Reflections on Goapele

Alyssa Scott ’18

On Saturday, February 10th Kristy Edmunds took the stage to introduce Goapele at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. As the Artistic and Executive Director of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Edmunds welcomed the audience to The Ace and discussed Goapele’s intersectional identity and dual role as an activist and singer-songwriter. In Goapele’s words:

“I’m a woman, but I’m also a whole person who won’t be confined to any one box. […] Nobody is just one thing. Within any race, within any genre, and within any neighborhood, there’s so much diversity. As artists and especially as women of color, we have to be proud of that. I’m coming from an honest place and expressing the different parts of myself that make me whole.”

The Oakland-born artist has the incredible ability to create a sense of belonging, and Edmunds reflected this when she invited the audience to become part of Goapele’s community for the evening. These words were proven true the moment Goapele entered the spotlight; her presence could be felt through every inch of the 1600-seat theater. She was wearing a black and gold robe over a red satin dress that shimmered as she radiated optimism through every word she sang. Goapele sang a diverse selection of music ranging across her four albums: Even Closer, Break of Dawn, Strong as Glass, and Dreamseeker.

Towards the end of the performance, when a relationship had been established between audience and performer, Goapele sang “Stand” from her 2017 album Dreamseeker.


Just stand up for something

Don’t fall back for nothing

If we don’t stand for something

We’ll fall for anything

In a time of intense political and social unrest, when words and promises carry little weight and trust is an idea that feels long lost, Goapele’s words felt like a breath of fresh air. Although a seemingly simple sentiment, feeling an entire auditorium repeat the lyrics and sing along with Goapele made the divisive hate beyond the theater walls dissolve. The music, combined with Goapele’s unparalleled ability to facilitate positivity, gave the audience a rare opportunity to transcend and rise above reality for a moment. That evening I left The Ace feeling invigorated, empowered, and uplifted.