Goapele previewed her ‘Dreamseeker’ EP with a graceful D.C. performance

We saw the lights before we saw her. They flickered and shifted over the stage at Howard Theatre, an almost hypnotizing array of colors and shapes with a life of their own. A variety of images flashed before our eyes, and the audience noise dropped down to almost complete silence as we waited for Goapele Mohlabane to grace us with her presence at Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

We heard the instruments before we saw her. Just a guitar player and a keyboardist, but they moved in sync and played with enough passion to paint pictures with sound. We enjoyed the soothing instrumentation, and before we knew it, Goapele was on center stage, clad in flowing, all black attire with a radiant smile on her face. She stayed front center stage for almost the entire night, channeling her expressive vocals with the polish of a veteran and giving us a night to remember in the process.

The Oakland, California native captivated, but never overwhelmed. She engaged us with calm charisma and elegant charm. When she sang, it felt like she was singing directly to each of us individually. She proceeded to take us through a combination of classic singles, underrated album cuts, and previously unheard songs, all with the support of her two-man band.

Goapele took the time to deliver a rousing tribute to the late, great, Prince. Additionally, she used a record from her 2004 album, Even Closer, called “Red, White, & Blues” to express her dissatisfaction with the Trump administration without even mentioning them by name even once. She dedicated the title track from her 2014 album, Strong As Glass, to women who can take a few hits but still need to be treated gently. She told us about her experience seeing the National Museum of African American Culture the day before the show, and how important that would be for the psyche of future generations of Black people.

When all was said and done, I felt like I had actually had a conversation with her, even though I was simply watching from the crowd. Goapele’s sixth project, her Dreamseeker EP, releases on May 19th via EMPIRE. Check out video footage of Goapele’s Prince tribute and a snippet of socially conscious cut called “Stand” from Dreamseeker below, then listen to her 2014 album, Strong As Glass via Apple Music.