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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: H.E.R. On Being Born Into Music & Why R&B Is "At The Core Of Everything"

H.E.R.

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: H.E.R. On Being Born Into Music & Why R&B Is "At The Core Of Everything"

"It feels like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be," the R&B singer/songwriter, who is up for five GRAMMYs, told us

GRAMMYs/Feb 8, 2019 - 03:17 am

California native singer/songwriter H.E.R. may just be 21, but her honest and thoughtful approach to R&B, with personal lyrics and '90s throwback slow-jam beats, reveal an old soul. Her smooth yet powerful voice offers insights on love and identity with vulnerability and plenty of straight-up feelings.

While her music is communicative, and even her moniker is an acronym for "Having Everything Revealed," the rising star still operates with an air of mystery. She has chosen to reveal minimal details about herself and, always pictured behind large sunglasses, seems to ask us to focus on her music first.

We recently caught up with the talented multi-instrumentalist, who, as a first-time nominee, is up for five awards at the 61st GRAMMY Awards. (In addition to being nominated for the all-genre Best New Artist and Album Of The Year categories, she is also up for Best R&B Song, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Album. H.E.R., the album in consideration, is a release combining her two EPs plus B-sides—she has yet to release a debut LP.)

During our conversation, H.E.R. told us how grateful she is for all she's achieved thus far, growing up in a musical household, the importance of keeping "real people" around you and what we can expect to hear on her forthcoming debut album. 

"I didn't think I would get this far so soon, so I'm focusing on elevation and really dreaming bigger." 

How did you first learn about your first GRAMMY nomination? When you found out you were up for five awards, what was your initial reaction?

Oh my god! There were a lot of tears. I was with my tour squad; we had all just woken up early after a show. I was actually really sick, and kind of sad and down the day before. My manager gave us the news and it changed my entire mood and attitude. It made my day. I immediately called my mom, dad and sister. I was on cloud nine.

Your five nominations include Best New Artist, along with Album of the Year and Best R&B Album. What does that recognition mean to you?

It feels like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. It's so easy to question your art, even to question what you're doing, to question the path that you're on. But this is such confirmation for me; "you're exactly where you need to be, you're doing all the right things." It just feels amazing, it feels like I found my objective and I'm fulfilling it. I'm so blessed.

Was there a moment when you were younger that made you want to make music? Were there other artists you admired that made you want to make R&B?

Music was something that was a given for me, like out of the womb. At parties I was always the center of attention, singing and dancing and playing instruments. I never made that decision of "I'm going to do music." My dad had a band that would rehearse in our living room, so all the instruments were in there and I gravitated towards them at a super-young age.

My mom would try to find talent shows and festivals for me to be in around the Bay Area, even when I was only seven or eight years old, because she knew I loved to do it. It was never a career goal or what I was planning on doing as soon as I graduated high school. I just did it. It came super naturally to me.

One artist I really respect is Alicia Keys. Because she plays piano and sings, and because I love instruments so much, she definitely paved the way for a young black musician and young black woman like me who wants to play instruments and find my voice in the industry. She played a big role.

Related: 2019 GRAMMYs Host Alicia Keys: GRAMMY Rewind

I never really thought about the idea of being an R&B artist. R&B is kind of the core of everything, rhythm and blues. I grew up listening to a lot of soul and blues, so those influences shine through me. When I started making my first project, H.E.R. Vol. 1, it was so honest. It has a '90s R&B influence, but you could feel the soul reflecting my background and where I came from.

"Focus" is one of your songs up for a GRAMMY; the lyrics feel very personal and are really relatable. Can you talk about what that song means to you and how you think the honesty in your music helps you connect with fans?

My music is my diary. When I'm writing a song it's what I feel in that moment. With "Focus," I was afraid to leave it on my first project because it was so personal for me, it's so vulnerable. I was really young when I wrote it and was just feeling like, "put your phone down, pay attention to me." It's crazy how it's gone deeper and resonated with so many women; women who are even five and ten years into marriage, and able to relate that small feeling I felt then.

What's your favorite part of being an artist?

I don't know if I have a favorite part of being an artist. I do love being onstage and performing with my band. I also love rehearsing with them and creating the show, that's always a fun part. But there's also nothing like being in the studio and being able to get back to myself and get back to my feelings. The studio is the place for me to really confront my feelings and get it all out. I love being in that space and creating, doing what I love, making art.

Outside of music, how do you feel the success you've experienced in this past year has influenced or changed who you are?

I've learned a lot about myself through my music and the way people perceive it, and the goal is for the success not to change me. I feel like the same person I was when I released it, I've just grown. The success has definitely taught me a lot about keeping real people around you, and about purpose. It's taught me about the people and the things that you really need you to ensure success, and how important it is to keep those things around you and block out anything else, and about being positive.

Also, seeing the world has given me a better perspective on life. The fact that I can travel around the world doing what I love is such a blessing. I've learned that traveling is such an important thing; there's so many beautiful things out there and we get worried about such little things.

MAJORRRRR. UP IN TIMES SQUARE!!!!!!!! #mtvpush @mtv

A post shared by H.E.R. (@hermusicofficial) on

What are you most looking forward to about the GRAMMYs? How will you celebrate if you win?

It's going to be like a movie. The fact that I'm nominated for five [awards] is just, wow. And the fact that people are going to really see me, because as you know I haven't revealed too much of myself. It's going to be my first red carpet!

After the GRAMMYs, I just want be with the ones I love and to reminisce. I love to think about memories and all the things that got me up to this point, so that would be celebratory, looking at old videos and old pictures of where I came from.

Read More: Something About Her: The Mystery Of H.E.R.

What's on the horizon for H.E.R.—can we expect new music this year?

Absolutely. I'm going to release a debut album, which I'm excited about. It's crazy because my project that's nominated for Album Of The Year is the combination of my two EPs. So there will be the new album and I'll be touring more. Also, I'm starting a foundation called Bringing The Noise to help bring music back into schools that have lost their music programs. I'm really excited that I'm now in a position to be able to help people.

There's so much happening this year, I couldn't even tell you. Like performing at Coachella! I didn't think I would get this far so soon, so I'm focusing on elevation and really dreaming bigger.

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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