A lot of young women work in retail but for Isis Valentino and Alex Belle, folding T-shirts in an Atlanta vintage shop brought kindred musical spirits together. Meet St. Beauty, the soulful duo in Janelle Monae’s Wondaland camp that’s poised to break into R&B. “We met in a vintage shop called Poor Little Rich Girl about four years ago,” explains Isis. “They were holding showcases in the basement. I offered to play guitar. From then on, we were having rehearsals. I don’t know. It just kind of worked out that we started writing together.”
Isis, 23, and Alex Belle, 22, are both natives of Atlanta and performed as solo artists prior to coming together. Even their group name, St. Beauty, was a serendipitous effort. “Isis wrote a song called ‘St. Beauty,’ explains Alex Belle. “It was inspired by Stevie Wonder’s ‘Bird of Beauty.’ At first I didn’t like [the name] but it grew on me because I think St. Beauty has a lot of meaning.” The meaning? “It means pure beauty. Anyone can be St. Beauty and anyone can relate to that name.”
“At the time, I was just kind of alone all the time,” remembers Isis about the inception of the song. “I was listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder and just remember that song always made me happy. I was just learning how to play guitar and putting some chords together and the words just came along.”
Initially, they weren’t convinced and took to social media to crowd-source name options. “There was a name I came up with called AmeriClone,” says Alex. “Now it’s actually a song we do but originally, it was a name I came up with for us. We actually asked Twitter which name was better and everyone chose St. Beauty so that’s the name we went with.
True to their name, St. Beauty exudes individuality and uniqueness in their music. The group has aligned with Wondaland Arts Society, a consortium of talented musicians and creatives that includes Janelle Monae and Jidenna, and their latest single, “Going Nowhere,” appears on the recent Wondaland Presents: The Eephus EP. “When we were doing the EP, everyone had their input on each other’s songs,” says Alex.
St. Beauty is currently in the studio, working on a new EP for 2016. When it comes to their music, the duo can’t exactly describe it—you just have to hear it for yourself. “It’s hard to explain it. It’s like someone explaining a painting or something,” says Isis. “We can’t explain one name for it but it makes people feel good. The purpose of our music is to heal and inspire. We want people to know that this is the true us.” Adds Alex, “We want people to trust us with their emotions when they’re listening to our music. Our music is who we are. Our music is good vibes.”