by Angela McShan for Urban Mindz
She was born Gabriella Wilson, but her visions, dreams, and reality would eventually allow her to escape the physical realms of her birth and present herself to the world as H.E.R.
The San Francisco Bay area afforded H.E.R. a balanced upbringing and a fruitful childhood, both which contributed greatly to the woman she is today. She’s a woman that many have come to know, value, and love, even before seeing her for the first time on stage.
But, how well do you know H.E.R., the 22 year old songbird?
Imagine growing up during a time of immense diversity. H.E.R. was fortunate enough to experience an abundance of such a lifestyle. She embraces her half Black, half Filipino ethnicity with pride and is deeply rooted in both origins without giving slight to either.
Growing up in her household, family meant everything, and her childhood home was a clear reflection of her Filipino roots. When visiting her family’s home, one would always find her grandparents present, usually cooking a delicious meal for everyone to enjoy. She attests that her Filipino side is only half of who she is, and that she’s stalwartly grounded in the richness of her Blackness. She speaks of the strong presence her dad’s side of the family exemplifies in her life.
Midtown Manhattan is where it all came together. The soul food, family, music, and culture were a thing to H.E.R., and without them, there would be no H.E.R. Together, her Filipino and Black roots were like a guitar and its strings, without one, the room is silenced and the melody malfunctions.
H.E.R. is dedicated to her Black culture and enthusiastic about empowering others. She is proud of who she is and makes it known by identifying with and representing Black women. Her relationship with music is a passionate one that began when she was just six or seven years old. She played in music festivals, alongside her father, and participated in many talent shows.
Once she grew into her own, H.E.R, which is an acronym for “Having Everything Revealed”, appeared on the scene as an extremely spellbinding voice. She captivated minds, hearts, and souls but most of all, she peaked curiosity. You loved the music but couldn’t connect with the face behind the voice. Media outlets were consumed with trying to reveal her identity. Who was she? Where’d she come from, and why wouldn’t she reveal herself? These are only a sample of the questions that were running through the minds of music lovers.
Her most notable hit, “Best Part”, for example, won her the 2019 Grammy for Best R&B Performance, and understandably so. Listeners who may not have experienced real love were drawn in by the performance between H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar. It exuded an aura of peace and delicateness that would make a relationship seem like a safe and desirable place to be. The song encouraged listeners to give the best part of themselves to all relationships in life, especially the relationship with themselves.
I just wanna see how beautiful you are
You know that I see it
I know you're a star
Where you go I follow
No matter how far
If life is a movie
Then you're the best part, oh oh oh
You're the best part, oh oh oh
Though the lyrics give reference to, or leads the mind to imagine a relationship between two people, the true meaning behind the lyrics is to reflect on one’s own life and believe in themselves. This is what H.E.R. visualizes when she sings and releases her music, which she writes herself. She wants listeners to search their hearts and experience love – a love for life; a love for themselves. Own the experience, because it’s the experience that makes YOU special.