H.E.R. headlined the Apollo Theater Tuesday night years after she touched the legendary stage as a child.
The songstress and respected musician revealed that she was told not to sing during her audition because the tape her mom sent in was good enough to snag her a spot.
“My mom decided to send an audition tape of me to Showtime at The Apollo, and at the time my dad was like I don’t think they’re gonna see that, they get so many submissions,” she said. Her family was determined to get her in front of the decision-makers.
“Long story short, I end up auditioning in person and before I could even sing a note they said we already saw your audition tape you’re coming! We want you at Showtime at the Apollo.”
“I came up here,” she continued gesturing towards the iconic stage, “and my parents put on a fundraiser to pay for the flights to get us to New York City.”
The fundraiser helped with hotels and the clothing she rocked when she graced the stage to sing Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love.”
She joined the ranks of Franklin, Mary J. Blige, and many other legendary vocalists with her first headlining show. “I just had such an amazing time and it was honestly the beginning of such a beautiful, beautiful journey,” she said smiling.
The superstar shared how much the full circle moment meant to her. “And the fact that I’m headlining tonight – I just hope you know, to everybody here, to anybody at home- I just hope you know that anything is possible,” she said. “I never imagined that my life would look like this after doing that on this stage.”
“But that is the magic of Apollo,” she added. “And that is the magic of when you really follow your path and you believe in yourself.”
She described herself as feeling “warm” and “happy,” and later joked that the stage “looked much bigger when I was nine,” before declaring that she loved how intimate it was. She took advantage of that intimacy by connecting with the crowd by shredding on her guitar in their faces during Lenny Kravtiz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” and chuckling at their loving outbursts during her duet with Jazmine Sullivan “Girl Like Me”.
She briefly led the crowd in a soulful call and response medley of some of rock’s greatest hits including Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” and let them chime on everybody’s favorite part of her hit “Avenue.”
She even rushed back out after her set to oblige their pleas for “one more song!”
H.E.R. thanked fans for their tireless support. “I have a number one record and that’s because of you,” she told them.
She used the opportunity to highlight a rising young talent, as well. She sang the duet “Best Part,” with the help of Miles Caton, a 16-year-old from Brooklyn with some serious singing chops. His redefinition of the part originally sung by Daniel Caesar was so strong the audience burst into applause.
Later she gave Caton and each of her other background singers a chance to shine, cheering them on while jamming through her sequined guitar strap.
The show was part of SiriusXM and Pandora’s Small Stage Series. Previous shows in the series have included performances from J Balvin, Kane Brown, Michael Che, and Shaggy. Upcoming shows will feature Alicia Keys, and J. Cole.
Learn more about the Sirius XM and Pandora Small Stage Series here.