Goapele Mohlabane[1][2] (/ˈɡwɑːpəl/; born July 11, 1977), is an American soul and R&B singer-songwriter. Her name means to move forward in Setswana, a Southern African language.[3]

Goapele, Beverly Hills, California on June 25, 2015
Background information
Birth nameGoapele Mohlabane[1]
Born (1977-07-11) July 11, 1977
OriginOakland, California, United States
Years active1999present
LabelsSkyblaze Recordings (2001-2009)
Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings(2001)
Columbia Records (2002-2006)
Decon Records (2009-2011)
Jordan House/Primary Wave Music (2014-present)
Associated acts

Early life

Goapele's South African father Douglas Mohlabane was an exiled political activist who struggled against the Apartheid System.[4] Goapele's New York-born Israeli Jewish mother Noa[5] had been attending protests since the age of 12. Noa attended Friends World College and was studying in Nairobi, Kenya, where she met and married Douglas.[6] Goapele and her older brother DJ Namane Mohlabane[7] were raised in a California South African exile community.[8]

Both of her parents inspired Goapele to become very involved in community affairs at a young age. She attended the Berkeley Arts Magnet School, where she led a pre-teen peer-support group.She also became involved in various groups and organizations that combated racism and sexism.[9] In high school, she sang in the Oakland Youth Choir and became part of a music group called Vocal Motion. Upon high school graduation, she attended Boston's Berklee College of Music, where she studied music theory. She formed songwriting skills at Berkley.[10]

Today, her music often highlights the need for political and socio-economic change. She says she has been influenced by many including Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, Portishead, Miriam Makeba, Prince, Sade, Caiphus Semenya, Zulu Spears, and Hugh Masekela.

Goapele and Theo Rodrigues[11] have a daughter together, Bahia Osun (born May 2007).[12][13][14][15][16]


Even Closer

Goapele returned to Oakland after her time at Berklee College of Music, where she concentrated on writing and recording songs. In 2001, she self-released her debut album, Closer, which sold 5,000 copies.[17] At the same time, she was building a devoted audience through her popular live performances in the San Francisco Bay Area. "Closer" peaked at #63 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[18]

In 2002 she reworked Closer, adding five new songs. With the help of her family, she formed her own independent label, Skyblaze Recordings, to oversee her musical career. She released her first nationally distributed album, Even Closer, featuring the single "Closer," through Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings. “Closer” was also featured on the soundtrack of the 2003 movie Honey. In 2004, Columbia/SME Records picked up Skyblaze Recordings for worldwide distribution and rereleased the album with additional tracks. She co-wrote and co-produced the entire album, which is a mixture of neo-soul, trip hop, lieder, and jazz. She also toured North America with the band Spearhead. In 2004, Even Closer peaked at #24 on the Billboard Charts for Top Independent Albums.[19]

Change It All

Her second album, Change It All, featuring the single "First Love" and the song "Love Me Right," was released December 2005. The album featured production work from Jeff Bhasker, Mike Tiger, Amp Live, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, and Linda Perry.[20] In 2006 the album peaked at #32 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Album Charts and #2 on the Top Heatseekers while the single "First Love" reached #18 on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay.[19] Goapele appeared on Soul Train to promote the album in May 2006, in what turned out to be the show's final new episode. She also appeared on The Orlando Jones Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, ABC View from The Bay and FOX Good Day Atlanta. Her first three releases have garnered praise from the likes of magazines such as Rolling Stone, Nylon, Interview, Marie Claire, Billboard, Essence, and Vibe. She has appeared on the covers of local Bay Area publications San Francisco Magazine, Diablo Magazine, East Bay Express, SF Bay Guardian, Mugshot Magazine, and City Flight,[21] She was named the number-5 artist to watch in the July 2003 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, made the countdown on MTV’s Top 10 Artists to Watch, and collaborated with ALDO Shoes’ advertisement campaign in its fight against HIV/AIDS, which featured artists such as Avril Lavigne, Ludacris, Dave Navarro, Charlize Theron, Pink, Eve, Rosario Dawson, Eva Mendes, Bow Wow, Ziggy Marley, and Kelly Rowland.

Break of Dawn

On July 10, 2009, Skyblaze Recordings leaked the single "Milk & Honey" (produced by Bedrock), the first single from her third studio album of the same title.[22] However, in August 2011, she announced that the album would be titled Break of Dawn. The album is being recorded at the Zoo, home of Goapele’s Oakland-based Skylight Studios and will feature production from Drumma Boy,[23] Bedrock, Kanye West, Dan Electric, Mike Tiger, Bobby Ozuna (Raphael Saadiq, John Mayer, Erykah Badu), Malay (John Legend, Mary J. Blige), Jeff Bhasker (The Game, Kanye West, Ludacris, T.I), and other guest musicians. After many delays, the album was finally released on October 25, 2011.[24]


In celebration of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa Goapele released the single "Victory" featuring South African emcee Hip Hop Pantsula, a prelude to her upcoming musical project Victory, which was released in Winter 2010 and feature an array of artists from the African continent as well as throughout the Diaspora.[25] The leading track was recorded in English, Setswana, and Xhosa and tries to draw attention to the need for education and resources to combat Africa's most crucial dilemmas. The album will also encompass philanthropy, political and social activism. Proceeds from the project will go to ANSA (Artists for a New South Africa) a non-profit organization working to combat HIV/AIDS, assist children orphaned by the disease, advance human and civil right, educate and empower youth and build bonds between the U.S. and South Africa through Arts & Culture.[26]

In 2014, Goapele signed with singer Eric Benét's record label Jordan House and is in the process of recording new material for her new label.[27]

Strong as Glass

In 2014, Goapele released Strong as Glass, her fifth studio album. The lead single was "Hey, Boy" featuring Snoop Dogg and the video was released September 10, 2014 on YouTube.


Apart from her solo work, she has collaborated with West Coast MCs such as Aceyalone, E-40, Zion-I, and Mac Mall; those involved in the Hieroglyphics Crew; Detroit based vocalist Dwele; and Clyde Carson and Mos Def on the track “Different.”

Human rights work

Goapele performed at rallies, demonstrations, and various political events around the world from Cuba to South Africa. On September 14, 2006, the California-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights honored her with its first ever Human Rights Cultural Hero Award[28] during the center’s 10th-anniversary celebration, which was titled “Tribute to a Dream.” The following statement was issued by the Center regarding the award:

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is a non-profit strategy and action center. The stated aim of the center is to work for justice, opportunity, and peace in urban America.


Studio albums
  • Closer (Goapele Music, 2001)
  • Even Closer (Skyblaze/Columbia/SME, 2002)
  • Change It All (Skyblaze/Columbia/SBMG, 2005)
  • Break of Dawn (Skyblaze/Decon, 2011)
  • Strong as Glass (Skyblaze/Primary Wave/BMG Rights Management, 2014)
  • DreamSeeker (Skyblaze/Primary Wave/Empire, 2017)
  • "Closer" (2002)
  • "Got It" (2003)
  • "First Love" (2005)
  • "Love Me Right" (2006)
  • "Soweto" (featuring Hieroglyphics) (2008)
  • "Chocolate" (2008)
  • "Milk & Honey" (2009)
  • "Victory" (featuring Hip Hop Pantsula) (2010)
  • "Undertow" (2013)
  • "Hey, Boy" (2014)[29]
Guest appearances


  1. Swan, Rachel (August 5, 2009). "Goapele Gets Closer to Home". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  2. MacNeil, Jason. "Goapele > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  3. "Goapele". Goapele. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  4. Nero, Mark Edward. "About Goapele". About.com. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  5. "Goapele Biography - Selected works - Goapele, Music, Closer, 2005, Morris, and Change". Biography.jrank.org. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  6. "News". VIBE. 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  7. Crooks, Peter (October 2009). "Old Soul/New Scene". Diablo Magazine. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  8. "Harvest Time Staff". Harvest Time. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  9. "Information Not Found". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  10. "Goapele causes of beginning". Billboard.com. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  11. 20 November 2002 http://www.sfbg.com/37/08/art_music_goapele.html
  12. https://www.amazon.com/gp/baby-reg/goapele-mohlabane-theo-rodrigues-may-2007-emeryville?lid=3H1Y3ZAFMAYCX
  13. Golden age: 100-year-old metal artist still creating beautiful pieces In May 2007, Ries found a new source of inspiration, when his great-granddaughter Bahia was born to Goapele Mohlabane, Noa's daughter. Ries' most recent projects were a spoon for Bahia, as well as a mezuzah that was recently installed at Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville.
  14. http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/13/2953088/back-after-having-daughter-goapele.html%5B%5D Now in her 30s and the mother of a 3-year-old daughter
  15. 5 August 2007 http://wandaspicks.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=132&Itemid=2
  16. 28 July 2010 http://goapele.com/blog/?p=401%5B%5D
  17. MUSHKASHA. "Deep Reflections of The Acquarian". fmshai.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2004-07-07.
  18. "ASCAP J.A.M. - Where the Future of Music Begins". Ascap.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  19. "Music News, Reviews, Articles, Information, News Online & Free Music". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  20. "Change It All, Goapele, Music CD - Barnes & Noble". Music.barnesandnoble.com. 2005-12-27. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  21. http://www.goapelepress.com Archived 2012-02-26 at the Wayback Machine
  22. Harlem says: (2009-07-11). "Goapele Milk & Honey:New Goapele Album Song Music". Rnbmusicblog.com. Archived from the original on 2009-09-08. Retrieved 2010-08-03.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  23. Archived March 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  24. Kwateng, Danielle (July 27, 2010). "Goapele Talks About Her "Victory" and Upcoming Album". Madame Noire. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  25. "New Music: Goapele with Hip Hop Pantsula - "Victory"". About.com. July 21, 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  26. Theatrix (July 20, 2010). "Goapele X Hip Hop Pantsula Present "Victory"". Goapele.com. Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  27. "YKIGS Live: Eric Benet Talks Signing Calvin Richardson & Goapele, Finding Stars in the Subway, New Music". interview. youknowigotsoul.com. Retrieved 4/6/2014. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  28. Article Tools. "Changing It All With Goapele | ymib.com - Daily Inspiration". ymib.com. Archived from the original on 2010-02-02. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  29. "Urban/UAC Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on 2014-07-11.
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