FromAUG 24 2019toOCT 17 2019



Goapele Mohlabane is a singer and songwriter hailing from Oakland, California, USA. Since her debut at the turn of the century she has released five studio albums of her politically and socially conscious mix of classic R&B, modern soul and hip-hop influences.

A renegade spirit can come from anywhere, it seems. After all, Joe Strummer was a privately educated son of a diplomat for the crown itself, John Lennon grew up comfortably in a semi-detatched house and went to art school as well. Bear in mind that it would be profoundly stupid to suggest that their upbringing, something they’d have no control over whatsoever, tempers their revolutionary spirit and lessens their message. However, it isn’t half satisfying to see a politically charged artist who actually grew up in a politically charged environment.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the upbringing of Goapele Mohlabane, the daughter of an exiled South African political activist father and a New York born Isreali activist mother who grew up in a South African exile community in Oakland, California.

Needless to say, her music is very much a product of those turbulent years. From the very beginning of her school career her parents encouraged her to be a part of her community. So by the time she was in elementary school she’d form and led a pre-teen peer-support group, and by high school she was dividing her time between various groups combating racism and sexism and singing in the Oakland Youth Choir.

She began writing and recording her own songs after completing her degree at the Berklee College of Music, and by 2001 had self-released her debut album “Closer”. This was a modest hit around the San Francisco Bay area where most of her live shows were also performed, and the 5000 copies it sold were enough to get noticed by Oakland based indie label Hieroglyphics Emporium.

Sensing that big thing were afoot, Goapele formed her own independent label, Skyblaze Recordings, with her family and released an extended version of “Closer”, imaginatively titled “Even Closer” in conjunction with Hieroglyphics Emporium. The recognition this move gained her meant that by 2004, Columbia/SME Records picked up Skyblaze for worldwide distribution and suddenly, Goapele was a major label artist.

She’s since had a vast amount of critical acclaim for each of the four records she released after that and has kept up a reputation for being one of the most exciting and politically active singers in the business. To such an extent, that in 2006 she was honored by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights with its first ever Human Rights Cultural Hero Award. Such was the measure of her success that in the same year, she was also featured on the last ever episode of legendary music show Soul Train. Since then, she’s kept on keeping on, releasing albums and performing at rallies and demonstrations the world over, making her a global star in a very tangible way. She’s truly vital, and any true music fan should feel lucky to have her around. Highly recommended.

AUG 24 2019
Las Vegas, NV
172 at Rio Las Vegas

OCT 17 2019
Alexandria, VA

July 3, 2019 in