Associated Press AP

H.E.R. Sings The Things We’re Afraid To Say

By Virginia Lowman

Music has always been a vehicle for truth-telling for H.E.R. When she reemerged on the music scene in 2016 under the enigmatic three-letter moniker, standing for “Having Everything Revealed,” she did so as a means to exemplify her belief that her “responsibility is to the truth” and that women would be at the forefront of her craft right alongside protest and empowerment. It’s a guiding virtue that’s proved successful, too: She’s racked up four Grammys, including a surprise Song of the Year win for her poignant anthem “I Can’t Breathe” at the most recent ceremony in March, and an Oscar for “Fight for You,” which appeared on the soundtrack for Judas and the Black Messiah. Now, as she releases her first studio album, she’s expanding her musical repertoire and using honesty as her North star.

A fast ascent to the top of the charts and earned critical acclaim has put her in a unique position: Though she is still somewhat new to this level of stardom, she maintains a veteran sense of cool; in a world that often forgoes privacy, H.E.R. has managed to satiate the masses with her craft alone and still remain shrouded in mystery. When we meet via Zoom to discuss her debut album Back of My Mind, out today, it is quickly evident she has mastered the limelight the same way she has refined the art of sonically setting a mood. In many ways, H.E.R. is a quintessential R&B artist: Her use of instrumentation and storytelling yields a sound that uplifts like gospel and aches like the blues. More than anything, her music is about evoking emotion, leaning into “chords that make you feel really good and hit that sweet spot.” While early tracks like “Focus” and “Best Part” explored the highs of love and lows of heartache, her first full-length project celebrates the medium’s vast landscape while simultaneously pushing its boundaries with innovative musical experiments. The opening track “We Made It” is an alternative take with velvety vocals grounded by an ethereal synth beat and Coldplay-esque drums in the hook. Another track, “Paradise,” showcases the influence of new-school hip-hop juxtaposing H.E.R’s cooing vocals against rapper Yung Bleu’s intricate flow.

She began developing this multifaceted approach to music-making long before introducing herself to the world as H.E.R. Born Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, she grew up in Vallejo, California and began performing at a young age.  It was her family that instilled in her a diverse palette. “They all played a different era of R&B,” she says. “My dad was very much into Prince, and then my uncle was playing Usher, Aaliyah, and even Drake when I was in middle school.” Her ear for Ciara’s Goodies and Stevie Wonder’s Song in the Key of Life might be heard in the uptempo snares on some of her tracks or buttery harmonies à la “Love’s In Need of Love Today,” but it was Alicia Keys who had the greatest impact on the artist she’d become. “‘If I Ain’t Got You’ was one of the first songs that I learned how to play and sing, and that was it for me,” she recalls. “I think hearing that song and learning how to play it on piano was pivotal.”

She released her first EP as H.E.R., a soulful heart-wrenching eponymous project, in 2016 at the age of 19, yet even years later, at 23, the influence of her heritage can still be felt, particularly when it comes to treating her art as an outlet for activism. “I represent both my Black and my Filipino side,” she says proudly, acknowledging that both communities have faced unprecedented injustice and violence historically, but particularly over the past year. She has often used her platform to bring awareness to these issues, as with her harrowing song “I Can’t Breathe,” which addressed the ongoing epidemic of police brutality in the United States by appropriating the dying words of George Floyd and Eric Garner, unarmed Black men killed by cops. The powerful protest anthem has soundtracked a new generation’s movement and political prowess in the same way Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?,” which also tackled systemic racism, did in the ’70s. “I’m a person who has a voice and can give a voice to the voiceless,” she says. “Through my art, I have an opportunity to meet people, look at something differently, change their perception, or encourage people to acknowledge a feeling.” Claiming the award for Song of the Year was an honor, but more than that, it was “confirmation and that fuel to continue to speak the truth.”

H.E.R. credits “tough and honest conversations” for fueling her album Back of My Mind, which has been in the works for three years. She tapped heavyweight producers like Darkchild’s Rodney Jerkins and Jeff Gitty, who lent their mastery of emotional grit to raw, soulful tracks like “Mean It” and “Exhausted.” For H.E.R. and her collaborators, music therapy, and the studio is an intimate, healing space where she can candidly discuss her innermost emotions. And so the collection listens like an intimate diary, with lyrics addressing self-work, learning to overcome trauma, and leveling up in your career. All of these are woven together with rich strings and brass, which meld with the nostalgic buzz of talkboxes and contemporary snares. Beginning with the celebratory “We Made It,” the album comes full circle with the declaratory “I Can Have It All.” Balancing classic R&B like her Goapele-influenced “Closer to Me” with new-school high-energy hip-hop-laced hits like “Find a Way,” H.E.R. chronicles the ebbs and flows of learning to communicate in intimacy, the journey to new career heights, and mastering the art of self-love.

“I often say things that I think we’re afraid to say,” H.E.R. notes, and by doing so, she permits us to put our most vulnerable feelings on display, too. “I sing the things that are sometimes hard to articulate, the things that sit in the back of our minds that we don’t pay much attention to, the things that we’re afraid to stand for or we’re not too confident [about].” While her music maps the contours of the human condition, the mystique of her image seems to reflect the clarity she’s found through experience. With each project, H.E.R. reveals more of herself in corresponding artworks, as in the visuals for “We Made It.” The singer has removed her signature glasses to reveal her face, veiled in darkness but illuminated by a sliver of light. It is a far cry from the silhouettes and shadows that grace her first five EPs.

Courtesy of H.E.R.

One thing is certain: As she comes through clearly across her distinctive visuals and singular sound, H.E.R. is creating from a sense of certainty — about herself and her worldviews. Back of My Mind is H.E.R.’s musical coming of age. Whether speaking truth to power or therapizing growing pains, she is moving with intention and writing the soundtrack of our lives as pursues her dreams and uncovers the truth of defining success and happiness on her own terms. “Sometimes, you get to the top of the mountain and you’re like, now I know there are higher heights for me to reach,” she says. “I can have it all.”

The Best Movies To Watch Online And In Theaters This Weekend: Luca, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard And More

A Quiet Place Part II

After narrowly escaping an attack on their farm by the sound-hunting aliens that have left the world ravaged, the surviving members of the Abbott Family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe), now including an infant, seek refuge past the sandy path, where they run into an old friend (Cillian Murphy).

Why it is a good option to see in theaters: Well, first of all you can’t watch A Quiet Place 2 streaming yet. But beyond that, following up on its acclaimed, hit predecessor from 2018, the masterfully crafted, breathlessly intense A Quiet Place Part II was literally made to be a shared experience in the movie theater (especially for its stunning sound design) which is why writer and director John Krasinski opted to delay its release from March 20, 2020, to May 28, 2021, after COVID-19 made that impossible. Read our review for A Quiet Place Part II.

Zack Snyder Has A NSFW Response To The Batman Debate About Oral Sex

Filmmaker Zack Snyder’s name has become synonymous with the DC Extended Universe, after kickstarting the property with projects like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His version of Justice League also finally arrived on streaming this year, revealing his four-hour vision for the blockbuster. There’s currently an online debate about whether or not Batman perform oral sex on his partners, and Snyder has weighed in with a hilarious NSFW response.

Will The Fast And The Furious’ Vin Diesel Retire From Dom After The 11th Movie? Here’s What He Said

For now though, Dominic Toretto is still hanging around with his crew, which includes Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Ortiz, Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce, Ludacris’ Tej Parker and Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsey. And those aren’t the only familiar faces returning for F9, as Dom will reunite with his sister, Jordan Brewster’s Mia, as well as Sung Kang’s Han Lue, who, despite appearances to the contrary, did not die in that car crash during Tokyo Drift. However, on the other side of the coin, the next Fast & Furious movie is bringing Dom and Mia’s estranged brother, John Cena’s Jakob, who has teamed up with Charlize Theron’s Cipher to make Dom’s life hell.

Greenland 2: 6 Quick Things We Know About Gerard Butler’s Greenland: Migration

Greenland Brought In More Than $52 Million Worldwide In 2020, Despite Being Released During The Pandemic

Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Greenland was slated to open in theaters in the United States on June 12 of that year, but that date, and others like it, came and went, with the movie eventually forgoing its domestic run in favor of VOD release that October. And while American audiences never got to see Gerard Butler get his family to safety on the big screen, moviegoers in other territories ventured out to see the movie, which collected a total of $52.3 million worldwide throughout the second half of 2020, according to Box Office Mojo.

These numbers, combined with surprisingly favorable reviews, must have been enough for Greenland: Migration’s producers and financial backers (which include Anton, Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road Pictures, and Gerard Butler and Alan Siegel’s G-BASE) to put their resources into the upcoming sequel.

Luca Voice Cast: Where You’ve Seen And Heard The Pixar Actors Before

Marco Barricelli (Massimo Marcovaldo)

As Giulia Marcovaldo’s father, Massimo – an intimidating, yet kindhearted, fisherman and cook – we have Marco Barricelli, who is best known for his long history as an actor, writer, director, and educator in the world of theatre. However, for those who those who do not seek entertainment from the stage, the veteran performer has eight screen credits to his name – the most recent being Luca. He debuted on a 1987 episode of the popular daytime soap opera Guiding Light, appeared on the NBC legal drama L.A. Law in 1991, and had a four-episode stint on the dramedy The Book of Daniel (which only lasted twice as long in 2006), to name a few gig. Barricelli has even lent his voice to a few video games, including 1996’s Clandestiny and Manhunt 2 in 2007.

Thanks To Scott Pilgrim’s 10th Anniversary, Brie Larson Has Returned To The Billboard Charts

“Black Sheep” is now being listed on three major music charts: the Rock Digital Song Sales, Alternative Digital Song Sales and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts. The song is currently at No. 7 on the Rock and Alternative charts and No. 34 on the Hot Rock & Alternative charts. The song reportedly sold 2,000 copies within the week and was streamed over one million times in the U.S.

Even Veterans Like Anthony Hopkins Occasionally Fanboy Out On Marvel Sets, Admits Thor Actor Tom Hiddleston

When it comes to breakthrough roles, Tom Hiddleston becoming Loki was one of Marvel’s best castings. Not only did Hiddleston graduate from indie films to blockbusters overnight, but he got to work with Anthony Hopkins. But even a two-time Oscar winner can get starstruck while filming a Marvel epic. Hiddleston admitted even Hopkins and other veterans occasionally fanboy out on the Marvel sets.

The Hysterical Note Elizabeth Debicki Received On Her Peter Rabbit 2 Performance

Throughout all of the Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway interviews I conducted, there was a huge connective thread that everyone had in common. That singularity came from the cast’s love for co-writer/director Will Gluck’s collaborative energy. Though Elizabeth Debicki was given notes to tone down the bossy nature of Mopsy Rabbit, it was all part of the process that honed the finished product into the delightful family film that all can enjoy. Even with the delay in release, and a couple years removed from the original recording sessions, Debicki easily described the experience as follows:

How G.I. Joe Fans Can See Snake Eyes In Theaters Early

In association with Comic-Con, Paramount Pictures is screening Snake Eyes in 10 cities across the United States and Canada on Wednesday, July 21, two days before its wide release. If you live in, or are close to, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Miami, San Diego, Houston, Phoenix and Vancouver, you’ll be able to partake in one of these fan screenings, with specific details on how to reserve a spot to be revealed at a later date over at @snakeeyesmovie.