Chapel Hart Talks “Fam Damily,” Return To ‘America’s Got Talent,’ Secret Tattoos, Favorite Backstage Moment & More

Chapel Hart spoke with Music Mayhem about their latest AGT performance, their favorite backstage moment while on the show, an upcoming collaboration with Darius Rucker and more.

By

Nicole Palsa

Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Nicole has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.

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Posted on September 11, 2023

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Chapel Hart; Photo Courtesy of Trae Patton/NBC

Powerhouse country music trio Chapel Hart, comprised of sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and first cousin Trea Swindle, returned to the America’s Got Talent stage on Wednesday, Sept. 6 to perform “Fam Damily” off their Glory Days album, their first music project since finishing in the top five during Season 17 of the reality TV talent competition. 

Their return to the AGT stage follows their golden buzzer performance last year of the Dolly Parton inspired tune, “You Can Have Him Jolene,” which captivated the hearts of viewers around the world.    

Chapel Hart spoke with Music Mayhem about their latest AGT performance, their favorite backstage moment while on the show, an upcoming collaboration with Darius Rucker and more.

Story Behind “Fam Damily”

Written by the trio along with Billy Dawson and Erin Kinsey, “Fam Damily” was inspired by their own families. Kinsey brought the idea to the table, then the group began sharing their own experiences.

“Our grandma had 17 kids and there’s 108 of us. It literally runs the gamut from one extreme of the spectrum all the way to the other,” says Danica. “So I’m going to say the most quirky thing about our family has to be variety. Also, with as many of us as there is, and the fact that literally most of our family is black, I’m still blown away that none of us can really dance that well!” she laughs.

Even though everyone in the family can sing, dancing is a different story. Reflecting on their parents, aunts and uncles’ dance moves, she added “I’m like, oh my God, what is happening? I thought they were all signaling for help at the same time. It was rough.”

Which Member Of Chapel Hart Has Secret Tattoos

One of the lyrics in the chorus of “Fam Damily” mentions “secret tattoos,” which is a true story from Danica’s life.

“I’ve accumulated probably 10 tattoos and you probably only see two,” Danica reveals.

She got her first tattoo her senior year of high school when she was on homecoming court. It was so small that it has been mistaken for a scratch on her foot, but the tattoo did not go over well with her father.

“My dad found it, and you would’ve thought I got a back piece!” She thought that her sister Devynn would’ve spilled the beans to their parents, but she kept the secret tattoo story.

Chapel Hart; Photo Courtesy of CBS
Chapel Hart; Photo Courtesy of CBS

Performing “Fam Damily” On America’s Got Talent

Chapel Hart decided to perform “Fam Damily” for their return to the America’s Got Talent stage as a thank you to the fans they’ve met since their time on the show.

“I feel like our family has just expanded so much because all of our fans know you may start as fans, but once you’re in the congregation you quickly become a lot more,” says Trea. 

The show itself feels like home to the trio as well.

“I think the AGT experience for us is a little bit different. I think it goes a little bit deeper because literally from the person who checks you at security, we make friends with everybody. So when we walked through literally showing back up to see how many people came back, how many of the crew and production team came back from last year, we were just so over the moon,” recalls Danica. “Everybody was like, ‘It’s the girls! The girls are back!’ And it really just felt like a family reunion.”

“And just like Danica said, it extends from the janitors to the person behind the camera to the little old lady you meet at the airport,” added Trea. “It’s almost like we had our physical family reunion with everyone on the AGT team and some of the other people there. And it’s almost like the performance was our global family reunion.”

Chapel Hart; Photo Courtesy of Trae Patton/NBC
Chapel Hart; Photo Courtesy of Trae Patton/NBC

Chapel Hart’s Favorite Backstage Moment During AGT

During their time on America’s Got Talent, one of their favorite backstage moments was with host Terry Crews. Growing up, Danica and Devynn, along with their little brother, would constantly watch the movie “White Chicks.” Meeting Crews was a dream for them, so Devynn decided to have some fun with it.

“We were doing a Sonic promo in the back room,” Danica recalls, “and all of a sudden we were getting ready and Dev says, ‘Terry, I got to ask you something.’ And I was like, wait, what? Like, you didn’t go over this.” Devynn proceeds to quote the “White Chicks” movie, asking Crews, “Oh my God, what happened to the sun?” Danica was mortified, not knowing what Crews’ reaction would be. “And he looked at her and said, ‘Easy white chocolate.’ That was a moment I’ll never forget in my life,” says Danica of Crews’ reciting his character’s line back to Devynn.

“Welcome to Fist City” Music Video

Also appearing on Chapel Hart’s Glory Days album is “Welcome to Fist City,” which pays homage to the late Loretta Lynn who requested the tune. The entertaining music video matched the tune perfectly, showcasing the band’s fun personalities. 

“We shot that video in Clarksdale, Mississippi and I think the city was the perfect vibe for the song, the video,” says Devynn. “We got to shoot some scenes at Ground Zero, which is a very notorious club in the Mississippi Delta.” All three ladies dressed up as different characters, which added a new layer of playfulness. “Seeing Danica as a sheriff, I just couldn’t take her serious!”

Fans can tune-in to TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Tuesday, September 12 on NBC to catch Chapel Hart performing “Fist City.”

“Ol’ Church Hymn,” A Collaboration With Darius Rucker 

Chapel Hart will be featured on Darius Rucker’s new album, Carolyn’s Boy, set to be released October 6. “Ol’ Church Hymn,” a gospel-inspired love song, is a stunning blend of Rucker’s rich baritone voice with Chapel Hart’s three-part family harmony. The group says that Rucker was one of their early believers who was instrumental in their success.

“Darius Rucker had kind of heard about us being in Nashville and he kind of heard some of the music,” recalls Danica. “One day we got a message from him. He DMed us on Twitter.”

Rucker told them he loved what they did and that he had a song that he could hear them on. He asked them to play around with it and see what comes of it. “We were just so over the moon that he took a chance on us when everybody else was like, ‘oh, I’ve never heard of you.’ And we’ll forever be grateful for that.”

Lessons Chapel Hart Learned Since America’s Got Talent (AGT)

In the 12 months since their initial run on America’s Got Talent, Chapel Hart has learned how to function as an independent group that is also family. 

“I don’t know if being a family helps or hurts,” admits Danica. ”But this last year it’s really made us have to sit down at the table and look at each other and say, okay, look, we got some stuff we need to approach and we’ve got some stuff we need to talk about, but also it’s some hard things that we needed to talk about, but it’s the things that we needed to do in order to move forward and to grow. And we’ve done the work. I feel like we just have grown so much.”

Chapel Hart; Photo Provided
Chapel Hart; Photo Provided

Danica recalled how there used to be heavy tension in the group, over little things like who has their eyeliner. There used to be so much tension. We’d be like, why do you have my eye guys? “We didn’t really come from a family where if something’s wrong or somebody hurt you or offend, you talk about it. Overall our goal is growth, and so we’re just trying to do things a little bit different so maybe that next generation, it should just be a little bit better.”

Trea added, “I feel like we’ve gotten a lot closer and we’ve learned to depend on each other and trust in ourselves because a lot of the things that we decide to do from the way we put out music and the timing and all the good things. Like people in the industry will say, oh no, that’s career suicide. Don’t do that. Don’t start an album with a ballad. But it went great. A lot of people said, don’t go on a TV show, it’s career suicide. But we had to learn to just trust our gut and follow our hearts and it definitely, it’s paid off.”

Chapel Hart; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for CMT
Chapel Hart; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for CMT

Devynn agreed with Trea’s assessment of their growth. “Learning to believe in ourselves I think has played a huge part in our growth and what we’re doing this last year. The hard work and stuff, you have to do all of that, but it’s really going to all be in vain if you don’t believe that you can do the things that you set out to do. And I think we’ve all learned that about ourselves and each other made a huge difference in our careers.”

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Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Nicole has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.

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