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.

I Wish You Were Still Here

A Lamentation for Chrissy

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

And I’m not lying.
I tell people, “I’m trying”
because really, I am.
But my heart breaks every
single day still, and it feels
like I’m watching the
world crumble before
my eyes.

People don’t want to be
around the grieving ones.

It puts them in a place
of discomfort — shifts them
from good times to
“Is this still happening?”
and since I can’t quite
answer their questions,
I bubble up in the safety
of my home and swat
at the hard times slowly
creeping up my stairs.

If you were to tell me
this would be my life
ten years ago, I
would’ve uttered some
common phrases like,
“The Devil is a lie” or
“You can’t predict the
future,” and I would’ve
swiped my tongue gingerly
across my two front teeth.

Nothing can bring hell
like the death of a loved
one — like the sound of
one heart breaking into
a million pieces and scattering
itself throughout your entire
body.

How does it feel to walk
around with your insides
regrouping while you
find your center?

I am told it’s okay
to struggle — to flounce about
with my head bowed, searching
for the writing in the dirt
under my feet.
Where there’s dust, there also
will I be …

I don’t want to dissolve
into the muddy waters
of this stomach-churning
world, so I pull myself
out of the quicksand of
despair and snail on
while I still can.

I wish you were still here.
I am second-guessing myself
again. It’s almost like
a default setting, and
every time I try to move
through it, I sink even
deeper.

I have trouble
seeing past my most
hated self — it’s hard to
shove that part of me
deep into a closet
and throw away the key.

I feel like I have to
soon, though.
Because if I don’t,
the sun will back away
from me and never
lay itself at my heels again.
And that, my beautiful cousin,
would be a life I
don’t want to live.

I love you.
I always will.


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

We Don’t Want To Rewind Time

And why would we?

Baby Tre and my dad, “Big Mike.” From the family archives.

A lone, baby girl — your first, sheltered in your embrace. 
You loved her. You love her. Old photos are passed
down through the hands of a younger
baby girl. You love her, too.

How have our memories been floating 
around the family tree making 
their way through our bloodline?

I look at this photo, it moves me.
I am centered and sure of myself
and happy. I knew I was safe in
one of my favorite places — my father’s arms.

Does your youngest know this, too?
If only we could rewind time but 
why would we? What would that accomplish?

There is an overaged pain that 
sneaks up on me and reminds me 
of better days but life isn’t 
too keen on rekindling old flames.

I have lost my fire.

But I look at this lone, baby girl 
and I remember being loved. 
I remember using your arm 
as my personal swing.

I remember learning how to swim 
and being tickled until 
my toes cramped from nonstop laughter.

I remember you. I remember you.

And I count it as a blessing 
there are still memories to recall 
of happier days when I was 
a lone, baby girl leaning 
into safe arms learning how to love.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt

Father’s Day is fast approaching in the US, and I still can’t say some of the things I wish to say to my father without choking up but I can always tell him, “I love you,” because I do. And I always will. If you’re a father, may someone spill a little love down on you this coming weekend. Peace and blessings.


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Everyone Wasn’t Made to Hustle

A Prose Poem/Rant

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

Every other day, there’s a post sent to my LinkedIn feed telling me I must “have more than one income stream” in order to be successful. If I want to increase my income by $10K, I should, “connect more on social media, and build a brand.” The movers and thinkers are too busy moving and thinking, and I can’t get anyone to stop and hear what I’m saying.

Life is a rat race.
Powerful voices are buried
amongst the noise.
It’s success purgatory,
and the only way to land
your dream job is to
jump through every hoop
thrown at you at 100 mph.

I am covered in shitty articles, up to my neck in “This isn’t what we’re looking for, but better luck next time” and the world is a spinning shit-bucket waiting for a cleansing only the strong can provide. I am losing strength.

How can I, in my exhausted state, be expected to hustle more? Whatever happened to one’s work speaking for them? Whatever happened to authenticity and vulnerability luring people in? There are so many look-alikes prancing around the literary industry, I have no clue where one stops and the other begins.

Influencers share their highs,
deny their lows, and request
immediate funds for the
video you just watched you
clicked on a whim.

This is the world in which
we live. It is a hustle culture,
and everyone’s trying to
out-hustle the other.
And for what?
Some shit you can’t take
to the grave with you?

I had a conversation with a journalist friend of mine who says he’s so tired of all the work he has to do in order to stay above water. Why are people with REAL talent drowning in “the sea of same”, pigeon-holed to what’s hot, trendy, and new, and if they even think about pivoting away from the metric, they’re given their walking papers? From where did this bottomless pit of pithy perturbation originate? Who signed the approval papers? I need to speak to their manager.

I’m not here for the hustle,
I’m here for the art.
If that stunts my potential
to fulfill my dream, I’ll
take those odds.

I’d rather share what’s in
my heart than to
cookie cutter my words
only to have some top-notch
editor pass them off as
suitable enough to catapult
their brand.

I’ve got my own voice,
and I’m using it.


Originally published on Medium.

I Deserve This Slice of Lemon Cake

And I dare you to tell me otherwise

A slice of lemon heaven? Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

It is almost never, ever just about the cake. There is always something else. And in the current air of things — there is certainly something else. During a time when making a quick run to the store can be a death sentence, worshiping inside the temple of God could be your last prayer to the entity, children are slaughtered before the end of a schoolday on-site, and Black women are violently attacked for refusing to not take up space, it is damn well not just about the cake.

I am exhausted — running on fumes. I often feel like there is nothing in me left worth sharing — worth contributing to this world, and I know I am not the only one.

There are grim reminders everywhere — we have one life — just this one life, and while we are out here trying to live it, someone else is figuring out a way to take it from us. All of us. So when the craving hit me completely out of nowhere like a wrecking ball slated to crush into its next assignment, I pushed my weary body up from the chair, threw on a t-shirt, some pants, socks, and slides, and drove to the nearest Harris Teeter. I was taking a chance — betting big, and the stakes were high. The stakes are always high.

I searched for the one thing I tend not to allow myself to have, waltzed over to the self-checkout lane, paid the tab, and walked hurriedly out of the store, and swiftly to my car. I made it inside and back outside, unscathed — alive — but still fearful.


It could have been me, it could have been you.

This is my thought process of late. Oh, please don’t get me wrong, I have lived with this line of thinking for years, but after the recent deaths of my cousin, my aunt, a writer friend, and a few other people who were near and dear to me years prior, I hate feeling like I’m rocking the boat — testing the waters. I don’t want to live in fear. I shouldn’t have to live in fear. But you take a global pandemic, mass shootings, an infant formula shortage, the harassment and outright killing of people of color, and finally, you have a goddamn scaredy-cat in your midst, and that scaredy-cat is me.

When I think about the tragedies that make up this nation’s current events, I am overwhelmed with sadness. It could have been me, it could have been you. Although I count my blessings daily, it angers me that so many people will never again hug, kiss, and be with their loved ones because of the mindless and heartless acts of those who lack something they need or want or just want to take.

When did we become so incredibly selfish? Can anyone remember? It dates so far back. I am sure I’d get the timing wrong, but help me out — throw me a damn bone. When?!

I will forever have this thought in the back of my mind whenever I venture out to any store within a 10 mi radius of me. I will forever be reminded of children so violently taken away from their families when my little cousins and nieces and nephews leave home in the morning. I will shudder just a little if ever I set one foot back into my church. I will force myself to bite my tongue instead of rebutting when a privileged angry, White man feels the need to flaunt his arrogance and ego at the gas station.

I am surrounded by things that scare the hell out of me, yet I am obligated to move forward — to continue as if none of these things ever occurred. So yeah, you damn right, I bought the slice of cake.


A photo of my dog, Jernee in an e-collar. She is a brown, white, and black Chihuahua/Yorkie mix.
Jernee Timid Loadholt in her fancy-schmancy e-collar. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My dog is old, going blind and deaf, and clings to me like a second skin.

For fourteen years, I have had a fur baby who has been more than the beauty of a noon sky to me, and she is moving through this aging phase of life in a way that is breaking me down. I don’t have the words. There are none that can properly describe watching her deteriorate right before my eyes. Perhaps you’ve read about Jernee, perhaps not. There is only so much I can share in an essay without going over the word limit most people care to read, so I won’t waste your time with any of the fat — we’ll just get straight to the meat of the situation.

Jernee has cataracts, she is losing her hearing, and has a cystic tumor on her back right paw that the vet feels he should not remove because it requires putting her to sleep, skin grafting post removal, and a ton of other off-the-wall things that would cost me both my arms and legs and she may not even wake up from it all afterward. Yet, if you saw this sweet baby, you would not know much of what I detailed unless you spent more than a few moments with her.

I have had to think about the inevitability of her death — it is imminent and in the near future. Many of our lives could be described this way, but I have spent much of mine caring for, loving, and being with her. I envision scraping my limbs up from the floor and removing anything remotely close to my living self from the dumps I will probably meet once it takes place. Death comes for us all — it has to come for her, too.

She is still eating — still enjoys a little exercise — still likes to be cuddled and kissed, but all in small doses. If we go overboard with any of these things, her breathing becomes labored and she will sleep for the entire day. Since I have been working from home for the past 19 months, separation anxiety is an understatement.

She bites her paws or attempts to harm herself if I am not within earshot or directly in her line of view. I’ve begun placing an e-collar around her neck and putting her in her crate if I need to run a quick errand or spend some time away from her enjoying someone — anyone else. It hurts like hell, but I am protecting her from her, and how do you explain this to a senior dog who just wants you to stay put and never leave her?

Well, you don’t. You can’t. It’s just life, and it’s the part of life no one ever mentions to you when you look for a companion to keep you sane enough to stay alive.

So you see, that’s why I bought that slice of cake.


We have been through enough, and there could be more on the way.

Even though we’ve waded through the murkiness of the rough waters, we’ve placed ourselves on lockdown and in quarantine, we’ve worked when we should’ve rested, and we’ve fought for our voices to be heard, there could be more of the same on the way. No one can know. We can all sit back and pretend we’ve been through the worst of it, but the state of America will only fester and become an even crueler and more aggravating boil on our collective asses if something drastic and onboard with positive change does not occur soon.

I have met my fill of deaths. I have cried rings around my eyes and lost my voice. I send text messages to friends and family as check-ins. I stop by my cousin’s place to make sure she and the little ones are okay. I call the elderly in my family to hear their labored breaths on the other end tell me, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” I live in 15-minute increments because 24 hours is too long to pray for continual life.

I have been eating home-cooked meals catered to me and my loved ones, drinking more water, exercising (walking holes in the soles of my shoes because of the frustration welling up within me), and I have lost 12 pounds. I’ve done all of this and I intend to do more. However, will America let me live? Will you see my name pop up in your feed this time next year? Will you even be around at that time? We don’t know. We can’t know.

Because your local grocery store could be your memorial site. The nearest gas station might be the place you land a black eye and multiple bruises. Church on a Sunday morning with family and friends may end up being a crime scene. And you may count 19 dead children and 2 teachers in your sleep.

Sure as shit, I deserve this slice of cake, and I dare anyone to tell me otherwise.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.