"H.E.R." - Having Everything Revealed
Written by: Hollie Kawall, December 17, 2018
Edited by: Ladale Nesmith
On November 27th at the Brooklyn Steel venue in New York, H.E.R revealed to her audience that her name is abbreviated to mean “Having Everything Revealed”. Her first two major label projects (RCA Records) consists of H.E.R volume 1 and H.E.R volume 2. Each track represents her evolution of being a woman, of growing, learning, and gaining wisdom through experiences. Her music is her diary. When she is performing and displaying it for the world to hear, her music has the objective of lifting up someone who is down, helping to mend with a breakup, creating an intimate experience, or helping someone dealing with personal emotions etc. Many can relate to the pain, laughs, and love of H.E.R. When you see H.E.R perform live, you see someone who is truly one with music. Someone who has so much confidence on stage. Someone who vibes with everything and everyone around her. You see true happiness in a person who has worked so hard to get to where she is now and just wants to spread positivity through music.
I had the pleasure of seeing H.E.R perform live at the Brooklyn Steel in New York. To see H.E.R in her true form as an artist is liberating the least to say. You come to really understand why she wears shades to cover her identity. It is to have the audience/the listeners focus in on the music, music does not have a face to it but a sound. Music is art, it is open to different interpretations by the single individual. That is exactly what H.E.R’s music does, each listener interprets it differently based on current experiences in their lives and how the music and lyrics relate to those experiences. To say that it was an amazing performance is an understatement. Seeing H.E.R perform live was an awakening and spiritual experience. Her music has the power to bring souls together. She should be crowned “Queen of R&B/Soul” the way she controls the crowd with her voice, her words, the band, the bass, and her beats.
H.E.R first appears on stage showing off her talents by playing multiple instruments and then she starts transitioning playing these instruments to singing her hit song ”2” off of her EP, “H.E.R Vol 1”. Automatically the crowd knows what song it is before she even begins and joins in singing with her simultaneously.
H.E.R started singing “We Could’ve Been” to the blue dim lights and I immediately started to get into my feelings as my body swayed to each beat dropping. She had me missing my exes every time she sang. Suddenly HER brings out Bryson Tiller on stage to sing his part and the crowd is loudly cheering for his arrival because no one was expecting him to be there. Everyone was in complete shock, cheering and full of excitement at the same time to see them both performing together. HER then disappears off the stage as Tiller then proceeds to sing “Exchange”. You can hear the hype of the crowd as everyone chants the lyrics “Exes change; Hey, guess you changed for the better!” Tiller’s performance brings everyone to their feet.
In her song “Against Me”, her singing is accompanied by her reciting spoken word about toxic love and relationships. This song also shows the influence that Lauryn Hill has on H.E.R. In this song, she talks about how she doesn’t trust the man she is with, she knows he is toxic but she hasn’t left, she stays by his side, she is “too comfortable”. She is asking not to hold it against her because she chose to stay. H.E.R is observant that in her past she had done wrong by staying and recognizes it now. Through her experiences, she becomes a preacher for those women who are in situations she once was in. She tells them “we often forget and neglect intuition”, saying to these women we know but we don’t want to face the truth, hoping her music will allow them to see the truth.
When “Focus” came on, it had me wishing I had a lil’ boo to sing this to. This song is 3 moods in one song, sad, horny and angry. It just depended on what you were going through at the time. If you are in a happy relationship, this would be the song that you’d want to make love to with the person you are in love with. If in an angry relationship, this would be the song that you’d sing to that “ain’t shit guy” that’s been causing you pain but yet you want to keep fighting for. If going through a sad situation, this song will make you want to text your old lover saying “I miss you”. H.E.R performs her hit song "Best Part (featuring Daniel Ceasar)”. Ceasar was not in attendance but that was fine because her fans covered his part loud and clear. This song was bringing everyone to hitting their high notes.
H.E.R performs “As I Am” and she telling her listeners that she is no longer insecure about who she is. In this song, H.E.R is asking her lover to take her for who she is because she isn’t changing for anyone. She wants reassurance from her lover that he will be with her forever. This song is up for many interpretations. When I heard her sing it live, it caused more of a self-reflection than that of a relationship. I was asking myself to be okay with who I was instead of asking someone else. I needed to have reassurance within my inner soul. This is what H.E.R music does, her art creates different meanings for everyone.
H.E.R also performed her song “I’m Not Okay”, before she performs, she talks to her fans about writing this song and what it means, it is okay not to be okay sometimes. It is okay to recognize that sometimes you need the comfort of another, sometimes you may want to be alone, whatever you are going through it is normal, it’s normal to feel these emotions just make sure to process them. She said something that is very important, something everyone should do, “check on your strong friend”. Too many times it is the friend that is making sure everyone else is okay, the one who constantly has a smile on their face that is the one going through so much their self. Always check on those you love and make sure they know you are always there for them.
You can see some of H.E.R musical influences are reflected through her music. For example, she samples Lauryn Hill’s (featuring D’Angelo) “Nothing Even Matters” and “Lost Ones” off of Hill’s legendary album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. She turns “Lost Ones” and renditions it into her own “Lost Souls”. Just when people thought the concert was ending, H.E.R runs back on to the stage as the beat for “Lost Souls” comes on. I’m jumping right along with the crowd and her as she starts singing. In “Lost Souls” she refers to all the people who are trying to lead the crowd but are falling apart within their own self, “a lost soul can't lead the people”. You have to be right within your own self before you can be a teacher. H.E.R. preaches truth and positivity through her music. “Lost Souls” talks about people caring too much about material things and not focusing on the important things in life.
H.E.R sustains her continuity with her music. Her mysterious and enigmatic ways have everyone falling in love not just with her sound but the person she has become. She is only 21 years old and was already signed to a major record label and it seems that she has gone through so many experiences and learned so much and yet, has so much more to learn. Seeing H.E.R perform live, you can see the true happiness and self-satisfaction of an artist doing what she loves and having everyone fall in love with the person for whom she is. She was recently nominated for five grammy awards, "Album of the Year", Best New Artist", "Best R&B Album", "Best R&B Performance" "Best Part" ft Daniel Caesar, and "Best R&B Song Focus". I highly believe that this woman will win all nominatons despite the other artists she is up against. The 61st GRAMMY Awards will air on CBS Feb. 10, 2019 where you can catch this Grammy nominated artist H.E.R performing live. This is one televised event you don't want to miss.