Goapele talks album, strength of Black women, and relevancy of ‘Closer’ 15 years later

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10:  Goapele performs at  the Highline Ballroom in New York City on Friday, July 10, 2015. Photo by Raymond Hagans/Steed Media
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Goapele performs at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on Friday, July 10, 2015. Photo by Raymond Hagans/Steed Media

Goapele never compromised her artistry for the sake of an ever changing industry. Her music gives a voice to those seeking to understand the complexities of everyday life.

With the release of a new album, Strong As Glass, Goapele seeks to touch more souls with her sultry voice and vivid wordplay.

While on tour she recently stopped by rolling out’s offices to discuss her new album, the strength of Black women, and the relevancy of “Close”‘ 15 years later.

Your new album is called Strong as Glass. What is the overall meaning?

I think glass has so many different forms, sometimes it comes off as something so breakable and fragile, but it’s amazingly strong. It starts as sand and it takes on different lives, but it is breakable. As strong as I feel on some days, I’m not doing this by myself and I am sensitive. Actually, Estelle wrote that song and when I heard that song I just got chills and was like, “I can relate to this I want to sing this.” It was unusual for me to get to connect to someone else’s lyrics that much.


“Closer” continues to resonate with people today and touch different generations. Why has the song been so influential for so long?

Well, I wrote “Closer” almost 15 years ago. It’s that sense of I’m getting closer and I feel myself rising, but I’m not there yet and these are still all the struggles I’m going through, is still as relevant now as it was then. Each step I take there’s another place I’m trying to get and more that I’m trying to accomplish. Just being in the music industry, it is a journey and it’s always like this. So whenever I get on the stage, I can still relate to the song. It’s been wonderful to be able to connect with so many other people like folks that are just in the audience, fans, athletes, musicians, lawyers trying to pass the bar exam or doctors. I’ve gotten so many stories about how people feel the same way and how this helped motivate them. I love that. I never expected that at all from that song almost like an interlude mantra kind of thing. It’s a blessing that it keeps coming back around.

What is your advice to anyone who is looking to reach their dreams?

My advice is to really set goals short term and long term so that you have something to hold on to when everything else is coming your way. For me, it’s been important to keep building my craft and expand my vocal range and songwriting is really important to me. It’s also important to surround yourself with people you can trust so you’re not walking into rooms that you don’t need to by yourself but that someone and folks always have your back. Patience and persistence.

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The first family’s former summer rental up for grabs at $22.5 million


The first family’s former Martha’s Vineyard estate just hit the market for a whopping $22.5 million. According to reports, real estate agent Thomas Wallace of Wallace & Co. Sotheby’s rented the Chilmark home to President Obama and his family for their summer vacation in 2013.

Sitting on over nine acres at 120 feet above the Atlantic, the 6,967-square-foot home affords bountiful ocean views of the South Shore and Chilmark Pond.

It is equipped with a half basketball court, dock, access to three private beaches, a gourmet kitchen, a living room with a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows, home gym, fitness room, a master wing, a guest wing with three additional bedrooms, four full baths and an detached cottage with two bedrooms.

Not to mention a heated infinity pool in the backyard and a large backyard, perfect for any family get-together. If this isn’t just a great family home, we don’t know what is. It also looks pretty romantic when the sun goes down. Check out the gallery below for a look inside the first family’s former summer rental.

Misty Copeland dances and speaks for the powerless and voiceless

“I will dance for those who have never seen a ballet, who pass the Metropolitan Opera House but can’t imagine what goes on inside. They may be poor, insecure, misunderstood like I have been. I’ll be dancing for them too, especially for them. This is for the little brown girls.”

Sexy bachelor Jay Ellis throws in the towel

Jay Ellis 002 (2)

Jay Ellis is collaborating with amfAR to raise awareness of their “Countdown to Cure AIDS” initiative which aims to build the scientific basis of a cure for AIDS by 2020. Heading to the beach this summer? amfAR teamed up with famed British visual artist Shantell Martin to bring a limited edition beach towel, designed exclusively for amfAR to help raise awareness and find a cure for HIV/AIDS. The towel’s bold design features one of Martin’s trademark black-and-white illustrations and the inscription, “Be Epic, Cure AIDS,” a nod to amfAR’s “Countdown to a Cure for AIDS” initiative, aimed at developing the scientific basis of a cure by 2020.

Born in Fort Sumter, South Carolina, Ellis' military family settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he graduated from Metro Christian Academy. He attended Concordia University in Portland, Oregon on a basketball scholarship. There he was elected as student body president, spent two years working with AmeriCorps and interned with the Portland Trail Blazers before deciding to pursue acting. He began his career as an international print model and has since appeared on award-winning shows including ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," CW's "Heart Of Dixie," CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," as well as the Elizabeth Banks directorial feature MOVIE 43 starring Hugh Jackman, Seth McFarlane and Kate Winslet.

When he's not filming, this gentlemen enjoys playing basketball, cooking, staying fit while teaching at his line of Pilates studios, and playing the guitar. Ellis' is a staunch advocate for higher education, community service and encouraging youth to pursue the arts.

The sexy bachelor not only pierces his way through the heart of Lauren London as Byrce "Blue" Westbrook on BET's long running fan favorite dramedy series "The Game" (airing Wednesday nights at 10p/9c) but also all over the airwaves in both television and film as he affirms his position in Hollywood as the actor to watch in 2015. With cameos under his belt on shows including Showtime's "Master of Sex" and in the celebrity filled feature Movie 43, Ellis continues to expand his resume starring in two feature films (November Rule and Breaking Through) and producing another (Lemonade) set to begin principle photography with Hannah Simone (New Girl) this past April.

Jay Ellis 001 (2)


This towel is sold exclusively at Scoop NYC locations and on amfAR’s website for $40 with 100 percent of the proceeds supporting research to find a cure for HIV/AIDS.

Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown is not his hair

Dustin Brown
(Photo credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com)

A writer in the U.K., who will remain nameless and as you continue to read this post you will understand why, has implied that Dustin Brown's locs are in some manner prohibitive.

"Dustin Brown - imagine him without the dreadlocks," she titles her feature. She opens with, "Yes the German tennis player and new star of Wimbledon is attractive, but let's consider some other important matters..." Stop! Hold up. Wait a minute. While the writer complimented him for his obvious good looks, "deep brown eyes" and "boyish grin," she had the gall to pontificate "how fast would he be without all those dreadlocks?"

As I searched for scientific evidence to prove that his hair style is a disability, nothing came up. Let's face it. At Wimbledon last week, he beat No. 10 seed Rafael Nadal, who wears a short haircut. The Jamaican-German who ranks 102 made headlines and so did his dreadlocks.

During the middle of the match when he outpaced Nadal, locs flowing, he had 41K Twitter fans of his @DreddyTennis account. At the time of this writing, he has 71K.

His Twitter handle indicates his loc pride and to suggest he cut those lucky charms, is outlandish. Lady Gaga, who rocked rainbow dreadlocks and matching leg warmers during her 2014 world tour, artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball Tour, knows how wonderful they are. 

Teacups and Tentacles has made a business of customizing synthetic dreadlocks of varying lengths and colors. Dustin Brown's are homegrown, au naturel.

It's actually fun to watch Brown, 30, engage his opponents with his double-handed backhand shots. His dangling and dancing dreadlocks just add to the theatrics.



Victoria’s Secret Angel Stella Maxwell's worth more than just a kiss

Stella Maxwell V96_LA-GIRLS_HR_NO-TEXT2
(Courtesy: V Magazine via Purple PR)

There's much ado about Victoria's Secret model Stella Maxwell who was spotted French kissing "Wrecking Ball" singer Miley Cyrus. In the Pre-Fall Issue of V Magazine (Issue 96), on newsstands worldwide, features a brief introduction to the New Zealand raised bombshell .

For V96, Stella – deemed the Earth Angel – heats up the V Magazine Debut section in a sexy City of Angelsspread in 3.1 Phillip Lim, Tom Ford, Guess, Alyx and Givenchy. The story, which focuses on Los Angeles’ next generation “It Girls”, briefly engages in a Q&A with Miley’s newfound bestie.

Hometown: From the UK, but grew up in New Zealand
Debut: Every day is a debut somewhere or with someone
Parents: Love a lot
Siblings: Love, love, love a lot, too
Significant other: Love sometimes
Plans this year: Climb Mount Whitney in California (the highest point in the U.S.), ride my bicycle from L.A. to San Francisco, and finish an album I have been working on with some friends in New York
Pet: I have the cutest little puppy in my mind; I just don’t have it physically yet because I live on an airplane at the moment
Bag: Givenchy
Ride: About to get my license, then I’ll let you know
School: Life
Agency: The Lions
Social media: @stellamaxwell

Photography by Chad Pitman
Fashion by James Valeri


Russell Wilson and Ciara are hip-hop's new power couple

Ciara and Russell Wilson
Ciara seriously slayed on the BET Awards 2015 red carpet, wearing a beaded dress with a plunging neckline. And, her Janet Jackson performance tribute was out of "Control." The young mother has been on-and-off the scene since she introduced her son, Future, nearly two years ago. It appears now that she has some new man candy, we simply can't get enough.

Ciara has been snapped by the paps while she's been on several dates including a couple to the White House with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. This new love is working for her. The Georgia peach has a glow about her that oozes "happy."

Russell and Ciara are so into their own world, they were one of the first to spill the beans about President Obama's private dinner which featured Stevie Wonder and Prince. He posted on social media: "Dancing at The @WhiteHouse to Prince & Stevie Wonder w/ my lady @Ciara," the Seattle Seahawks athlete wrote on Instagram. "Thanks Mr. President & First Lady! #IsntSheLovely #Blessed."

The pair have been rubbing shoulders with the cream of the crop and they've been dressed to the nines. She was recently snapped wearing a Halton Heritage black sequined floor-length skirt with a long slit, ooh-la-la.

They've traveled to the White House again when Russell brought Ciara as his date to President Barack Obama's Japanese State Dinner.

It wasn't until she graced the red carpet at this year's BET Awards that it became clear that Ciara is on her A-game and she's playing to win.

He's definitely a good catch. The NFLer's current salary is $526,217 and he reportedly wants to be the NFL's top-paid player. He's causing quite a stir in the world of football because he's trying to get his coins guaranteed – which means he gets his money whether he's hurt or not, or whether he's on the field or not. This practice is out of sync with Seattle Seahawks' standard contracts because it's equivalent to $60 million in escrow. Wilson is definitely bankable and a keeper for Ciara.

(Photo credit: Robin Lori for Steed Media Service)

Hollywood faith-based producers: Lemuel Plummer, DeVon Franklin

(L to R) Moderator Jack Hafer with Panelists Michael Carney, Cale Boyter, DeVon Franklin, Meagan Good and Lemuel Plummer. Photo Credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Variety, Courtesy of FrontPage Firm
(L to R) Moderator Jack Hafer with Panelists Michael Carney, Cale Boyter, DeVon Franklin, Meagan Good and Lemuel Plummer.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Variety, Courtesy of FrontPage Firm
Producer Lemuel O. Plummer ("Preachers of L.A." and "The Sheards") joined a host of panelists during the Storyteller's Super Session at Variety's Purpose: Family Entertainment & Faith-Based Summit. The Detroit native spoke about balancing faith and business when undertaking projects and stated that faith-based reality TV can succeed by targeting the right audience. "It's all about how we get young people engaged and want to watch television that is inspiring, but will also challenge them."
The panel was moderated by Jack Hafer, director of the Cinema and Media Arts Program at Biola University. Other panelists included: director, writer, and producer Michael Carney ("Same Kind of Different As Me"); producer and founder of Franklin Entertainment DeVon Franklin ("Miracles in Heaven", "Heaven is for Real"); actress Meagan Good ("Minority Report", "Think Like a Man", "Think Like a Man 2") and producer Cale Boyter ("Noah", "Spongebob Squarepants: The Sponge Out of Water").
In addition to Plummer's work as executive producer on "Preachers of LA," "Preachers of Detroit," and "Preachers of Atlanta" (currently in production). He is the creator and executive producer of the docu-series Comedians of L.A., currently in production and, for the first time ever in broadcasting, scheduled to air simultaneously on two different networks-Esquire and Oxygen. Other current projects in production include two new series scheduled to air on BET Networks late 2015.

Born in Detroit to parents who owned three television stations, Lemuel Plummer was surrounded by television and media since birth. Following the passion that was handed down to him by his family, he moved out to Los Angeles and found work on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. By the age of 22, Mr. Plummer acquired a first look deal with BET, and from there he has gone on to produce, create, and executive produce several shows across a wide range of successful networks, including BET, Bravo, WeTV, Oxygen, and Esquire. He is perhaps most well-known for his smash hit series on Oxygen, Preachers of LA and Preachers of Detroit, with Preachers of Atlanta coming soon.

Plummer's previous production credits include work on WeTV's hit show, "Mary Mary" as well as several BET Network shows in various capacities. He created and executive produced the docu-series "Vindicated," executive produced "The Sheards," and worked as a producer on "The Mo'nique Show" and "The Family Crews." He is currently in various stages of production on a number of non-scripted programs and film projects for several major networks and studios. He now owns his own production company, L.Plummer Media, and is looking forward to a bright future in the entertainment industry.

Jada Pinkett Smith is Miami's Walk of Fame first woman ever honored

Magic Mike XXL Miami Walk of Famy by Thaddaeus McAdams
Magic Mike XXL Miami Walk of Famy by Thaddaeus McAdams

Jada Pinkett Smith alongside her Magic Mike XXL co-stars – Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, and Adam Rodriguez – were honored in Miami on Wednesday, June 24. They were inducted into the Miami's Walk of Fame. Smith is the first-ever female to be inducted. Magic Mike XXL is in theaters on July 1, 2015, just in time for a

(Photo Credit: ExclusiveAccess.Net)

Filmmaker Joseph Chopin has an affinity for the 'unscripted'

Image Courtesy of Joseph Chopin
Image Courtesy of Joseph Chopin

Our role models in the film and entertainment industry have done a unique job in enticing me for my entire life by creating an everlasting curiosity about the movie business that has not yet died in my spirit. I hope that I will love film as much as I do today, forever. When I see a young man or a young woman who desires to be in the film industry, and they are going through “the unknown” phase in their personal life, I see and understand their desire to create a world different than the one they are in. It is this desire that inspires me to create. The desire of trying to get back into the world I created for myself is a very difficult, says Joseph Michael Chopin, a movie producer. "Most of my life I have grown up in Benton Harbor, Michigan."

"I have lived in Benton Harbor, Michigan for over the last 10 years of my life, and although it is awesome to live right next to Lake Michigan, and the summers here are beautiful, the actual city of Benton Harbor does not go through very many changes annually like cities such as Chicago, which stands directly across the lake. Because of the low activity level here in Benton Harbor, I decided to use my resources to create my company 99 Years Studios, LLC. When I was 13, my mother moved me and my two brothers to Benton Harbor Michigan from Queens, NY. At the time, she was working on her doctoral degree in Psychology at the University of Andrews in Berrien Springs Michigan. At that age I knew clearly that I wanted to be a movie producer because of my love for movies like Free Willy and Casper The Friendly Ghost."

On what's important for him to capture when he's behind the camera...

"I enjoy capturing moments that are unscripted. Sometimes I will keep the camera rolling between takes to try and catch little moments of love, laughter, tears or hatred from a subject. I enjoy working with people that have never acted before, or that have no desire to be an actor at all – I have practiced this quite a bit throughout my career because of the awkward feeling the person gives off on camera – It is almost like the person is trying to do it right, but does not really know if they are going to succeed or not."

For more of this interview click here:

Filmmaker Joseph Chopin: ‘Life is forever’