Meet H.E.R., A Rising Voice Whose Face Remains A Mystery Despite her anonymity, the R&B singer and songwriter has already made waves with her debut EP, H.E.R. Volume 1.
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Meet H.E.R., A Rising Voice Whose Face Remains A Mystery

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Meet H.E.R., A Rising Voice Whose Face Remains A Mystery

Meet H.E.R., A Rising Voice Whose Face Remains A Mystery

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  • Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we'd like to talk with a breakout artist. She's won accolades from big names such as Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean. Her debut EP "H.E.R. Volume 1" shot to number one on the iTunes R&B chart. But here's the twist, nobody knows who she is.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FACTS")

H.E.R.: (Singing) Come mess a real one, you're one in a million. Don't let a lot of people in, but you get admission. And I don't let my walls down, but I see us building and you ain't a feeling 'cause that's how I'm feeling.

MARTIN: She is H.E.R. You heard me right - H.E.R. - as in H - E - R - which we are told is an acronym for having everything revealed which is pretty funny because she's chosen to remain anonymous for now, at least. She's not using her real name. We don't even know it. The photo on her album cover is a darkened silhouette and in an industry where images are meticulously created, she's chosen to let her music speak for her. And H.E.R. is with us now from our bureau in New York. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

H.E.R.: Yeah. Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So why this route? Why conceal your identity? Is this a response to something?

H.E.R.: No. I just felt like everybody is really about lifestyle. And I really just wanted it to be about the music, you know, and get away from who is she with and the way that I'm living or, you know, whatever...

MARTIN: What you're wearing, having a stylist - all that business.

H.E.R.: (Laughter) Right.

MARTIN: Honestly, this is a little bit of a risk on our part. I mean, to be really frank about it, you know, we are in an era when people don't necessarily trust and believe what they hear, you know, on the media. And so we are actually trusting you that you are who you say you are that you are, H.E.R. Can you reassure us in any way?

H.E.R.: Of course.

MARTIN: Is there anything you can do to - can you sing a few bars for us so that we know it's really you?

H.E.R.: (Laughter). I am H.E.R. No, I'm definitely H.E.R., but, yeah, I'm - just sing a little bit of a song from "Volume 1." Let's do that.

(Singing) You only show me love when it comes to the music. It's like when I feel lonely that's when you start acting choosey. I don't want to keep playing them games 'cause I feel like I'm losing.

MARTIN: Well, that definitely sounds like H.E.R. (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOSING")

H.E.R.: (Singing) I feel like I'm losing. What we doin'? What we doin'? What we doin'? What we doin'? Let me know. Let me know. What we doin'? Been on my grind. I know that my schedule is busy, but I always make sure I call you when...

MARTIN: It's very - it is still very personal. It's interesting that the music itself feels very revealing.

H.E.R.: Yeah. The music, I think for me - it's the evolution of woman. And I feel like throughout, let's say, my teenage years, I've made mistakes and I've felt like, you know, I'm the only one that has done that or I feel bad about, you know, this or I fell for the wrong guy - never thought I would fall for the wrong guy. You know, I never thought I would be that girl, and I became H.E.R. And that's kind of how the concept came to be. So having everything revealed is ironic because, you know, I'm not revealing myself, but through my emotion, you can pretty much tell what my story is. And through the music, you can pretty much tell what I've been through and releasing it has made me realize I'm not alone in it because of the reactions I've been getting.

MARTIN: There's another song I'd like to play. It's the last song on the EP. It's called "Pigment."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PIGMENT")

H.E.R.: (Singing) I'm giving you a chance to finally make a good impression on me, yeah, on me. I'll make you feel like it's forever because it's clear I'm getting bigger. I know you visualize my figure. I was the one that made you look at your old girl and reconsider. You see me in that black dress on the first day, and I'm causing frustration on your mind only in the best ways.

Actually a funny story about the song - a friend of mine made this track. And I wrote to it for fun because poetry is actually one of my passions, and I decided to do this like song-poem kind of thing. And I didn't want to show it to anybody. I felt like it was very, very personal. I showed it to a producer that I worked with. You know, I told him don't play for anybody, so he ended up going back to Sony and playing it. And they fell in love with it, and they're saying we need to put this on "Volume 1." And, at first, I didn't want to do it, but eventually they convinced me to put it on there.

MARTIN: Well, how do you feel about your producer bringing this to Sony, even though you were asking to kind of keep it private? I could argue - one might experience that as a bit of a betrayal.

H.E.R.: (Laughter) No. It was more so he knew it was amazing and wanted me to not be afraid to show it. And, you know, I was extremely happy that he did that to be honest.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PIGMENT")

H.E.R.: (Singing) Secretly I'm anxious because the thirst has never been mutual. It's unusual that someone like you thinks I'm beautiful. It's beautiful, yeah. What we have is beautiful.

MARTIN: This is actually the way the song ends. It kind of trails off like there should be more. You want to tell me about that?

H.E.R.: I think you can expect more pretty soon. I'm working on this "Volume 2" and I'm super, super excited to drop it, but it'll come as a surprise. It's definitely a plot twist.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAIT FOR IT")

H.E.R.: (Singing) Yeah. I'ma need for you to wait for it, wait for it, wait for it. Baby, can you wait for it, wait for it, wait for it?

MARTIN: That was the singer H.E.R. Her debut EP "H.E.R. Volume 1" is out now. She joined us from the NPR bureau in New York City.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAIT FOR IT")

H.E.R.: (Singing) I know you want to wait, but now...

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