Hopewell, VA – The old adage is, a 3rd time is a charm. I had photographed and shared a few bad jokes with Danica Hart, Trea Swindle, and Devynn Hart of Chapel Hart fame on two previous occasions. The 1st being when they appeared with Mickie James in mid-2021 and the 2nd being at a benefit concert in Hopewell to raise money for artists impacted by Hurricane Ida later that year. My takeaway from both of those performances was they were about as genuine as it gets!! This date was December 8, 2022, the place, once again, the Beacon Theatre in downtown Hopewell, VA, the event was the return of Chapel Hart, fresh off an America’s Got Talent run that not only earned them an all judge Golden Buzzer but also had them finish 5th in a talent laden field of performers. The first two times were quite awesome. I was real curious what this third time would bring.
To the delight of the audience, the trio wasted no time getting to their down home, feel good show with “Glory Days”. Danica, Trea, and Devynn lit up the stage with the country harmonies only they can perform. The revival had begun.
From our very first meeting, it was obvious that not only was their music good, but it came from their heart. “Country Paradise” hits home to many as it is about life in the country. I could feel it resonate with the Hopewell audience and, growing up in the country outside small town Wisconsin, it hit home with me as well!!
Throughout the night, their hearts shined as they were able to share themselves with us through their music and verse. They dedicated “4 Mississippi” to their matriarch, whom they lost earlier this year. Then there was “Nearly Over You“, which is about that person you want to forget but their memory stubbornly remains in your heart.
Kicking the sentimental aspect into overdrive, the concert evolved into a message of perseverance, dedication, and community. “I Will Follow” was up next with a deep message about living in the glory days. There was a time when you would be with people who you disagreed with but you could still get along. Their message? “Follow your heart and you’ll never be disappointed”. A very special song with a genuine message.
As the headline insinuates, this was sort of a Hopewell revival. As it turns out, the Beacon was one of their first venues after pulling the road performance trigger. They recalled singing to about 35 people their first time there and how special it was to be sold out one night and nearly sold out the second at the place it kinda started. I recall the first time I met them with Mickie. Trea was there to greet me with a huge smile (and telling me how to correctly pronounce her name). Danica was a hoot and busted things up a bit while Devynn was, for the most part quiet, smiling, and taking it all in. They have grown in so many ways, as has their audience. A few times during the night, as they told stories of times past, an audience member would yell out a loud AMEN!! Danica was more than willing to offer to pass the collection plate and a tissue as they went into “Cry For Me“.
“American Pride“, “Jacqui’s Song” and “Made For Me” followed, each with their own story. In a nutshell, these songs summed up their love for country (USA), a dear friend who gave her all but lost her life in a freak lightning strike, and the story of their lives starting in Poplarville, MS. In Danica’s words, it is all about community. Without community we cannot succeed. The fact that Jacqui’s song appears on their first two albums has to be an indication of the impression this woman made on their lives.
Up until this time, Devynn had been pretty quiet. That was about to change. Feeling a little sassy and talking of their love for the recently passed Loretta Lynn, Devynn belted, “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man“… Danica interrupted with, ‘Not sassy enough?’ after which Devynn kicked butt with a powerful cover of Heart’s “Barracuda“. We were rockin’ in a country sort of way.
Finishing off the set was a cover that puts the frosting on their story, “Don’t Stop Believing“, followed by what is sure to become the Chapel Hart Anthem, “The Girls are Back in Town“… and that was it… or was it? They made it sound like a hot mic moment but we knew what they were doing… “You Can Have Him Jolene” and brought the crowd to their feet.
For the encore they brought up their opening band, Ryan Necci and The Buffalo Gospel, for a great song to cap off the night, “Country Roads, Take Me Home“. With that, a night of story telling came to an end. It was a picture perfect performance… give me an AMEN!
But really, it was not over. As with any southern revival, when the preachin’ in done, the congregation shakes the preacher’s hand. Yes, their show told us a lot about them and who they were. What they did after told us their performance was 100% authentic and was who they were. With almost every fan in line to say hi, they took the time to shake hands, pose for a pic and share a story or two. Until we meet again! Safe travels and keep on believing!
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Chapel Hart Setlist
Nearly Over You
I Will Follow
Cry For Me
Made For Me
Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man
Don’t Stop Believing
Girls Are Back in Town
You Can Have Him Jolene
Country Roads Take Me Home
Show Date: December 8, 2022