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H.E.R.’s Rebrand from Child Star to R&B Star

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(Todd Wawrychuk/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

by Dan Runcie

Every Monday, Trapital's free weekly memo will give you insights on the latest moves in the business of hip-hop. Join 10K+ readers who stay ahead of all the trends:

H.E.R. is stacking up the awards. Last night’s Oscar win comes a few weeks after she won “Song of the Year” at the Grammys. The R&B singer has been stacking up the accolades, but she’s been doing this long before she became H.E.R.

The former child star. The 23-year-old singer has had the spotlight on her for most of her life. At nine she was on Nickelodeon’s School Gyrls. When she was 10, she performed on The Today Show and covered Alicia Keys. At 12, she was a finalist on Disney’s Next Big Thing and performed at the BET Awards. The list goes on. She was first signed by Sony when she was 14. She released music under her real name Gabi Wilson, but still needed time to develop as an artist. She eventually signed with RCA in 2014.

In 2016, she emerged under the new persona, “H.E.R.” There was no public connection to Gabi Wilson. H.E.R. added to the allure by wearing sunglasses at all times.

The re-brand to become H.E.R. This was a full-on mystery marketing campaign, similar to The Weeknd who also hid his identity when he first dropped his mixtapes. After H.E.R’s first release, Genius and Forbes went into Zapruder film investigation mode to uncover her real identity. They figured it out, but H.E.R.’s rebrand was still effective. This wasn’t like Puff Daddy or Christina Aguilera developing alter ego-type names. This was a brand new artist. This was like Tity Boi becoming 2 Chainz.

In the past five years, H.E.R. has done a lot. She has won major awards and launched the Lights On music festival in the Bay Area. H.E.R is also the first Black woman to have a signature line with Fender guitars. She also has a sunglass line at DIFF Eyewear. And still, she has yet to release her “debut album.” The distinction is a bit semantic. Her two compilation albums have been widely celebrated. But good move on her to build up demand. Anticipation is part of the game.

Read more about H.E.R.’s new virutal collab project Life’s Good in Rolling Stone.

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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