The untold truth of H.E.R.

H.E.R. is a pretty popular chick. Ever since making her debut with the H.E.R. Vol. 1 EP in 2016, the singer-songwriter has garnered the attention of fellow R&B hitmakers like Rihanna and Alicia Keys with her vulnerable, dreamy ballads — such as the Billboard-charting singles "Focus" and "Could've Been." She was further thrust into the spotlight at the 2019 Grammy Awards, where she won two out of five nominations and performed "Hard Place."

"She's bringing back real R&B music," singer Bryson Tiller told the Los Angeles Times in 2017. And she's doing this while keeping an extremely low profile. At the time of writing, H.E.R. (real name Gabi Wilson) is rarely seen without sunglasses. Her hair is usually guarding her face, and the covers of her projects are typically just her silhouettes, which is somewhat ironic considering her pseudonym stands for "Having Everything Revealed." It really makes you wonder: Who is this elusive star? Let's explore the untold truth of H.E.R.

The nursery rhyme that started it all

H.E.R.'s family apparently knew that music was her calling from an early age. At just 4 years old, she delivered a rendition of "London Bridge is Falling Down" that was unlike anything they'd ever heard. "I sang it in a way that had rhythm, and I made a song out of it and my aunts are in the background backing me up," the musician told Highsnobiety in 2018. "That was the very beginning, when they recognized that I loved music and there was something in me that was calling me toward music."

The singer went on to tell the outlet that, by the age of 5, she had started to write poems and songs. H.E.R. continued, "My mom used to write down titles for me and then challenge me to write songs for them and I did." Her talents not only earned her appearances on shows like The View and Today, but eventually led to a record deal … but more on that below.

Talent runs in the family

If there's an artist who proves that there's some truth to the old phrase, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," it'd be H.E.R. The multi-talent plays several instruments, including guitar and piano (via the Los Angeles Times). In 2018, she told Interview Magazine that her musical chops come from her father. 

"There were always instruments throughout our house," H.E.R. told the publication. "He was part of a cover band, and they used to rehearse in our living room. We had a piano, guitar, and drums." Whenever the band would take a break, she would sneak over and have a turn at their instruments. She explained, "I would start trying to play the guitar. I first learned the pentatonic scale, and then my dad taught me how to play the Blues. Guitar made me want to be a real artist and performer." Apparently, those secret practices paid off, because the future recording artist was eventually able to perform with her father's band throughout her native California.

Timing is everything

At the time of this writing, it may seem like H.E.R. is in the early stages of her career, but she's kind of a veteran in the music game. "I was signed at 14," she told Highsnobiety. According to Forbes, RCA had caught wind of her from her televised performances and decided to offer her a record deal. However, H.E.R. wasn't totally bent on immediately releasing music, and added, "I really took the time to develop."

The musician told the medial outlet that she spent years balancing her career and school before deciding that she was "ready" to get serious with music. "I had to figure out myself and what exactly I wanted to do," H.E.R. continued. "What was my message? It was never a point where I wanted to change up anything, it was that I was creating exactly who I wanted to be, and you're not the same person at 13, 14, 15 … So just feeling like, 'OK, now it's time to put myself out there and see what happens' organically." She added, "I have a message, I have this collection of songs that represent this period of time, let's just put it out."

The real reason she hides her face

You might've found yourself searching for a reason behind H.E.R.'s decision to often conceal her face, and raising questions like: Is she shy? Is she trying to hide a flaw or blemish? Well, not quite. Instead, the singer-songwriter has said that she simply does this because she wants the attention to be on her talents more than anything else. 

"I think it has allowed me to make the music the focus, and for people not to care about the superficial things or who I'm associated with, what clique I belong to — all those things that don't matter," she explained to ELLE in 2018. "It's really made people focus on the music, and that's what's special about it." That said, this may not remain her permanent look. Having already drawn people to her music, she told Interview Magazine that she's reached her "goal." H.E.R. added, "It doesn't really matter. Eventually, they'll see my face."

A chance encounter paid off

In 2017, H.E.R. teamed up with fellow singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar to create their timeless, Grammy Award-winning love duet, "Best Part." However, this collaboration is wild to think about considering it totally happened by chance. While speaking to BigBoyTV in 2019, H.E.R. explained that she had initially been in the studio recording music for her own album when Caesar stopped in to greet her. They only decided to hang out after H.E.R.'s producer left her session abruptly. 

"We weren't even supposed to really have a session," she previously told Highsnobiety. "We just met that day we worked, and we were just talking." H.E.R. revealed during her 2018 appearance on Sway's Universe that, as they began to bond over their music, everything else just unfolded organically while playing around on their guitars. "'Best Part' came and we were in the studio until like 5 a.m. just talking, vibing, talking about music," she said. "It was great." Wow, that producer really missed out.

She helped Janet Jackson through a tough time

Sometimes, it pays to meet your heroes. During an appearance on The Breakfast Club in 2019, H.E.R. revealed that pop music icon Janet Jackson once visited her after one of her shows and opened up about how the artist's music helped her get through a difficult time in her life. 

"She came to my show in London," H.E.R. recalled during the interview. Admitting that she had freaked out at first (because who wouldn't?), the musician told herself to "act naturally," and soon learned that Jackson herself was just as big a fan. "[When] it was just the two of us … she was like talking to me, opening up a little bit … She was telling me that I helped her get through her pregnancy." Jackson, of course, shares son Eissa with ex-husband Wissam Al Mana. "She said when she was in her house going through it or whatever, she would listen to my music." Michael Jackson apparently loved H.E.R.'s music, too. The musician went on to reveal that the King of Pop himself had reached out to her just before his death to say that he was a "big fan" and wanted to meet her.

And...action!

There are several stars who have successfully made the career jump from musician to actor. American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson blew audiences away with her Oscar-winning performance in 2006's Dreamgirls, Atlanta rapper T.I. wowed viewers with his roles in films like ATL (2006) and American Gangster (2007), and Brandy has proven to be just as stunning on screen as she is on stage. Throughout her career, the multi-talent has racked up roles in both television and movies, from her '90s sitcom Moesha to the Tyler Perry drama Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013).

For her part,  H.E.R. would love to make that same transition from singer to movie star one day, as well. "I love acting," she told Highsnobiety. "It's always been a low-key passion of mine. It's really dope." She went on to tell the media outlet, "I love a lot of things outside of music, but that's one thing that I'm trying to get into and find the time for." Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for H.E.R.'s big screen debut. If her acting skills are anything like her musical talents, she won't disappoint.

Giving back

Now that H.E.R.'s career has taken off, she's in position to help aspiring artists and has taken full advantage of her newfound celebrity platform. In 2019, she opened up about the launch of her Bring the Noise foundation to BigBoyTv, and explained that she aimed to bring music programs back to schools with the goal of finding the next star who's looking for their big break. "There could be a new Quincy Jones or Prince and they don't have the tools to even explore that and try and experiment, and I want to provide that," the singer-songwriter said. "I want people to be able to pick up a guitar if they want to try it or produce."

There could even be more philanthropic work to come. H.E.R. previously told Highsnobiety that she had been working on several unnamed projects with "different brands and different people." She continued, "I'm starting these initiatives with different brands and different people now that I'm in a position to help people. I'm starting to take control of that and really give back."