The empowering single marks Halle's first non-'Little Mermaid' solo single and explores the beauty and resilience of Black womanhood.
On Friday, the 23-year-old unveiled her debut single, "Angel," alongside its ethereal music video. The new single is Halle's first solo song, marking her first non-theatrical release without her sister, Chloë Bailey, and is her first release since the Chloë x Halle duo's critically acclaimed album, Ungodly Hour, in 2020.
Performing under the mononym Halle, the GRAMMY-nominated singer soulfully croons lyrics that encourage listeners to soar despite the weight the world attempts to place on their wings, promising that "angels find a way somehow."
"Rich blood, you can probably see the gold in my skin/ I'm more than a girl, won't let the troubles of the world come weigh me down," the Georgia native sings passionately.
"Black girl here, Black girl with the Black girl hair/Took a little sun kiss just to look like this," Halle sings, surrounded by Black dancers who sport their hair in braids, ponytails, afro puffs, waves and more beautiful styles. "God-sent, you're an angel."
In the stunning music video directed by Wendy Morgan, who is known for her collaborations with musical giants like Alicia Keys and Janelle Monae, Halle alternates between sitting alone in a pool of water to scenes of her depicted as living art against shifting brush-stroked clouds as she's surrounded by dancers. The video's heavenly themes are beautifully on point for a singer often complimented on her angelic vocals.
For those who have been following Halle's journey since before her casting as the titular, headstrong princess in Disney's latest live-action reimagining, "Angel" is understandably very personal for the singer. It's a tribute to her journey navigating the pressure of the sudden worldwide attention and the sometimes racist conversation that began as soon as her casting was announced.
"This song for me is so very special and near and dear to my heart. With everything I've gone through the past 3-4 years, suddenly finding myself in this bubble of all these eyes and new opinions, it was easy for me to feel doubt in myself and who I was," Halle said in a release. "This song for me was my climb out of those feelings, a mantra and promise to myself that the work I'm doing here on earth matters and that I matter. I wanted to be able to embrace and be proud of myself and who I am naturally through and through."
More than that, the singer shared her hope that others find motivation within the song for themselves. "I hope other brown and Black girls and everyone in general feel embraced, respected, and inspired hearing the words of this song," she added.
Halle has been candid about the struggles she faced while filming the Disney film, as well as her joy at seeing how her version of Ariel hit home in a big way for little Black girls who saw themselves portrayed as the beloved little mermaid for the first time onscreen.
"I loved Brandy as Cinderella; she was so amazing, such a role model and inspiration and a really big kind of studying point for me as I was taking on Ariel," she continued. "I just watched how amazing she was in that role and how comfortable she was in her skin and how impactful to audiences and little girls like me who watched it. And Anika Noni Rose, who's just outstanding. I've had the chance to meet her and we got to sing [The Princess and the Frog's] song together, "Almost There" for [2022's Disney Family Singalong] with my sister. She was always so kind! But there are these beautiful Black women pioneers who've done this before and been there for me to be able to say, 'OK, I can do this.'"
Soon after the first trailer for the upcoming film was released, videos began circulating on social media that showed numerous Black girls "blind reacting" to the live-action trailer, which included a seconds-long glimpse at the new Ariel swimming under the sea and singing the song "Part of Your World."
"It's been such a beautiful moment for me to be able to see the reactions of the babies -- it makes me just emotionally overwhelmed honestly and I cry as soon as I watch them," Halle admitted "I think of the little girl that's still in me, honestly, and it heals that girl inside of me to watch them feel like they have representation and someone to look to, to know that they deserve to be in those places too. [It's] so important. It just makes me cry anytime I see any of those videos."
She went on to share that director Rob Marshall went beyond simply casting her for representation -- he gave her the reins to stay true to herself while portraying Ariel. From pushing for Ariel to have locks as her signature red mane to Bailey changing keys or notes in the music to fit her voice.
"I think naturally, I just really tried my best to stay true to myself with every choice that I would make in acting, especially in the songs," Halle said. "I was really grateful to Rob Marshall that he gave me the freedom to just be me and sing how Halle would sing. And some of those inflections and riffs I was allowed to do -- that was fun to be able to play because the original music that we have is so beautiful and such a staple in all of our childhoods; the fact that I got to tweak and edit it a little bit was like so much fun and a joy to have that creative freedom."
The singer explained that she "jumped an octave higher" when singing her rendition of "Part of Your World," and to make it more of her own song, as well as adding lines to the Sebastian-led song, "Under the Sea."
"Moments like those are really fun when you get to sing with your favorite songs," she gushed.
Halle's new single won't be the last musical project fans will get from the singer before the year ends. The singer is also set to star in another movie musical later this year: Blitz Bazawule's The Color Purple, which is scheduled to hit theaters on Christmas Day.
Halle stars as Young Nettie in the Bazawule-directed reimagining of the story made iconic in the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, the 1985 Warner Bros. Pictures film and the Tony Award-winning stage musical. The actress previously told ET that being part of The Color Purple was "an amazing moment for me because it's such a staple film in our community."
She added: "I remember my grandparents would always have it like playing in the background and I was just really excited to be a part of it. Not only because I’m such a fan of the [people] that are in it, like Fantasia who is vocal genius and Colman Domingo and Danielle Brooks -- I mean [there are] just such amazing Black talent in the film that I was just happy to be there to witness."
"It literally felt just like that and I was excited to play young Nettie because I felt I had [that] experience of sisterhood, that bond that I have with my sister, Chlöe," she added, speaking to the film's theme of strength in sisterhood. "I felt like I was able to pull from my experiences with her and apply it to the beautiful relationship between Celie and Nettie. And even though Nettie goes away for almost half the film... you feel her love."
The Color Purple opens in theaters on Dec. 25.