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As strong as glass with Goapele

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

Since the early 2000’s, Goapele has made a name for herself – not just as a musically talented artist, but reaching further into social and political problems through music and activism. There is something special about an artist who uses their musical influences to evoke knowledge and change within society, and Goapele does just that. With her most recent album Strong As Glass, released under Eric Benet’s new label Jordan House Records, Goapele brings back some retro grooves and truthful thinking into R&B. We sat down with her and discussed her latest music and some of the influences behind Strong As Glass:

You’ve come a long way since ‘Even Closer’ – both musically and personally. What do you think has changed in terms of making music then as opposed to now?

I have had a chance to develop as an artist. The more experience I get singing live on stage, the more comfortable I am expanding my vocals in the studio.

Strong As Glass bends a lot of different genres from the retro grooves of Hey Boy to more pop aesthetics like in Powerful and Truth Is. Do you think that R&B has evolved into more genre-bending areas or have you as an artist?

I am influenced by all the music that I love and that I grew up with and that expands far beyond R&B. I think getting caught up in what type of genre your music is can be stifling creatively.

A lot of people have been asking about your song with Eric Benet, but what we want to know is how it felt to have your hit single remixed by Snoop Dogg? How did this go about?

I talk about doing collaborations with artist that I admire all the time. I was very happy that I got to collaborate with two of those artists on this album with Eric Benet on My Love and Snoop Dogg on Hey Boy. I met Snoop a few months before I recorded the song and we talked about collaborating and Hey Boy ended up being the perfect song for that. I feel like it captured the classic sound that I loved from him since I was in high school and that Snoop was perfect for “Hey Boy” because the song already had a nostalgic retro-funk kind of feel that he took to the next level.

What is your favorite song off Strong As Glass and why do you feel it stands out in comparison to the rest?

Each track represents a different side of me, and the title track Strong As Glass is what stood out the most once the album was complete. It represents the strength and vulnerability I feel as woman in such a tangible way.

Knowing that you are a strong political and social activist in the industry, do you think that musicians have the responsibility for being aware and contributing to a cause? And what other musicians do you admire that follow the same outlook?

I do think music has always influenced culture and culture has always influenced music. Right now I’m listening to Kendrick Lamar’s album and I love it! It’s amazing when artist’s choose to use their voice to uplift other people and in such an authentic way.

There have been albums where I have been able to tackle a lot of issues and I always try to do it in a personal way because I do feel that music influences culture, and I think art gives us an opportunity to shed light when and where we can. On this album Strong As Glass, I wanted to dedicate a song to the frustration that a lot of people are feeling in the inner cities; I wrote the song “Perfect” after the travesty in Ferguson.

Catch Goapele when she takes the stage at VENUE on April 14th alongside Chin Injeti.

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

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