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, September 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 worldwide.
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 families. Kinsey brought the idea to the table; then, the group began sharing their experiences.
“Our grandma had 17 kids, and there’s 108 of us. It runs the gamut from one extreme of the spectrum 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 are and that most of our family is black, I’m still blown away that none of us can 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,” a true story from Danica’s life.
“I’ve accumulated probably ten tattoos, and you probably only see two,” Danica reveals.
She got her first tattoo in her senior year of high school on homecoming court. It was so small that it had been mistaken for a scratch on her foot, but the tattoo did not go well with her father.
“My dad found it, and you would’ve thought I got a back piece!” She thought her sister Devynn would’ve spilled the beans to their parents, but she kept the secret tattoo story.
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 much 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 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 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 other people there. And it’s almost like the performance was our global family reunion.”
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. While growing up, Danica, Devynn, and their little brother would constantly watch the movie “White Chicks.” Meeting Crews was their dream, so Devynn decided to enjoy 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 quotes 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,” 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 theme 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, a 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 seriously!”
Fans can tune in to TODAY with Hoda & Jenna on NBC on Tuesday, September 12, 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, 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 were instrumental in their success.
“Darius Rucker had 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 had a song 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 made us 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. Still, it’s some hard things that we need to talk about, but it’s what we need to do to move forward and grow. And we’ve done the work. I feel like we just have grown so much.”
Danica recalled how there used to be heavy tension in the group over little things like who had their eyeliner. There used to be so much tension. We’d be like, why do you have my eye, guys? “We didn’t come from a family where you talk about something wrong or somebody hurt or offended you. Overall, our goal is growth, so we’re just trying to do things a little bit differently, so maybe that next generation, it should just be a little bit better.”
Tara 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 how we put out music and the timing and all the good things. 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. Many people said, Don’t go on a TV show; it’s career suicide. But we had to learn to trust our gut and follow our hearts, and it definitely, it’s paid off.”
Devynn agreed with Trea’s assessment of their growth. “Learning to believe in ourselves has played a huge part in our growth and what we’re doing this last year. You have to do all the hard work and stuff, but it will all be in vain if you don’t believe you can do the things 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.”