H.E.R. at FirstBank Amphitheater in Franklin, TN

H.E.R. @ FirstBank Amphitheater, Franklin | Photo by Zach Birdsong

FirstBank Amphitheater ended its 2021 calendar year Sunday with a chill night when H.E.R. brought the Back of My Mind Tour to Franklin. 

As the crowd continued to make their way to their seats, Maeta opened the evening with a short 15-minute performance. Despite the short set time, the 20-year-old R&B singer highlighted her soothing and seductive voice before exiting after her third track. 

Shortly after, Tone Stith took the stage for what was an enjoyable 40-minute showcase. The 26-year-old opened his set and highlighted his dancing ability, reminiscent of early 2000s Usher. Later into his performance, Stith showed that he was more than a dancer and grabbed a guitar to play with his backing band for a pair of songs. The standout moment came when Stith nailed an excellent solo during “Devotion.” He closed out his set with one final dance number that helped engage the crowd and prepare them for the headliner. 

From the moment that she ran on stage, H.E.R. commanded the audience’s attention. Once the spotlight hit, the crowd wasted little time, joining and singing along with every word, which left a big grin on the star of the night’s face. During her nearly two-hour set, the Grammy and Academy Award winner showcased not only her voice but also her instrumental abilities. Midway through the performance, H.E.R. highlighted both her guitar and bass skills. It was then where she began to blend a few cover songs into her own tracks, which made for a fun way to engage the fans on hand. 

While the obvious focus was on the headliner, the backing vocalists also had their opportunities to shine throughout the night. One of those standout moments came during “Best Part.” The duet originally featured Daniel Cesar. Backup vocalist, Miles, took over that role and had the audience swooning with his powerful and soothing voice. “That boy is good, huh?” H.E.R. asked the audience following the performance before joking with the crowd. “Alright, calm down; he’s only 16. Calm down.” 

A large part of H.E.R.’s set focused on tracks from the Back of My Mind album that was released in June. As she pointed out, the album went to number-one on the R&B chart. According to H.E.R., there was only one way to celebrate that milestone: performing those tunes for a live audience. She also added some insight and talked about her writing process, particularly amidst the pandemic. “I just feel like in music and my music especially, I feel like I have a responsibility to always speak the truth and write about the truth and talk about the world around me,” H.E.R. told the Franklin crowd. “People will try to silence that voice and say, ‘It’s too political. You shouldn’t say that, you’re going to offend somebody.’ I don’t care. It is what it is all the time.” 

Early into H.E.R.’s performance, it was apparent that Sunday was nothing short of cathartic for the 24-year-old singer. Several times throughout the night, she was visibility wiping away and holding back tears when she addressed the audience. “I really missed this feeling right here and this connection. You can’t replace this,” H.E.R. said. “I love being in the studio, and I love making music. But, when I get to hear you sing the music, it’s surreal to me. I get overwhelmed and cry. Thank you guys for showing me so much love.” 

The Back of My Mind Tour continues through October. The complete list of tour dates can be seen here.

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About Zach Birdsong 15 Articles
A current communications specialist with a background in journalism, where he served as a multiple award-winning newspaper editor, photographer and designer. In eight years, he received 18 awards from the Tennessee Press Association, the majority of which stems from his photography. He's also been fortunate enough to have had photos used by publications around the world including Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Today Show, Vanity Fair, Vogue Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and more.