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Chapel Hart Talks Big Viral TV Break And Legacy As Black Women In Country Music
Culture & Entertainment

Chapel Hart Talks Big Viral TV Break And Legacy As Black Women In Country Music

Sisters Danica, 33, and Devynn Hart, 26, along with their cousin Trea Swindle, 34, have taken their Mississippi roots—growing up in a faith-filled home of ministers—and mixed it with a Louisiana flair to win hearts in country music. Singing professionally since 2018 but together since childhood, they’ve turned their love for music into a fulfilling career that’s a family adventure.


The band was inducted into Country Music TV’s (CMT) “Next Women of Country,” joining the ranks of other amazing up-and-comers in the genre, and they’ve gone global, earning the honor of “International Group of the Year” and landing “International Song of the Year” in Scotland for their take on the classic “Jolene” song made famous by country icon Dolly Parton (and even more infamous by Queen Bey).

Their three-part harmony and soulful swag went viral when they wowed TV audiences and judges alike on America’s Got Talent in 2022, with the same song, “You Can Have Him Jolene,” proving to many that they’re in the industry to stay.

xoNecole caught up with the trio, taking a break to chat while on tour and gearing up for their upcoming Christmas album, to talk about faith, food, and longevity in country music and beyond:

​xoNecole: You are a talented group of family members. What attracted you to choose the genre of country music?

Trea Swindle: We grew up in Poplarville, Mississippi, so country music was, kind of, just a way of life, and aside from that, growing up, it really didn’t matter where you were. You were going to hear country music all day, every day, from the classrooms to the grocery stores, to run on the bus, just anywhere you go. It was the one genre of music that really resonated with the way that we live.

​xoN: Yeah, people think that Black people and country music is something new, but it’s always been common. I grew up between Virginia and New York, hearing and loving country music since childhood. So, you all had a major early career-boosting moment on 'America's Got Talent.' What was the one major takeaway from that experience from each of you when it comes to growth and your personal experience at that time?

Devynn Hart: I believe that one of the main things that we took away from AGT, that entire experience, was just learning to trust our gut and going with our heart. When we initially went to AGT for auditions, we didn't even plan to sing “You Can Have Him Jolene.” We initially had “Nine To Five” set up. It was right until the very last moment that we were like, ‘You know what, if we're gonna do this, let's go with the song that is ours, and let's take a chance on ourselves.’ That was such a big thing for us. And I think from there moving forward. We've just kind of taken that same idea of learning to trust our gut moving forward.

Danica Hart: We’d been playing that song for a year in Nashville before we got to AGT. And, you know, we'd been trying to get people to hear it. We were trying to pitch it. The thing that resonated with us is that, from that very moment, we thought that this should be a song to say, after 30 years, that you can just have him, Jolene. You can have him.

This song was so special to us. And, like, we were really willing to stand 10 toes down, so, [in] the moment, we knew that this was special, and it would be special if we performed it. We were going to have to take a chance on ourselves. And if we failed— if the judges hated it—at least it was our song and we could walk away with the information that we had.

"The thing that resonated with us is that, from that very moment, we thought that this should be a song to say, after 30 years, that you can just have him, Jolene. You can have him."

​xoN: Well, it was a good decision because it was definitely a hit. Now, what's the best advice that you've gotten about succeeding in the business, now that you all are really picking up speed and you know, have been in the industry?

Trea: Darius Rucker (multiplatinum singer-songwriter of Hootie & the Blowfish fame) reached out to us even before AGT— before a lot of people knew who we were. He’s reminded us to, one, stay true to ourselves and to not be afraid to take chances and be open to new opportunities— to be confident in yourself enough to know when to say no to an opportunity that's not right to you. And so it's all about authenticity. And it's all about you know, what's going to serve you and your career.

Danica: Yeah, he tells us the importance of finding the right team, finding the people who fight for you, finding the people who work hard for you. Sometimes it's saying no to team members. It [could be] people who you like but they may not work hard for you.

And so it's finding the people who are knowledgeable about the way that you're doing it, you know, as independent artists. Having the right team is important. We don't have a very big team, but we've got we've got people who work hard for us.

Joseph Okpako/WireImage/Getty

​xoN: Oh, yes. And that was evident because your team reached out to us when they saw you all were mentioned in a roundup we ran. That meant a lot. Speaking of the best advice, as Black women in country music, what is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced early in your careers and how have you approached overcoming it?

Danica: I think the hardest thing about being Black women in the industry, the first part, is just about being women. I think that country music has seen, over the last 100 years, that if you can take a man and put him in a T-shirt and tight jeans, and put them on stage, people will buy.

You always hear about the statistics of women being played on radio and women, you know, not really having the same opportunities as men. And like I said, I think it's just done out of familiarity. They know what sells tickets and what makes money. That's the hard part and then also being Black.

[We’re] three women and [we’re] Black, you know, so I think sometimes we sit on the outskirts of the music industry only because it's not something that any of the labels have ever done. They've never signed or booked a Black female trio.

Sometimes we have to work a little extra hard to get out there, you know… trying to find those keys that unlock the doors that aren't accessible to us right away.

It’s been obstacles, but Trea has a saying where she goes, ‘We turn no to no-tivation.’ So, if they say, ‘Oh, sorry. There's not enough seats at this event or that event. And we go okay, no problem. And then we find a friend, we make a friend, and I tell you, it’s crazy how God always works things out in our favor.

​xoN: Love that term, ‘no-tivation’! Now, let’s get into your pre-performance routine. What do you all do to prep before shows?

Devynn: A lot of people always think that eating before the show—they can't do it because of their nerves, but if I don't eat before a show, it is not gonna be nice. [Laughs] I gotta eat before the show.

Trea: Yes! [Laughs]

Danica: We also pray before we go on. There's something about that prayer before going out on stages that centers us. Our stage time is our ministry.

​xoN: Love it! Prayer and food—a good combo. You can’t go wrong. Now, what do you all want your legacy to be in country music?

Danica: We want women and little girls to say, ‘Look, if they can do it, I can.’ People told us we were too old to be trying to make a career in music. They told me I was too big and Trea was too skinny and too bald-headed. Anything you can think about, they’ve said, yet here we are.

And so if you can get over all those obstacles, you can get over what people believe about you, and hone in to what you believe about yourself. I want to show people that it can be done and you can do good. You can be good in the world.

For more on Chapel Hart, visit their website and follow them on Instagram @chapelhartband.

Featured image by Taylor Hill / Contributor/Getty Images

 

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