It was only three days ago that H.E.R’s NPR tiny desk concert was released. While H.E.R remains a new talent, her sound is fiercely passionate. H.E.R pays homage to many traditions of the beginnings of American music. She pays homage to scatting and gospel harmonies sounds that were born in the early 20th, 19th, and 18th century. H.E.R floods her music with the call and response technique that is unique to African American churches. The birth of a musical sound when Africans were confronted with Western music.
She starts her tiny desk with “Going”with hurried lyrics that details the woes of a relationship of the two people that keep missing each other, but the relationship keeps moving. Her voice poetic and flowing in and out of the beat, the harmonies bring ease. After teasing the audience with its pace, she flows into “Feel A Way” whose ending brings in light jazzy scats while encompassing contemporary rhythm and blues.
Her third song, “Hard Place” continues the flow of rhythm and blues. Themes of unconditional love and the difficulties of love is the root of a lot of blues,African American, and modern music. H.E.R’s voice has a modern sound that mirrors Alicia Keys but H.E.R. enchants the crowd by mirroring the forever-loved gospel sound.
Right before her last song “Focus” she dazzles the crowd, like a preacher, with the question:“Can I sing to you?” Like a congregation, the crowd responds with a unified and yearning “yes”. She continues to capture the audience and brings a plethora of melodies and harmonic call and responses.
Her riffs on the piano mirrors the smoothness of jazz pianist Tatum that, again, hints at the roots of gospel. In the end, she does a gospel scat with a call and response that leaves the audience breathless. H.E.R demonstrates her musicianship with this performance and her homage to African American sound shows she has a lot of promise.