'AGT' Semifinalist Chapel Hart Talks Surpassing Self-Doubt to Find 'the Ultimate Validation' from Fans

"We were at that place of sitting down and going, 'Are we really good enough writers? Are we really as good as we think?'" the country music trio recall to PEOPLE after Tuesday's AGT live shows

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 16: (L-R) Trea Swindle, Danica Hart, and Devynn Hart of Chapel Hart attend "America's Got Talent" Season 17 Live Show at Sheraton Pasadena Hotel on August 16, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

America's Got Talent's latest breakout stars are proving their Golden Buzzer wasn't just a fluke.

Country trio Chapel Hart closed out season 17's live show on Tuesday to resounding applause as one of 11 acts fighting for the next two spots in the NBC reality competition show's finale.

"It was like watching a headline show," judge Howie Mandel said after the group's performance of their original song "The Girls Are Back In Town."

Added Simon Cowell: "Things are going to go well for Chapel Hart."

Following the positive reception from the judges, Chapel Hart spoke to PEOPLE backstage, and explained how much the support meant to them.

"Relieved is an understatement," member Danica Hart said. "They were saying such nice and encouraging things and [my bandmates] just started welling up."

"I was looking out the corner of eyes like, 'Don't do it because if you do it, we're all going to cry," recalled member Trea Swindle about their post-performance waterworks.

The Mississippi natives admitted it was "super nerve-racking" going last, especially after seeing the "amazing" acts that preceded them.

"Our nerves were through the roof," explained member Devynn Hart, with Danica noting that everyone "brought their A-game... they had us shook."

The singers also weren't aware the judges could still use their buzzers at this point in the competition and felt like "the expectation was higher this week" due to the Golden Buzzer already under their wing.

But as the judges explained to PEOPLE, they had nothing to worry about.

"They're so full of energy," Heidi Klum said backstage. "You can see the camaraderie and love they have for each other... I have a sneaky suspicion they will be at the finale and that there will be a lot of 'yeehaws' at the finale."

AMERICAS GOT TALENT -- Quarterfinals 1 Episode 1709 Pictured: (l-r) Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Terry Crews, Sofia Vergara, Simon Cowell (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC via Getty Images)
The judges and host of America's Got Talent. Trae Patton/NBC/Getty

Meanwhile, Mandel called them "the TLC of country music," pointing to their audition song, "You Can Have Him Jolene," which topped the iTunes chart. "By the time this article comes out, they will be number one again," Mandel, 66, predicted.

Following the group's audition, their performance caught the attention of country music legends like Loretta Lynn, Darius Rucker and even Dolly Parton. It's something that Chapel Hart said felt surreal — and incredibly gratifying.

"We've been fighting to be seen for so long," Danica explained. "To have the queen of country music, the pinnacle of country music, say, 'I see you, I love what you're doing, I love the song,' that was more than enough."

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Chapel Hart - americas got talent
Chapel Hart. AGT/NBC

The trio also believe it's "important" that they perform their own music after "working at this for so many years and being told time and time again that it's not quite good enough."

"The fact that we stepped out from the first time, and sang songs that came from our hearts, things that we actually put to paper and to see being received that way, it's like, maybe we're not crazy," Trea said. "It's the ultimate validation and those words that we have been waiting years to hear. And we didn't hear it from just the judges, we didn't hear it from just the audience, we heard it from the entire world."

"We were right on the cusp of, not giving up, but we were at that place of sitting down and going, 'Are we really good enough writers? Are we really as good as we think?" added Danica. "But to stand in front of American every week with them asking for more Chapel Hart makes my heart full. Our new fan base is worldwide!"

Fans will find out if Chapel Hart is one of two viewer-voted contestants to move onto the season 17 finale when the AGT results show airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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