Tamara Chauniece’s vocals bring a Southern church-like feel, Stacy Johnson has a sound often heard in Broadway theaters, and Kasi Jones adds a sultry jazz sound to the mix—but can also go up into higher octaves. On stage, they’re likely rocking matching or similar outfits, typically adorned in sequins or metallic materials that evoke a retro vibe. The trio moves in choreographed precision, mics in hand. In their videos, they may wear cowboy boots. Nashville-based girl group The Shindellas is working to bring a unique blend of nostalgia and futurism to today’s music scene. Each lady brings her own look as far as hair goes, but they’re often found rocking braids or their natural tresses.
Previous to their creative partnership, Chauniece was a contestant on The Voice, whose singing videos had gone viral on social media; Johnson was singing jingles for commercials and performing gigs across the country; and Jones was working as a jazz singer for Tokyo Disney.
Fresh off of their second studio album, “Shindo” (the group’s third overall project), the trio says their musical mission is to empower women–of all ages— through their lyrics while also paying homage to the girl groups of the past.
Chauniece, Johnson and Jones joined forces under the soulful guidance of Grammy Award-nominated duo Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony (Louis York) who discovered their solo careers and brought them together. Previous to their creative partnership, Chauniece was a contestant on The Voice, whose singing videos had gone viral on social media; Johnson was singing jingles for commercials and performing gigs across the country; and Jones was working as a jazz singer for Tokyo Disney.
My 90-year-old grandmother recently came to her first show. We were singing ‘Ooh La La’, and she threw her cane and just started dancing. That is goals. I aspire to be 90 years old, dancing to my grandchild singing on stage with her band. It was just beautiful.
“The Shindellas formed in 2017, before then, we were all solo artists,” Johnson shares with Sisters. “I thought it was such an amazing concept [that Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony were looking to put together]; singing music about empowerment, singing songs that uplifted people and those that felt good after hearing them. It was a sound that my grandmother could listen to, or my little sister could listen to. It was music for everyone, and I loved that.”
With no one being held out as the group’s lead singer, they’re all about blending to form a beautiful harmony. Their current radio hit single, “Last Night Was Good for My Soul,” is reminiscent of tracks we heard from 1960s girl group The Supremes, mixed with the high energy of a dance track that pop star Lizzo would bring today. Describing their sound as “new American soul,” the women describe it as “everything you’ve ever heard, and everything you’ve never heard all at the same time.” They are the sum of their influences.
“I have a gospel background, Stacy has Jamaican roots with soca and world music being her influences, and Kasi was born in Seattle, so she has that rock, grunge and theater background. Then there’s Claude and Chuck, who found a way to make all of that a sound,” Chauniece explains. “In our messaging, there’s self-empowerment, self-love, and self-worth—those are the common threads. We want our music to be a safe space and when people hear our songs, we want them to feel love, to feel seen and heard.”
It was a sound that my grandmother could listen to, or my little sister could listen to. It was music for everyone, and I loved that.
When it comes to the groups that inspire them, they list their “Mount Rushmore” of girl group influences as The Supremes, The Clark Sisters, The Andrews Sisters and The Pointer Sisters. But they make it clear that there are so many others who they pull from as well— TLC, En Vogue, SWV and more.
“We always say we pull from our influences, and of course we want to look toward the future. But, how do you know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you came from,” Johnson says. “So, it was important for us to carry that on. The musicianship, the storytelling, the singing and harmonizing—the things that really made R&B what it was. We just wanted to be what we needed to see as young girls; we want to be that for future generations.”
In our messaging, there’s self-empowerment, self-love, and self-worth—those are the common threads. We want our music to be a safe space and when people hear our songs, we want them to feel love, to feel seen and heard.
For them, music has always been a means to connect cultures and generations, uplift others and provide joy—not just for themselves but to those around them. Some of the group’s favorite stand-out songs affirm the listener. To name a few: “Lullaby”, ”Ooh La La”, ”Juicy” and “Happy to See You”— one of the first songs the group recorded together.
“My 90-year-old grandmother recently came to her first show,” Chauniece shares. “We recorded it. We were singing “Ooh La La” at the time on stage, and she threw her cane and just started dancing. That is goals. I aspire to be 90 years old, dancing to my grandchild singing on stage with her band. It was just beautiful.”
The Shindellas are just getting warmed up, and they have very big dreams—not just as a group, but individually. “Last Night Was Good for My Soul” debuted at No. 25 on Billboard's Adult R&B Airplay chart, and only climbed from there. The group aspires to someday collaborate with artists like Silk Sonic, Missy Elliott, and Queen Bey (Beyoncé). And it may be only a matter of time before it all happens.
“Starting from running from our day jobs to the studio, working in the garage Stacy created as our rehearsal space, crying on the floor together, trying to find our blend, starting over and trying again… to now being on the front page of the largest newspaper in Tennessee and in the New York Times,” Kasi Jones excitedly says. “These moments; the fact that music and a song can bring this— it’s just “Shindo-ing” me.”
These moments, the fact that music and a song can bring this— it’s just ‘Shindo-ing’ me.
As for what you can expect from the girl group next— “everything,” Jones says without hesitation. “Yes, a little bit of everything,” Johnson adds.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
This special issue of Sisters From AARP is devoted to music and how it shapes — and strengthens — our memories. For more on this topic from AARP, including videos, events and memory games, visit aarp.org/musicandmemory