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Goapele

Q&A

With a soulful voice and elegant style the makes it nearly impossible to avoid Sade comparisons, East Bay R&B singer Goapele has caught the ears and hearts of listeners in Northern California and beyond.

Her fans include Prince and Shelia E and her first album, 2004's Even Closer, caught the attention Sony Music. Following regional success and some national attention gained from the album, Sony inked a deal to distribute Even Closer and release her sophomore recording Change it All. The new album hit stores in December and sold well enough to make it on Billboard's Top 200 chart. The music video for "First Love" will debut on VH1 Feb. 13. Goapele spoke with SF Station during a phone interview.

SF Station (SFS): Prince and Shelia E attended your record release party in San Francisco, was that a surprise?

Goapele: I knew that it might happen, but I didn't want to get my hopes up because I thought it could very easily not happen. He came to a show a couple years back when I was on the road. I was really happy he came to my release party in the Bay Area.

It was definitely an all-around special night for me. I had family from really far away that came out and a lot of new people in the audience. I'd been looking forward to the release of the album for so long.

SFS: This is your first album recorded on a major label, was there a lot of pressure?

Goapele: Not like I imagined. I didn't feel real pressure from Sony. It was really time to do a new album and I wanted it to be the best that it possibly could be. I think that is a lot of pressure in itself -- just trying to do your best to create something new and different, but also remain consistent in some ways. I really wanted to push myself to have fun and experiment and grow with this album.

SFS: A few tracks on the album are very upbeat and different from the slower songs that were on your first album, how did you decide to go that route?

Goapele: I am always more attracted to ballads and slower songs, but there are songs by other people that I like that are more up-tempo and I wanted to reflect that in my songs. Some of the stuff I was listing to was No Doubt, Gwen Stefani and The Love Below, where Andre 3000 from Outkast was really trying some different kinds of music.

I just wanted to write a song where I could go with a feeling and just have fun and not turn it into something heavy.

SFS: You recorded the song "Darker Side of the Moon" with Linda Perry, which is basically a rock ballad, how did that concept come about?

Goapele: We didn't know what we were going to do in the studio together and we just wanted to be open. I had the beginning of the chorus idea in my head -- the concept of people that stand in the shadows while others stand in the light and it appears that they do it all by themselves.

Also, I had been watching a Pink Floyd DVD, which was the making of their album The Dark Side of the Moon, and I was really inspired by that. A lot of that old classic production was in my head and I've always loved Roberta Fleck and her music, which has a similar vibe. I talked to Linda about it and she was right there.

It was really fun to get to work with someone who has a lot of experience and knows how to achieve certain sounds.

SFS: You also worked with a lot Bay Area musicians, it seems like you take a lot of pride in being raised here.

Goapele: I am proud to be from the Bay Area and I feel like there's just a special vibe out here. Whenever there's a chance to work with people from out here -- especially up-and-coming people -- I like to take it. I feel like there are so many people in the Bay Area that don't get recognition out side of this area. Especially on a national release; it's important to show that talent.