Neo-soul Bay Area chanteuse Goapele
Photo Credit: Joy Childs for Sentinel
By Joy Childs
Sentinel Contributing Writer
With the backdrop of the beautiful, new, open-air promenade outside the recently opened Rave Cinemas 15, neo-soul Bay Area chanteuse Goapele steamed into the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Live! last Wednesday to kick off its Summer Concert Series. The weather cooperated—not too hot or too cool—and the crowd enjoyed every moment—from the excitement of the gathering of the standing-room-only audience to the standing ovation Goapele earned at the concert’s end.
This year’s series, says Cheryl Downey, who saw Goapele at last year’s series, seems “much better organized” than last year’s. BHCP General Manager Sharron King agreed, adding, “ … and it was much colder too!” King, whose GM job is her dream job, is the one who selects the artists who’ll appear. She’s also responsible for getting the party started promptly at 7 p.m.
And so it did, with perennial favorite smooth jazz host Pat Prescott from primary sponsor 94.7 The Wave. Prescott rolling out a huge hospitality mat for several BHCP vendors, like Olivia Jones of the Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant, who announced “Way Back Wednesdays”—the perfect place to get your friend chicken fix after the Wednesday concerts end.
You might have been a little skeptical when you learned there’d be an opening act. After all, you’d come to see Goapele—and only her.
Not to worry—the three women who call themselves King—Amber, Anita, and Paris, who’s the group’s producer—made their mark in the name of soul. Their strong, accurate vocals and harmonies and lyrics on songs from their new EP “The Story” (available on iTunes and Amazon)—especially cuts like “Supernatural” and “Oh Please”—were reminiscent of the music of Floetry and Brownstone.
The way the audience greeted Goapele at her Southern California concerts both last year (at BHCP and the Long Beach Jazz Festival) and this, you might have thought that the stunningly beautiful, petite singer-songwriter was an L.A. homegirl. She’s not—she’s from the Bay Area, where she lives with her 4-year-old daughter.
Many of Goapele’s fans from last year got to the venue really early and made their way to the very front rows, where the artist recognized and welcomed them from last year’s event. Then she launched into her light, ethereal soprano voice stylings, which were in stark contrast to the heavily funkified bass stylings blasted by her able-bodied band.
On her encore, she invited the audience to stand up and, in the words of Prince, “Tell [Her] Something Good”—and the whole crowd obliged, moving ever closer toward the artist.
At the very end of her set, Goapele personally thanked Ken Lombard, Capri Urban Investors, LLC, President, saying “It was important for Ken Lombard to bring free music to the community.”
Stephanie Mills, who’ll appear on August 10, and Kelly Price, who’s scheduled to perform on August 31.