Born to a black South African father and an Israeli Jewish mother, Goapele was raised in a household that stressed the value of ethnic and political identity. This upbringing propelled Goapele to express herself, and she sang in her high school in Oakland, and later at Berklee School of Music in Boston. In 2001 she self-released her debut, CLOSER, and in 2002 founded her own label, Skyblaze Recordings. The re-release of her debut as EVEN CLOSER (Skyblaze received worldwide distribution from Columbia) heightened her profile, and gave her unique brand of neo-soul--which incorporates jazz and electronica elements--wider exposure. Her sophomore release, CHANGE IT ALL, appeared in 2005. Goapele has also been honored for her human rights work.