. I’m a California girl of South African and Jewish descent. I have family all over, but I was raised in the Bay Area. 

What age were you when you knew you wanted to sing?
I’ve always known ever since I can remember, specifically when I was around eight years old. I knew that I wanted to be something creative. When I had the opportunity to be on stage, it was nerve-wracking yet so thrilling. 

Did your family support your decision?
Yes! When I was eight my parents let me perform with this group called Zulu Spear — friends of theirs- that performed at a local club. They let me get up and join in on the background section singing and dancing. It was all adults, and then me. 

 What is your musical genre?
Soul/R&B, but with that said, it’s always been hard for me to define my music by one genre. I like that there’s more genre-bending happening today.

Photography by Samuel Whitworth

 It’s difficult to make it as a female recording artist, what challenges did you face in the beginning?
I didn’t want to do commercial music and I think what I was doing was hard to define by genre. There wasn’t a cookie-cutter shape that I could fit into. 

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Are there any new challenges?
I would say a new challenge would be how quickly and how frequently artists put out music these days. There are so many things you constantly need to do to stay on people’s minds. It’s hard to put out music that fast when you take more time with your creative process. 

Tell us about your latest EP, Dreamseeker. What was the inspiration behind the project?
Dreamseeker was an opportunity for me to reconnect with fans and share what’s on my mind and to continue to build a movement of people that identify with seeking out their dreams.

And the latest single with BJ The Chicago Kid? How did that happen?
Working with BJ on ‘Stay’ was natural because we had mutual friends and had been talking about the idea of working together for a while. When I first started that song, he seemed like a perfect fit. 

Is there any artist you would like to perform with that you haven’t already?
Yes, there’s a huge list! I’m actually going to work with a couple of them this coming week. I’m going to join Common and J.Cole for the Imagine Justice concert in Sacramento. I love them both creatively and musically and this event is going to be empowering to so many people and shed some light on the prison industrial system which is such a challenging issue in this country.

You’ve had different hairstyles from straight, locks, braids and now this short crop, can you talk us through your hair journey? 
I like transformation when it’s necessary and my hair journey is kind of like my musical journey. I don’t like being stagnant. I enjoy expressing different parts of myself whether it’s through changing my hairstyle or creative direction with music.

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Who does your hair? 
@JuliusCaesar is his Instagram.


All of us from the Bay have to take care of each other 🖤 📷 @tdythunderbolt

A post shared by goapele (@goapele) on

What do feel about the natural hair movement?
I love that so many women are embracing their natural hair and there are so many different styles out there. People tend to separate women with natural hair and women with straight hair but a lot of us enjoy doing both. It’s one more way for us to express ourselves. I love seeing people into both.

Tell us about your lifestyle/fashion line?
I’m inspired by fashion and visuals. I started with a jacket that I designed, it was limited edition, and then I did some aromatherapy body products. I’ll be putting out more limited edition pieces that speaks to my lifestyle.

Designer or chain store?

Heels or flats?
Flats for day-to-day. Heels for performing.

Favourite perfume?
Issey Miyake.

When will you be coming to the UK? 
Hopefully soon.

Where can we find you?
Twitter: @Goapele
Instagram: @Goapele

The changing looks of  Goapele






1 Comment

  1. by Norris Thomas on 29/08/2017  3:34 PM Reply

    Great story.

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