Earlier this year, I got a call from management to negotiate a side artist agreement for a track Snoop was to be featured on. When I asked who the featured verse was for, management indicated that it was a female R&B singer named Goapele.
Goapele … that name sounded so familiar to me.
I quickly opened my iTunes and found that I had purchased a compilation back in 2004 titled “California Soul”, and nestled in as the fourth track of the album was Goapele’s track titled “Childhood Drama”. Apparently, after listening to the track 12 times to date, I’ve given the track 5 out of 5 stars. With it’s smooth production value, and dreamy vocals, I was bit surprised that I never opted to purchase more music from this artist.
After concluding negotiations on the agreement, Goapele’s manager offered to give me a comp ticket and a photo pass to her performance at the El Rey. Arriving at the venue for the performance, I got to meet Goapele’s manager and publicist, who let me know, with appreciative glows in their eyes, that Snoop had called earlier in the day to wish Goapele luck.
Goapele’s fans had arrived at the venue early like me, sitting on the steps close to the stage, bordering the perimeter of the venue. As I scanned the audience, I noticed that the audience was filled predominantly with women. Let’s put it this way, if you were a single guy, the odds … attractive odds … would definitely have been in your favor.
I made my way to the front of the stage and staked out my position, engaging in small chit chat with some of the female attendants who would occasionally peek at the photos I took during the show, smiling with approval.
The opening act for Goapele was a singer songwriter name Josiah Bell.
I couldn’t find too much about this artist online prior to his performance other than the fact that he was (as of June 26th, 2014) dating actress Jurnee Smollett of “True Blood” fame and that he was a big fan of vinyl records, so I listened to him with open ears.
Josiah is a solid singer whose vocal range, and timbre, reminded me of Brian McKnight. His music is pure R&B and I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard. Perhaps my favorite part of his set was when his band took a break, and he sang a song while playing the keys. His voice, exposed and raw, demonstrated a tenderness with firm foundation that I wanted to hear more of. I understand that he recently had a string of performances at the Hotel Café. If it was just him and his piano, I’m sure that those performances would have been definitely worth the price of admission.
When Goapele took the stage, the first thing I noticed was her fierce, blond-dyed short hair and the beautiful angles of her face. With the house lights reflecting off her gold embroidered dress, I was literally in awe of how regal and strong she looked. When she started singing, I basically fell in love.
Her music hit all the right notes with me. From powerful to playful, from longing to seductive, the music both induced me to dance where I was standing and to scan the crowd to see if I could catch the eye of a potential soul mate. Though my dancing was awkward, and my scanning was fruitless, there was no time to dwell on my own deficiencies as Goapele’s music kept flowing and had me vibing … hard. It was almost a musical soul cleansing. It was music that didn’t rely on modern day gimmicks. It was solid songwriting, enhanced by a distinctive Sade-like voice.
Having singed recently to Eric Benet’s record label, Jordan House, she had, to the delight of the females in the audience, Mr. Benet join her on stage for a number.
When Goapele’s set had finished, I made it a point to thank her team for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot her performance. When Goapele came from backstage to greet fans, I was briefly introduced to her by her manager. When she thanked me for being diligent in finishing Snoop’s agreement. I could only thank her for performing that evening so sublimely. If I had known her better, and if there wasn’t a line of at least 70 fans anxiously waiting at the merchandise booth to meet her, I would have told about the rollercoaster of emotions that she put me on that evening and that I’m making some room on my CD racks for more of her music, because having only one of her songs is simply not enough.