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. Even at such a young age, Chapel's personality and star potential came shining through as she sang lead on most songs.
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. At age 15, Jean had already performed at literally hundreds of shows, appeared daily on radio stations, sang on barn dances, became a member of the Coon Creek Girls, and was about to begin what she would be most remembered for – writing songs.
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 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; and officially become, Jean Chapel, in 1956 when signing with Sun Records to sing rockabilly songs like "I Won't Be Rocking Tonight" and "Welcome to the Club" which was issued on the B-side of an Elvis single. Sun promoted her as the Female Elvis, but the nickname stuck more successfully to Janis Martin. In addition to the Sun label, Jean recorded for Capitol, London, Challenge, Smash, and RCA Records.
Chapel divorced Holmes and moved to Nashville, where she concentrated on writing through the '60s. She became neighbours with Tammy Wynette, who began recording Chapel's songs and did a duet with her called "Crazy Me." Wynette was also briefly married to Chapel's brother.
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.
(Compiled and edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia & AllMusic)