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I must admit, I first happened upon this gorgeous songstress in a fellow natural's Fotki folder. I had no idea who Goapele was, but I admired her style, and of course her hair. I Googled her, and instantly fell in love with her music. Although she has appeared in Marie Claire, VIBE, Entertainment Weekly and Billboard, it was in 2001 at the very beginning of her career trajectory that an editor at a small time underground Bay Area newspaper summed it up the best, "Her vocals shatter souls.” Her album Even Closer was AMAZING! After seeing the Essence video of her stylist braiding her hair, I had to reach out to her.

Wanda Sykes Style

CN: Have you always been natural? What's your hair story?

Goapele: I've worn my hair all different types of ways in my life. When I was a kid, I wore a low natural fro as well as braided styles. My parents wouldn't let me straighten my hair until junior high, which is when I started pressing it. In high school, I finally got a perm. I must admit it was fun to wear it straight, but I didn't really like how it felt—damaged and dry. So in the 11th grade, I cut my hair off, into a short natural. I had worn it that way before, but it felt really bold this time. It was before a lot of other girls were doing it, so it was a big deal. The TWA was fitting for me, and a couple of years later I started growing my locks. I wore locks for years— twisting them into little spirals, and wearing them with head wraps until finally they were long enough to do more interesting styles. I played with different colors as well, and really enjoyed them for a long time when I decided I wanted a change and cut all of my hair off again. This was a few years ago, around the same time I got pregnant… I went back to a short natural.

I felt really bold and cut it into a short little mohawk and then realized that I wanted to grow my hair back out to experiment with some interesting braided styles, similar to how I wore my hair in elementary school. It always feels like it takes forever, but my hair grew out really quickly. Anana Scott, my stylist back then, did thread wrapping, so I started seeing her again. Braids and thread wrapping… that's what I've been doing the past couple of years. Sometimes, I give myself a break and wear twists.

CN: So Anana Scott is your stylist now? The one featured in the Essence video?

Goapele: Yes, she's based out of Oakland and is my main stylist for the most part.

CN: A reader would like to know where she can find the thread used to wrap your hair in the video?

Goapele: [Laughter] I don't know. That's something that she brought with her… really, you can use any string or thread and just be creative with it. I wove ribbon in my hair when I wore bigger braided styles and it worked just fine.

CN:Have you always been a natural hair lover? If not, how did you come to embrace it?

Goapele: I haven't always liked my natural hair. At different points it's been like a love-hate relationship. The easiest hair style I've ever worn was the super-short natural… all the way cut off. There was hardly any maintenance unless I wanted to color it or tint it every now and then. It was the most carefree hairstyle, but I grew bored. I like to be experimental with my hair, which is why I grew it out, but I haven't always loved it and I don't always love it because it's such high maintenance. I spend a lot of time combing my hair through, conditioning it, and sitting in a chair for 10 hours to get it braided. And sometimes, I definitely feel like it would be fun to have straight hair, but I feel that my natural hair makes me feel more like myself. Like what you see is what you get.

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thats a picture of wanda sykes wearing her own hair... lol check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtzO3asbDFU

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