Photo credit: Dawn Timmons
The true soul of the singer can capture a voice to the story out of thin blue air then get behind a microphone and bless it as her very own with heart, passion and eternal radiance.
“I do much better drawing things,” says the Chicago-born, Saginaw, Michigan-raised artist who works out of her own studio under her own arts and crafts company, Lunch Money, when she isn’t dropping jaws belting out Motown classics throughout the South Bend area with Jr. Walker & the All Stars co-founder Billy “Stix” Nicks and the Motown Machine.
Before joining Billy “Stix” Nicks and the Motown Machine in 2009, Chandra grew up singing gospel in choirs then moved to Detroit where she fronted the group Breeze. “We were kinda like a nouveau R&B, jazz kind of thing,” she says.
Chandra then moved back to Saginaw where she was part of the all-female group Red To Go. She also recorded backup vocals with various hip-hop artists before landing in South Bend with Billy “Stix” Nicks, where we worked together and became friends.
The first time I heard Chandra sing an Etta James song – or every song, for that matter – I knew she had to sing “Nature’s Callin’.” But it was during the “Junghetto’s Call” sessions that I really got a firsthand look at Chandra’s artistic range, intellectual depth, and ear for a dramatic voice: Chandra’s chant of “mitakuye oyasin…hands up don’t shoot… then cry of another mother who just lost her child to another gunman’s bullet runs the gamut from sacred to bone chilling. During the “Nature’s Callin’” session, it was Chandra’s call to sing the song with just an acoustic guitar. The end result is a simple, haunting, yearning, and stunningly beautiful testimonial to a special voice.
When Chandra isn’t nailing “Smile At Me” on the first take then snatching… “gotcha, gotcha, gotcha… fancy, fancy, fancy…” … out of thin New Orleans’ air and anchoring the hook to “Fancy Pants,” she lives in Niles, Michigan, and makes her own leather crafts and sells them through her website LunchMoneyDesigns.com.