Staying Grounded with Chappell Roan

Coming from Willard, Missouri, a small town in the deep south, Chappell Roan, always knew she was meant to perform. Any aspiring songwriter in small town America will tell you – you’re usually the odd one out. The question about “Plan B” becomes your worst enemy. But to make Plan A a reality, someone else has to believe. For the 19 year-old singer-songwriter, it was her grandfather, Chappell. She’s a small town girl with a voice who’s been tossed head first into the machine – sessions, trips to LA, touring. In her new mini-documentary, Chappell gives fans a glimpse into her world, and among the chaos, what keeps her grounded.

Words by Andy Gorel
Photos by Catie Laffoon

On being an aspiring musician in a small town:
Coming from a town of 5,000, I felt very out of place being an aspiring singer/songwriter. No one at the time had the same dream and goals that I did. I would always get asked if I had a backup plan, and if I said I wasn’t going to college, people would shake their heads. Not all people were skeptical though. I had a lot of support from family and close friends. They were the ones who pushed me to keep going.

On signing at such a young age:
I was showcasing for different labels when I was 16, and signed with Atlantic when I had just turned 17. I was a junior in high school. Looking back, I was too young and naive to really understand what it meant to be a part of the music industry or to be signed with a major label. I missed out on prom and was worried about math homework while I was trying to figure out how to write an album. Thankfully, my label was very patient with me. They gave me time to mature and develop as an artist. Now, I feel like I have a better grasp of what all of this actually is.

On being between LA and Missouri:
I still live in Missouri right now. I fly out every couple weeks to LA and stay awhile to work, then I fly back home. Living at home keeps me grounded and removes a lot of the stress that comes with this career. I feel like I can breathe and be myself in Springfield. I hope to move to LA by the end of next year though.

On her grandfather, Chappell:
My grandpa Chappell was so supportive and proud of me for going after what I thought I was born to do. He passed away last year and didn’t get to hear the School Nights EP. I know he would be proud of me. I feel like he is with me at my shows and interviews whenever I am nervous. He was born into a family of 8 with absolutely no money or opportunity. He grew up to make the most successful insurance company in Southwest Missouri. He inspires me to never complain, be humble, and to always remember the importance of family.

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