Goapele returns to New York City: ‘My audience saved a place for me’


Goapele doesn’t think of herself as “mysterious,” but the Bay Area native has earned a bit of a reputation for being one of the more enigmatic artists in soul music. Since the release of her debut album Closer over a decade ago, the singer-songwriter has carved out her own niche and developed a devoted fanbase on the strength of the sincerity of her songs; but she acknowledges that its important for her to not give too much of herself to the world.

“I’m always surprised when people say that [she’s mysterious.] But I guess there is a part of me that is a little shy or likes to have some privacy,” Goapele shares with RO. “I feel like I give a lot onstage, [yet] I do want to have a normal life and not always be ‘on.'”

Performance has been a major part of what has kept Goapele so connected with her fans. She admits that she creates new music at her own pace, but making that connection makes it easier for her to trust that the people will always want to hear what she has to say–regardless of how long she goes between albums. “I like to time things where people will have a hunger or desire to get out there and support what I’m doing,” she says. “When it comes to putting out music, it’s mainly putting it out on my own pace. Which may be to my own detriment. Things move so fast these days. I’m thankful that people supported me in the beginning are still there and I have a pretty patient audience.”

“I’m not sure what that is,” she adds. “I think that people have saved a place for me. They’re looking for something new, but my audience has saved a place for me at the same time.”

The singer will once again connect with the fans that love her this weekend in New York City. Goapele is set to perform at Soho’s legendary SOBs on September 8th, and she’s excited about her return to the Big Apple and to a venue that is one of her favorite places to play.

“I’m just looking forward to coming back to SOBs. I feel like its sort of a homebase for me,” she says. “I always enjoy the crowd. It’s always intimate. I’ve enjoyed it as an audience member and I enjoy performing there. And it’s nice to becoming back to New York. It’s been a minute since I’ve been there. I was there last year for Summerstage, but it’s a little different doing my own show.”

For Goapele, whether performing or prepping a new album, she’s a woman that is determined to do it her way. She never wants to allow herself to be exploited by a business that so often devours creative spirits.

“I don’t like feeling like I’m playing the game. That may be the part of the industry that I shy away from,” she says. “I feel like I can be myself and [be] an empowered female artist. but I have been involved in the business side of things only because Skyblaze Music, my family label, has been involved in all of the albums that I put out. I have had to be involved in different [types of] decision making. But its more from an insider view, rather than feeling I’m on the exploited side of the industry.”

“My expectations have grown,” she continues. “When I was putting out my first album, I didn’t even know who was out there. It started out as a Bay Area, or West Coast-centralized thing. I think that initially with Closer, that was my first measure of success. The more music that I put out and re-released, I had support nationwide. There are even pockets internationally. It’s very personal when I’m in the studio, but I also picture myself talking to people all over the world. I want everyone to feel that emotion. I think that’s something that I always pay attention to. It’s a vibe and emotion that people connect to.”

Catch Goapele at SOBs on Sunday Sep 8, 2013 at 8PM EDT

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