GFM: Spotlight Interview: Goapele Talks About Her New Album Strong As Glass, Acting and Expanding As An ArtistWednesday, November 5th, 2014
Grown Folks Music caught up with the lovely and talented Goapele. She talked with us about her recently released album, Strong As Glass, how she feels she’s evolved as an artist, and her feelings about Whitney Houston– despite never getting the chance to meet her while working on the film Sparkle. Hope you enjoy.
GFM: You’re now a part of Eric Benet’s Jordan House Label. How did that come about?
Goapele: Yes, this Strong As Glass album is coming out on Primary Wave and Eric Benet and I got together in the studio and worked on a few songs. It was great to work with him. His melodies… his voice is just amazing and (working with) him as songwriter is such a comfort zone. It was great to be able to bounce off ideas with him and just vibe. We wrote a ballad together called “Some Call It Love” and the duet is “My Love”. It was just really fun. We’d wanted to work together for a long time, so I was really happy we got in the studio.
GFM: From the collaboration (with Eric Benet) in the studio… is that how you made it over to Primary Wave? Or, had you already made that move?
Goapele: I was looking for the right partner to put out this next album and he made that introduction.
GFM: Are you first lady to come over to his team… to the label? Are you the first female artist?
Goapele: I think so yes, because Primary Wave is brand new.
GFM: You’ve mentioned the collaboration with Eric on this album, (but) tell us (more) about the new album Strong As Glass.
Goapele: Strong As Glass… it just speaks to… I think that title track speaks to who I am and who a lot of us are as women. You know feeling empowered, independent and strong, and at the same time we have that vulnerable, breakable side. (We’re) more complex and (we) don’t wanna be taken for granted. So I felt like that song spoke to that. Then there’s a lot of the songs that are just different perspectives on love. From the beginning, flirty, chemistry on songs like “Hey Boy”–that’s more of a fun, uptempo jam– to songs that are more emotional. When you’re deeper in the relationship. Then to reigniting the passion on songs like “Powerful”. I feel like I got to go deeper into my R&B/soul roots on this album. You know with getting to do some ballads and thinking of some of my early influences, and getting to do different interpretations on soul music.
GFM: I find the vibe of it to be very laid back. I kinda enjoyed the ambience of it. You don’t over sing. It’s really nice. My opinion of it is that it pairs nicely with good dinner, good friends and good wine. It creates an atmosphere.
Goapele: I like that.
GFM: You mentioned the fun songs like “Hey Boy”. How did you come to get Snoop Dogg on the track?
Goapele: I have been a fan for a long time. Just listening to him since high school. Then I ended up going on his cable show GGN, where he hosts different artists. It’s a super laid back interview. We vibed and had some mutual friends. We both wanted to work together, and honestly a couple months later I was working on “Hey Boy” and it just felt like it would be the right fit. I was like, “Let me just see if I can get him on this song.” He was totally down. I just love what he did with it. It has a retro feel to it with the live music and that’s kind of a comfort zone for him too, so it just happened naturally.
GFM: Could you talk about what you feel your evolution has been musically, from your debut until now?
Goapele: I feel like I’ve gotten to grow through each album. Now I’m four albums deep. I feel like I started out as a young woman who was a little more timid. I had ambition about how I wanted to change and impact the world. I was singing songs out of my journal, as far as love songs, and I would say it was a little more underground soul. I’ve gotten to grow into myself more and more and (I) try to keep expanding. Now I feel like a grown woman putting out music, and (I’m) getting to collaborate with more and more people and find different creative processes. (I’m) just trying to keep a getting a little bolder and expand more with my music.
GFM: You speak of growing and getting bolder. Does that suggest that you may even venture out into another genre… that you may cross genres? Rock or something like that. Is that something that you might be looking at as you expand?
Goapele: I think there’s so many influences in my music. At live shows I’ll sometimes sing “Love Me Right”, which is… I don’t what category that song would be in. I think by default I’m just in the soul/R&B category. But, I think there’s so many musical influences– from Hip-Hop to jazz to soul and blues–so many things that each song can be kind of a combination. I try not to worry too much (about) what the genre is and just kind of do what I feel and have it be as dynamic as possible. So yeah, there’s probably some rock influences in there too. Especially at the live shows sometimes with the guitar and all of that, but I don’t know if I’d totally go into that category.
GFM: You were a part of the Sparkle remake a couple of years ago. Is acting a career path that you’re also pursuing?
Goapele: Yes, acting is also something that I’m exploring. I wanna do more of it. It was great to be involved with Sparkle. It’s such a musical movie that it was a nice way to get introduced to film. I also got to work with Ava DuVernay, who worked on Middle of Nowhere. She asked me to be a part of The Door, which was a short film for Miu Miu. Gabrielle Union was in it and also Alfre Woodard. That was really amazing. I would like to get more into film and I love it when it’s combined with music. This was also combined with fashion so it was kind of the best of all the worlds for me.
GFM: I was watching Power, the show on cable, and I heard your song playing in background.
Goapele: Yes, they featured “Play” on one of the openings. I love that show. Omari Hardwick is just great and he actually was involved in some of the writing on this album.
GFM: Is there anybody else that we would know that who was involved with the writing?
Goapele: Yes. Estelle was also one of the writers on the album and a couple of other folks– along with Eric Benet.
GFM: Just touching back on Sparkle. What are your memories of working on the film with Ms. Whitney Houston and what were you able to glean from her?
Goapele: Well when I got on set, she had just left a couple days before and (she had) finished her part. I was asking everyone on set, “What was she like?” Everyone just felt like it was a special time. Everyone who was in that movie was there because they wanted to be there. It just felt like family. They were like, “Oh my goodness. If you saw her do her part– I was in tears.” They were of course there live when she was doing “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”. I think that it showed Whitney Houston in such a light that we’d hadn’t gotten to see in a while. Whitney Houston was one of my first concert tickets that wasn’t with my parents. It was the music that I listened to. It was the first album that I had and I remember going with my cousin when I was like ten years old. Watching her perform and just (hearing) that amazing voice and thinking, “I wanna be up there one day.” It was tough to see her going through all those other things in her life and even her voice be affected. But to see her in this movie– I just felt like it was beautiful to get to hear her. And though we weren’t on set at the same time, to still feel a part of that synergy and connection was kind of full circle for me. Everyone that was on set was just amazing. Derek Luke and Jordin (Sparks)… it just felt really good.
Goapele is embarking on her Strong As Glass Tour this month. Check her out in a city near you!
2014 Strong As Glass Tour Dates:
Nov. 7 Highline Ballroom New York, NY
Nov. 8 World Café Philadelphia, PA
Nov. 9 The Birchmere Alexandria, VA
Nov. 18 El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, CA
Nov. 20 Yoshi’s Oakland Oakland, CA
Nov. 21 Yoshi’s Oakland Oakland, CA
Nov. 22 Yoshi’s Oakland Oakland, CA
Nov. 23 Yoshi’s Oakland Oakland, CA
Dec. 3 The Triple Door Seattle, WA
Dec. 4 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR
Dec. 5 Harlows Sacramento, CA
Dec. 6 The Catalyst Club Santa Cruz, CA
Dec. 9 The Hoxton Toronto, ON
Dec. 10 Concord Music Hall Chicago, IL
Dec. 12 Motorco Music Hall Durham, NC
Dec. 13 The Chop Shop Charlotte, NC
Dec. 14 The Loft Atlanta, GA
Tickets for all 14 cities are also ON SALE NOW! For more information or to purchase your tickets please visit Goapele’s official website, www.goapele.com.
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Get Strong As Glass on iTunes