Goapele displays every side of her voice on the 2017 Dreamseeker EP [EMPIRE/Skyblaze].
In one breath, she’s urging social change and boldly standing up for righteousness in the face of inequality. In the next, she’s guiding her child with a sensitive understanding, hard-earned wisdom, and unconditional love. In between, she’s as seductive and soulful as ever seamlessly slipping from activist, mother, and poet to temptress. This delicate sonic shape-shifting is a technique she introduced on her now classic 2001 debut Closer, but she hones it to perfection on Dreamseeker.
“I’m a woman, but I’m also a whole person who won’t be confined to any one box,” she asserts. “Nobody is just one thing. Within any race, within any genre, and within any neighborhood, there’s so much diversity. As artists and especially as women of color, we have to be proud of that. I’m coming from an honest place and expressing the different parts of myself that make me whole.”
That diversity has defined the Oakland-born singer, songwriter, producer, actress, and designer since the start of her career in 2001. Her influence and impact can be felt throughout R&B, soul, and hip-hop. Even Closer yielded the iconic anthem “Closer.” To date, it’s impressively racked up over 6 million Spotify streams and been sampled by everyone from Drake to YG. In between touring the world, she has released four full-length albums and collaborated with a diverse array of heavy hitters such as Snoop Dogg, E-40, Eric Benét, Soulive, and Jeff Bhasker. A film and television mainstay, she’s landed high-profile syncs in Sparkle, Honey, 90210, and many more. Along the way, The Washington Post fittingly described her as “soulful as always,” Huffington Post called her “a driving motivational force for many women,” and Essence claimed, “her voice is the stuff of dreams.”
In 2016, she made a conscious decision to return to her roots while composing the music that would comprise this latest offering.
“I felt like it was time to reconnect with my original self,” she affirms. “I didn’t want to overthink anything. It’s about being boundless and getting back to that soul, R&B, funk, and even some hip-hop. I took pieces of me and let them be more raw. As an independent artist these days, there are no rules. That’s comforting, because it’s how I started.”
Recording in Los Angeles and Bay Area studios, she re-teamed with longtime friends and collaborators such as producer/keyboardist Mike Tiger, guitarist Errol Cooney, and Bedrock who all contributed to some of her earliest material. Now, the sensual first single “Secret” introduces Dreamseeker. Produced by BedRock and AE, a ringing phone, shimmering keys, and a jazz-y beat give way to Goapele’s sexy delivery, yielding an artful bedroom anthem.
“I always like to have a sensual aspect to my music on every album,” she smiles. “This one hit that spot!”
On the other end of the spectrum, clean guitar entwines with her captivating croon on the politically charged “Stand,” as she sings, “Just stand up for something. Don’t fall back for nothing. If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.”
“It’s a song I started writing some years ago when Oscar Grant was shot by the Oakland Police,” she sighs. “It was one of the first situations of police brutality caught on social media. Since then, that’s tragically happened countless times. I was really upset. I didn’t know what to do with my energy, so I started writing from a place of feeling powerless as an individual. Our voices matter. We can’t just sit back and keep falling for the lies. I have a platform. I need to use it sometimes. It’s meant to motivate people.”
“Power” shares a message to her daughter—“You were born as bright as the sun. Don’t change who you are, no matter what the world says.” Then, there’s “Stay” where she duets with none other than modern R&B impresario BJ The Chicago Kid. The closer “Cool Breeze” features Goapele’s luscious and cinematic production at the forefront. Connecting these moments, the title Dreamseeker speaks to the passion driving each song.
“I was thinking of where I’m at now,” she goes on. “There’s still so much more that I want to do and dreams I want to fulfill. I’m reaching for those with each project. I run into people all the time who share their goals with me. I wanted to represent them.”
As she continues to evolve as an artist, Goapele further devotes herself to activism, acting, and fashion. She’s partnered with Aids Healthcare Foundation in 2017, launched a lifestyle product line Dreamseeker, and starred in a short film entitled Where Is Beauty. In the midst of everything, motherhood remains the highest priority…
“Being a parent fuels me,” she states. “My daughter has shown me what life is about and taught me not to sweat the small stuff. The B.S. has been cleared quicker. I’ve grown so much.”
As all of Goapele’s music has done, Dreamseeker will undoubtedly inspire.
“I want listeners to feel like anything is possible, there’s room for magic, and they can be themselves no matter what,” she leaves off. “I want to lift spirits and make people feel good.”