"Closer" was the title track on Goapele's 2001 debut album. It's also the song that Love Me Not—username of a fan on the singer's message board—will walk down the aisle to on her wedding day. "I've had people tell me that it helped them get out of an abusive relationship," Goapele says. "I've had a couple of women tell me they listened to the song while birthing their child. Someone told me that there was a fight happening in Oakland in the middle of the street, and a car drove by playing it really loud and [everyone] started dancing."
It's been played at countless graduations, too, and hit number one at urban radio stations across the country. This anthem that breaks up fights, helps bring babies into the world, and marks ascensions of all types "started as a personal kind of interlude song that I didn’t know if anyone was going to relate to," says the 28-year-old Californian who wrote it. "It was just me finally letting go and thinking about my music getting out into the world."
Of the nerve she's struck with fans—including Shaq, Stevie Wonder, Magic Johnson, and Prince—Goapele says, "I think it shows that sometimes things appear easy, but usually anything that means something to us is never easy. There's always that feeling of 'How can I get through this?' or 'I'm never going to get there,' or 'This isn't happening fast enough.'"
Now, she has to admit, "there's something special happening." It's her 28th year, "supposedly when the earth is positioned in the same way it was when you were born, an important time in your life where a lot of things come together," and her sophomore album is just out. "Even Closer was eclectic, but Change It All stretches out even farther in different directions, from soul music, where we really used some vintage sounds and tried to create a classic feel, to some songs that have an edgy, '80s feel," Goapele says. "Everything from fun love songs to songs where I really got to talk about the times that we're going through now."