Jean Chapel (b. Opal Jean Amburgey, March 6, 1925–August 19, 1995) 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.
Opal Jean Amburgey was born into a family of six children in Lester County, Kentucky. At the age of eleven she learned guitar and banjo, and performed with her sisters as the Sunshine Sister band. Even at such a young age, Chapel's personality and star potential came shining through as she sang lead on most songs. Together they left home when Jean was 13 and were hired to play daily at radio station WKLP in Lexington, Kentucky in 1938. They moved to Atlanta in 1940 to sing on the WSB Barn Dance; she began using the nickname "Mattie" at this time and became a member of the Coon Creek Girls. Her sister Irene would later record with Columbia Records under the name Martha Carson.
In 1947, Amber married performer Floyd "Salty" Holmes and the two performed together for years at the Grand Ole Opry, on television, radio, and in concert. Amber recorded as Opal Jean in the early '50s and with her Sunshine Sisters.
THE SUNSHINE SISTERS Mattie (Jean CHAPEL) Martha (CARSON) and Minnie.
In 1950 they moved to Chicago to play on the National Barn Dance on WLS. Soon after Jean began appearing on the Grand Ole Opry opposite Salty Holmes, whom she had married in 1947.
In the early 50's, Jean would record solo for Hickory Records under the name Opal Jean; record with her two sisters for the King label in 1951 as the Sunshine Sisters. 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. In addition to these labels, Jean recorded for Capitol, London, Challenge, Smash, and RCA Records.
After she divorced Holmes in 1956 she moved to Nashville and devoted herself primarily with 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.
However, her song writing should not be overshadow the rest of her amazing career. As music historian, Robert Oermann, says "her saga encompasses virtually every major development in country music's history - string bands, radio barn dances, television, rockabilly, and the Nashville Sound."
Chapel died August 19, 1995 (age 70) in Port Orange, Florida. (Info edited from various sources, mainly Wikipedia)