Wilson was born in Vallejo, California, to a Filipina mother and an African-American father. Raised in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, she was introduced to the public as a child, covering Alicia Keys on piano on the Today Show, before competing on Radio Disney’s The Next BIG Thing when she was 12 years old.
Addressing the secrecy over her identity, H.E.R. has said: “The mystery is a metaphor for who I am, or who I was at the time of creating the project… I feel like oftentimes we don’t like to be open as people about our emotions or things that we are going through. At the time [of recording], I was very closed off except for when I was writing or when I was in the studio.”
She explained further: “I am a voice for women who feel like they’re alone in these situations. This project came from emotion, and that’s what I want it to be about – not what I look like or who I’m with, but the raw emotion and support for women.” To NPR she said, “I feel like this is the era of the anti-star. I really just wanted it to be about the music, and get away from, ‘Who is she with?’ and ‘What is she wearing?'”
After being signed to RCA under Sony at the age of 16, she released a single in 2014 titled “Something to Prove” under her real name.
Re-emerging in late 2016 with a new persona and her debut EP, H.E.R. Vol. 1 was released September 9, 2016, produced by songwriter David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris, Wilson received support from Usher, Tyrese, Pusha T, and Wyclef Jean; labelmates Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller helped get the word out through Twitter co-sign, shoutouts, and re-posts. In April 2017, Rihanna posted an Instagram clip with H.E.R.’s track “Focus” playing in the background. The clip has been viewed over 5 million times. Additional public support came from Issa Rae of HBO’s Insecure, Taraji P. Henson of Empire, Kylie Jenner, and Kendall Jenner.
NPR listed H.E.R. Vol. 1 as the first selection in its “5 Essential R&B Albums You Slept On”. Calling the music “Slow-burning R&B that zooms in on emotional highs and lows,” Rolling Stone included H.E.R. in its March 2017 “10 Artists You Need To Know” roundup. Forbes named her one of “5 Alternative R&B Artists to Look Out for in 2017”, reporting: “In the same vein as The Weeknd’s enigmatic introduction to the world, H.E.R.’s image remains a mystery. The irony, though, is that her moniker is an acronym for Having Everything Revealed.”
Wilson’s follow-up EP, H.E.R. Vol. 2 (2017) also produced by Harris, was released on June 16, 2017, and includes the single “Say It Again”. Also in 2017, she was on tour with Bryson Tiller for the Set It Off Tour and concluded her first headlining tour, the Lights On Tour, in support of her most recent effort H.E.R. Vol. 2. She released H.E.R. Vol. 2, The B Sides (2017), also produced by Swagg R’Celious on October 20, 2017, along with the single titled 2, released on October 13, 2017. The compilation album H.E.R. was released on October 20, 2017, comprising the songs from each of the three EP’s in this series. The album won Best R&B Album and received four other nominations at the 61st Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist for H.E.R.
Wilson announced on September 12, 2018, she will be embarking on the “I Used to Know H.E.R. Tour” in support of the EP series I Used to Know Her: The Prelude and I Used to Know Her: Part 2. Her second compilation album I Used to Know Her was released on August 30, 2019.
She was one of the headliners at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York on September 28, 2019.
On October 5, 2019, she participated in the 2019 edition of the Rock in Rio festival located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Among the headliners were Drake, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iron Maiden, Pink, and Muse.