Last week I took advantage of a Goldstar deal and went to see Goapele. I actually had been tracking several concerts this month to see if they ultimately became Goldstar deals but only one came to fruition. As I vowed that 2013 will be a year (still a real struggle) of rebuilding. I have been trying to save money. This means an over reliance on outings that cost less than $20. Despite vocal complainers, I actually like the Howard Theater. It’s pretty, easy to get to and sounds good, especially on the second floor. The sucky things about the Howard – service and food – can be advantages as often you can skip the $10 minimum because the servers forget about you, lol.
I got there promptly as intended to miss the opening act. I’ve heard her before at other DC events and I am not a fan of her voice. I have a mental block against high-pitched nasally singing voices. In fact the only other singer with this style of singing I can think of is Ayo. That is how much of a block exists.
Goapele was in great voice. However, she needed backup singers. I hate when performers don’t have backup singers. As much local talent exists, she could have employed some talented locals to back her up for the night. It was really obvious when she sang my favorite song by her, My First Love. The recorded version has this swelling background scatting that was sorely missed live. I remember I saw Ne-Yo at the Essence Music Festival eons ago and he didn’t have backup singers. I was shocked. He was a major R & B artist at the time, what was he thinking? My other complaint was that Goapele ran all of her songs together. I don’t really think her songs sound a lot alike as some artists do. So the lack of a pause or suitable transition was a bit jarring. I get that she might not be one that chats with the audience or provides little talky interludes, but a simple, “And now…” would have helped.
Oddly, I’ve always thought that Alice Smith had this unique, smoky rocker chick voice that I couldn’t place. However, on this night I felt that Goapele and she sounded eerily similar on some songs. As an aside, I went to the Hyattsville Arts Festival that weekend and the acoustic stool (not really a stage) had another singer that sounded like both Goapele and Alice. I started to scream, “Change honey, you are in for a difficult road.” Some voices are extremely popular with the masses and that list is very narrow, lol. For another aside, Britney Spears’ recorded voice is nothing like her actual singing voice, which is why she lip syncs so much. I read that in an article once and it blew my mind. The shaping that occurs in the record industry is a lot.
Back to Goapele, I did enjoy the concert despite my quibbles. I still think she could benefit from some old-school Motown stage coaching, but I think this of almost all independent artists that I see. My theory is that you will make the majority of your living from stage shows so you need to make them as electrifying as possible to ensure people keep coming back for more.