At The Day, It’s a little hot at NPR HQ where Chlöe Bailey is Recording of their Tiny Desk concert.
Dozens of eager staffers entered the room to hear the singer perform and crowded around “All Songs Considered” host Bob Boilen’s desk in Washington, DC It was so sweltering that one fan felt dizzy and passed out .
After paramedics tended to the young lady and made sure she was okay, Bailey approached her, hugged her and exchanged a few words before they posed for a photo together. In order not to miss the moment of photographing, the medics also made sure to take a picture with the star. The 25-year-old kindly snapped more photos with almost everyone after the shoot ended, in keeping with a topic close to Bailey’s heart: appreciating those who appreciate you.
“It’s important to be honest and transparent about our vulnerabilities and what we’re going through, and many times I’ve broken down and the cracks remain,” Bailey told the few dozen NPR staffers on the newsroom. “But that doesn’t make me imperfect. That doesn’t take away from me the beauty that I have deep inside. And it’s important to surround ourselves with those who appreciate us in all of our glory.”
The “Have Mercy” singer has been trending on social media for years as everything she does seems to undergo intense scrutiny – from posting a topless photo on Instagram to singing a sensual cover of Minnie Riperton’s Classic “Lovin’ You”. The specific criticism is that she’s too sexy in appearances and on social media — that she’s purposely over-sexualizing herself. Public attention reached critical mass with the release of her debut album, In Pieces, and her appearance on the Prime Video series, Swarm, in which she had a torrid sex scene with Damson Idris. More recently, Funky Dineva, a 40-year-old gossip blogger, apologized after an unsolicited attack on Bailey’s appearance.
Unfortunately, many of these unsolicited comments are self-evident when a prominent black woman is venturing out on social media about her sexuality. Bailey isn’t immune to the haters, instead she’s more focused on achieving her goals.
“I definitely understand the criticism,” Bailey told HuffPost. “Sometimes I feel it, and half the time the criticism is self-inflicted. We can be our own biggest critics, but I just need to learn to get out of my head because that could keep me from reaching my next goal and achieving what I’ve been praying for.”
She continued, “Yes, people can talk things, but sometimes I say things to myself that are just as bad. As long as I can get out of there knowing that what I’m doing is bigger than myself, I can be successful in every way.”
Bailey is no newcomer to NPR’s Tiny Desk live concert series. Chlöe x Halle, the R&B duo she formed with her sister Halle Bailey, gave a tiny desk concert in 2020 as the series switched to “home screening” due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the older Bailey sister’s latest Tiny Desk effort is an opportunity for her to showcase her talent as a solo artist, performing some of her singles like ‘Surprise’ and a few tracks from ‘In Pieces’.
“Tiny Desk is a great reminder that it takes talent to be on this platform,” said Ashley Pointer, production assistant at NPR Music. “Hopefully at this performance people will focus more on the music, the arrangement and the performance.”
Reflecting on the “Treat Me” singer’s performance over the past few years as she came of age, Pointer added, “I don’t know why she gets so much criticism. It’s just about being a proud black woman on the internet.”
The actress – who has been in the public eye since she was 13 for making covers of songs with her sister – was celebrating her 25th trip around the sun – when she saw the cake NPR staffers gave her after the performance released for her birthday, it served as a prop reminder that Bailey is just beginning to carve out her own path as a young woman and solo artist.
“If I’m honest, I’m still in the process of advancing my solo career. I think that’s the exciting thing about life,” she said. “You become someone and grow into something bigger every day.”
She added, “As long as it feels good, as long as I’m having fun and my love of art is definitely showing, that’s all I really need and I’ll find a way to deal with it.”