Little personal information is out there about R&B singer H.E.R., who, until recently, didn’t show her face in her videos or promo materials.
The mysterious Vallejo-raised singer, born Gabi Wilson, got her first record deal at age 14. Now 21 years old, she’s become a critical darling since releasing her self-titled EPs H.E.R. Volume 1 and Volume 2 in 2016 and ’17. She counts Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Usher and E-40 among her fans. Since her debut, H.E.R. has snagged two No. 1 singles on Billboard’s adult R&B chart, “Focus” and “Best Part” featuring fellow rising R&B star Daniel Caesar, and supported Bryson Tiller and Chris Brown on tour.
H.E.R., whose smoky voice and wise-beyond-her-years lyrics have drawn comparisons to Lauryn Hill, can now add five Grammy nominations to her impressive resume. The slate of 2019 contenders, announced Friday, has her up for album of the year, best new artist, best R&B performance, best R&B song and best R&B album. H.E.R. told Billboard that the album of the year nomination— where she’s up against heavy-hitters Cardi B, Drake and Post Malone—surprised her the most. It’s for her self-titled album (RCA), comprised of songs from those earlier Volume 1 and Volume 2 EPs.
Discussing the spontaneous nature of the project, she she told Billboard: “It was literally a ‘It’s time for me to drop music. I finally realized who I was. Let me just see what happens’ [kind of thing]. Then, two years later, a sold-out tour and five Grammy nominations.”
We’ll be rooting for H.E.R. when the Grammy Awards air on Feb. 10. Check out the full list of 2019 nominees here.