“When I was creating the record, I wasn’t writing anything down,” HER says of Back of My Mind, the brand new 21-song album by the American singer and guitarist who turned 24 on June 27.
He adds: “When I started to sequence and edit it, I realized that many of the songs I created were different moods of the Rhythm & Blues genre.”
The album was her playground, with references to early projects, as well as those she hadn’t yet released, with the voices of Ty Dolla Sign, Cordae, Lil Baby and Chris Brown, with Dave Grohl-style reverberating drums. and trap rhythms, and with “a bunch of really great women who worked with me behind the scenes, “says the artist.
Between soul, blues and something else, HER has arguments to continue growing, with no roof in sight. Photo: REUTERS / Ian Cheibub
“All those sounds became a celebration of all the things R&B can be,” he concludes.
Those were intoxicating months, even for Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, renamed HER as acronym for Having Everything Revealed, who as a child prodigy gave speeches of thanks every end of the school year.
In February he performed the Ray Charles song America the Beautiful at the inaugural football super cup show before winning last March a Grammy for song of the year for I can’t breathe and, a month later, a Oscar for Best Original Song for Fight for you, just 23 years old.
Now the three parts of the special of Prime Day Show, set in a recreated Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles, which was center of black culture in the 1930s and 1940s. And in August HER will take the amphitheater stage Hollywood bowl while working on a reggae album that he hopes to release later this year.
Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson, much better known as HER, at the 2019 BRIT Awards in London. Photo Tolga AKMEN / AFP
And as your popularity grows, so does your awareness as a role model. “Now I have this question that I must take care of and value, this ability to inspire and encourage women they are trying to figure out who they want to become, or they don’t want to fit into social norms, “he says.
“I think anyone should want to think without being pigeonholed and be who they are, really,” she adds. “That’s what my album is about. And that’s the message I carry with me in everything I do.”
In a telephone conversation from Brooklyn, where he was rehearsing before traveling to Los Angeles (“I live everywhere,” he says), HER talks about some of his sources of inspiration and elements that mark his identity.
The singer won two Grammys this year and also an Oscar. Photo Frederic J. BROWN / AFP
The first black woman to work with Fender
“The first guitar my dad bought me was like a mini for children, and with it I learned to play the pentatonic scale of the blues. I was 7 years old. I’ve been a Fender fan ever since and ever since I performed at the 2019 Grammys we had various conversations to make my own guitar, so they created a clear acrylic Stratocaster for me, “he says.
But she decided to make it chrome, so that it also matches the holographic chrome design that she sometimes likes to wear on her nails. “I designed it and chose all the effects and mute pads. And I became the first black woman to work in collaboration with Fender“, Explain.
HER, his Fender and an explosive charge of sensuality and excellence that is reflected in his albums. Photo Robyn Beck / AFP
An upside down female “Clark Kent”
“Most of the time people don’t recognize me, without my glasses on. I’m like a female Clark Kent upside down. My favorite pair of glasses are these black frames that I designed in collaboration with DIFF Eyewear. They are very transparent and protect you from blue light when you look at screens, “he says.
“I always loved the glasses but I started using them more decisively when I started doing shows in 201.7 after launching my first project, Volume 1. I thought, let’s dim the lights and I’m going to put on glasses: because the window to my soul is my music, not my eyes“, he adds.
“Crazy, I want to be a rock star”
“Rave Un2 the year 2000 It’s a Prince concert DVD that I watched as a child. They played it at my house every weekend and it inspired me a lot. The moment he and Lenny Kravitz appear – they play together American woman Y Fly away– made me feel: “Crazy, I want to be a rock star.”
Mom’s Filipino Dishes and Dad’s Fried Chicken
“Lumpia is like a roll. It has meat and vegetables and is delicious. The preparation requires a long process, but is what I grew up eating in my Philippine home. Halo-halo means “mixture” in Filipino Tagalog language, “HER emphasizes, highlighting its origin.
She continues: “I also grew up eating it every day after school. It has jellies, slush ice, evaporated milk, ice cream, jackfruit, sweet beans and all kinds of things. My mom made it and she taught me how to do it.
“I don’t eat fried chicken made by people other than my dad. Dad grew up in the state of Arkansas and brought southern cuisine to our Bay Area home in California,” concludes the singer.
The effect of Prince’s purple rain
“I could see Purple rain When I was a kid, and my dad kind of skipped the bad parts. It’s iconic: Prince absolutely kills the whole movie, “he recalls and analyzes.
And in order to clarify what the genius of Minneapolis means to her, she declares: “I have played many songs, but Purple rain It is one of those that I have studied in depth to cover it. How I would have wanted, how I would have wanted to meet prince. However, I was able to see it live. “
Debut in New York
“I played at the Apollo when I was 9 years old. Freeway of love from Aretha Franklin, it was my first time in New York and my family came. In fact, they organized a small concert in our hometown so that we could pay for our stay in New York for several days, “recalls HER
What followed was a “fast forward” until the beginning of this year. “I had the opportunity to go to the webcast series Verzuz by D’Angelo, who did on Instagram Live, and sang Best Part with me “, then precipitates his story.
To close the story: “The place is truly legendary. Just arrived from California it seemed like a world apart. So being able to go there and perform – and then perform again with one of my favorite artists, D’Angelo, a legend – made the place even more special. “
Passion for the Golden State Warriors
“I loved going to Warriors games when I was young. When I was 10 or 11 I sang the national anthem at a Warriors and Lakers game. And I got to see players like Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes.” the artist says.
Except that an increasingly demanding schedule moved her a bit away from stadiums, when it comes to sports. “Everyone was in the Warriors at the time of the slogan We Believe. I haven’t been to a Warriors game since for a long time. But I went to one of the Brooklyn Nets the other day and it was fun. Nets vs. Capital City Go-Go “.
Martin Lawrence, the best antidote for insomnia
“Martin It’s one of those nighttime series for when you can’t sleep. If I have a bad day and I see it, I forget. Martin Lawrence plays a DJ and talk show host, and the story is about his relationship with his girlfriend’s best friend, “he puts in context.
And he adds information: “He also does the character of Sheneneh and after a coffee. I find her hilarious. I still see her. She is timeless.”
A festival dedicated to R&B
“The Festival Lights On It’s something that I started in 2019 and obviously couldn’t do it in 2020, but it was a huge success and I didn’t expect it: 14,000 people at the Concord Pavilion (California), and the entire lineup was made up of R&B artists.
That showed me that the Rythm & Blues is still alive, that people love it and need it. So I’m going to do my festival again in September. Let’s keep the music playing.
Kathryn Shattuck – The New York Times for Clarín
♦ Translation: Román García Azcárate