Chloe Bailey—one half of the R&B sister-duo Chloe x Halle—performed Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” on ABC for a Juneteenth special, Juneteenth: Together We Triumph.
Donning a bedazzled black bodysuit and breaking out some sultry dance moves, the 22-year-old showed off her impressive vocal range and gave the 1964 jazzy staple her own flair.
Many fans and Chloe’s own sister Halle Bailey praised the performance, but the singer received mixed reviews from Nina Simone’s family. Shortly after the performance, Simone’s official Twitter account tweeted and then deleted a GIF of the late singer saying, “Eh girl sit down!” Others online criticized Bailey’s performance for sexualizing the song, but Simone’s granddaughter RéAnna Simone Kelly came to her defense.
“Everyone coming at [Chloe Bailey] for her performance of my grandmother Nina Simone’s song ‘Feeling Good.’ But what y’all don’t understand is that grandma was a free-spirited woman herself!! She would’ve loved that performance as much as I do! Relax. Chloe killed it,” she tweeted.
Kelly added, “Grandma was unapologetically herself. She was a muhhhfuckin badass woman who did what she wanted when she wanted. She was a sexual woman and she expressed that. Educate yourselves!! If grandma could she probably would’ve done that performance herself.”
Grandma was unapologetically herself. She was a muhhhfuckin badass woman who did what she wanted when she wanted. She was a sexual woman and she expressed that. Educate yourselves !! If grandma could she probably would’ve done that performance herself 😂😂
— RéAnna Simone Kelly (@reasiimone) June 19, 2021
Bailey also responded to fans’ reactions in an interview with Good Morning America.
“I have always loved Ms Nina Simone… and the performance was inspired by her spirit and her confidence and her honesty, and I worked incredibly hard to put it all together,” she said. “I’m just so happy to see that her granddaughter loved it and that there were other people who loved it as well.”
Bailey’s rendition of “Feeling Good” was initially released as part of the Liberated/Music for the Movement Vol 3 release, which also featured contributions from Cordae, Common, Kamasi Washington, Lucky Daye and Yara Shahidi.
Watch Chloe Bailey perform “Feeling Good” below: