Interview: Chapel Hart Wants to Bring ‘Country Music Back to Country Radio’

by Clayton Edwards

These days, Chapel Hart needs very little introduction. The Mississippi-raised, New Orleans-based trio has been making waves since their breakthrough appearance on America’s Got Talent. The Golden Buzzer they received helped their chances in the competition. However, it was the rousing performance of their single “You Can Have Him Jolene” that caught the eyes and ears of country music fans and artists alike. When legends like Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn give a group their stamp of approval, the group becomes hard to ignore.

Chapel Hart – sisters Danica and Devynn Hart along with their cousin Trea Swindle – break the mold of modern country music. A trio made up of Black women that sings unabashedly country songs is all but unheard of these days. They’ve been working hard to get into the country music industry since 2014. To date, the trio has released two albums full of the kind of music that calls back to the days when you could hear country music on country radio.

Earlier this week, Outsider caught up with Chapel Hart to talk about their whirlwind journey since the AGT performance, their upcoming album, and more.

Chapel Hart’s Dreams Are Coming True

Early in our interview, the ladies of Chapel Hart unanimously agreed that this past week has been a blessing and said it was the best and craziest week they’ve ever experienced. Devynn Hart said, “It is absolutely mind-boggling. We went from however many followers to, overnight, gaining thousands and thousands of new fans. Our social media is going crazy… It’s a little bit overwhelming but in a good way. It feels good to have that kind of support behind us.”

Danica Hart added, “Imagine wishing you had a Thunderbird for your whole life. Then, you get a Thunderbird. It’s like our dreams are coming true and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Two-Time Hometown Heroes

The ladies of Chapel Hart grew up in Poplarville, Mississippi, a town of fewer than 3,000 people. Later, they began relocating to New Orleans. When Devynn moved to New Orleans in 2014, they formed their trio and began building a fanbase in the Big Easy. Now, both places are trying to lay claim to them.

About this, Devynn Hart said, “Our hometown has just been so excited for us. They’ve been super supportive with the whole AGT process. They just really kind of rallied behind us.”

Danica added, “I think it’s funny because we’re getting so much love from our hometown, and also we’ve lived in New Orleans now for some years. It’s been kind of cool to watch people fight over who has you and who loves you the most. To have people fight over who loves you the most, that’s a good problem to have.”

Are Labels Pursuing Chapel Hart?

Chapel Hart isn’t just getting love from their hometowns. The America’s Got Talent audience fell in love with them. Then, their music found its way to the internet, and country fans and news outlets have been abuzz about them. One might think that Music Row would swing its doors open wide for the trio that has been dubbed the genre’s “Next Big Thing” by so many.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some labels reach out and say that they’d be interested to sit down and have a meeting with us. I would definitely not say they’re knocking down the door which still kind of maybe speaks to what I was saying on the stage,” Danica Hart said. After getting the Golden Buzzer, she said that it has been hard to find any success in part because country music doesn’t “always look like” Chapel Hart.

However, they’re not dwelling on any of that right now. Instead, Danica said, “We just keep focusing on what we are doing and how we’re impacting people. We used to say ‘We’re just trying to bring country music back to country radio’. So, we’re just trying to move forward and do that. I guess when the right time and the right label comes it’ll all kind of work out. Until then, we’re going to keep working.”

New Music Is Coming!

Chapel Hart’s third album is in the works. Right now, they’re working on getting the money together to take their new collection of songs into a studio. As independent artists, they have full control over what they release. However, they also have to foot the bill for their studio time. Danica Hart said, “We’d love to have something out by the end of the year, maybe the beginning of next year… if we can raise enough money we can make it happen.”

Devynn added that Chapel Hart is constantly working on new material. “We are always, always looking for inspiration and new stories to tell and new ways to bring them to the people.”

The Inspiration Behind Chapel Hart’s Hard Work

During our chat, I asked Chapel Hart about “Jacqui’s Song,” one of my favorites from their sophomore album. I expected to hear the story behind the song. What I got was so much more touching.

“We had a keyboard player and Jacqui was his girlfriend,” Danica explained. She described Jacqui as a woman who “ate her Wheaties every morning,” and a “golden ball of personality” who never met a stranger. Sadly, when Jacqui was only 28 years old, she was fatally struck by lightning.

“That was really our wake-up call to go chase our dreams. You’ve got to just do it because life is so short. You can wake up tomorrow and everything be gone or you could just not wake up tomorrow.”

Jacqui’s untimely and tragic passing was an eye-opener for the band. About this, Danica said, “At the time, I said, ‘If tomorrow we didn’t wake up, could I say I did everything I could do to chase my dreams?’ And the answer was no. Jacqui was just such an inspiration to us to keep going and to push harder than we’ve ever pushed.”