H.E.R. is interviewed on stage by SiriusXM’s Heart & Soul Channel Broadcast during Essence Festival on July 6, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photo: Marianna Massey (Getty Images for SiriusXM)

She’s just received five 2019 Grammy nominations (tying Cardi B) for Best New Artist; Best R&B Performance; Best R&B Song; Best R&B Album; and Album of the Year. Now, the singer/songwriter/instrumentalist known as H.E.R. is putting an Asterisk on her stratospheric success with Adidas and sneakerhead mecca Foot Locker, joining Kid Cudi, WNBA star Candace Parker, and more as part of their new Asterisk Collective of ambassadors. Together, “they’ll support communities, provide access and opportunities, and shine a light on those who stand out for the right reasons,” said a statement from the legendary sneaker brand.

Image: Adidas

Speaking with The Glow Up prior to the Grammy announcements on Friday morning, H.E.R. broke down how sneakers have contributed to her enigmatic stage persona, and why this new, non-musical collaboration is one of her favorites yet.

“The creative outreach [of Asterisk], the whole thing is getting people who are creative to be a part of this movement—and this movement, it’s kind of special. And I love Adidas, so it was only right,” she told us.

Advertisement

Those familiar with H.E.R. know sneakers are as much a part of her mysterious image as the ubiquitous shades obscuring her eyes. But while it may be a factor in her mystique, her love of kicks was cultivated long before her fame.

“I’ve honestly loved sneakers since I was little; like really, really little,” she laughed. “I’ve always been considered a tomboy—a very girly tomboy—but yeah, I’ve been a sneakerhead for a really long time. I go through phases with my favorites, [and] always have a closet full of everything, but Adidas is definitely No. 1 for me.”

And what about the incognito stage persona the artist formerly known as Gabi Wilson has adopted—a move that has forced her growing audience to focus on her incredible music, first and foremost?

Advertisement

“As far as glasses and sneakers, I don’t know, it kind of just happened. Like, I love shades and the whole anonymous thing; I wanted to stay kind of mysterious on the stage, as well as be fashionable. It just kind of happened, [and now] people come to my shows, and they wear shades and they try to dress like me... every show...”

Image: Adidas

With the Asterisk Collective, which is a combined effort between Foot Locker and Adidas, H.E.R. is hoping to help inspire more creatives like herself to find their own unique identity and vehicle for expressing it.

Advertisement

“Besides music, fashion is a big way of expression, and for me to be in the position to help other people to express themselves through clothes—through whatever art that they do—is just one way to do it,” she said. “And with Adidas, it’s a beautiful way to do it. It’s about feeling good on the inside and looking good on the outside. For me, shoes and glasses is one way I express myself; that’s what makes me feel good. Whatever I wear or however I perform, it’s a way of expression.”

So, could we ever expect to see a sneaker collab between H.E.R. and her favorite sneaker brand?

“Oh, absolutely,” she laughed. “It’s already in the works!”

Also in the works? A new album—that is, when she finally stops touring and gets back into the studio. And of course, we’re now wondering if we can expect to see her in sneakers at the Grammys, as well. But H.E.R. also has philanthropy on the brain with the nonprofit she’s starting with the help of Adidas. Her “Bring the Noise” foundation will provide access to high-quality music programs, top-tier artists, and mentorship in underserved communities and schools.

Advertisement

“Just as much as I’m working onstage, I’m working offstage,” she assured us, putting an asterisk on that.