Who Is Chapel Hart? ‘America’s Got Talent’ Finalists Have Much More to Prove
As America's Got Talent judge Simon Cowell and company were scrambling to find an extra golden buzzer for the feel-good singers of the season, viewers at home were surely asking, "Who is Chapel Hart?"
It was a fair question. After all, AGT — like all network reality singing competitions — is for showcasing new talent, and the endearing country trio qualify in that they're new to us. You don't get that level of commitment from one of television's shrewdest critics without spending significant time honing your craft, however. Chapel Hart have been writing, singing, performing and hustling for years and had several big breaks in the industry prior to Tuesday night (July 19). One is more likely to find a penguin on Music Row than he is a country music insider not pulling for the women.
"We were so inspired by the song ‘Jolene’ and we just love the storyline and we figured though, from 1973 to 2022 we could not still be fighting over the same man, so we just decided to tell her, ‘You can just have him, Jolene.’”
Who Is Chapel Hart?
Chapel Hart is a country family band from the too-small-to-locate Hart's Chapel, Miss., just outside of Poplarville, in south central Mississippi. They grew up an hour by car over Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, a city that was essential to their formative years. During their appearance on America's Got Talent, Trea Swindle explained the community was named after their family "because there's way too many of us."
Pictured from left to right in the above photo are Swindle, Danica Hart and Devynn Hart. The two Hart women are sisters, and Swindle is their first cousin. Originally, it was just Danica and Swindle busking in New Orleans before a club let them come inside to perform.
"Being two Black girls in New Orleans, beginning our career in music, it’s absolutely uncommon," Swindle told the Picayune Item in 2020. They played covers and slowly started to sprinkle in originals. According to their Instagram, they moved to Nashville in about 2015 and have had two record label meetings since. Their most high-profile accomplishment prior to this week was being chosen as one of CMT's Next Women of Country for 2021. It's been a long, slow road to fame for Chapel Hart.
Who Do Chapel Hart Sound Like?
Chapel Hart's resurgent The Girls Are Back in Town album is a traditional country celebration, with a little outlaw mixed in via songs like "Grown Ass Woman." Danica told the Houston Chronicle she grew up listening to Kenny Rogers and George Jones. Sister Devynn's No. 1 influence is a bit more contemporary. The two Hart women wore out Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party album (2004) in the early 2000s.
"When 'Redneck Woman' came out, she just seemed like an average girl," Danica says. "She didn’t have to have the fancy dresses. You didn’t have to be this particular body type. You didn’t have to be glitzy and girly."
As for Swindle? During a 2021 sit-down with CMT, she admitted that a day spent with a guitar on her porch listening to Waylon Jennings and Hank is a good day. "Not Hank Jr., but old Hank," she says.
What Are the Best Chapel Hart Songs?
Danica Hart takes lead on most songs from Chapel Hart's two studio albums, but the trio's signature is their tight harmonies. Viewers on America's Got Talent got a glimpse of that. There's more on The Girls Are Back in Town and their 2019 debut, Out in the Mud.
"You Can Have Him Jolene" is the song the group performed to earn the golden buzzer (and Dolly Parton's approval), but curious viewers should be delighted by their dynamic catalog. "Just Say I Love You" is a patient, fiddle-led, emotional showcase that with the right presentation could quiet a boisterous live audience. "I Will Follow" finds the group trading lead, with each offering inspiration over a 4/4 country-stomp.
"Jesus & Alcohol" is perhaps their most well-known song, if only because they got ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons to co-star in their music video.
What's Next for Chapel Hart?
As recipients of the America's Got Talent golden buzzer, they'll skip the next two rounds of competition and go straight to the live finals in mid-September. Until then, they've got a handful of tour dates planned in America and one in the United Kingdom. Expect them to enjoy the love being shown to them from country music icons for a little longer, however. When Loretta Lynn is making requests, you've got something special.