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H.E.R. takes pride in being an activist

Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

H.E.R. will receive the American Express Impact Award on March 2 at the Billboard Women in Music Awards. The “Best Part” singer is being recognized as “an artist who uses their musical platform to create positive change while advocating on behalf of women in and beyond the music industry.”

The 24-year-old entertainer, who was born Gabriella Wilson, takes pride in using her music to influence society.

In 2021, she won the Grammy for Song of the Year for “I Can’t Breathe,” inspired by the murder of George Floyd. That same year, H.E.R. also won an Oscar for Best Original Song for another tune about social justice, “Fight for You,” from the drama Judas and the Black Messiah about Black Panther Fred Hampton.

“It never occurred to me to be an activist until I got older and started to realize how much hatred there is in the world,” H.E.R tells Billboard.

“How I felt in 2020 when everything was going on and is still going on,” she continues. “It’s a bigger fight, [so] it’s my responsibility to use what has an impact — my voice — to speak out.”

In addition to receiving the Billboard Impact Award, H.E.R. is nominated this year for eight Grammys, including Album of the Year for Back of My Mind, and Song of the Year for “Fight for You.” She’s also diversifying her career with her first major film role, in the new musical version of The Color Purple, also starring Taraji P. Henson and Fantasia.

Wilson hopes her success inspires other performers to have faith in their ability to succeed.

“It has been so many years of being the underdog, watching other artists blossom and waiting my turn,” H.E.R. says. “Women and other artists need to know that good things don’t happen overnight. You can’t cheat the grind.”

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