This Musical Icon Is H.E.R.’s Biggest Inspiration

When you listen to H.E.R.’s music, you’ll recognize that it is a blend of all of her biggest inspirations. She loves her guitar but plays many other instruments, writes her own songs, and loves R&B. Now, who does that sound like? Along with fellow female artists like Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill, H.E.R. (an acronym for “Having Everything Revealed“) was inspired by Prince. She’s even taken some fashion tips from him.

H.E.R. at the 2021 BET Awards.
H.E.R. | Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

H.E.R. started listening to Prince when she was young

During H.E.R.’s childhood, her father played a lot of music. She was exposed to many artists and musicians as a child, but the biggest artist was Prince. H.E.R. started learning five instruments at an early age because that’s what Prince did.

She told WWD that Prince was her favorite artist “and contributed to the foundation of her musical identity.” She was first introduced to Prince by her father because he played Purple Rain constantly. She’d wake up in the morning to him making breakfast and “blasting the late musician’s concert DVD on the television.”

H.E.R. plays guitar and likes to experiment on stage just like Prince

When you listen to H.E.R., you can hear Prince’s influence. WWD writes, “Indeed, listeners can hear Prince’s signature, funky, greasy notes in her solos — especially the ones she plays live. Live shows are important to H.E.R., for they are when she can engage with fans and experiment with medleys.”

Prince was notorious for his on-stage experiments as well. He loved long solos that bled into equally long experimental sessions. His band would have to keep up.

“I’m huge on the dynamic of my show and the experience, not just performing songs,” H.E.R. says, which is also something Prince was known for. “It’s important to me to make sure that people experience every song, and feel like I’m singing directly to them. Your eyes never want to leave the stage because there’s always something happening.” No doubt, watching films like Prince’s Sign “O” the Times inspired her to have almost musical-like concerts.

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H.E.R. has paid homage to Prince multiple times

H.E.R. first got to honor Prince by playing “Let’s Go Crazy” with Gary Clark Jr. at Prince’s Grammy Salute in 2020. Later she sang and played piano on The Beautiful Ones.

Speaking to the Recording Academy about her love for the legend, she said, “Prince-people say ‘Oh! you’re too young,’ I’m like ‘No,’ because my father really had that music, his music playing in the house all the time, we watched his concert DVDs over and over. Prince- his musicianship and his uniqueness, you know, and his love for music, it was just so contagious and his mystique.

“You know I really model after that, and he’s everything to me, he’s probably one of my number one influences. And my guitar playing, you know. One time somebody asked Eric Clapton, ‘Oh, what does it feel like to be the best guitar player?’ and Eric Clapton said, ‘I don’t know, ask Prince.’ You know, so he was respected by so many, and he touched so many lives like he made music for everybody. And, so I really try to channel that when I make music.”

RELATED: Is the Release of Prince’s Posthumous Albums a Betrayal?

At the 2020 Emmy Awards, H.E.R. played a beautiful edition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” during the award’s “In Memoriam” segment. When she attended the 2021 Oscars, she wore a beaded purple jumpsuit almost completely identical to the one Prince wore at the 1985 Oscars.

It wasn’t a coincidence; she told her designer she wanted to pay homage to Prince. “H.E.R. expressed how Prince has been a lifetime inspiration for her and had built the foundation for her musical identity,” designer Peter Dundas told InStyle.

H.E.R. still listens to Prince

Speaking to the New York Times recently about her inspirations, H.E.R. listed two of Prince’s works. First, his live concert Rave Un2 the Year 2000, which was on “every single weekend in my house,” and made her think, “Man, I want to be a rock star.” Secondly, Purple Rain, of course. Her father skimmed over the bad parts, but she studied the song until she played it perfectly.

One of H.E.R.’s biggest regrets in life is not having met Prince or seen him live. But she can carry on his legacy by continuing to pay him homage whenever she can. It’s safe to say that they probably would have been great friends and collaborators.