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Goapele and Hugh Masekela at Stern Grove Sunday, August 5 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wanda Sabir   
Sunday, 05 August 2007

I sent a few questions to Goapele earlier this summer about her performance at Stern Grove today. This was her first performance since she became a mother, so we were privileged to get it, what between being sleep deprived and awed by the new life taking over her own. I recall when the renown singer was still in high school, relatively shy and performing at La Pena as a part of one of their many young artist’s programs, I think this one had something to do with being bi-cultural and bi-racial.  I’d known Goapele’s mom, Noah for many years. Our lives had intersected around South African activism and the Berkeley unified School District where she was instrumental in founding, I believe, Arts Magnet.

Now, Gopele is on her ? CD and is well known and loved her in the SF Bay as well as throughout the country and perhaps even the world.  Most people I knew were looking forward to this rare concert at Stern Grove. If permitted, I’m sure some would have camped out, especially when they found out that Baba Hugh was giving a pre-concert talk. 

1. What did you have? What's the baby's name? Have you written any songs about it yet? Motherhood and the baby?

I had a daughter named Bahia Oshun

2. How does being African and American and Jewish affect your work?

Having grandparents who survived the German Holocaust and the apartheid in South Africa, and having been apart of community organizations since the age of 10, I understand the need for community and political activism with a conscious center.

3. Do you identify with musicians and singers from South Africa and if so, how?

Miriam Makeba is a woman that has inspired me because she was one of the first South African women that I remember stepping out with her beautiful voice, and talking about the apartheid system and how it needed to end. I always loved her voice, and she was a natural beauty. I also appreciated that her music was aiming to change the world. Artists like her, Hugh Masekela and Zulu Spears I consider to be my extended family.

4. How did the politics you were taught as a child shape your musical voice and what you felt compelled to say vs. what you might have wanted to say...something a little less up front and risk-taking.

The world, politics and government inspire my songwriting. I try to take the frustrating parts that I feel and turn it into something, that doesn’t necessarily change it, but I hope that my songs can offer a different perspective.

For instance I was feeling disempowered and frustrated with the people who were elected in 2000, and then re-elected, and frustrated about the disappearing support for music and art and resources that are being taken away from our local communities in order to fund a war that many of us don’t believe in and that inspires my music.

5. What pleases you the most about the path you’re on?

Being able to let women and girls know that we can create our own destiny. Just because other women haven’t been able to do some of the things we wish they had been able to in the past, doesn’t mean that it is impossible. And to hold onto what you believe in and don’t be afraid to let your guard down sometimes.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 05 August 2007 )
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