Chapel Hart: Extending the Story of “Jolene”
Chapel Hart received a big career boost when they were included in CMT’s “Next Women of Country, Class of 2021.” Yet, in actuality, the trio—Danica Hart, her sister Devynn Hart and their cousin Trea Swindle— has been steadily gaining more and more attention for the past three years, thanks to their vibrant live performances and inventive videos. Case in point: ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons is a big fan and even made a guest appearance in their “Jesus and Alcohol” clip, and their new tune, “You Can Have Him Jolene,” has already racked up over 50,000 hits since it was released in April.
The trio knew they were taking a chance by writing a song that extended the story of “Jolene,” one of Dolly Parton’s signature hits, but they didn’t let that stop them. “It was crazy risky using a tune that had already massive success,” Danica says. “You have to do it justice or do it better. When we started writing, there was so much energy in the room, and the story was so funny that we knew we were onto something. Women have to put up with so much stuff in relationships. We wanted to tell that story from the perspective of a 2021 woman. When we sang it for a video crew at CMT, they all sat there stunned. Then someone said, ‘We really need that perspective in country music right now.’”
All three women in Chapel Hart share lead vocals and their arrangements feature some truly stunning, soaring gospel harmonies. “Our grandmother had 17 children,” Danica says. “We have 108 cousins. Lots of them are preachers. We grew up in the church. Our love of gospel music comes naturally. My father loved country music and everyone we knew—kids and adults—listened to Kicker108, the local country station in Poplarville, Miss.”
The women got their start busking in the streets of New Orleans, drawing huge crowds with their lively shows. “We’re country, but we enjoy all kinds of music. When we perform, we dive deep into everything we like.” The trio are currently working on their first album and hope to release it independently later in 2021. “We’re figuring out how to balance three creative personalities, evolve our sound and still find time for our families, songwriting and touring,” Danica says. “Once we get the balance right, it’ll take us to another level.”