R&B artist and social activist Goapele was the recent guest for an installment of The Recording Academy's 5 Questions With … series. Held at The Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., Goapele discussed advice for aspiring artists, what keeps her motivated, the evolution of her music, and the influence of growing up in Oakland, Calif., among other topics. Part of the discussion was driven by questions submitted by fans using the #5QW hashtag on Twitter.
"Break Of Dawn is [my] third album, and with every album I'm trying to evolve as a person," said Goapele. "As a singer, as a songwriter [and] as a woman … I just try and keep pushing myself."
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Born Goapele Mohlabane in Oakland, Calif., to a socially conscious and politically active family, Goapele attended the Berkeley Arts Magnet school where she became involved in organizations that combated racism and sexism. In high school Goapele performed in the Oakland Youth Chorus and became part of a music group called Vocal Motion. After graduating from high school, she attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston where she studied music theory and developed her songwriting skills. In 2001 Goapele landed a deal with Skyblaze Recordings and subsequently released her debut album, 2002's Even Closer, which featured tracks such as "Closer" and the anti-war song "Red, White & Blues." Goapele followed up with Change It All in 2005, which was co-produced by 54th GRAMMY nominee Jeff Bhasker. Her most recent album, 2011's Break Of Dawn, peaked at No. 11 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart.