By: Margaretta Maguire (282) and Laila Johnson (282)
When they performed at the African American Student Union (AASU) Showcase in February, Nina Moody (282) and Hailey Harris (282) strummed and harmonized their way into the hearts of everyone at Central with their rendition of the song “Sandstorm” by Mereba (featuring JID), with Nina on guitar and both singing. It was only one stop in a long and evolving list of musical endeavors for the duo, however. The two co-chairs of AASU Music and collaborators for Art Club have been meticulously practicing music for years, both hailing from very musical families. What has resulted are two well versed, disciplined, and highly skilled individuals with remarkable talents and a budding future. They spoke about their friendship, creative process, balancing school with music, being compared to Chloe x Halle, and future plans all while finishing each other’s sentences.
“We didn’t start singing together until this year,” Nina said, “We would just walk down the street and like sing a little. It was never like ‘oh let’s sing this, let’s sing that.’” They cited AASU and the preparation for their showcase this year as one of the formative aspects of their musical partnership. They have multiple covers on their joint Instagram page @dual.xharmony. When asked about how they decide which songs to sing together, Hailey explained, “Nina goes, ‘I can play this. I can play this.’ And then I say ‘Oh that also sounds like this song. Do you know this song?’ And then I figure out the harmonies and then we play with runs and then whatever sounds the best we just do over and over again until we’re like ‘This is how it’s gonna go.’”
Nina has a strong background in musical theater, citing a long list of productions including The Sound of Music and In the Heights. She has been classically trained in guitar since the age of seven, and started playing electric jazz guitar this year. Hailey has an experienced background in singing, while playing ukulele and dabbling in guitar. She cited her family as her inspiration, “They all have different things that they’re really good at, so I kind of look to emulate each of those things so I can be better than all of them.” Neither Nina nor Hailey have always been the star of the show, a humility that shows in the way they interact with people and their musicianship. Their siblings all went to CAPA. As Hailey said, “She (Hailey’s mom) writes musicals. So I was [the] stage crew. I was in the back, I was helping actresses like, ‘Uh, no, that’s not the note.’ That was it, I was never like on the stage.”
When asked about more of their inspirations, Nina said (with supplements and agreement from Hailey), “A lot of my inspiration came from people who were from Broadway. So like Amber Riley, Glee, Barabra Streissand, people like that. And then of course, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, people like that. Jazmine Sullivan, Brandy, Whitney Houston, obviously, but like current artists would definitely be Chloe x Halle, Beyoncé, H.E.R.” Additionally, both emphasized how important the style of Jazz is to them.
They said that they are often compared to the singing sister duo Chloe x Halle, something that gives them mixed feelings. When Hailey highlighted the pressure that puts them under, Nina responded “Right, cause they’re so good, and then they (people who know Nina and Hailey) are like, ‘When are y’all releasing an album?’ Which is a crazy thing because we’ve been doing covers right now, and the main thing we do is take a song that we like, and then we just change it. We just change it. And we have the ability to songwrite, like we’re in Artists’ Club right now and we’re helping them write stuff but we’ve never wrote like a whole song. Maybe like an EP by like next summer. But like we don’t really write music like that. So for us to be compared to them is, like, there’s much more to being an artist than being able to sing and being able to play an instrument or whatever. There’s much more to that… being compared is very flattering, but it’s like, the pressure!”
They also spoke about the difficulty of being a Central student while trying to practice and pursue music. In response to their goal of recording “Sandstorm” in a studio, Nina said, “Maybe in the summer we’d have more time to free our minds,” and Hailey added, “Be in that creative space. And just that space. Without being like, ‘okay, wrap it up we gotta get to class. Or, I have homework to do or I have a project.’”
All in all, these two have the Central community’s attention, and a strong fan base as they continue to pursue music, at whatever level they choose. Fans should be on the look out for their studio version of “Sandstorm” coming out this summer and follow them on their joint social media @dual.xharmony