Entertainment Weekly Magazine named The Shindellas one of six new artists to watch in 2019. With their powerful performance driven music, the all too talented beautiful trio are on a love mission to encourage every single solitary woman to reclaim their power, while at the same time maintaining an atmosphere of fun and funk that leaves one feeling better and stronger than ever before.
We caught up with the ladies to provide you with a formal introduction to Kasi Jones, Stacy Johnson and Tamara Chauniece; a.k.a. Kasi, Stacy and Tam of The Shindellas. Check out the full interview below.
Parlé Mag: When did you all first become interested in making music, what was your introduction to music?
Stacy: My musical inception started at a radio station turned into a creative and recording studio on the north side of Chicago, Illinois, called Joy Art Music. I sang there for the first time and I learned how to write music, play the guitar (and) perform, as I began singing jingles for commercials for products like Honey Nut Cheerios, McDonald’s, and for radio personalities; including Tom Joyner.
Tam: My introduction to music came by way of the church. Both of my parents were ministers, so I literally grew up in the pew. My mom’s side of the family led the music ministry at our home church, so I basically fell in line. I had my first public solo performance at 7 years old, and the rest was honestly history.
Kasi: For me, the first musical experience I remember is watching Carmen Jones, starring Dorothy Dandridge, when I was 4 or 5 years old. I remember having a moment when she was singing “Dat’s Love,” and thinking I want to do THAT! From there, I got involved in any school I could, doing plays and singing in classical and jazz choirs. That eventually led me to Los Angeles, where I attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, studying acting and musical theatre. Between school and becoming a Shinnie, I have worked in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tokyo; writing and performing original music, as well as in theatrical productions.
Parlé Mag: Now where exactly do you all hail from? And growing up there, who all did/do you all consider to be your strongest musical influences?
Stacy: I grew up in Chicago with Jamaican immigrant parents. I’m influenced by a range of genres, but I was definitely immersed in the reggae culture with soca music and bacanal. Bob Marley is a huge influence!
Tam: I grew up South of Houston in a little country town called Wharton, Texas. My parents didn’t really allow me to listen to anything, but gospel music… so everything from The Clark Sisters to Shirley Caesar stayed in rotation. Every now and then, my sister would sneak in some ‘90’s R&B and I’d get my little rebellious LIFE. Or Pops would have The Tom Joyner Morning Show on when taking me to school, and they played all the old school and new school jams.
Kasi: I grew up in Bellevue, Washington, just outside of Seattle, during the grunge movement, so it was Pearl Jam and Nirvana for me. My mother listened almost exclusively to Motown. My father loved big female voices like Barbra Streisand, Stephanie Mills and Minnie Riperton. My grandmother loved Peggy Lee and the old movie musicals. The common thread and biggest influence on my art from all of these people was STORYTELLING.
Parlé Mag: At what particular point in time, specifically, did you all even opt to pursue music on a professional basis?
Stacy: I sang my first jingle when I was fifteen years old. It was for a McDonald’s commercial, and all I sang was, “bada bop bop bah, I’m lovin’ it.” I made $350 dollars for the session, and at that age I was rich! I found my career, and there was no turning back.
Tam: Because I’d developed a love for music and saw how impactful it was so young, that’s what birthed my desire to pursue music professionally. I was getting paid to travel and perform around the country at an early age. I recorded my first Gospel EP at 11 years old, and sold it out of the trunk of our car wherever I went.
Kasi: Chuck Harmony always says that as soon as you think about having a career in music, that’s when it begins. So for me, I feel like it started with ‘Carmen Jones.’ That is when I actively started looking for opportunities to perform. And I just never stopped! When I went to conservatory to learn more about the business side of the industry, I think I finally understood that I was a professional and not just a “person who gets paid to sing.”
Parlé Mag: With that being said, exactly how then did it all begin for The Shindellas?
Tam: The Shindellas came together in 2017 in Franklin, Tennessee. We were brought together by the songwriting and production duo; Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony, a.k.a. Louis York. We formed a bond over a collective vision to exemplify love, the bond of sisterhood, and the need to see women come together in music. To carry this vision forward we aligned ourselves under the tenets of excellence, elegance and empowerment.
Parlé Mag: Where does the moniker The Shindellas originally derive from?
Kasi: The Shindellas is a derivative of the made-up word we use in the studio called “Shindo.” We define a “Shindo” as an uncontrollably joyful feeling that causes chills, goosebumps or a shiver up your spine. So, we’re basically named after the way we want to make people feel.
Parlé Mag: With that being said, how do you all classify your overall sound and/or style?
Stacy: Retro pop with a new school hit! It’s everything you’ve ever heard, and everything you’ve never heard at the same time. It’s definitely for everybody!
Parlé Mag: The new single/video is entitled “Chills” — Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition?
Tam: This song was written by Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony. It is a great example of the fun, uplifting spirit of our music. It speaks about quality control in our relationships. In a nutshell, we want our audience to make sure they’re surrounding themselves by the people and things that truly bring them joy.
Parlé Mag: Obviously “Chills” comes courtesy of your forthcoming, still untitled official debut studio collection — What all can you all reveal and/or divulge about upcoming said set at this point in time?
Kasi: We have no idea what it’s going to sound like. We are about to begin to explore this new sound we have together and we have some ideas, but everything is going to be brand new. Even to us! But we’re excited to craft a body of work that will shake the world.
Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, what exactly do you all want people to get from The Shindellas music?
Stacy: Our music is a safe space for our listeners; we have a mantra that says: “You are allowed to be yourself without fear,” meaning come as you are, be as you are. And I believe our music builds confidence, the kind we all need when navigating life’s unpredictable terrain.
Parlé Mag: If you all could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Stacy: Ray Charles; his music ability would compliment our vocal agility beautifully.
Tam: I’d have to say Quincy Jones. He’s one of the greatest composers of our time, and he understands musical taste and how to tailor-make a sound that stands the test of time.
Kasi: JUST ONE?! I choose Coldplay. They are so cinematic, and I think combining our stylistic and vocal range/blend, with their orchestrations, would be LUUUUSH. I also would love to see what Dr. Missy Elliott would do with us. I’d also love for us to duet with Reba; I’m so Nashville now! This is hard!!
Parlé Mag: If you all could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Stacy: I would want to play Omeara in London, England. It is a beautiful, rustic and intimate theater. We could make it sexy!
Tam: I’d have to say Red Rocks would be such a dope venue! Can you imagine our couture costumes and glam with nature as the backdrop and our anthemic songs echoing throughout? ICONIC.
Kasi: “One Night Only-The Shindellas, Live at Carnegie Hall!” Iconic. Elegant. And inclusive, since it’s a foundation. Andrew Carnegie said, “Here all good causes may find a platform.” I just feel that the space really fits who we are and what we’d like to contribute to humanity. I also love that they have always had space for Black artists, even in a time when most doors were closed to us.
Parlé Mag: In terms of longevity, what do you all feel it is that will continue to sustain you in this grueling industry?
Stacy: Staying humble and keeping the music first. Keeping God in our hearts and minds. And empathy.
Tam: I think what has sustained us and what will continue to sustain us is the fact that not only do we love one another and convey it through our music, but our vision is selfless. We’re not doing music to change our lives… we’re doing it to change the world.
Parlé Mag: Do you all have any other outside/additional future aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Stacy: Yes, I am an artist and artisan who studied design. I love to create things; such as painting, crafts and gardening. I have a few entrepreneurial ventures; like a handmade accessories boutique.
Tam: I’m a huge advocate for mental health and financial literacy, especially for minorities and creatives. I’d love to build a platform that offers mental, emotional, spiritual and financial support to aid in overcoming on the road to becoming.
Kasi: Yes. I write fiction and non-fiction, mostly in the personal development and interpersonal communication space. I’m very passionate about literacy, and believe that it is directly tied to liberty and social mobility. My biggest aspiration is to use art and literature to help empower communities. I’m also a second-degree reiki practitioner, and I am obsessed with skin care.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your biggest career moment, at least thus far anyway?
Stacy: We have a few! Playing Essence Fest for the first time, watching our video “Ain’t That The Truth” premiere on BETHer, and having Entertainment Weekly name The Shindellas as one of the ‘Top 6 Artists to watch in 2019.’
Parlé Mag: Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you all see yourselves?
Tam: We see ourselves being the best version of ourselves, thriving in every way and finding incredible ways to change the world by continuing to tell our story through music and other gifts. We’ll be together; stronger, even closer as friends.
Parlé Mag: As for the immediate, what’s next for The Shindellas?
Kasi: An album! We cannot wait to present our original body of work together.
Parlé Mag: Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?
Stacy: We have several songs available on all digital media! Please go purchase, download or stream them! We also love engaging with our fellow Weirdos. If you’re reading this, make sure to say “Hi” to us on IG, FB or Twitter!
Check out their latest single, “Costume”:
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thoughts for our readers?
Tam: We hope you love our music and message! We do it with you in mind, and our desire is that you feel just that. Remember, you are allowed to be yourself without fear. We hope to be in a city near you soon!
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