When 3 Black Women Meet Country Music

You get Chapel Hart and it’s Black Joy

Photo Credit: Alexis Carter, Courtesy of Sounds Like Nashville

I am not a fan of America’s Got Talent. I do not watch the show, but I have a very close friend who shares videos of performances with me she believes I’ll love. She is always right. Thanks, Alexainie!

The following performance, which aired on July 19, 2022, led me to view the video not just once, but multiple times. The pure joy that shot through my body while watching these beautiful young ladies give their gift to the hosts and to the crowd is unmatched.

AGT, Chapel Hart, Group Golden Buzzer

This had definitely been a Black Joy moment for me. And my heart was so full and happy — I nearly burst at the seams. To watch these young ladies live out their dream on stage, and tear the house down, too?! There are no words for it — it’s indescribable.

*Black Joy is …
Black Joy possesses a range that is boundless and is not easily defined.

The most accurate definition is:
Black Joy is anything that inspires, supports, and uplifts Black culture.

I can click on the video day-in and day-out and get the same results: a teary-eyed, moved, and emotionally charged Black woman who is incredibly excited and ecstatic for each of them. They knew what they wanted to do — they pursued it, and here they are — living out their dream, despite the hardships and closed doors in their paths.


Exploring the avenues that led to Chapel Hart

Naturally, I wanted to learn more about Chapel Hart, this all-Black woman’s group that leaned toward Country music instead of R&B, Neo-Soul, the Blues, Gospel, etc. All three ladies have amazing voices, but the frontwoman, Danica, belts out notes from the depths of her soul, and when you listen to her, one cannot help but be moved.

The trio is two sisters, Devynn and Danica Hart, and their first cousin, Trea Swindle. They hail from a small town outside of Poplarville, Mississippi, called Hart’s Chapel. According to the group, they are only 3 of 108 grandchildren. Their grandmother had 17 children, and they populated their small town.

Growing up in a family where music had always been present, it seems only fitting they would succumb to music as passionately as they have. Listening to them, I can hear the determination, the pursuit of their dreams, and their backgrounds too.

There is a distinguished tone and a three-part harmony that makes up their unique sound. It’s safe to say they are breaking down doors and stripping away barriers. They are clearly making history, and isn’t it about time?

Chapel Hart, I Will Follow, ©2021

I am not a fan of country music — not really. I like some country music singers, but I can count them on one hand. Chapel Hart entered my world at the right time. I needed something to stir me — lift me from some dark spaces — keep me on my highest points for more than two days in a row. I think I may have found what I had been seeking in their soulful voices.


Catching the eye of Dolly Parton and some other legends

If you took the time to watch the Golden Buzzer video courtesy of America’s Got Talent, you know the ladies are big fans of Dolly Parton. They even say jokingly (but maybe not?) “Dolly Parton for President” in the clip as well.

With their spin on “Jolene,” their original song “You Can Have Him, Jolene (which is #1 on iTunes for Country music),” attracted the ears and eyes of … you guessed it, Dolly Parton.

©July 22, 2022, Graeme O’Neil

And it did not end there. Loretta Lynn chimed in and wondered (out loud) what the group could do with one of her songs. And it just keeps getting better for Chapel Hart, as Darius Rucker announced they will be on his new album, too.

When you have been given shout-outs and acknowledgments from some of the heaviest hitters in the genre of music you have fought to be a part of for so long, the feeling has got to be an unbelievable one. I imagine Chapel Hart constantly pinching themselves to make sure they’re awake.

If the above doesn’t send your heart soaring for this group, maybe the following will:

In 2021, Chapel Hart was inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country, the institution that has been known to help up and coming female country artists such as Kelsea Ballerini, Ashley McBride, & Gabby Barrett… to name a few. This Mississippi trio’s music has reached fans around the globe earning them the title of “International Group of the Year” as well as “International Song of the Year” for the single “You Can Have Him Jolene” in Scotland. — Chapel Hart, Bio

I said I would follow them from the first moment I watched their performance video on America’s Got Talent that catapulted them into the spotlight (where they belong), and I have been.

Their story is an intriguing one, and it gives me hope for various twists and modifications to the expected traditional sound of country music.


We needed a high point, and here it is

After everything we have been through over the past few years, Black people needed a high point — a marked moment of excellence and joy. Here it is.

Chapel Hart may be a country music group, but you can hear Funk, Gospel, Rock & Roll, and Pop. They even put their stamp on the Star-Spangled Banner in 2019 for an Orlando Magic basketball game.

Prior to learning about them, I had said to myself, “How much more bad news can we take? How much more is there?” When all your nation has subjected you to is bad news that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, a little good news is welcome.

I may turn on the TV tomorrow and find another Black man or Person of Color dead by a senseless act of violence committed by someone of authority, children slain within the very walls that were once deemed safe, a baby or pet left in a hot car for ten to thirty minutes while their parent or the owner simply “forgot about them” in the backseat, and the list goes on.

But today, at this very moment, I will leave tomorrow where it is and embrace the excellence that is Chapel Hart.

The group skipped down their very own yellow brick road, locked hands with country music, and created Black Joy.

And it is such a beautiful thing.


Originally published in An Injustice Mag via Medium on Tuesday, August 02, 2022.

30 Seconds in His Heart for Two Days

MUSICAL SELECTION: BLAHZAY BLAHZAY|DANGER

Free Verse Poetry

I used to date a boy from
the West Side who went
to our school on the East Side — 
we were both young and dumb,
unattached to anything, still
searching for our own scents
and places to belong.

I hadn’t yet found the courage
to tell young men, I also fell for — 
wanted — young women, but he knew.
He saw me on the court, often — 
against girls, against boys, against
anyone who thought they could
cross me over and land a bucket.

My father taught me how to dribble.
My cousin forced me to use my left hand — 
I’m right-handed.
My uncle and grandfather dared the
boys in their neighborhood to give me
one shady look or it would be their ass …
They had better let me on the court,
and they did.

But back to the days of me
tucking long shirts into 
Cross Colours shorts and lacing 
up Karl Kani boots while carrying
a gym bag full of basketball gear — 
sweaty from a hustle on the 
court until streetlight o’clock.

He wanted me.
I wanted him.

And so we were, for five years — 
off and on. 
He was the only one who could
score multiple points on me; taller
by a whole foot and two inches, my 
plan would be …
relax in 3-point country and let
it rain.
Shooting was my saving grace.

We were the real 
Love and Basketball couple,
scheming on and off the court.
I’d lost a lot of things with him — 
a lot of firsts were torn down,
spat on, and stunted.

I hadn’t learned that
it only took 30 seconds to
pierce his heart.
It took 2 days for him to 
settle in mine.

Were we too young to 
be that much in love?

That was the question 
my parents asked us.
But my father loved this
boy — plotted on him marrying me,
and was crushed when this
did not happen.
I had ruined it — that was inevitable.

He found someone else when we 
were in our 30s — kept in touch
over the years until he proposed,
then it was unholy to speak to 
me … I used to be happy
he had finally gotten happy with
someone else.

I used to be …
As I got older, I just
accepted it — neither happy nor 
sad, just aware that these things
happen, and we had 
to lose each other in order
for me to find myself.

I can’t run up and down 
courts anymore — my shins
are bad, my lower back is 
garbage, and my knees have
seen their last days swerving to
box someone out for
a rebound.

But I remember those 
30 seconds. I remember those
2 days. 
I wonder — does he?
Should he?
Probably not.


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.


Blahzay Blahzay, Danger. ©1996

Breaking Into Beast-mode

Musical Selection: Peg by Steely Dan

Photo by Sharad Kachhi via Pexels

I haven’t played
a bad hand in
a couple of decades
so the fear of one
landing in my lap
terrifies me worse
than losing a game
of spades in a
freshmen college
dorm room.

I told a fellow writer
the other day,
“We’re just playing
with time, now. We’re
not old enough to
give up but we’re not
young enough to still
get googly-eyed over
the small stuff.”

I didn’t mean it …

I still get googly-eyed
over the small stuff.

When your heart
is wrapped up
in something, nobody
can stop you from
pursuing that thing.
It becomes what you
chase after with a force
that can dominate your
opposers.

Breaking into beast-mode
should be a career.
Creative minds run
rampant when headed
toward their own
tunnels of light.

Little bundles of
treasure await each
and every one of us.

And like “Peg,” we’ll gladly
“smile for the camera”
when our time comes.


Steely Dan, Peg

*Black Joy

Golden Buzzer: Chapel Hart Wows The Judges With …

Chapel Hart

I am not a fan of America’s Got Talent. I do not watch the show, but I have a very close friend who shares videos of performances with me she believes I’ll love. She is ALWAYS RIGHT.

This performance led me to view the video not just once, but multiple times. The pure joy that shot through my body while watching these beautiful young ladies give their gift to the hosts and to the crowd is unmatched and cannot be described.

This is definitely a Black Joy moment. And my heart is so full right now and happy.

*Black Joy is …
Black Joy possesses a range that is boundless and is not easily defined.

The most accurate definition is:

Black Joy is anything that inspires, supports, and uplifts Black culture.

Smooth as a Fresh Cup of Pour-Over Coffee

Musical Selection: L.T.D.|Holding On (When Love Is Gone)

Flash Fiction

I didn’t think he’d see me staring at him. I tried to fiddle with the People magazine in my hand — darted my eyes over the cuckoo clock above the Barista’s head.

He spotted me. And I couldn’t backpedal, couldn’t turn away fast enough. He was the color of pre-evening with onyx eyes and a James Earl Jones voice.

My entire body convulsed when he said, “I think you dropped this.” I looked down and he was holding my pen. I had been tackling a crossword puzzle, and the sleek writing tool must’ve escaped my grip when I saw him.

“I, uh … Yes, that’s mine.” I started tripping over my words. What was I doing?! Where was my head? I dragged the pen from his grip.

“I’m Loyal.” He extended his very manicured right hand to me.

“Um … I’m trustworthy.”

He giggled. I heard cherubs singing. I hadn’t caught the humor until he casually said, “No. Loyal is my name. Loyal Manor.”

His hand was still waiting for mine. I slapped it nervously, cupped it, then gave it two quick shakes.

“Oh! Oh! Haha. My apologies. I’m Grace … Grace Baron. It’s nice to meet you, Loyal.”

I glanced over at the Barista, who flawlessly prepares my order daily, and she flashed me a wink.

“Well, I’ll let you get back to your puzzle, Grace. Will you be here tomorrow?”

“WILL I?! I mean … Sure, I’ll be here.”

The dimple in his left cheek made my acquaintance, and I became as giddy as a schoolgirl. Everything about Loyal was smooth as a cup of pour-over coffee, and I wanted to learn more about him.

“Okay, then. I’ll see you tomorrow, Grace Baron.”

“Uh huh. Yes. Yes, you will.”

He turned to exit the building, and I knew it was rude to watch, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The Barista tipped her hat in my direction, and flashed me another wink. The server bought me a second cup of coffee and patted my hand. A piece of paper bounced off my knuckles.

There, on a strawberry-scented blueprint piece of stationery, was Loyal’s phone number.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in soliloque via Medium.