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PSA: Don’t Call Chappell Roan “Kayleigh”

The meteoric rise of Chappell Roan will be studied for years to come. Roan has been releasing music since 2017, but through a mix of talent and pretty amazing social media marketing, the Midwest Princess has skyrocketed to fame in recent months. She now boasts 24.9 million (and counting!) monthly listens on Spotify and ranks as the 224th artist in the world on the platform. With songs like “Good Luck, Babe!” and “Casual” taking over TikTok, that success will only continue to grow as more and more become acquainted with her work. 

But many are aware of this. The question now is much less “Who is Chappell Roan” but, instead, “Why is her name Chappell Roan?” (Because no, Chappell Roan’s real name is not Chappell Roan.)

Just as Roan’s aesthetics are heavily inspired by drag, so is her name. “Chappell Roan” is a stage persona, a character that she puts on when performing, just like one would with makeup and costumes. There’s more sass, more bite, more “drama” to this name than any regular-degular name. It also allows her a degree of separation between her real life and performance. In the age of parasocial relationships, that’s an incredibly smart decision.

Roan has discussed on many occasions where the name originated. According to an interview she gave to Cherwell, following the passing of her grandfather, a man named Dennis K. Chappell, in 2016, she “took Chappell in his honor” with “Roan [coming] from his favorite song… Strawberry Roan, an old Western song about a pinkish red horse.” (Very “Pink Pony Club,” if you ask me.) This desire for a stage name, one seeped in sentimentality, also came from a lack of connection with her real name, Kayleigh Rose Amstutz. Roan told Cherwell, “I do still wish my name was not Kayleigh in real life.” 


Makeup techinique is devolving 😀

♬ original sound – chappell roan

You could even compare Roan to Lady Gaga — as many already do — because fans know Gaga’s name isn’t “Lady Gaga,” but rather Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. However, we still call her Lady Gaga, because that’s who she says she is and what she wants to be called. 

As she explained in an interview on the podcast Q with Tom Power, “Chappell Roan is my drag project. And, I think, that’s also helped personally to separate it as a job, and me as Kayleigh.” In fact, she has started some of her shows by stating, “Don’t call me baby, don’t call me Kayleigh,” driving home the point that she wants fans to call her by her stage name, not her real name.  

And that should be more than fine with fans, because Chappell Roan is so much more than her name. She’s also her creative fashion, bold makeup, and outspoken — such as when Roan spotlighted drag queens as her openers, in direct opposition to an onslaught of drag bans and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being passed, or when she donated a portion of her ticket sales to For the Gworls, a collective to help provide funding for Black, trans people in need. Chappell Roan has made so many feel comfortable in their skin and welcome at her concerts, and one of the easiest ways to honor her is to call her Chappell Roan.

Eliza Disbrow

Washington '26

Eliza Disbrow is a sophomore at the University of Washington with a plan to major in European Studies with a double minor in Spanish and business. Eliza is a writer, covering a variety of topics, from music, to books, to anime. Beyond Her Campus, Eliza serves as the co-vice president of the University of Washington Euro Club. In her free time, Eliza can be seen taking in the sights of Seattle on any of the available forms of public transportation, normally with a book in hand and headphones in her ears. She plays guitar and bass, mainly as an excuse to play either Fall Out Boy or Ghost to family and friends.