Chappell Roan poses in a beauty pageant outfit on the cover of her album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.
(Amusement / Island)

Let Us Bring You Up to Speed on Chappell Roan

In the last year, queer singer-songwriter Chappell Roan’s fame has skyrocketed. The American slumber party pop icon has a penchant for performance and an intriguing backstory, and her music is good. Let us catch you up on what you need to know about her.

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Since she was young, Chappell Roan expressed herself through music. It wasn’t until her music career had fizzled out during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and she found she couldn’t write music while “depressed on a farm” that she escaped to Los Angeles. Chappell Roan found herself involved with the drag community while she made queer friends in L.A., and her stage persona was born. Her drag-inspired looks involve heavy makeup and extravagant, glittery fashion that screams 1980s beauty pageant in a profoundly addicting tribute to camp.

Chappell had already chosen her stage name by the time she hit the streets of L.A. As she found inspiration and released her own songs there, her music expanded on her own queer exploration. Through her lyrics and dream-pop synth backdrops, Chappell Roan explored her gay feelings about relationships and released them on YouTube. In 2023, she was signed to Island Records, and her path to stardom took off.

The origin of Chappell Roan’s name

Chappell Roan Album Cover
(Island Records)

Chappell Roan was born Kayleigh Rose Amstutz, and though she has kept that name, she said in an interview with Cherwell that she never felt “super connected” to the name Kayleigh. When Amstutz chose to share her music with the world, Chappell Roan was a name that came from a singular and endearing inspiration: her grandfather. She had a close relationship with him, and when he died, Amstutz wanted to honor him. His name was Dennis K. Chappell, so Chappell became the first name. His favorite song was Strawberry Roan by Curley Fletcher, so Roan was the last name. And thus, Chappell Roan was born.

How to pronounce Chappell Roan’s name

A byproduct of spending so much of our time online these days is reading things more often than we hear them, which might have you wondering … how do I actually say that name out loud?

Since Chappell Roan’s name comes from two different root words, let’s look at both of them. “Chappell” is originally a last name that is pronounced exactly like the word “chapel,” which usually means a church. There’s a little bit of irony here, as well, given that Chappell Roan has been outspoken against her strict religious background. “Roan” is a term for a horse which has dark hair interspersed with white hair, and sounds like the word “row” with an additional “n” on the end, so it sounds like “row-n.”


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Author
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 http://linktr.ee/youcancallmecoco.