By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
RED BAY, Ala. – Music lovers have always connected with Tammy Wynette through her music, but now her fans can get to know her through the eyes of her stepdaughter.
Donna Chapel became the stepdaughter of the first lady of country music when Wynette married her father, Don Chapel, in 1967. Their marriage was annulled a year later, but in that year, Donna Chapel sang with Wynette and the two forged a lifelong relationship.
Chapel’s uncle, Robert Baker, a Huntsville-based actor and playwright, wrote the script for “Standing by Tammy Wynette: The Donna Chapel Story,” which tells the story of the two women.
“The material was so good, and it rivaled the story of ‘Always … Patsy Cline,’ but I thought it was a stronger story,” Baker said.
Chapel sang backup for Wynette on some of her biggest hits, like “Apartment #9” and “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.” Chapel is still involved with the music business, Baker said.
Chapel’s character in the play “delivers the story and sings, but mostly she sets the story for Tammy to sing,” he said.
Anneliese Canada plays Wynette in “Standing by Tammy Wynette.”
“Anna does look a lot like Tammy,” Baker said, who met Wynette several times over the years. “She is really talented.”
“Standing by Tammy Wynette” opens this weekend in Red Bay, Ala., a town that shares the title of Wynette’s hometown with Tremont.
The Red Bay Museum, which features a large exhibit on Wynette, will be open all weekend so fans can see the play and then visit the museum, said Scotty Kennedy, museum director.
Kennedy hasn’t seen the play, but as a diehard Wynette fan, he’s excited about it.
“It’s a very positive story,” he said. “It talks about the positive influence (Wynette) had on Donna, and she does nothing but say good things about her.”