Although fans know her as Halsey, her family got to know this best-selling musical artist as Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. She was born in 1994, signed to Astralwerks in 2014, and released her first EP called “Room 93” that same year.
Since that initial musical release, Halsey has had a No. 1 album with Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, which reached the market in 2017. She’s also had two works reach No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, including Badlands in 2015 and Manic in 2020.
Manic was the most-streamed album in 2020 for a female artist. She’s also had popular collaborations with other artists that reached No. 1, with “Closer” by The Chainsmokers arguably the most successful.
In total, Halsey had one million albums sold and six billion streams played in the United States at the end of 2020.
Halsey’s Troubled Past and Chaotic Present
Ashley Nicolette Frangipane (Halsey) was born into an American middle-class family in 1994. Her mother works as an ER medical technician, while her father manages a car dealership. She comes from Hungarian and Italian descent, with some Irish and African-American ancestry.
Halsey started learning how to play music early in her childhood. Her first instruments were the cello, viola, and violin until she decided to switch to the guitar at age 14.
She says that her early musical influences included artists like Justin Bieber and Alanis Morissette.
Although her family wasn’t military-based, they still moved around a lot when she was a kid because of the American economy’s troubles.
By the time she made it to her teens, Halsey had already been enrolled in six different schools.
As with most kids who keep getting singled out for being new, Halsey never had a chance to find herself or a routine with friends before the family moved again.
With all of the bullying happening at each new destination, she eventually tried to take her own life at the age of 17.
Thankfully, she wasn’t successful with the attempt. As a result of the effort, her parents kept her hospitalized for 17 days to start the recovery process.
During this time, doctors diagnosed her with having bipolar disorder, which is something her mother also works to manage.
It was during that year that Halsey also began a romantic relationship with a man who was 24. He lived on Halsey Street in Brooklyn, and she says that was the place where she started writing music.
“[It is] where I started to feel like I was a part of something bigger than my town in the middle of nowhere New Jersey,” she told Hollywood Life in 2018.
Although her romantic partner lived on Halsey street, she says the name comes from an anagram of her first name instead.
Halsey describes her artist persona as being all of the “exaggerated parts” of who she is as a person named Ashley.
Halsey Isn’t a Stranger to Sadness or Being Misunderstood
Halsey doesn’t talk about her suicide attempt often. One of the most extensive interviews she gave on the subject happened in 2016.
“I was an adolescent,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing.” When Halsey was hospitalized for her actions, it was at a psychiatric hospital.
“I was in there with 9-year-olds who had tried to kill themselves,” she said.
Although it was a challenging moment in her life, it would also help her find ways to embrace her authentic self.
About one-fifth of high school students say that they seriously consider attempting suicide at least once. It’s the third-leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10-14, and it rises to the second-leading factor for people in the 15 to 34 age demographic.
About 8% of high school students say that they’ve made a suicide attempt.
Halsey is bisexual, bi-racial, and bipolar, which causes her to be a self-described “inconvenient” woman. Instead of fitting into a specific societal role, she often finds herself on the outside, looking in at everyone else.
When you listen to her music, you can get a sense of that angst with the lyrics she sings with such passion.
Halsey Found an Online Community for Support
After Halsey was discharged from the hospital, she turned to online communities to find support. That included places like SoundCloud and Tumblr.
“There was no TV, no music, no nothing,” she told Billboard about her time in the hospital.
When she was discharged, she was sitting in the car, listening to an Imagine Dragons song. That was the moment when she realized how crucial it was to have music in her life.
It would be only three years later when Halsey would open for Imagine Dragons on their arena tour.
For a time, Halsey said that she felt disappointed, bitter, and alone because there weren’t people in the media or around her sphere of influence who were like her.
Today, she has decided to be that person for others so that they don’t need to succumb to their troubled past or the chaotic days of the present.
If you know someone who is thinking about suicide right now, have them call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s available 24 hours a day, all year long, at 1 (800) 273-8255.
Halsey Graduated from High School in 2012
After all of the challenges she faced during her teen years, Halsey eventually graduated from high school in 2012. She’s an alumnus of Warren Hills Regional High School in Washington, NJ.
After her graduation, Halsey decided to enroll in the Rhode Island School of Design. Although she’s a superstar today with plenty of monetary resources, she had to withdraw because there wasn’t enough money.
Halsey decided to attend a community college instead, but even that opportunity didn’t work out for her. That’s when her parents told her that she needed to find a place of her own.
“[My parents] just didn’t agree with a lot of things about me,” Halsey said when thinking about that time in her life.
It caused her to find a basement apartment in lower Manhattan that she shared with several drug addicts that she knew through her boyfriend.
If Halsey wasn’t there, you’d find her at one of the city’s homeless shelters. Things got so bad during those days that she even started thinking about prostitution as a way to start paying her bills.
“I had $9 in my bank account,” Halsey said, “and I bought a four-pack of Red Bull to stay up… over the course of two or three days because it was less dangerous to not sleep than to sleep somewhere and maybe get raped or kidnapped.”
Halsey would also sometimes stay with her maternal grandmother when things got tough on NYC’s streets.
Ongoing Health Issues Also Plague Halsey
Halsey went public with an endometriosis diagnosis in 2016. According to her information release, she says a miscarriage that happened in 2015 contributed to the health issue. She’s also said that her hectic touring schedule could have been part of the problem.
When she had her miscarriage in 2015, she still went on stage to perform only hours later because she didn’t want to hurt her career.
During an appearance on the show The Doctors in 2018, she talked about how freezing her eggs was in the realm of possibility because of the health issues she was facing.
The endometriosis can be severe enough at times that Halsey needs an IV while backstage to get ready for a performance. She says that it’s been bad enough that she thought she might bleed through her clothing during a show.
Halsey encourages women to speak out about their health issues. Even when she went through surgery to find some relief, she must still take medicine and other treatments to feel somewhat normal.
Halsey has also mentioned that she’s gluten intolerant. After a fan asked her about GF Cheerios, she said that eating anything with gluten causes her stomach to swell to the point she looks six-months pregnant.
One of the best health decisions Halsey has made is to quit smoking. She revealed on Twitter in 2019 that she was stopping after ten years.
Halsey Has at Least 29 Confirmed Tattoos
The most prominent of Halsey’s tattoos is the upside-down horseshoe you can see on her right shoulder. She also has roses that come across her left shoulder that offer a prominent statement.
When she was dating G-Eazy, lyrics from the song “Him and I” were tattooed on her, but she would go on to cover those up. On her neck, she’s got lyrics from Beck’s “Loser” tattooed, while Marilyn Manson’s face is on the side of her torso.
There is one tattoo on her face, which Halsey revealed in 2019 on an Instagram post. It’s subtle, right next to her left ear, and easily covered by her hair when she grows it long or wears a wig.
One of the fan-favorite tattoos she has is of two people kissing on her thigh.
Although tattoos are generally regarded as safe today, there can still be some complications to the procedure. Some people develop an allergic reaction to the dyes several years after getting their ink. Skin infections, including staph, are also possible.
In rare instances, some people can develop cutaneous tuberculosis. Since a needle delivers the ink, you might see swelling or burning at the tattoo site.
Some research suggests that the ink in some tattoos contains titanium dioxide. It travels inside the body as nanoparticles to create lymph node enlargement, leading to severe damage to the immune system.
How Do Halsey’s Actions Provide Help?
We know that teens and youth who identify in non-conforming gender roles or are transgender face significantly higher rates of attempted suicide and depression compared to their peers.
Over 40% of the people who identify as being on the transgender spectrum make at least one attempt to take their lives.
The one thing that these teens and youth need is acceptance of who they are. When they feel supported by the people in their lives, the rates of depression and suicidal ideation plummet.
Instead of trying to force a round peg into a square hole, the idea that researchers present is that parents and communities could offer more support for these kids.
If that outlet isn’t available, Halsey wants to be in that role to show others that you can be someone that you like to see in the mirror each day.
Why is that level of support necessary for people who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community?
It’s because someone out there will be discriminatory, rude, or be a bully. When those actions happen, kids need to know that it is okay to lean on the people they trust for help.
With Halsey leading the way, music can be an outlet to help youth deal with challenging emotions or confusing thoughts. When someone experiences discrimination or harassment, they often feel like they’re a burden to the people they love.
Halsey’s Relationships Sometimes Reflect Her Internal Chaos
Halsey is openly bisexual. Although she doesn’t discuss all of her relationships, she has been linked to Lido, G-Eazy, and Yungblud over the years. Before she started singing, she also dated a girl.
Those relationships can sometimes feel as wild as the parties she throws.
Although part of that might be due to her bipolar diagnosis, it’s also a symptom of celebration when you come from “nothing.”
After purchasing a $2.2 million home in the Hollywood Hills, Halsey threw a birthday party for producer Benny Blanco at her place. The police were ultimately called to shut down the party. “I’d just gotten the keys to the house,” Halsey recalls. “It didn’t even have furniture – then the power went out.”
That bipolar diagnosis can be a struggle at times for Halsey when she is on tour. She says that one of the ways she copes is to stay sober as much as possible. It also helps to have a creative outlet, which singing for an audience certainly provides.
Even then, the discrimination and harassment don’t stop. It’s not because of her sexual orientation in the music industry that causes this issue to continue.
It’s the fact that she’s a woman who can also write music. “There’s a skepticism behind female artists in general,” Halsey said. It’s been there since she first started composing. People are condescending, like – oh, you can write your songs too?
That issue applies to many of today’s most popular female artists. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift are all incredible songwriters in addition to being performers and entertainers. People want to discount them partially because they are women, but also because that negative energy makes them feel better about their own inadequacies.
It’s Lady Gaga that Halsey credits for giving her the strength to be herself. She also calls Panic! At the Disco the one band that absolutely changed her life.
Halsey Receives Criticism About Her Singing Style
Since 2019, Halsey has given herself the label as “the anti-popstar.” She says that it doesn’t matter to her how people identify her music as long as it connects with them, although someone who would actually feel that way wouldn’t need to associate a public label to themselves.
Halsey often says that her music gets classified as pop because she’s a woman. If her music had come out in the early 2000s, it would have been closer to the alternative genre. Where the industry is today, popular styles are where alt-artists used to be.
Some people describe Halsey as a feminist icon. Others criticize her for the labels she uses, including the idea of being “tri-bi.”
The most significant criticism she receives is over her singing style. It’s relatively independent in its sound, especially since the accent is different than what comes with her speaking voice. Halsey describes it as a Dolores O’Riordan influence.
Her mother listened to The Cranberries a lot when she was growing up, and she grew to appreciate what it was like to treat music in unconventional ways. Anyone can sing a note, but the way that Halsey does it generates passionate responses from the listener.
Halsey also says that she appreciates how O’Riordan stood up to become a trailblazer in the music industry. Her activism, which came about because of her fame, was something that Halsey wanted to duplicate if she ever got the opportunity.
Halsey the Activist: Changing the World, One Day at a Time
Halsey found herself working as an activist in 2016. When the U.S. Presidential primaries were happening, she became an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders. She often urged her fans to vote for him as a candidate.
She also participated in the “I’m Listening” campaign for mental health and suicide prevention hosted by Entercom in 2017. This experience was a direct intervention opportunity to use her experience from her own attempt to help others.
After the 2017 Women’s March was completed, Halsey announced over Twitter that she would donate $1 for every retweet Planned Parenthood received. It would end up being a $100,000 donation to the health provider.
During the 2018 Women’s March, Halsey delivered a five-minute poem called “A Story Like Mine.” It was a recount of her personal stories of sexual assault and violence, including how she recalled attacks by boyfriends and neighbors.
She has come out to support Dr. Larry Nassar’s victims, a man convicted of sexually assaulting athletes training at the Olympic level.
Some of her efforts have generated controversy. Although she considers herself a feminist, Halsey performed for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in November 2018.
Although she was there with several other artists, she called out the company a month later for not providing opportunities to transgender models.
“I have no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity, especially not motivated by stereotype.” It is a fair question to ask where that intolerance was when she was earning a paycheck for her performance.
In 2019, Halsey performed on the charity single called “Earth” that was raising awareness for climate change.
In 2020, Halsey joined the George Floyd protests in Los Angeles that were calling for racial justice. A month after that experience, she launched The Black Creators Fund to provide resources, support, and a platform for African-American creators. Recipients receiver $10,000 and promotion on Halsey’s social media platforms.
The first three artist recipients of the fund were Freddie, Asata, and Sanni Kehinde.
Halsey Canceled Her 2021 Manic Tour in January
Halsey is 26 in 2021, about a decade from that crucial moment in her life when she almost ended everything. She announced on January 27 that she is expecting her first child.
Halsey tagged screenwriter Alev Aydin in her Instagram post that announced the pregnancy. It was only February 2020, right before the 2020 issues struck our world, that she talked about motherhood being a miracle that would eventually happen for her.
This announcement occurred less than a week after Halsey announced that she canceled the 2021 Manic tour because of the ongoing virus problem.
“This tour was supposed to be my most unique yet for a number of reasons,” she said in the announcement. “I was really looking forward to sharing this chapter of my life with you in the ways I best know how.
Reproductive health has always been a challenge for Halsey. In the Manic album notes, she talks about how the song “More” discusses those concerns. For a long time, she even felt like having a family wasn’t going to be something she was able to do.
“It’s very, very important to me,” she said. “All of a sudden, everything is different. I’m not going to go tour myself to death because I have nothing else to do and I’m overcompensation for not being able to have this other thing that I really want.”
That’s not bad for an artist who once said that she was just a f’cked up stoner kid who found a way to make it.
What Does the Future Hold for Halsey?
One of Halsey’s great talents is to find a place of common ground with other artists. Not only has she had success with The Chainsmokers, but she has also had groundbreaking parts in compositions from Post Malone and others.
Halsey also has one of the most powerful voices in music. Her compositions often force her to hold back from the full force of her singing.
On “Manic,” her song “Ashley” starts to display some of that raw talent.
In some ways, Halsey has found herself depending on others to find her sound instead of discovering herself.
When she posted her first composition on SoundCloud, she had multiple label offers appear almost overnight.
After spending so much time with The Chainsmokers on “Closer,” it caused her to lose herself. That’s when she got to know Lido, who became her boyfriend and the executive producer for the debut “Badlands.”
Halsey said the experience contributed massively to her dependency on him and others. It caused her to question her sound, her abilities, and even the chance to make new albums.
What did it mean to be Halsey?
To answer that question, “Manic” creates new stories that feel hyper-relevant to today’s world. Halsey is also exploring other creative avenues to chase away – or embrace her demons.
In November 2020, Halsey published an original book of poetry called I Would Leave Me If I Could. It’s a reflection of her family ties, mental illness struggles, doomed relationships, and overall sexuality. You can find it available through Simon and Schuster.
After her pregnancy announcement, the idea of touring on the same scale as she did in the past is questionable. You might see her working more in the studio or hosting small tours instead of taking the arena approach once the restrictions end.
That leaves a final question: what comes next?
“I want to be in politics,” Halsey told Vulture after the election of Donald Trump. She wants people to understand that being a woman doesn’t make you inferior. It just makes you different.
“I had a guy at my label say to me, ‘You have to bleed for this Ashley.’” If anyone knows Halsey, they already understand that she’s put everything she’s got into this creative endeavor of a career.
Her troubled past might make for good lyrics and the present’s chaos can inspire new stories, but it is Halsey’s future that will change everything.