Halle Bailey: ‘My generation won’t take ‘no’ for an answer’

Halle Bailey: ‘My generation won’t take ‘no’ for an answer’

My sister Chloe and I grew up singing every day, but the first time we performed together was at summer camp, around the same time that I picked up that Billie Holiday CD and fell in love with jazz. We sang Summertime by Nina Simone, with flowers in our hair, wearing matching outfits our mum picked out for us. I was only five years old, but it felt natural, and from then on we began performing around Atlanta. But it was our older sister Ski who encouraged us to start posting covers on YouTube when I was 11 years old. By that time, we were both being homeschooled to focus on music, after leaving elementary school when I was in fifth grade (year 6 in the UK). We’d wake up; run three miles around our house; have back-to-back voice, piano and guitar lessons; then figure out which song we were going to post and start rehearsing. It was a strict routine, but it was also a whirlwind of discovery and happiness. We realised that there was something special and powerful about us singing together, and we knew that we wanted something greater for ourselves.

When we woke up one day in December 2013 and saw that our cover of Pretty Hurts by Beyoncé had gone viral, it felt like Christmas morning. It got even better when we received an email from B’s company Parkwood Entertainment. At first, I didn’t believe it was real. “There’s no way,” I thought. But Chloe was an even more diehard fan than I was, and she recognised Parkwood’s official seal right away. Before long, Beyoncé was in the same room as us, telling us she wanted to take us under her wing and be our mentor. She’s always taught me to stay true to myself, to stand up for myself and say what I want. She vouches for me, which is really important. It’s a beautiful thing when a creative who you look up to tells you that you’re doing a good job. It means the world.

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