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Tracy Chapman just won song of the year with ‘Fast Car’ — 35 years after its release

Luke Combs’ remake of ‘Fast Car’ became a blockbuster this year, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country songs chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100

SHARE Tracy Chapman just won song of the year with ‘Fast Car’ — 35 years after its release
Singer Tracy Chapman performs on NBC’s “Today” show in New York.

Singer Tracy Chapman performs on NBC’s “Today” show in New York on Sept. 26, 2005. Chapman just won the award for song of the year at the Country Music Association Awards.

Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press

Tracy Chapman largely keeps out of the public eye. It’s been 15 years since she released an album. But at the 2023 Country Music Association Awards, the singer-songwriter won the award for song of the year.

Tracy Chapman wins song of the year for ‘Fast Car’

On Nov. 8 — 35 years after its debut — Chapman’s hit “Fast Car” won song of the year, making Chapman the first Black artist in the award show’s 50-plus year history to take home the prize, Rolling Stone reported. She wasn’t there in person to accept the award, but that didn’t keep those who were in attendance from giving her a standing ovation.

The history-making moment comes thanks to country star Luke Combs’ remake of “Fast Car,” which became a blockbuster this year, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country songs chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Combs’ revitalization of the 1980s classic made Chapman the first Black woman to have the sole songwriting credit on a No. 1 country hit, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Chapman doesn’t give a lot of interviews, but in a rare statement earlier this year, the blues/folk artist said, “I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” per Billboard. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

At the CMA Awards, Chapman again expressed gratitude for Combs and fans of “Fast Car” — from 1988 up to now.

“It’s truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut. Wow,” Chapman said in a pre-written statement read by CMA Awards co-presenter Sara Evans.

Luke Combs wins single of the year for ‘Fast Car’

Combs also took home an award for “Fast Car,” winning single of the year. In his acceptance speech, the first thing he did was give credit to Chapman.

“First and foremost, I want to thank Tracy Chapman for writing one of the best songs of all time,” he said. “I just recorded it because I love this song so much, it’s meant so much to me throughout my entire life. It’s the first favorite song that I ever had, since I was 4 years old.”

Combs has performed “Fast Car” at his shows for several years, but it wasn’t until he released his fourth album, “Gettin’ Old,” that he officially recorded it. Since his release of “Fast Car” in March, it has generated more than $500,000 in publishing royalties — with a significant portion going to Chapman, according to Billboard.

“‘Fast Car’ has surprised me more than you can imagine,” Combs told Billboard over the summer. “Tracy Chapman wrote this perfect song that that I first heard with my dad and it has stayed with me since. I have played it in my live show now for six-plus years and everyone — I mean everyone — across all these stadiums relates to this song and sings along. That’s the gift of a supernatural songwriter.

“The success of my cover is unreal and I think it’s so cool that Tracy is getting recognized and has reached new milestones,” he continued. “I love that she is out here feeling all the love and that she gave me a shout-out! Thank you, Tracy!”

On Nov. 10, the Recording Academy revealed the 2024 Grammy nominations, which included a nod to Combs for best country solo performance for “Fast Car.”

“Fast Car” was also a massive hit upon its initial release, reaching No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and earning Chapman the 1989 Grammy for best female pop vocal performance.