Since the COVID-19 outbreak changed daily life in the U.S., music has served as a vital healing component for those in need of any mental and spiritual nourishment. On Monday (April 6), H.E.R. gallantly did her part with the launch of Girls with Guitars, a weekly Instagram series featuring performances, covers and special guests that have already included Tori Kelly, Alessia Cara, and Umi.
“The thing about Girls With Guitars is it’s just about girls who are passionate about music and they play guitar. I think that’s what all of them have in common,” H.E.R. told Billboard regarding her three surprise guests. “All of them have really different vibes, but are super talented, super dope and can make anybody just stop and listen. I don’t think there’s enough women supporting women, especially in this time. It is that time to show love to other people and show love to other artists.”
For two hours on Monday night, H.E.R. and her dream team of guitar heroes kept listeners entranced with soothing renditions of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” and Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” And when H.E.R. was feeling generous, the Grammy-winning singer gifted fans bite-sized samples of unreleased music, including the gem of the night, “Passcode.”
“Sometimes I refer to my old stuff to motivate myself and to inspire myself,” she said matter-of-factly. “Sometimes you gotta get back to yourself. That’s probably why I played that song. I needed to go back to that H.E.R.”
With a fistful of Hot 100 records at her disposal, such as “Best Part,” “Focus” and her most recent scorcher “Slide,” H.E.R. is ready to leave an indelible mark with her rookie effort. Adept at playing multiple instruments, H.E.R. is currently sharpening her production skills while prepping her pending release.
“I’ve been producing a lot more, and I’m trying to teach myself how to use Ableton because I’m a Logic person,” she says. “So I’ve been digging through some samples and kind of teaching myself different techniques as far as producing so I can get better.”
Besides working on her debut album, H.E.R. has kept busy on the features front, most notably teaming up with Jhene Aiko on the singer’s Chilombo album. Paired up on the project’s standout song “B.S.” — which debuted at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March — H.E.R. and Aiko nimbly carved “a girl’s anthem” aimed at exes eying for a second chance.
“I’m really a huge Jhene Aiko fan — I feel like there wouldn’t have been much of [my project] Volume 1 if I didn’t listen to the amount of Jhene Aiko that I did listen to awhile back,” she raved. “She inspired me. Even since she’s a poet and I’m a poet, we vibed on that.”
Watch H.E.R.’s interview with Billboard in full, as she also speaks about possibly putting together a book of poetry, which female battle she would love to see on Verzuz, and and which artists have kept her entertained during quarantine.