Feature

R&B’s elusive and socio-political postergirl H.E.R. is changing the world one candid track at a time

Despite her rising-star status skyrocketing her through the R&B sphere, H.E.R. kicked off her career decidedly undercover. She dropped her debut full-length album, H.E.R. Volume 1, beneath her chosen pseudonym (which ironically stands for Having Everything Revealed) without a bio, and only an elusive silhouette splashed on the cover.

Actually, it wasn’t until a couple of big names like Rihanna, Drake and Alicia Keys came across her work and started loudly singing her praises that her real name (Gabi Wilson, that is) even surfaced. Following swiftly on, four Grammy nominations and two wins in 2019, and a slew of defiant, genre-spanning hits later and her ambiguous status is squashed.

Not that she minds. She simply wanted the music to speak for itself – which it does through a hard-hitting narrative of political standpoints, generational trauma and soulful tribulations. After an emotive tribute to George Floyd with “I Can’t Breathe”, which dropped in June, H.E.R. keeps things real with her new single, “Damage”.

“Damage” is a vulnerable examination of the fall out of a past relationship, accompanied by a cozy live visual shot in the dilapidated Los Angeles Roxie Theatre. Lush vocals and heady lyricism drives home the lilting single, lifted off her upcoming full-length release.

She’s young and fresh, barely pushing 23 and therefore at the heart of shifting toxic generational mentalities along with her peers. And she’s been doing it. At the start of lockdown she launched Girls With Guitars: an Instagram live series in collaboration with Amazon Music. Featuring a tasty barrage of live performance, covers and special guests (see Tori Kelly, Alessia Cara, Lianne La Havas and even Sheryl Crow) the empowering series serves the dual purpose of raising money for the MusicCares Covid-19 relief fund, and a push for women supporting women.

Still riding the wave of a further 5 Grammy nominations she scored this year, along with a brand new album teetering on the brink of release, H.E.R. has a whole lot of things on her mind and she plans to say them all.