With the kids (and many adults) back in school and Labor Day now behind us, it’s safe to say the best of summer is behind us, too—and though 2020 has set the bar for “best” pretty low, this season did deliver us some pretty stellar music, especially from Black women. Among the many bops that buoyed our socially-distanced summer, Chloe x Halle’s most recent album, Ungodly Hour, was a standout, both landing on the charts and cementing the sisters’ growth before our very eyes from YouTube sensations into young women fully in control of their rising career.
In case you’re wondering, yes, “career” was intended to be singular, since, while the Bailey sisters are indeed two individuals, “Chloe x Halle is one artist, together,” as their publicist notes in their cover story for Cosmopolitan’s October issue—also dubbed “the Sisters Issue.” And despite the fact that Halle will soon make her big-screen debut starring as Ariel in Disney’s highly anticipated (and hotly debated) live-action remake of The Little Mermaid—while Chloe will soon appear in Russell Crowe’s upcoming thriller The Georgetown Project—the sisters remain as symbiotic as the scene-stealing twins they portray on Freeform’s Grown-ish.
“Whenever we’re apart, I feel like my right arm is missing,” says Halle, now 20. “I say this all the time: I’m not sure what I would do if I was by myself going through this whole thing. ... Whenever individual opportunities come, it’s exciting because when one of us wins, the other one does too,” she concludes.
As the two tell the magazine, 22-year-old Chloe actually stayed with her younger sister for the first month of her three-month Disney shoot in the U.K.—which was subsequently delayed by the spread of COVID-19—a gesture that demonstrates the deep and organic mutual support between these sisters.
“We’re not trying to force anything or purposely construct two different narratives or suffocate the other into one type of way,” says Chloe.
Instead, they complement each other—in the studio, on stage, and even on the now-famous tennis court in their backyard, where they’ve recently filmed everything from Fendi campaigns to MTV VMA performances to the aforementioned Cosmo shoot, However unintentionally, the outbreak of COVID-19, coupled with the outbreak of uprisings across the country, seems to have forced an unconditional acceptance within the sister act that has proved perfectly in tune with our new normal—and inspired the title of their latest and highest-ranking album to date. “It’s okay to accept all that you are, all of your layers,” Chloe tells Cosmo. “You at the ungodly hours.”
As for the timing of the album, the duo admits that “following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many others, and as the country poured out into streets to mourn and protest the brutality of systemic racism and police violence,” they were initially “not in the right state of mind” to release the project on its originally intended date.
They worried it’d feel disrespectful in some way. Or that it would take up space when the movement around fighting for Black lives needed all of the spotlight. In the end, they put it out there—but not because some record-label exec said they had to. Because it suddenly felt necessary. “Music has been such a healer for the Black community since the beginning of time,” Halle says. “Maybe it could help some people distract their minds from quarantine and what’s going on in the world today with hope and positivity.”
The album did exactly that—and became its own form of personal protest, as well as a healing balm for the duo’s fans. “There came a moment when it was just like, you know what? We do music because we love it,” Chloe shares. “And we love the way it makes us feel. It’s our right to be creative and do anything we want.”
“The divine plan is always better than whatever I could ever come up with,” she later adds. “And it always ends up working out the best.”
Cosmo’s Sisters Issue is due on newsstands September 15.