By David T. Farr
A little over a week ago, nobody knew who Chapel Hart was. That is, until the three women auditioned for “America’s Got Talent.”
Their performance earned them a special “golden buzzer” moment. Judges Howie Mandel, Sophia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell, along with host Terry Cruz, unanimously slammed the golden buzzer, putting the trio directly into the live performance stage portion of the hit NBC reality-TV talent show.
I was watching that night and completely taken by surprise when sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and their cousin Trea Swindle took the stage. You just knew they were not your typical girl group. What happened next was a moment when dreams can come true.
I’m not sure many viewers knew what to expect. That questionable expectation only grew bigger when they were going to take on a classic, sort of. The trio had taken on the Dolly Parton classic “Jolene.” Well, they actually brought the storyline of the song into 2022, is more like what they did.
They cleverly wrote and performed “You Can Have Him, Jolene.”
I was blown away the moment Danica started singing. The sassiness combined with the swagger lured the audience, both there and watching from home, instantly.
I was thinking to myself that these girls are like Lizzo meets early Dixie Chicks. They rocked that AGT stage in pure country style. I don’t believe I’ve seen an audience from the show get so into an audition the way it did for Chapel Hart.
Simon confessed he long has liked American girl groups, particularly those from the 1990s. He was impressed, to say the least, prompting all the judges to react. You see, all the golden buzzers had been used during the auditions phase. This was something they felt justified in doing, because Chapel Hart is definitely something special.
The girls’ response to Simon when asked why they haven’t gotten a Nashville deal yet was sad to me.
“We’ve been trying to break into Nashville for the last couple of years, but it’s been kind of hard when country music doesn’t always look like us,” Danica said. All three members of the trio are African American.
News of Chapel Hart spread over social media faster than poison ivy. I saw the clips from AGT shared dozens of times before I even went to bed that night. This prompted me to want to know more about them. It appears they have quite the following, particularly in the U.K.
Just last year Chapel Hart was added to CMT’s “Next Women of Country,” which has helped to promote other female country acts, including Gabby Barrett, Ashley McBryde and Kelsea Ballerini.
In Scotland, “You Can Have Him, Jolene” was named “International Song of the Year,” while the group was also named “International Group of the Year.” That’s pretty impressive, considering the girls are from Mississippi.
C’mon Nashville! What’s the matter with you? Perhaps you ought to get with the times, too.
No worries, though. It was just a matter of time before Dolly herself would let her feelings be known.
“What a fun new take on my song,” she posted on Twitter.
Singer and country music icon Loretta Lynn chimed in on the hoopla, too. She suggested the trio take on one of her iconic songs and bring it up to date.
Oh my mind is racing now. Perhaps they could tackle “The Pill,” “One’s on the Way,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” or “You’re Lookin’ at Country.”
David T. Farr is a Journal correspondent. Email him at email@example.com.