Jean Chapel

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Jean Chapel
Birth name Opal Jean Amburgey
Also known as Mattie O'Neil
The Female Elvis
Born March 6, 1925
Neon, Kentucky, United States
Died August 19, 1995(1995-08-19) (aged 70)
Port Orange, Florida, United States
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter

Opal Jean Amburgey (March 6, 1925–August 19, 1995), known professionally as Jean Chapel, was an American country singer and songwriter. She recorded for several record labels and wrote over 400 songs, more than 170 of which were published in her lifetime.


Amburgey was born into a family of six children in Neon, Kentucky. At the age of 11 she learned guitar and banjo, and performed with her sisters as the Sunshine Sister band. Together they left home when Jean was 13 and were hired to play daily on WKLP-AM in Lexington, Kentucky in 1938. They moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1940 to sing on WSB Barn Dance; she began using the nickname Mattie at this time. Her sister Irene would later record with Columbia Records under the name Martha Carson.

In 1947 she married Salty Holmes, and in 1950 they moved to Chicago, Illinois to appear on National Barn Dance on WLS-AM. Soon Jean began appearing on the Grand Ole Opry opposite Holmes as Mattie & Salty under the name Mattie O'Neil.

In 1956 she recorded a few rockabilly recordings under the name Jean Chapel with Sun Records; one of the tunes, "Welcome to the Club", was issued as a B-side of a single by Elvis Presley. Sun promoted her as the Female Elvis, but the nickname stuck more successfully to Janis Martin.

After Chapel divorced Holmes in 1956, she moved to Nashville and devoted herself primarily to songwriting. She befriended Tammy Wynette, who would later briefly marry her brother, Don (shortly before her marriage to George Jones). Wynette asked her to record the duet "Crazy Me".

Chapel's greatest success in the music industry was as a songwriter, penning "Lonely Again", a number one song for Eddy Arnold. She also wrote "Lay Some Happiness on Me", one of Dean Martin's most successful records of the 1960s and in 1973 her song "To Get to You", a hit for Jerry Wallace, was nominated for Song of the Year by the Country Music Association. Among the other artists to record Chapel songs are Liz Anderson, Nancy Sinatra, Tommy Overstreet, Charlie McCoy, and Lorrie Morgan.

Chapel died August 19, 1995 in Port Orange, Florida.


Year Title Record label
1956 Welcome To The Club / I Won't be Rockin' Tonight Sun Records
1956 Welcome To The Club / I Won't Be Rockin' Tonight RCA Records
1957 Oo-Ba La Baby / I Had A Dream RCA Records
1959 The Little Martian / Waiting Cleff-Tone Records
1962 It Hurts Me / Turn Around And Walk Away Crest Records
1963 Don't Let Go / Your Tender Love Smash Records
  • Tell It Like It Is
not issued