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H.E.R. is Essence’s latest cover star: I just love music, and that’s what I want people to see and respect”


Sue Kwon

Fresh on the heels of announcing her inaugural Lights On Festival, H.E.R. is gracing the cover of Essence‘s latest digital issue. 

Inside the June edition, the vocal powerhouse serves looks in summer hues as she dishes on her enigmatic persona, how she defines success and much more. 

Born Gabriella Wilson, the singer-songwriter was steeped in music from an early age. H.E.R.’s father, a musician himself, sparked the 22-year-old phenom’s interest in becoming an entertainer, as well as her ability to play multiple instruments. 

“I really didn’t have any formal training,” H.E.R. revealed to Essence. “My dad is a musician. His band rehearsed in our living room. Sometimes I would sneak in while they were taking a break and play on the drums, piano, guitar and bass. I kind of found my way. And my father taught me how to play the blues.”

She added: “To live your truth and sing your truth, that defines success. I think a lot of people are getting back to that real, honest music. That’s what R&B is. It’s raw.”

The authenticity found in H.E.R.’s music rings especially loud and clear. In 2016, the Bay Area native released her debut EP, H.E.R., Vol. 1, with a deliberate plan to keep her identity hidden. Although Internet sleuths eventually solved the mystery, H.E.R. says she’ll remain firm in her choice of anonymity. 

“We live in an era of social media. We care more about looks, popularity and followers than about real music,” she explained. “And I wanted to get away from that.”

“I just love music, and that’s what I want people to see and respect,” she said.

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