Long before the artist known as H.E.R. would contribute writing “I Can’t Breathe,” which won a 2021 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, she was a rising singer from northern California soaking up the music she heard in her home.
“I really didn’t have any formal training,” she said to ESSENCE in 2019. “My dad is a musician. His band rehearsed in our living room. Sometimes I would sneak in while they were taking a break and play on the drums, piano, guitar and bass. I kind of found my way.”
The multiple Grammy award winner surely did. Today the 24-year-old is a sought after performer expanding her reach beyond the charts. This year so far she’s performed at the Super Bowl, made her small screen debut in Yes Day with Jennifer Garner (streaming now on Netflix) and surprised D’Angelo fans by singing alongside him during highly anticipated battle.
At the 63rd annual Grammy awards, she took home two honors but the “Damages” singer is no stranger being a winner on music’s biggest night. In 2019, H.E.R. won Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance for “Best Part.” Along with the win for 2021’s Song of the Year “I Can’t Breathe,” which she shares with cowriters Tiara Thomas and Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. also won for her contributions to “Better Than I Imagine.” The Robert Glasper track, which she wrote him and Meshell Ndegeocello, won Best R&B Song.
While the musical genius celebrates another big night at the Grammys, we take a glimpse back at how she grew into one of the best artists in music.
Compiled by Mikayla Merin, a 2021 Disney Dreamer.
She was a local star in northern California.
H.E.R. performed as a younger singer by her given name Gabi Wilson. At the age of 10, she performed a cover of Alicia Keys “If I Aint’ Got You” on The Today Show.
She’s proud of her Asian and African-American heritage.
She’s of Filipino and African-American ancestry; here in 2011 with her parents Kenneth Wilson (L) and Agnes Wilson.
She can play a number of instruments.
H.E.R. is able to play five instruments: piano, drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and the bass guitar.
Photo by Christopher Polk/BET/Getty Images for BET
She became H.E.R.
Wilson started using the stage name H.E.R., which is an acronym standing for “Having Everything Revealed,” and started wearing sunglasses at all times. The shades have since become her signature look.
Photo by Johnny Louis/WireImage
She released music as an independent artist.
In 2016, she released EP’s Her Live Tape #1 and followed the next year with Her Live #2 on FAM Records.
She’s had 7 Hot 100 songs, including “Best Part” with Daniel Ceaser.
By 2017, she dropped her debut EP H.E.R. Volume 1 featuring top hits including “Focus” and “Jungle.” This album featured the top Billboard hit, “Best Part” featuring Daniel Ceaser.
She loves collaborating with artists across genres.
H.E.R. has gone on to collaborate with multiple artists including Bryson Tiller, Wizkid, Khalid, Chris Brown, Skip Marley, Jazmine Sullivan and Jhene Aiko.
Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET
She won 2021’s Song of the Year.
Released on Juneteenth last year, “I Can’t Breathe” was co-written H.E.R, Tiara Thomas (above) and Dernst Emile II. It won 2021’s Song Of The Year at the Grammys.