“My little sister could listen to this. My grandma could listen to this. I could sing this and turn it up,” she recalled thinking of the idea. She dove into helping find the group’s other voices.
Jones, 40, stood out. She had done musical theater and theme park work and booked her own overseas tours as a neo-soul singer-songwriter. But she said she had experienced predatory behavior from some producers in Los Angeles: “People being sexually aggressive, going into a situation with someone you think you know well, and it turns into another thing,” she said. Warily, Jones flew out to visit Weirdo Workshop, where she found the safe space she’d been looking for.
Chauniece, 33, spent her childhood on the Texas gospel circuit, managed by her mother. Appearing on Season 5 of “The Voice” boosted her profile, but afterward she felt lost, posting videos of herself singing online that sometimes went viral before resolving to work with a small label. “I don’t want to be on a major label roster, get lost in the sauce,” she said of her mind-set at the time.
Initially, the Shindellas would tell Kelly and Harmony what they wanted to sing about and sound like, and gathered around the piano to weigh in on song ideas. Then, Chauniece said, the three women would contemplate how to interpret their parts: “Anytime you hear me, it’s me,” she said of that work. “People don’t consider that authorship, or they don’t consider that your creative property. But it is.”
On “Genesis,” they tried out vintage sensibilities, recalling the swinging effervescence of the Motown era and the Pointer Sisters’ knowing invocations of World War II-era vocal jazz. “Hits That Stick Like Grits” covered more stylistic territory and featured an interlude with writing credits for all three Shindellas. But on “Shindo,” named for a made-up word they use in the studio describing “that overwhelming feeling of chills,” Jones said — the group puts its charisma, attitude and personality up front.
The Shindellas sing about taking the lead in lust and lasting romance: announcing what they are looking for from a partner in the sleek, funky “Up 2 You,” demanding a lover’s discretion in regard to a hook up in the slow-burning “Kiss N Tell,” and playfully instructing a man how to give pleasure in the bass-driven “Juicy.” (They helped write the latter two.) The video for “Juicy” is all moisturized lips and ripe fruit — except for shots of Jones reading Angela Davis’s book “Women, Race & Class,” a reminder that the Shindellas are always paying attention to power dynamics.