, June 25, 2024

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Fil-Am R&B artist H.E.R. wins Grammy for Song of the Year

  •   2 min reads
Fil-Am R&B artist H.E.R. wins Grammy for Song of the Year

Photo from: H.E.R's Instagram Account

Filipino-American artist H.E.R. has won Song of the Year in the 2021 Grammy Awards for her song “I Can’t Breathe.”

A powerful indictment of police brutality and racism, “I Can’t Breathe”  bested songs from Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Post Malone, Billie Eilish, Roddy Ricch, and JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels.

H.E.R., who is Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, also won Best R&B song for “Better Than I,” recorded with Robert Glasper and Meshell Ndegeocello.

“I Can’t Breathe” has been named an “outstanding protest song,” drawing inspiration and paying tribute to the protest actions against the killing of unarmed black civilians in 2020.

In a review, National Public Radio (NPR) wrote: “When H.E.R. debuted "I Can't Breathe" during an iHeartRadio performance in June (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uJ-x4ELfNI), she described the song as being ‘very painful and very revealing.’ Not only is this apparent from the track's acoustic, bluesy sound, but also the topics that it addresses — namely, the lack of empathy shown by cops who kill unarmed Black people and the hypocrisy of those who defend them but criticize protesters.”

A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (she has also been featured in Guitar World), H.E.R. got into music courtesy of a karaoke-loving mother and a father who plays in a cover band. She learned to play guitar, bass, keyboard and drums from her dad.

"I'm half Filipino and Filipinos love karaoke. So yeah, I love to sing, I've always been around music my entire life and I just gravitated towards instruments,” she told James Corden in 2018.

The artist was signed to a major label at 14, after being discovered performing on a TV show doing covers by Alicia Keys.

In 2016, she released her debut EP “H.E.R Volume 1” to wide acclaim. Aside from her voice - described by a writer as a “feathery and lithe instrument” - she garnered attention and buzz with how little she revealed about her identity. The song was released to minimal promotions, and the artist herself shunned interviews and guestings to promote her EP. In public, she took to wearing sunglasses.

The air of mystery was deliberate, and meant to let her audience know her through her songs. This sentiment is aptly captured in the meaning of her stage name, “Having Everything Revealed.”

Speaking to ELLE.com (http://elle.com/), she said, ”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…It’s really made people focus on the music, and that's what's special about it."

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