H.E.R. does juggling act with concert tours, acting, Grammys

LOS ANGELES (AP) — H.E.R. won top Oscar and Grammy music honors last year, but those supreme accolades were just a precursor for the singer-songwriter’s next moves.

The R&B star enters the Grammy Awards as one of the leading nominees again, she’s the new global ambassador for L’Oreal Paris, she was recently honored at Billboard’s Women in Music event and she will start filming “The Color Purple” musical this month in Georgia. She’ll embark on her 19-city Back of My Mind tour in early April while separately joining Coldplay for their world tour as a supporting act later this month.

Plus, H.E.R. is still fitting in studio time to record new music. It might seem like a super heavy workload, but the singer says she’s willing to carry the weight.

“I do take up a lot of space. I do carry a lot with me. I’m supposed to,” said H.E.R., whose protest anthem “I Can’t Breathe” won a Grammy for song of the year in 2021. In the same year, she took home best original song for the soulful “Fight for You” from the “Judas and the Black Messiah” soundtrack at the Academy Awards. She co-wrote both songs.

“In the beginning, I wanted to be about the music and not necessarily who I am and what I look like,” she continued. “I’m a musician before anything. Now I’m just organically showing myself and speaking on certain things and just being me. I want people to feel my presence — whether it’s in the music industry or the world.”

H.E.R.'s upcoming tours and Grammys offer that platform. She’ll perform for the first-time in her career in a stadium when she makes her first appearance on Coldplay’s tour on March 25 in Monterrey, Mexico. Other touring cities with huge stadiums include Paris, Los Angeles, London, Dallas and Frankfurt, Germany.

The four-time Grammy winner said she found inspiration to perform in stadiums — where she “wants the drums to really hit” — after watching Kanye West and Drake’s benefit concert at the LA Memorial Coliseum late last year.

“It inspired me to go into rehearsal and just fine tune everything and come up with some really great arrangements and make it an experience,” she said. “The sound is different in an arena and even in a theater than in a stadium. I want to make sure I fill the space. That’s the challenge, but also the fun part.”

H.E.R. kicks off her tour in Los Angeles on April 5, just two days after the Grammys, where she’s up for eight nominations including album and song of the year. Both tours will run in conjunction with each other, but she says the stadium shows with Coldplay are “really spread out” location and date wise while her tour touches some of those same domestic cities and other markets too.

H.E.R. said the tour will be an opportunity to show her evolution as a music maker and woman.

“It’s the growth of me as a musician, but also just as a person,” she said. “I think that’s special. It’s a special thing for me and I hope that people join me and continue to be on the on the ride with me.”

After working with H.E.R., producer Hit-Boy said he’s looking forward to the singer’s tour and other projects calling her a “different breed.”

“She’s an entertainer and musician,” said Hit-Boy, who produced “Trauma,” a song on H.E.R.’s debut studio album “Back of My Mind,” a Grammy album of the year nominee. “She separates herself from a lot of others as a musician. She understands when you play her certain chords and exactly what they are, what exactly to put on top of them.”

Along with touring, H.E.R. will venture into the world of film for the Oprah Winfrey-produced “The Color Purple” musical — a project she says will give “people something they haven’t seen from me.” It’ll be her acting debut alongside a starry cast that includes Fantasia, Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks and Halle Bailey.

H.E.R. called being the global ambassador for L’Oreal an honor. She said she’s been using the platform to empower young girls and women of color just like the singer, who is Filipino and Black.

“Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of people like me,” she said. “I know there are so many young women out there who are like ‘I can do that too’ and feel beautiful. They’re experimenting with lipstick or a hair product. It’s really about being you and authentic to yourself and express yourself. I can’t even believe I’m capable of having that impact. It’s still kind of surreal to me when young girls are saying ‘I want to be like H.E.R. She plays the guitar. I want to play it too.’”

With everything on H.E.R.’s plate, she still wants to make recording new music a priority with the hopes of working with “a lot of artists that I admire.” She collaborated with Saweetie — who is also Filipino and Black — for the recently released radio-friendly single “Closer.”

“It’s such a fun song. It’s something you wouldn’t necessarily expect from me and from her,” H.E.R. said. “I’m trying to do the studio. You’ll definitely hear me every once in a while, releasing music here and there. I’m trying to fit it in.”