Charlie Belle is an Austin, Texas-based trio comprised of three teenagers with 30-plus years of music-making between them. The group, comprised of sister and brother Jendayi Bonds (vocals, guitar) and Gyasi Bonds (drums, vocals), and Zoe Czarnecki (bass) just released their debut EP on January 13, 2015. The band’s catchy sing-alongs bring to mind the English “alternapop” sound of 90’s – bands such as The Sundays, Belly, and The Lemonheads (more popular in the UK than its native Boston, after all) to name a few. Charlie Belle – named for the Bonds siblings’ great-grandmother – further sites Esperanza Spalding, The Strokes, and Arctic Monkeys as more contemporary influences.
At 16-years-old, Jendayi is the elder in Charlie Belle. Born in Atlanta, she picked up the guitar at 7-years-old after moving to Philadelphia, quickly began writing her own songs, and at the age of ten, formed Charlie Belle with Gyasi after relocating to Austin in 2008. Gyasi was only four when he began drum lessons and it didn’t take long to discover that he was a natural. In 2011, the then-duo covered “Strange Powers” (dang, these kids are cool!) for a series of videos related to the promotion of the documentary of the same name about The Magnetic Fields. Shot in Gyasi’s bedroom when he was just eight-years-old, the clip later landed them in USA Today.
Soon after, Jendayi was interviewed by Amy Poehler as part of the comedienne’s “Smart Girls” web series and, at age 14, Jendayi fulfilled a personal goal when Charlie Belle was invited to perform at the Austin City Limits festival, an appearance that became the jump-off point for the band as a live act in Austin.
As Charlie Belle begins down the road towards national recognition with the national release of its debut EP, the band is continuing to get noticed at home. Just this fall, The Austin Chronicle named Jendayi the “Best ‘It’ Girl” in the paper’s annual “Best of Austin” issue, summing up their coverage with a simple statement: “Yup, she rocks.”