Sound Advice: H.E.R. Is a Must-See for Powerful R&B, Dazzling Stage Presence

click to enlarge H.E.R. - PHOTO: TIM SACCENTI
Photo: Tim Saccenti
H.E.R.

H.E.R., who recently made waves with her soulful single, “Damage,” is set to blaze through the Andrew J Brady Music Center this month.

That track most recently earned her a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance, though it was the song “Fight For You” — written for the film Judas and the Black Messiah — that nabbed her the award for Best Traditional R&B Performance. If you hadn’t heard of her before this year’s Grammys, you most likely know who she is now (the album that “Damage” is on, Back of My Mind, also was nominated for Album of the Year and Best R&B Album).

While not exactly unknown, H.E.R. — the stage name of 24-year-old Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson — has managed to slide under the radar of the general music-loving population for a few years. Though she’s been performing since she was a young teen, her real “breakthrough” came in 2016 with the release of her debut EP H.E.R. Vol. 1. Even then, if you weren’t listening to R&B radio or taking musical recommendations from NPR (which named it one of the five “Essential R&B Albums You Slept On in 2016”), you were probably unaware of her existence.

Then came 2020 and her captivating performance of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards’ “In Memoriam” segment.
That was followed up by a 2021 Super Bowl pregame appearance and, most recently, her powerhouse performance at this year’s Grammys. During the awards show, the singer started a musical medley with her deep and moody singles “Damage” and “We Made It,” with producers/songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on keytar and bass, respectively. Then she quickly launched into a showstopping perfor- mance of “Are You Gonna Go My Way” alongside Travis Barker and Lenny Kravitz.

Not even Kravitz’s sky-high sparkly boots could detract from H.E.R.’s shining stage presence. She’s cool, calm and just so dang enthralling.

Come out. Catch the magic of H.E.R. firsthand.

H.E.R. will perform April 26 at the Andrew J. Brady Music Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $59.50. More info: bradymusiccenter. com.

Below, watch H.E.R.'s acclaimed Grammy performance.


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