“A Very Wise Soul”: How HER Became an Accomplished Grammy Artist at Just 24 | Entertainment

When HER helped induct Tina Turner into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year, industry veterans ranging from Paul McCartney and Lionel Richie to Carole King and Dave Grohl told her, with certainty, that she would be next. .

“This experience was crazy,” she says. “There are so many artists that I love who came to me and said, ‘Oh man, you’re gonna be a legend someday.'”

At just 24 years old, the R&B singer-guitarist is already off to a good start. Last month, HER, née Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, received eight nominations for the 64th Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year for “Fight for You” and Album of the Year for her first official studio LP, ” Back of My Mind “.

It might be surprising that “Back of My Mind” is technically HER’s debut album (she has objected to this characterization in previous interviews), given that this is her third project to compete for. the best honor of the Grammys. Her eponymous entry in 2017 and “I Used to Know Her” in 2019 were both considered compilation albums, combining a series of acclaimed EPs.

“It was a deeper dive,” she says. “‘Back of My Mind’ [is] me saying, ‘This is exactly who I am. That’s what I want.’ I am much more sure. And I am ready to immerse myself completely in this confidence, in this certainty. And that’s part of life. It’s part of the growth. “

With 21 career nominations in total, HER has quickly established herself as a Grammy (and now Oscar) darling – attracting voters who value musicianship and social conscience rather than just streaming numbers. She might not have as many Hot 100 hits or social media followers as some of her competitors in the general categories, but she can write songs and play piano, drums, guitar, and guitar. bass – and that clearly means a lot to his peers.

“She’s got a very wise soul,” says Brittany “Chi” Coney, half of songwriter and production duo Nova Wav, nominated for album of the year with HER for their contribution to “Back of My” Mind “. “She knows what she wants. I love how sure she is. And even if she’s not sure, you’ll never know.”

“She’s not afraid to go try things out,” says Coney’s partner Denisia “Blu June” Andrews. “She’s not afraid to make mistakes. That’s why she’s where she is.”

Before winning Grammys and giving sold-out shows at iconic venues like the Hollywood Bowl, HER grew up in Vallejo, Calif., Where his father was a construction worker during the week and a musician on the weekends.

She often watched her father’s band perform before eventually performing alongside her in the same town that produced artists like Sly Stone and E-40.

“There are a lot of legends that come out of Vallejo,” she says. “It’s really the foundation of who I am, being from the Bay Area. I’m blessed to have had this sense of community and love for music in my blood.”

At age 14, Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson had already achieved child prodigy status by exercising her musical gifts on morning shows, signing with a major record label and gaining mentorship from her role model, Alicia Keys. After releasing her first single “Something to Prove” in 2014, however, Wilson stepped back from the limelight and eventually reappeared as HER.

Since then, she has carefully and methodically nurtured public access to her image and past through interviews, award appearances, branded deals and, of course, her music.

“When I first started creating, no one was checking for me,” she says. “There was no anticipation.… I didn’t expect it to go this far.

“Now I’ve had people with their opinions on what I should do, and other people who didn’t believe it now do.… I’m working to come back to myself and make sure I don’t. never give in to that pressure. “

HER is inspired by her musical heroes, some of whom she has had the chance to join on stage.

In September, for the Global Citizen Live benefit concert at the Greek Theater, she deftly plucked the strings of her chrome-plated Fender Stratocaster alongside Stevie Wonder for a funky and enjoyable performance of her classic “Superstition”.

“He wants to create with me,” ELLE says casually. “He called me once with an idea, and he sang to me over the phone. I’m like ‘Is Stevie Wonder singing for me right now?’ It was mind blowing, as I listened to Stevie Wonder almost every day at my house.

“But I had a lot of moments like that,” she continues, before another came to mind: the one who won 63rd Grammy song of the year for “I Can’t Breathe, ”a haunting protest anthem inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020.

On January 31, HER could once again take home the coveted award for another poignant track with a message to deliver. “Fight for You”, the moving song she wrote for the soundtrack of “Judas and the Black Messiah”, on the black liberation movement, is shortlisted for three awards, including song of the year and the song written for visual media.

In April, she officially achieved demi-EGOT status when “Fight for You” won the Oscar for the original song. And yes, she’s planning on fulfilling her EGOT destiny with a Tony and an Emmy when the time is right.

Until then, she’s thrilled to see “Fight for You” being recognized by film and music academies, especially in the form of a Grammy nomination for a traditional R&B performance. Also nominated in the R&B categories, “Back of My Mind”, which SHE conceived as a sonic and radical love letter to the genre in all its forms, and her track “Damage”.

For ELLE, making R&B music is about giving back to people. “R&B lives in everything,” she says. More than a “good beat,” she believes the ever-evolving style offers listeners “meaningful lyrics …

“It’s important for me to always lead and be a voice, and R&B is one of those things that I stand for,” she says.

She remembers asking one of her R&B predecessors, Erykah Badu, recently why some people claimed that “R&B is dead” – to which Badu replied, “R&B is the people. So how could he be dead? “

“R&B will always be my foundation,” HER says. “I’m setting the stage for black or Filipino artists – or both – to do R&B and know they don’t have to compromise. “

With Grammy glory, a world tour and an acting career on the horizon, HER – whose stage acronym stands for “Having Everything Revealed” – is more visible than ever. But she didn’t reveal everything. Not yet.

“It’s gradual,” she says. “They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and I’ve always said my music is the window to my soul. I slowly open the curtain, pulling some layers away.”

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

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