Tracy Chapman performed ‘Fast Car’ with Luke Combs during the 66th Grammy Awards on February 4, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Chapman, who hasn’t performed in public in 15 years, received a standing ovation the minute the audience saw her strumming her acoustic guitar before she even sang one note.
Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs singing ‘Fast Car’ at the Grammys.
In November 2023, Tracy Chapman, who is 59 years old, became the first Black woman to win a CMA Award. Her song ‘Fast Car’ won Song of the Year, making her the first Black songwriter to ever win that award. Chapman’s song, which was written 35 years ago in 1988, gained a new audience when Luke Combs included it on his album in 2023. The song made it to number one on the country charts and stayed there for several weeks.
Chapman also became the first black woman to earn a number one Country airplay hit as a solo songwriter. In a statement provided to Billboard, Chapman said, “I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” she said. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”
Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs are two people whose love of music crossed the divides of generation and race.
Luke first heard Chapman’s music nearly 30 years ago in North Carolina when his father popped a Tracy Chapman album into the tape deck of his pickup truck. Combs told People Magazine, “There was this one song that really stuck out to me. … it was called ‘Fast Car.’”
‘Fast Car’ was written and sung by a woman who grew up poor and Black in Cleveland, Ohio. Chapman recalled that, “We always had food to eat and a place to stay, but it was a fairly bare-bones kind of thing.” Combs was raised in a working-class family that often went without.
Combs was born in Huntersville, NC, the only child of Rhonda and Chester Combs. The family moved to Asheville when he was 8 years old. As a child he performed in chorus class, multiple school musicals, and joined his church choir. When he decided to teach himself how to play the guitar, one of the first songs he tried to learn was ‘Fast Car.’
Combs cover of ‘Fast Car’ hit number one on the Country Airplay chart in July 2023.