Is Chappell Roan a nepo baby?

Is Chappell Roan a nepo baby?

Nepo babies have officially taken over the entertainment world, but is being one inherently a bad thing? Are there good examples of nepo babies? And perhaps, most importantly, what qualifies a pop culture figure as a nepo baby?

Every new artist that breaks through now has their parentage scrutinized and singer Chappell Roan is no exception. She’s absolutely exploded in the last two years, thanks to her performance at Coachella and her stint as an opener for Olivia Rodrigo. So, let’s delve into Roan’s personal history and determine, once and for all, whether she really is a dreaded nepo baby.

Chappell Roan grew up in a Missouri trailer park

Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images

Chappell Roan was born Kayleigh Rose Amstutz on February 19, 1998. She grew up in a trailer park in Willard, Missouri with her three younger siblings. Willard was a very conservative and Christian community, and as such, Roan struggled to fit in. She told Variety that she desperately wanted to be liked as a child, even if she struggled to behave. “I was diagnosed bipolar when I was 22,” she explained. “But as a child I think my parents just thought I was being a brat, so I had such a difficult time.”

Roan took up songwriting as a teenager, but the only places she could really gain access to a crowd or people who nurtured her talent were talent shows and local summer camps. She improved as a singer, however, and by the time she was 17, her parents were taking her to musical showcases in New York. The hard work paid off, and Roan signed a record contract with Atlantic Records. She put out her first single, “Good Hurt,” in 2017, and spent the next few years perfecting her craft in Los Angeles.

Things didn’t go smoothly. Roan’s frequent collaborator, Dan Nigro, began working with Olivia Rodrigo more in 2021, and she was unable to find another songwriting partner that she clicked with. She ended her contract with Atlantic and moved back to her hometown to work on music as an independent artist.

It’s the sort of setback that’s anathema to nepo babies who have connections with high-powered executives, but it emboldened Roan. She came back with better music, and it clicked. The rest, as they say, is history.

Roan celebrates her humble beginnings in her music

Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns

Chappell Roan is no nepo baby. She’s spent the better part of a decade working hard at her craft, and a brief skim through her discography shows just how long it took for her to find a sound that perfectly suited her. As evidenced by her decision to move back to Missouri, however, Roan is not going to forget about her difficult childhood. In fact, she told Variety that she wants to celebrate it in her music.

The title of Roan’s debut studio album says it all: The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. She’s riffing on her less-than-glamorous origins, and placing them front and center in her songwriting. This is her way of owning them. “I think I needed to put the Midwest in there just because it’s so important to my project,” she noted, before adding:

It influences the music, my fashion, my lyrics, the energy around it. It’s important for me to capture the Midwestern aspect. I don’t want to lose that part of me. I thought I really did when I was younger, but now I don’t anymore.

Roan’s honesty has paid off. The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess cracked the top 30 on the Billboard 200, and received universal acclaim from critics. She’s a pop star, an aspiring household name, but she is NOT a nepo baby.

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