Although Adele is hosting Saturday Night Live's Oct. 24 episode, she does not perform any new music. Instead, singer and guitarist H.E.R. is taking the stage at Studio 8H. It is the first time H.E.R. performs on the show, but the 23-year-old is no stranger to big stages. Just last month, she performed Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" during the Primetime Emmys' in memoriam segment and she has two Grammys on her resume.
H.E.R. is the stage name for Gabriella Wilson, and it stands for "Having Everything Revealed." She plays guitar, bass, drums, and piano, and most of her work fits in the R&B genre. She released her first single, "Something to Prove," in 2014 and her self-titled debut album in 2017. At the time, she kept her true identity a secret.
Wilson's SNL performance will give her a chance to showcase her newest singles, "Damage" and "Do to Me." This year, she also released the singles "Sometimes," "Wrong Places," and "I Can't Breathe." She also contributed the song "Comfortable" to the movie The Photograph. With H.E.R. set to take the SNL stage this weekend, here is a look at what you need to know about her life and career.
H.E.R. played Alicia Keys' 'No One' on the 'Today Show' at 10 years old
When H.E.R. was only 10 years old, she appeared on the Today Show, playing piano and covering Alicia Keys' hit "No One." During her introduction, Hoda Kotb said Wilson has a "rich, soulful voice of a performer three times her age." Wilson told Kotb she believed she could hear her father's band play music while she was still in her mother's womb, so she fell in love with music before she was even born. "I just feel like I'm comfortable," Wilson said when asked how she feels on stage. "I sometimes feel like I'm just in the living room, that's why I'm never nervous."prevnext
She kept her identity a secret at the start of her career as H.E.R.
Wilson signed a record contract with RCA when she was 14 and released the song "Something to Prove" under her own name. But when she re-emerged two years later with her E.P. H.E.R. Vol. 1, she had a whole new persona. In an interview with NBC4, she said the anonymity allowed her to put the focus on the music, not herself or her young age.
"The way that I released the music did exactly what I wanted it to, which was make people just listen to the music," she said in 2018. ''[And] just listen to the message for what it is because we tend to listen with our eyes sometimes. Sometimes it's all about hype, and I didn't want hype...I don't want people to love my music because of what I look like or who I know or whatever."prevnext
She appeared in Nick Cannon's 'School Gyrls' in 2009
In 2009, Wilson made her acting debut, appearing in the movie School Gyrls with Nick Cannon, BAM Magazine noted in 2014. However, music was her main focus. Her father, musician Kenny Wilson, said others in the music industry told him and his wife Agnes early on that their daughter would be a star. “A woman who produced for Michael Jackson worked with Gabi a few days and said she’s a talent that comes along maybe once every 20 years,” Kenny explained at the time. “They look at Gabi like an Alicia Keyes, or like Beyoncé.”prevnext
H.E.R. has two Grammy Awards and was nominated for Album of the Year in 2019 and 2020
H.E.R.'s success extends to awards shows. In 2019, she won two Grammys, Best R&B album for H.E.R., and Best R&B Performance for "Best Part" with Daniel Caesar. Although her first album was a compilation of her first two EPs, it was also nominated for Album of the Year. She was nominated for Best New Artist and Best R&B Song for "Focus" as well.
This year, H.E.R.'s I Used to Know Her, a collection of her third and fourth EPs, was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy. "Hard Place" was up for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, while "Could've Been" with Bryson Tiller was nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. She won the Video for Good award at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards for "I Can't Breathe."prevnext
H.E.R. said the connection women have to her music made her realize 'I can be a voice'
In a 2018 interview with ELLE, H.E.R. said she did not intend for her music to really connect with a wide audience at first. She eventually realized that many other women have had the same experiences she has had. "In the beginning, it was selfish — me releasing everything and being so honest," she explained. "And then it turns out that all these women are like, 'Wow, I feel this like she's speaking my life.' My diary is also a lot of other people's diaries. Just in different ways, different extremes. And it became a beautiful thing. It started to make me realize I can be a voice."
H.E.R. noted that her work has become a "voice for young women" growing up and "uncomfortable being vulnerable, uncomfortable with changes, heartbreak — and becoming jaded." The singer continued, "It's about acknowledging it and empowering yourself, and empowering other women, sharing those stories, and making people feel like they're not alone."prevnext
H.E.R. released 'I Can't Breathe' after George Floyd's death
On June 10, just days after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, H.E.R. debuted "I Can't Breathe" on iHeartRadio's Living Room Concert Series. The song was inspired by Floyd's death and the protests against police brutality that followed. "These lyrics were kind of easy to write because it came from a conversation of what’s happening right now, what’s been happening, and the change that we need to see," she explained, reports Billboard. "I think music is powerful when it comes to change and when it comes to healing and that’s why I wrote this song, to make a mark in history. And I hope this song does that."prev