Joy Chapman knows all about going all-out for something you want to achieve.
In February, at the age of 52, the Clayton-based Surrey country singer, songwriter and tribute artist’s perseverance paid off when she became the Guinness World Record-holder for the lowest vocal note recorded by a female – a very deep 33.57-hertz C1 note.
Now she has just released a new single – alongside her current retro-modern country album debut Footprint In My Songs – that she hopes will inspire others to take a chance and go for their heart’s desire.
The single Could’ve Been Yes – described by music critic Kristina Mondo as “hard-rocking fusion of country, rock and rockabilly,” and which Chapman herself acknowledges is reminiscent of some of Shania Twain’s classic hits – is ostensibly about “a guy not being brave enough to ask out the girl he really wants to.”
But Chapman says she thinks it embraces an even more universal theme, about the “would’ves and should’ves” that everyone looks back on with regret.
“I was thinking about how many times people don’t go after what they really want,” she said in a statement about the new release.
“It’s usually out of a fear of rejection – but if you don’t have the courage to ask, you’ll never know. Because of that, I think the message of the song can be taken further and applied to any aspect of one’s life when you’re not going ahead and giving something a try.”
The bid for the lowest female note – Chapman attributes her astounding flexible vocal range, in which she is equally adept at singing bass, tenor, alto and high soprano, to a rare condition known as ‘hyper-mobility syndrome’ – won her international fame, and appearances on The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon, UK Morning Live and Entertainment Tonight Canada.
But it was a hard-won victory that took a year to accomplish – in the midst of technical issues including a low-end limiter on her mic, studio noise and camera issues with recording a video that would qualify for the Guinness panel, she was also grieving the sudden, unexpected death of her mother.
The effort to record a successful video showcasing the lower end of her range also put pressure on her and her vocal chords, she told Peace Arch News’ sister paper, the Surrey Now-Leader in April.
“(I was) so uptight with everything,” she recalled about the moments before making her attempt, that her vocal chords tightened up, not allowing her to sing as low as she usually can.
“It’s not even my lowest note, so I’m going to do another attempt to smash the record,” she promised.
With a mother who was a music teacher, Chapman said she got an earlier start on developing technique than most. A lifelong love of poetry also informs her songwriting and performance career, which has seen her create her own ‘Divas’ tribute show, and perform on the main stage at the PNE.
Chapman also toured with Legends International for six years (2014-2020), and in 2019, released a novelty holiday single, Santa Claus Drank All My Beer Last Night.
To her musical abilities, she adds an introspective – but also humorous and witty – perspective on life that she said sustains her through the rejection that all striving musicians have to deal with.
“It’s that great hockey analogy: 100 per cent of the shots not taken won’t make it into the net,” she said.
“I don’t care anymore. I just keep sending in (demos) and trying. What’s the worst that can happen, really? I get another ‘it’s great, but…’ rejection?
“I always stay focused on the fact that, if I don’t try, maybe it ‘could’ve been yes.’”
Could’ve Been Yes is available on the Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon platforms.
For more on Chapman’s music, visit joychapmanmusic.com and facebook.com/joychapmanmusic
– with files from Tom Zillich