By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Renowned singer and songwriter Tracy Chapman, known for her reclusive nature, has emerged from the shadows to comment on a historic moment.
In a statement to Billboard, Chapman expressed her surprise and gratitude at finding herself on the country music charts, a genre she never expected to venture into.
“I’m honored to be there,” she remarked, acknowledging country star Luke Combs and his resounding success with his cover of her iconic 1988 single, “Fast Car.”
Combs’ rendition of “Fast Car” has soared to the top spot on the Country Airplay chart, a significant achievement that carries even greater weight.
The ascent to No. 1 makes Chapman the first Black woman to reach that plateau as the sole writer on a country music song since the chart’s inception in 1990.
Chapman’s songwriting prowess also has propelled her to the summit of Billboard’s Country Songwriters chart, courtesy of the Combs remake.
Combs’ version has climbed higher in the charts than Chapman’s original, which reached No. 6 upon its release over three decades ago.
“Fast Car,” the breakout single from Chapman’s eponymous 1988 debut album, earned her numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Billboard noted that, “Combs’ version has generated at least $500,000 in global publishing royalties, Billboard estimates, with the bulk going to Chapman who owns both the writers’ and publisher’s share of the song.”
Additionally, the success of Combs’ version has boosted Chapman’s original, with weekly consumption of Chapman’s version increasing 44% since Combs’ version was released, according to Luminate.
The original version garnered nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, solidifying Chapman’s status as a bona fide star in the music industry.
She also won Best New Artist and Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Chapman’s journey to musical success began in Boston, where she honed her craft as a songwriter and performer, recording songs at the local WMFO radio station.
The turning point came in 1986, when a fortuitous introduction to a manager at Elektra Records led to her self-titled debut album, “Tracy Chapman,” released in 1988.
The album’s lead single, “Fast Car,” achieved considerable acclaim, reaching No. 5 on the U.K. charts and No. 6 on the U.S. charts.
Another critically acclaimed album by Chapman, “New Beginning,” came out in 1995 and featured the hit song “Give Me One Reason.”
Today, Chapman remains an active artist and dedicated activist, lending her voice and performances to various organizations.
Extraordinary achievements, including Grammy recognition, chart-topping hits, and a dedicated fan base, have marked her musical journey.
Beyond her artistic endeavors, Chapman has used her platform to champion causes close to her heart, advocating for organizations like the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Circle of Life.
In a memorable collaboration with Bonnie Raitt during a 2003 event, Chapman showcased her talent and commitment to making a positive impact.