“I think the first thing I want to say is that I’ve never been so proud to be an artist,” H.E.R. said in her acceptance speech, noting that she considered all of the music by her competitors in the category to also be songs of the year. “I didn’t imagine that my fear and that may pain would turn into impact, and it would possibly turn to change, and I think that’s what this is about. That’s why I write music. That’s why I do this.”
The singer-songwriter also thanked her parents and noted that she wrote the song — inspired by George Floyd’s last words as he struggled to breathe while a police officer kneeled on his neck — in her bedroom at her mother’s house. H.E.R. also shared that her dad, who was the first person she played the song for, cried when he first heard it.
“Remember, we are the change we wish to see,” she concluded. “And that fight that we had in us the summer of 2020? Keep that same energy.”
When H.E.R. premiered the emotional song during iHeartRadio’s Living Room Concert series in June, she shared that in addition to Floyd’s final words, she was inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests following his death.
“These lyrics were kind of easy to write because it came from a conversation of what’s happening right now, what’s been happening, and the change that we need to see,” she told fans at the time. “I think music is powerful when it comes to change and when it comes to healing and that’s why I wrote this song, to make a mark in history. And I hope this song does that.”
Trevor Noah, who hosted the show, presented H.E.R. with the award. She beat out Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Roddy Ricch, Post Malone, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and JP Saxe for the win.
The 63rd annual ceremony was broadcast live from the Los Angeles Convention Center and surrounding areas. The show also included nearly two dozen performances from artists ranging from BTS to Taylor Swift to Megan Thee Stallion and beyond.