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Chloe x Halle On Releasing Their New Album During America's 'Ungodly Hour'

When Beyoncé deems your music "flawless," you know you've probably made it. That's more or less what happened to the sister R&B duo, Chloe x Halle, when they passed their latest album, Ungodly Hour, to Beyoncé for feedback.

"We love Beyoncé so much and we value her opinion so very much, so whenever we can get her feedback on something, it's very much appreciated," Halle Bailey says. "But for this album, we only heard positive things and that she loved it. So that really made us happy and feel proud."

Chloe and Halle Bailey have been singing and acting in TV shows all their lives, but their real break in the music industry came when they signed with Beyoncé's Parkwood Entertainment label after their cover of the star's song, "Pretty Hurts," went viral and caught her attention. Since then, they have opened for Beyoncé and Jay-Z's world tour, wrote the theme song for Grown-ish and Halle has been cast as Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of Disney's The Little Mermaid.

NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke to Chloe and Halle Bailey about writing music and pursuing both acting and singing together, delaying the release of their album to call attention to the ongoing protests against police brutality and racism and Halle's upcoming role as a Disney princess. Listen to the radio version at the audio link above, and read on for highlights of the interview.

Interview Highlights

On delaying their album release and to support the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests

Chloe Bailey: We decided to postpone it because with everything going on in the world right now, we just didn't want the attention to be on us. We wanted the attention to be on getting justice for our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives to police brutality, and we felt that was more important, to use our platform for that. We're just really happy and proud to see our other peers doing the same, and we're all letting our voices be heard and we're not backing down. Seeing how the whole entire world really is coming together to fight racism in America and anywhere else, it makes me really hopeful.

Halle Bailey: The past few weeks have been actually very heavy for the both of us. An emotional ride, because when we see what happened to George Floyd, we think of our father and we think of our little brother, and how that could happen to them any day. It's definitely been a heavy time, but also a hopeful time because of our peers and everybody that's finally standing up for what's right and we are just so happy to be a part of this generation who are not afraid to use our voices to speak up for what we believe in.

On the original of the album's name, Ungodly Hour

Halle Bailey: My sister actually had written in her notes this beautiful phrase, "the ungodly hour." And we used it because we basically feel like during this time, there can be a lot of things going on through your head. During the ungodly hour, you're thinking of all of the insecurities that you have, the ups and downs of your life, everything. In this case, for this song, we were basically telling somebody "When you decide you like yourself, and you need someone in your life, love me at the ungodly hour. Love me at my best and my worst." So we feel like the title track of this album is really going with the times of what's happening right now, because truly this does feel like the ungodly hour and we just hope that our music can be a healer right now.

On starting songwriting at a young age and maintaining control of songwriting and production on Ungodly Hour

Chloe Bailey: We have to give all that credit to our parents. When we were growing up our dad would always be like "If you don't know something, figure it out." And Halle and I, being around 10 and 8, living in Atlanta, going producer to producer, and songwriters and singing for them, no one really wanted to write music for us at that time because we were so young.

So that's when dad sat us down at the table like "Look, you all can create your own music as well." And so that's exactly what we did. And from then on, we just kind of progressed gradually together. Halle is the best music partner I could ever have. I appreciate how we bring two completely different perspectives — because we are two different people — to the music. We don't try to be the same, but we make our differences work and the synergy is pretty electric. We did most of this album in our garage here in our home. We put a bunch of carpet down, we have our mic and our speakers and keyboards and guitars in there. It's always such a good vibe. When we were creating songs for this album it truly felt like we were just storytelling and telling each other things that had been going on in our lives.

On remaking The Little Mermaid and the importance of representation

Halle Bailey: I'm very honored. I feel so blessed to be in this position. The Little Mermaid has always been one of my favorite movies since I was a little girl, so being able to make Ariel mine in a way has been a beautiful process and a beautiful journey, and I'm just so excited to go on it. I just hope people love it.I definitely hope that a lot of beautiful young black girls can know that they can be princesses, too. And that they are beautiful in every single way.

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Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.