The moment country music fans will always remember about Chapel Hart is when the Poplarville, Miss., trio stepped onto the “America’s Got Talent” stage last year, and walked away as an overnight sensation. But for sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and their cousin Trea Swindle, that shining moment was only a prelude.
As the band skyrocketed up the country charts following their Golden Buzzer-winning performance of “You Can Have Him Jolene”—amplified by the thousands cheering them on social media, including Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Darius Rucker—they were already planning their next album, Glory Days, released in May 2023.
Chapel Hart already felt pressure to deliver another hit after the sensational “You Can Have Him Jolene,” an answer song to Parton’s iconic 1973 hit “Jolene,” broke big. But then, just as the wheels of their new tour bus found their stride, Danica was sidelined by vocal cord surgery—a terrifying predicament for someone who lives to sing, and now sings for a living. She was so anxious about the situation that she didn’t announce it until she was in recovery.
“It was hard knowing you could go into surgery and not come out with the same voice, or you could not come out with a voice at all,” Danica says. “I always tell people, if I didn’t believe in the power of prayer before, I believe in the power of prayer now.”
While Danica recovered, the band readied Glory Days, their third album, which they had written and recorded between gigs as they toured in the wake of “You Can Have Him Jolene.” The album is loaded with crowd pleasers that draw on their rural Mississippi upbringing, such as “American Pride” and “Home is Where the Hart Is,” a tribute to their hometown friends in the Chapel Hart area of Poplarville.
The trio’s playful side comes out, too, on songs like “Fam Damily” and “Welcome to Fist City.” After Loretta Lynn tweeted her appreciation for “You Can Have Him Jolene,” Chapel Hart decided to honor Lynn’s memorable “Fist City,” a country classic addressed to her man’s paramour, with an answer song of her own. “Welcome to Fist City” picks up where Lynn left off, and casts Chapel Hart as the muscle to make good on Lynn’s threat.
Chapel Hart isn’t taking a second of their success for granted. That’s why they named their album Glory Days, Danica says. “These are truly our glory days. We stay up all night and work all day, but it’s also the day that we waited and prayed for.”
Chapel Hart will perform on the first night of the inaugural Keath Killebrew Memorial Rodeo, presented by the Killebrew Ag Foundation, which will be held July 28-29 at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. The event will feature traditional rodeo favorites like bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing, with Chapel Hart performing July 28 and Drake Milligan taking the stage July 29.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Keath Killebrew Charisma Award Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi, established to help encourage and educate the next generation of Mississippi farmers by awarding scholarships to young men and women interested in working in the agricultural field.
The Keath Killebrew Memorial Rodeo’s namesake, an ambitious Delta farmer, father, husband, artist and entrepreneur, passed away in a plane crash in December 2021 while scouting for a new farming venture in Paraguay. Alyssa Killebrew, who survives him along with their children, is spearheading these efforts so his legacy can inspire others.
“Keath truly lived his life like he was preparing for a bull ride,” Alyssa says. “He was always creating new ventures with his businesses and always excited to work hard, and that’s what bull riding and preparing for rodeos is all about. You know you’re gonna get bucked off, and he did many times as he was trying to build a farm operation. But he always got back on and always kept trying.”