The pandemic forced H.E.R. to cancel concerts, including her two-day Lights on Festival in New York City in October. However, now she’s thrilled to be back to performing for live audiences.

“It has been the most amazing thing ever,” the Grammy and Oscar winner, born Gabriella Wilson, tells Ebony. “There’s nothing like that connection that you have with an audience. I love performing, I love the stage, and it’s not the same without the people. I’m so thankful to be back.”

H.E.R. performed earlier this month at the iconic Apollo Theater in New York, and she returned to be a presenter at the Soul Train Music Awards which aired Sunday from the Apollo.

“It feels crazy to have been there at nine years old then now to headline the Apollo,” she says. “I kept thinking about all the people that were on that stage before me. I just carry that with me everywhere I go now.”

Growing up in Vallejo, California near San Francisco, she was inspired by the many artists from the Bay Area, including Sly and the Family Stone, and Sheila E.

“This love for music—that I think you could only find in the Bay area—culture, constant festivals, and live bands that would perform since I was young, it’s influenced me to want to be a better musician and also just want to make music that feels great,” H.E.R. continues.

Last week. the 24-year-old singer was nominated for eight Grammys, including Album of the Year for Back of My Mind, and Song of the Year, for “Fight for You.”

She hopes to record Christmas music, and she will perform at the National Christmas Tree Lighting in Washington, D.C. airing Sunday, December 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m PT on CBS.

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