Tracy Chapman makes rare appearance to sing ‘Fast Car’ with Luke Combs at the Grammys
Combs’ rendition of the late 80s classic, which won him Song of the Year at 2023 Country Music Awards, has been met with both great praise and great criticism.
Many applauded Combs for giving the tune a major resurgence and even bringing it to a whole new audience. At the same time, some took umbrage with the fact that Combs’ version had placed higher on the Billboard Hot 100 charts than Chapman’s original and argued that it was a symptom of long-endured racism within the country music genre.
Chapman eventually came out of her private life to endorse Combs’ cover, saying, “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”
Which brings us to the opening half hour of the Grammy 2024 Awards, where both Chapman and Combs appeared on stage in matching all-black outfits to perform a moving duet. This made for a landmark appearance for Chapman, who hadn’t performed publicly in several years.
As they sang, audiences mouthed the words and clapped along. Some songs really do have the power to bring folks of all walks of life together.
“Fast Car” has struck a chord with listeners since that seemingly fateful night at Wembley Stadium in 1988, when a few technical difficulties led Chapman to performing it as a backup plan, unwittingly stepping into musical history. Fans love the folk anthem for its raw simplicity and vivid depiction of yearning, brought to life by Chapman’s one-of-a-kind voice.
And even though there’s no replacing her original hit, the collaboration with Combs has led to some amazing genre-busting breakthroughs. Back in November of 2023, Chapman also reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Songwriters chart and won song of the year for “Fast Car,” making her the first Black woman to win a Country Music Association award.
Then a mere moments after Chapman’s Grammy performance with Combs, “Fast Car” shot to No. 1 on iTunes Top Songs. Her debut album from 1988, titled “Tracy Chapman,” also shot to No. 1.
Art is subjective, but it stands to reason that a work of art can be considered great if it continues moving people time and time again. Chapman’s art certainly has this kind of staying power, and it’s wonderful anytime that achievement gets recognition.
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