R&B artist HER won the Grammy for Song of the Year for her George Floyd-inspired track I Can't Breathe.
Written in response to the Black Lives Matter protests caused by the deaths of black Americans Floyd and Eric Garner in police custody, soul singer HER (real name Gabriella Wilson) won the marquee prize amid a strong nominees list that included Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Beyonce.
With the title taken from the final words of Floyd, who suffocated to death in 2020 during an arrest attempt in Minneapolis, the haunting song went on capture the anger and anguish that resulted in nationwide mass protests across the US.
While grateful the song played as a soundtrack to an important moment in US race relations, HER, 23, said she composed I Can't Breathe to also sooth her own despair.
"I didn't imagine that my fear and that my pain would turn into impact," she said while accepting the award. "I want to thank God for giving me the gift of a voice and a pen and using me as a vessel to create change."
She also described how the intimacy of the song, with its languid drums, guitar strums and restrained bass lines, stems from being composed at home.
"I recorded this song by myself in my bedroom at my mom's house," she said. "And I want to thank my dad – he cried. He was in tears when I wrote the song and I played it for him. He was the first person I played it for."
HER finished her speech with a plea to continue supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
"Remember, we are the change that we wish to see, and that fight that we had in us. The summer of 2020 – keep that same energy."
The Song of the Year award capped a successful night for the singer-songwriter who won two awards out of three nominations.
In the pre-televised portion of the ceremony, she also picked up the Best RnB Song for Better Than I Imagined, a collaboration with jazz musician Robert Glasper and singer Meshell Ndegeocello.
In 2020, she lost out in all five Grammy categories she was nominated for, including Song of the Year for Hard Place.
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