Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Goapele

GoapeleThe idea of someone being a musician wasn’t unusual for neo-soul singer-songwriter Goapele when she was growing up. Musicians were among the guests her parents entertained at their home. So of course, she thought, it was possible one could grow up to be a musician just as one might become a teacher or a lawyer or a doctor. Her daughter’s perception, she said upon reflection, might not be so different from her own early on.

Bahia Osun was born in May 2007; Goapele returned to performing shows when her daughter was just a few weeks old, but had been working at a slower pace in the mid-2000s so that she could focus on starting a family. Goapele put six years between 2005’s Change it All and her latest release Break of Dawn, which came out last fall. She was deliberate in taking her time in getting back to recording, putting down tracks at her own speed and “just letting the spirit hit me.” But with several projects now in the works, the slow-down is over, and Goapele says it’s a very exciting time for her.

“I feel like my life has expanded since becoming a mom, definitely,” Goapele said. “And I feel like I’ve gotten a different push of energy and this is kind of another chapter of my life starting now.”

Goapele said her daughter, who just turned 5, thinks it’s normal to have a mom who plays music for a living. But with the movie “Sparkle” due out in theaters this month, Bahia Osun and the world will get to see another side of Goapele as she makes her acting debut.

Goapele plays the lead singer of an all-girl group that takes the stage at a talent show in the upcoming film. Set in the heyday of Motown music, “Sparkle” documents the trials its title character (“American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks) faces while striving toward stardom. Legendary singer Whitney Houston, an early influence upon Goapele, plays Sparkle’s mother; Houston died shortly after filming the role.

Between Houston’s involvement with the project and Goapele’s memories of watching the original 1976 version of the film, she was excited to take on any role she could in “Sparkle.” But she was nervous about making the leap from singing to acting, one she had been considering for years.

“I felt like any opportunity that was going to come as far as being part of this movie, I was just going to step up and do it,” Goapele said. “It was really cool for me to know that I just really wanted to be a part of it and was just open to do whatever that was, and luckily I got to do a performance piece, so I actually was in my comfort zone getting to do it.”

Goapele plans to take her daughter to see Mom on the silver screen, but the night “Sparkle” opens (Aug. 17), Goapele will be performing for a crowd at The Birchmere, taking her audience on a journey through the soul songs that have influenced her, new songs and tracks from her recent albums, and the song from “Sparkle” that lets the soul singer lace her delivery in vintage Motown style.

Goapele plans to continue touring, and says fans can expect a new album soon, but her big-screen debut definitely has her wanting to pursue acting further.

“I’m looking at some scripts, so we’ll see what comes out of everything,” Goapele said.

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