Chappel Roan performs onstage.
(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Acrisure Arena)

How Kayleigh Rose Amstutz Became Chappell Roan

Chappell Roan is more than a glittery queer pop icon. This singer-songwriter just signed by Island Records in 2023 is already a brilliant star and LGBTQIA+ activist who is on tour in the Midwest and around the world, all summer long.

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When Chappell Roan moved to Los Angeles and began releasing original music on a regular basis, along with YouTube music videos, everything changed for the up-and-coming pop star. The COVID-19 pandemic quashed the star’s first attempt at a musical career. After a brief return to the Midwest, where Chappell Roan was born and raised, the singer-songwriter moved to L.A. to seek more inspiration. And that’s when Chappell Roan met drag.

Chappell Roan is the stage persona of Kayleigh Rose Amstutz, born and raised in a conservative Midwest community in Missouri. Amstutz is gay, but remained closeted for many years as a young person coming to terms with queer identity, and it all comes out in the star’s synth-heavy, dramatic anthems. Songs like “Good Luck Babe” and “Red Wine Supernova” are open, honest tales of learning and stumbling through gay relationships and situationships. Much of the exploration of gay identity is exactly what Chappell Roan sings about: heartbreak, passion, confusion, communication, and above all, attraction.

The glitz, glam, and ability to create your own stage persona are all parts of the drag world that attracted the creative and shy Amstutz. From thrifting to sewing, to bedazzling, to creating outfits, makeup looks, and more, these glittery hobbies are all things that bring joy to Amstutz. The sad, glittery, passionate feelings that this slumber party pop star’s music gives us are reflected in the persona of Chappell Roan, who is bold and outgoing. The transformation from behind-the-scenes bedazzler Amstutz to Chappell Roan on stage, covered in bright colors and glitter and belting out soulful tales of gay woe, is dynamite.

While the drag influence has left some fans who want to be respectful about pronoun usage wondering about her gender identity, Amstutz is cisgender and uses she/her pronouns both on and off stage. This doesn’t take away from the impact of her music, her stage presence, or the meaningful message that she’s sending to LGBTQIA+ people at every performance. Chappell Roan champions facing our internalized homophobia as queer people and learning to love ourselves. She has local drag performances at every concert and raises money for queer groups. We adore Chappell Roan for a host of reasons, not the least of which is her heartfelt, earnest pop music.

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Coco Poley
Coco Poley is a freelance writer, prolific poet, and artist who has been writing professionally for seven years. When Coco isn't writing poetry and fiction, they are creating some form of art or roller skating. You can find Coco's features on comics, TV, games, software, and film across the web on The Stack Overflow blog, How-to Geek, Women Write About Comics, and Sidequest.Zone. Follow Coco's journey as an author or buy their art at