With a new group, her own tropical rum, it’s time for Anastasia to shine


A decade after dipping a toe into Austin’s music scene, singer and rapper Anastasia Hera is riding the biggest wave of her career.

Her EP, “This Is Anastasia,” a collection of sexy love jams and thoughtful odes to authentic living, was released in May. In her new live show, she leads a strong group of five musicians who reinforce their soulful vocals with R&B grooves punctuated by hard funk. She is part of Class 2022 of the Austin Music Foundation’s Artist Development Program and her own craft liqueur, HERA Tropical Rum, a banana and coconut blend created by the Striped Pig Distillery in Charleston, Carolina. South, should be released in December. .

For about a decade, the Austin native has been known citywide for her blistering hip-hop bars. On the new EP, she showcases her singing skills.

“I’ve always been a rapper,” she said in a recent interview. She kept her powerful pipes in her back pocket.

“I think it was just something that I kind of saved for later in my development as an artist,” she said.

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Anastasia grew up playing the piano. She sang in the choir of the Berean Baptist Church, which she describes as a “small family church.”

“On Sunday there were maybe no more than 20 people there,” she said.

For Anastasia, the experience became more than just fellowship. The pastor’s daughter wrote hymns for the congregation, composed them on the piano, and then taught the choir their parts. It was the young musician’s first exposure to the process of building a song.

“It intrigued me so much,” she said.

She discovered hip-hop while listening to Austin’s community radio station, KAZI 88.7 FM. Through the station’s popular mix shows in the 90s, she was exposed to east and west coast hip-hop as well as regional sounds.

Her favorite rapper was Houston OG Scarface, “because he told stories,” she said.

Anastasia isn't interested in party rap.  Instead, she tries to create songs that authentically speak to her own experiences.  She wants to spread positivity.

Around the age of 12, she discovered a talent for making her own rhymes. She lived in front of a basketball court where aspiring rhymers gathered to test their courage.

“It was kind of a ritual,” she said. “We would go over there with our notebooks or something, and, you know, spit out our last rhyme.” The kids came back to encryption over and over again, always trying to “beat what you did last time,” she said.

Throughout high school, she was a rising teenager, rolling with Eastside legend Nook Turner, who would go on to host the popular Jump On It Eastside summer concert series, and future poetry slam champion DaShade Moonbeam. But then life came and it happened fast.

She found out she was pregnant around Christmas break before starting her final semester of high school. For “many months after the start of spring,” she did not tell her family about it.

“I was really engrossed in it. And, you know, I had no idea what I was going to do, ”she said. Her longtime boyfriend and her son’s father have joined the military. After completing her basic training, her plan was to settle down where he landed, but she still looked for her own path. The semester after the birth of her son, she enrolled at Austin Community College.

“I was determined to keep going no matter what it was,” she said.

A few years after school, her boyfriend was stationed in the United States, but military life has its own challenges and it only took a few months for her to realize that living on the base was not her problem. She returned to Austin, attended the University of Texas for a few years, had a second son, and landed a job with Apple, where she still works.

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“For a good fifteen years of my life, I didn’t make music. I didn’t write poems or songs or anything, ”she said. “It’s just a side or a part of myself that I sort of put on a shelf.”

For years she was haunted, feeling incomplete, as if something was missing in her life. “It’s a very long time to go without something that you later find out is your passion and has probably always been your passion,” she said.

As she began to reintegrate into the music world, she realized that she was a good decade older than many rappers. She was a mom. She fought against self-doubt.

They’re going to make me laugh out of the room, she thought. “Is everything I have to say relevant?” Can anyone identify themselves? “

She didn’t want to rap about the party all the time. But when she realized her technical skills were still there, she “thought the rest (was) going to fall into place.”

In the pre-Lizzo era of the rap superstar, she centered a message of positivity in her music. In 2016, she released the single “Kale and Yoga”, which equates wealth and well-being.

The addition of her group The Heroes elevated Anastasia's work.  “I didn't have the musicians who were really invested in my music.  learn my music and get the most out of my music, ”she said.

“It’s been an uphill battle sometimes as a rapper, you know, because people don’t always expect it,” she said.

There is a sense of competition, bravado and machismo that comes with being a rap artist. “It’s just the nature of the genre and in a lot of ways, and I understand that, and I can participate when it’s time. But again, I have to look at myself in the mirror and decide what I want to say. And I have to be at peace with, you know, the things that I say are my real life, ”she said.

In her real life, she focuses on the choices that keep her mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. Her sons are now 19 and 25 and she is proud to bring “good, strong young men into the world,” she said.

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She still makes steamy love songs, but there is a maturity in her work that surpasses many of today’s commercial successes.

“I know he’ll land somewhere with some people,” she said. “And I’m ready to push until I do.”

Her live show got a big boost when she officially reunited her band The Heroes from a group of musicians she has been performing with for years.

“I love playing with the band so much,” she said. Having a dedicated ensemble has changed his musical trajectory. “I hadn’t had musicians who were really involved in reading my music, learning my music and valuing my music,” she said.

Playing with a band also opens the door to more concerts in Austin. When people call Austin the live music capital of the world, they always think of guitars, she said.

“You think of a Stevie Ray Vaughan and rightly so. To get into some of these places you have to be versatile, ”she said.

After decades of honing her skills and bringing together life experiences that nourish her depth as an artist and businesswoman, Anastasia believes her time has come.

“When I started to pursue a career in rap, I always said that I only wanted to do it if I could take rap from different places and show it to people in a way that they didn’t. had never considered before, ”she said. . “Right now, at this point in my career, I feel like I’m in a great place to do it. “

Anastasia and the heroes

They play at 10 p.m. on November 27 at Geraldine’s. Information on geraldinesaustin.com.

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