RCA recording artist Gabriella Wilson (professionally known as H.E.R.) began performing in the Bay Area as a young child. The Northern California locale was also the early stomping grounds for future stars Kehlani Parrish and Zendaya Coleman.
According to H.E.R., the three women were nearly part of the same music group prior to their ascension to national stardom. The I Used to Know Her creator spoke about her history with Kehlani and Zendaya with OZY founder Carlos Watson of The Carlos Watson Show.
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“Dylan Wiggins – who is D’wayne Wiggins’s son from Tony! Toni! Toné! – we used to be in a band together. We used to perform together when we were really young,” H.E.R. informed Watson as part of her “How Music Moves Mountains” conversation taking place at this weekend’s OZY Fest.
She continued, “Kehlani was actually in our band. We all used to sing together. Zendaya was going to be in it at one point. They all grew up together. I came into the picture in Oakland and we used to perform together.”
Even though the young performers eventually went their separate ways, all three women were able to achieve mainstream success in the entertainment business. For example, Kehlani has scored two Top 5 albums (2017’s SweetSexySavage and 2020’s It Was Good Until It Wasn’t) during her career.
The 26-year-old vocalist from Oakland has created hit records with Cardi B, Justin Bieber, G-Eazy, Jhené Aiko, Charlie Puth, and others. In 2016, Kehlani picked up a Best Urban Contemporary Album Grammy Award nomination for her You Should Be Here commercial mixtape.
Zendaya rose to prominence as a main cast member on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up. She went on to appear as MJ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man franchise. The 24-year-old Oakland native made history at the 2020 Emmy Awards when she became the youngest person to win Outstanding Lead Actress for her role in HBO’s Euphoria.
H.E.R. is quickly becoming one of the most-awarded entertainers of her generation. She already has four Grammy wins, including taking home the Song Of The Year honor for “I Can’t Breathe” at the 63rd annual ceremony in March. “Fight For You” from Judas and the Black Messiah also earned the 23-year-old singer-songwriter her first Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The 2021 OZY Fest is scheduled to stream live on May 15-16 at ozyfest.com. H.E.R.’s “How Music Moves Mountains” will close out the virtual event on Sunday, May 16 at 8:30 pm ET. The lineup also includes Chance the Rapper, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Condoleezza Rice, Mark Cuban, Malcolm Gladwell, Sevyn Streeter, Big Freedia, Rev. Al Sharpton, Deepak Chopra, Representative Maxine Waters, and more.