Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, better known by her stage name H.E.R., was born on June 27, 1997, in Vallejo, California. Wilson is of mixed ancestry, as her mother, Agnes, is Filipino, and her father, Kenny, is African American. Wilson’s father was a member of the soul band Urban Bushmen, and she learned to play several instruments while he practiced. She was a child prodigy, joining her father’s band at the age of seven, singing background vocals and playing instruments.
Wilson began professionally managing by singer/actor Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment company when she was 9 years old and performed at the Apollo Theatre in New York. Her acting debut was in the Nickelodeon network film, School Gyrls (2009).
Wilson performed at the 2010 BET Awards and the ASCAP Awards, and at the age of 12, she competed in Radio Disney’s “Next Best Thing” competition. When she was 14, she signed her first contract with RCA Records. Wilson released her first single, “Something To Prove,” under her real name. She reemerged in 2016 as H.E.R. after taking a few years to develop her style and graduate from high school.
The acronym stands for “Healing Over Everything.” Her debut extended play (EP) H.E.R. Vol 1 (2016), and second EP, H.E.R. Vol 2 (2017), received critical acclaim from her label mates Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller, and Wilson went on tour, headlining for Tiller. Both EPs have been certified gold, after selling over 500,000 copies worldwide.
Her third EP, H.E.R. Vol 2: The B Sides (2017), was released right before Wilson’s first compilation album H.E.R. (2017). The compilation album was certified gold by Music Canada (MC), and platinum in the U.S., after selling over 1 million copies. Wilson released two EPs, I Used To Know Her: The Prelude (2018), and I Used To Know Her: Part 2 (2018), before the release of the second compilation album, I Used To Know Her (2019). Wilson toured with Chris Brown and Childish Gambino, performed in the Rock in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) Festival, and was a part of the pregame festivities for Super Bowl LV (2020).
Wilson has won five Soul Train Music Awards, four Grammy Awards, two BET Awards, an iHeartRadio Award, two MTV Music Awards, an Academy Award, and an NAACP Image Award in her young career. Her fan following included Prince, who contacted her before his untimely death, and Janet Jackson, who attended one of Wilson’s concerts in London. Wilson’s debut studio album, Back Of My Mind, was released in 2021. She will make her major film debut in upcoming Blitz Bazawule’s adaptation of The Color Purple, set to hit screen in 2023.