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"I didn't imagine that my fear and my pain would turn into impact, and possibly turn into change, and that's what this is about," the singer said of her win for "I Can't Breathe"

By Maria PasquiniJoelle Goldstein and Topher Gauk-Roger
March 14, 2021 10:40 PM
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H.E.R. won big on Sunday — and she used her moment to speak out against racial injustice.

During the Grammy Awards, the singer, 23, took home the song of the year trophy for "I Can't Breathe," which was written in response to the death of George Floyd.

While accepting her award onstage with co-writer Tiara Thomas, H.E.R. said she's "never been so proud to be an artist" and was "so, so grateful" to be the winner.

For more on the 2021 Grammy Awards, listen below to the episode of PEOPLE Every Day.

The singer went on to say the award was especially meaningful because "I didn't imagine that my fear and my pain would turn into impact and possibly turn into change."

"That's what this is about. That's why I write music, that's why I do this," she continued. "I thank God for the gift of a voice... and using me as a vessel to create change."

"We are the change we wish to see and that fight that we had in us in summer 2020, keep that same energy," she finished, referencing the protests that occurred after Floyd's death.

Also nominated for song of the year were Beyoncé for "Black Parade," Roddy Ricch for "The Box," Taylor Swift for "Cardigan," Post Malone for "Circles," Dua Lipa for "Don't Start Now," Billie Eilish for "Everything I Wanted," and JP Saxe and Julia Michaels for "If The World Was Ending."

H.E.R.
H.E.R. with Tiara Thomas
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

Following her win on Sunday, H.E.R. (real name: Gabriella Wilson) explained to reporters that her song came about naturally through a conversation with Thomas.

"We honestly were coming from the perspective of our own personal feelings and then it turned into being part of the movement and being a part of history," she said. "I think the song is going to be a stamp in time and people are going to think of this song when they think of George Floyd, when they think of Brianna Taylor, when they think of all of these people that we are still fighting for."

"I hope that it's a contribution to the movement and that it will continue the fight, and it will continue to give people hope because I think that's what music does," she continued. "It's so much bigger than this and this is amazing and this makes it all worth it... This is something we have to continue."

Check out PEOPLE's full Grammys coverage to get the latest news on music's biggest night.

H.E.R. also spoke about a specific lyric in her song that states, "Thank God we don't seek revenge, we seek justice."

"When we stop being afraid of the truth and afraid of the pain and afraid of the trauma, then we can really move forward. And that's where I was coming from when I wrote that that line," she explained. "Four bars wasn't enough for a verse to talk about the pain that we experienced and it's still not enough."

H.E.R. attends the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14, 2021
H.E.R.
| Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

This year, H.E.R. was also up for best R&B song for "Better Than I Imagined" as well as "Slow Down." The singer previously picked up two awards at the 61st Grammy Awards: best R&B performance and best R&B album. 

Beyoncé is the most-nominated artist of the night with a total of nine, followed by Swift, Ricch and Lipa with six nominations apiece. Brittany Howard received five nominations.

Like many socially distanced awards shows that have already taken place, this year's Grammy nominees will be coming together while staying safely apart to celebrate music's biggest night amid the ongoing pandemic.

RELATED VIDEO: 2021 Grammy Awards: Everything You Need to Know Before Music's Big Night

Throughout the 2021 show, several music venues across the country, which have been greatly impacted by the pandemic, will be honored as bartenders, box office managers and other day-to-day employees will serve as presenters for various awards categories.

Among the venues that will be featured are the Troubadour and The Hotel Café in Los Angeles, the Apollo Theater in New York City, and The Station Inn in Nashville.

The Grammy Awards, hosted by Trevor Noah, are airing Sunday, March 14, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS Television Network and Paramount+.