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Tracy Chapman

This article is about the singer. For her debut album, 2 Career
see Tracy Chapman (album). For the actress, see Tracy
Nicole Chapman.
During college, Chapman began busking in Harvard
Square and playing guitar in Club Passim, the Nameless
Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an Amer- Coeehouse, and other coeehouses in Cambridge, Masican singer-songwriter, known for her hits "Fast Car" sachusetts. Another Tufts student, Brian Koppelman,
and "Give Me One Reason", along with other singles heard Chapman playing and brought her to the attention
"Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", of his father, Charles Koppelman. Koppelman, who ran
"Crossroads", "New Beginning" and "Telling Stories". SBK Publishing, signed Chapman in 1986. After ChapShe is a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy Award- man graduated from Tufts in 1987, he helped her to sign
a contract with Elektra Records.[5]
winning artist.[1]
Chapman was signed to Elektra Records by Bob Krasnow in 1987. The following year she released her critically acclaimed debut album Tracy Chapman, which became a multi-platinum worldwide hit. The album garnered Chapman six Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year, three of which she won, including
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her single Fast
Car, and Best New Artist. Chapman released her second
album Crossroads the following year, which garnered her
an additional Grammy nomination. Since then, Chapman has experienced further success with six more studio albums, which include her multi-platinum fourth album New Beginning, for which she won a fourth Grammy
award, for Best Rock Song, for its lead single Give Me
One Reason. Chapmans most recent release is Our
Bright Future, in 2008.

Early life
Chapman in Budapest, Hungary, 1988

Chapman was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She was raised

by her mother, who recognized Tracys love of music and,
despite not having much money, bought her a ukulele
when she was just three.[2] Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of eight. She says that
she may have been rst inspired to play the guitar by the
television show Hee Haw.[3]

At Elektra, she released Tracy Chapman (1988). The

album was critically acclaimed, and she began touring
and building a fanbase. "Fast Car" began its rise on the
US charts soon after she performed it at the televised
Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in June
1988; it became a number 6 pop hit on the Billboard
Hot 100 for the week ending August 27, 1988. Rolling
Stone ranked the song number 167 on their 2010 list of
"The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[6] It is the highestranking song both written and performed by a female
performer. Talkin' 'bout a Revolution, the follow-up,
charted at number 75 and was followed by Baby Can I
Hold You, which peaked at number 48. The album sold

Raised Baptist, Chapman attended an Episcopal high

school.[3] She was accepted into the program A Better Chance, which helps minority students attend private schools. She graduated from Wooster School in
Connecticut, then attended Tufts University.[4] She graduated with a B.A. degree in anthropology and African


well, going multi-platinum and winning three Grammy

Awards, including an honor for Chapman as Best New
Artist. Later in 1988, Chapman was a featured performer
on the worldwide Amnesty International Human Rights
Now! Tour. According to the VH1 website, Her album
helped usher in the era of political correctnessalong
with 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M., Chapmans liberal politics proved enormously inuential on American college
campuses in the late '80s.[7]
Her follow-up album Crossroads (1989) was less commercially successful, but still achieved platinum status.
By 1992s Matters of the Heart, Chapman was playing to
a small and devoted audience. Her fourth album New Beginning (1995) proved successful, selling over three million copies in the U.S. The album included the hit single
"Give Me One Reason", which won the 1997 Grammy
for Best Rock Song and became Chapmans most successful single to date, peaking at Number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Following a four-year hiatus, her fth
album, Telling Stories, was released in 2000. Its hit single, Telling Stories, received heavy airplay on European
radio stations and on Adult Alternative and Hot AC stations in the United States. Chapman toured Europe and
the US in 2003 in support of her sixth album, Let It Rain
To support her seventh studio album, Where You Live
(2005), Chapman toured major US cities in October and
throughout Europe over the remainder of the year. The
Where You Live tour was extended into 2006; the 28date European tour featured summer concerts in Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the UK,
Russia and more. On June 5, 2006, she performed at the
5th Gala of Jazz in Lincoln Center, New York, and in a
session at the 2007 TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference in Monterey, California.

support their various charitable eorts in some way. And

I look at those requests and I basically try to do what I
can. And I have certain interests of my own, generally an
interest in human rights.[3] This interest in human rights
can be seen lyrically in her music. Songs such as 1988s
"Talkin' 'bout a Revolution" highlight the importance of
speaking up against injustice:
Don't you know, talking 'bout a revolution
sounds like a whisper / when they're standing
in the welfare lines.
Chapmans song "Fast Car" also brings awareness to the
struggles of poverty, with lyrics such as:
I know things will get better / you'll nd
work and I'll get promoted / we'll move out of
the shelter / buy a bigger house and live in the
Chapmans activism extends further than her lyrics. She
has performed at numerous socially aware events, and
continues to do so. In 1988, she performed in London as part of a worldwide concert tour to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights with Amnesty International.[12] The same
year Chapman also performed in the Nelson Mandela
70th Birthday Tribute, an event which raised money for
South Africas Anti-Apartheid Movement and seven childrens charities.[13] More recently, in 2004 Chapman performed (and rode) in the AIDS/LifeCycle event.[14]

Chapman has also been involved with Clevelands elementary schools. A music video produced by Chapman that highlights signicant achievements in AfricanAmerican history has become an important teaching tool
in Cleveland Public Schools. Chapman also agreed to
Chapman was commissioned by the American Conserva- sponsor a Crossroads in Black History essay contest for
tory Theater to compose music for its production of Athol high school students in Cleveland and other cities.[15]
Fugard's Blood Knot, a play on apartheid in South Africa, In 2004, Chapman was given an honorary doctorate in
staged in early 2008.[8]
Fine Arts by her alma mater, Tufts University, recognizAtlantic Records released Chapmans eighth studio al- ing her commitment to social activism.[16]
bum, Our Bright Future (2008).[9] Chapman made a 26I'm fortunate that I've been able to do my
date solo tour of Europe. She returned to tour Euwork
and be involved in certain organizations,
rope and selected North American cities during the sumcertain endeavors, and oered some assistance
mer of 2009. She was backed by Joe Gore on guitars,
in some way. Whether that is about raising
Patrick Warren on keyboards, and Dawn Richardson on
money or helping to raise awareness, just
being another body to show some force and
Chapman was appointed a member of the 2014 Sundance
conviction for a particular idea. Finding out
Film Festival U.S. Documentary jury.[11]
where the need is and if someone thinks
you're going to be helpful, then helping.
Tracy Chapman[17]

Social activism

Chapman is widely regarded as a politically and socially

active musician. In a 2009 interview with American radio
network NPR, she is quoted as saying: I'm approached
by lots of organizations and lots of people who want me to

Chapman often performs at and attends charity

events such as Make Poverty History, amfAR and
AIDS/LifeCycle, to support social causes. She identies
as a feminist.[18]

Personal life

Although Chapman has never disclosed her sexual orientation, during the mid-1990s she dated writer Alice
Walker.[19] Chapman maintains a strong separation between her personal and professional lives. I have a public
life thats my work life and I have my personal life, she
said. In some ways, the decision to keep the two things
separate relates to the work I do.[20]

O Holy Night A Very Special Christmas 3 (LP)

and A Very Special Christmas Live (LP)
"Three Little Birds" Live at the One Love Bob
Marley All Star Tribute
"Get Up Stand Up" by Bob Marley featured on the
Let It Rain tour edition CD2 (LP)
"Stand By Me" by Ben E. King on the XM Hear
Music Radio Sessions Volume 1 (LP)


Main article: Tracy Chapman discography

6 Awards and nominations

Grammy Award History

1988: Tracy Chapman

1989: Crossroads


1992: Matters of the Heart

Best New Artist (Won)

1995: New Beginning

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Fast

Car" (Won)

2000: Telling Stories

2002: Let It Rain
2005: Where You Live
2008: Our Bright Future



Duet songs:
The Thrill Is Gone with BB King from his album
Deuces Wild
Give Me One Reason with Eric Clapton from the
album A Very Special Christmas Live
Baby Can I Hold You with Pavarotti from the
DVD/Album Pavarotti and Friends for Cambodia
and Tibet
Ain't No Sunshine with Buddy Guy from his album Bring 'Em In
Trench Town Rock with Stephen and Ziggy Marley at the One Love Bob Marley All Star Tribute
The Maker with Dave Matthews on October 21,
2001 at the Bridge School Benet
Covered songs:
"The House of the Rising Sun" Rubiyt (LP)
"The Times They Are A Changin" Bob Dylan 30th
Anniversary Celebration (LP)

Best Contemporary Folk Recording for Tracy

Chapman (Won)
Album of the Year for Tracy Chapman (Nominated)
Record of the Year for Fast Car (Nominated)
Song of the Year for Fast Car (Nominated)
Best Contemporary Folk Recording for Crossroads (Nominated)
Best Rock Song for "Give Me One Reason"
Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for
Give Me One Reason (Nominated)
Record of the Year for Give Me One Reason
Song of the Year for Give Me One Reason
Best Pop Album for New Beginning
Best Contemporary Folk Album for Our
Bright Future (Nominated)
Other Awards


[1] GRAMMY Award Winners

[2] Williamson, Nigel Tracy Chapman Biography All About
Tracy Chapman, July 2001
[3] Martin, Michael Without Further Ado, Songster Tracy
Chapman Returns National Public Radio, August 20,
[4] Biography All About Tracy Chapman
[5] Erlewine, Stephen Thomas Tracy Chapman All Music
[6] 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Tracy Chapman, 'Fast
Car'". Rolling Stone. May 2010. Retrieved February 22,
[7] Tracy Chapman
[8] A.C.T. Tackles Big Issues in Fugards Blood Knot.
American Conservatory Theater. January 18, 2008.
[9] Tracy Chapman. Atlantic Records. Retrieved March
16, 2009.
[10] Tracy Chapman European / US Tour Dates 2009 All
About Tracy Chapman, December 22, 2008
[11] Tracy Chapman, Dana Stevens, Bryan Singer, Max
Mayer and More Among 2014 Sundance Film Festival
Jurors. Broadway World. January 16, 2014. Retrieved
January 19, 2014.
[12] Who We Are/History. Amnesty. Amnesty International. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
[13] Live Aids Legacy of Charity Concerts. BBC (BBC
News). June 30, 2005. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
[14] AIDS LifeCycle 2004. Online Posting. Youtube. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
[15] School Uses Video To Teach Black History. Curriculum
Review 29 (8): 11. 1990.
[16] Commencement Speaker Announced. E-News. Tufts
University. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
[17] Younge, Gary (September 28, 2002). A Militant Mellow. The Guardian. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
[18] The quiet revolutionary. The Guardian. October 31,
2008. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
[19] Wajid, Sara No retreat, The Guardian, December 15,
[20] 2002 Tracy Chapman still introspective? All About
Tracy Chapman, October 2002


8 External links
Tracy Chapman, Ocial website
Tracy Chapman, Atlantic Records
A Better Chance, Ocial Website, education program for minority students

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