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Tracy Chapman brings ‘Fast Car’ to the Grammys for a rare performance — and gets a massive standing ovation

Chapman has only performed publicly 3 times since concluding her last tour in 2009

SHARE Tracy Chapman brings ‘Fast Car’ to the Grammys for a rare performance — and gets a massive standing ovation
Singer Tracy Chapman performs on NBC’s “Today” show in New York.

Singer Tracy Chapman performs on NBC’s “Today” show in New York. Chapman is reportedly attending the Grammys Sunday night to perform “Fast Car” with Luke Combs.

Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press

Tracy Chapman largely keeps out of the public eye. It’s been 15 years since she released an album, and she has only performed publicly three times since concluding her last tour in 2009, per Variety.

All that makes Sunday night’s Grammy Awards ceremony all the more significant.

Chapman performed a duet of her hit “Fast Car” with country star Luke Combs at the ceremony. As she played the intro on the guitar and sang the first verse, the crowd erupted in cheers. A couple of times during the performance, Taylor Swift could be seen standing up and singing along.

Chapman was all smiles as she sang alongside Combs, who seemed in awe that the moment was happening. The pair got a massive standing ovation following the performance, and Oprah Winfrey could be seen with her arms in the air shouting “Tracy Chapman!”

It marked the first time in nine years that Chapman performed “Fast Car” live, per Rolling Stone. Moments after the performance, the song rose to No. 1 on the iTunes Top Songs chart, NPR reported.

Why Tracy Chapman is performing with Luke Combs at the Grammys

The big moment Sunday night came thanks to Combs’ remake of Chapman’s 1988 hit “Fast Car,” which became a blockbuster last year, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country songs chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, as the Deseret News previously reported.

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.

Combs’ recording of the song also led to Chapman winning the award for song of the year at the 2023 Country Music Association Awards — 35 years after she wrote “Fast Car,” as the Deseret News reported in November.

In a rare public statement last year, Chapman expressed gratitude for Combs’ work.

“I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” the blues/folk artist said, per Billboard. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

Is ‘Fast Car’ up for a Grammy?

At this year’s Grammys, Combs’ performance of “Fast Car” was among the nominees for best country solo performance. That award ended up going to Chris Stapleton for “White Horse.”

But the song didn’t need to win Sunday night for it to be associated with a Grammy win. Chapman’s original version of “Fast Car” was 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, as the Deseret News previously reported.

Chapman performed the song at the 1989 Grammy Awards, where she also took home the awards for best new artist and best contemporary folk recording.

Why did Luke Combs record ‘Fast Car’?

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” last 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 previously told Billboard. “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.”

At last year’s Country Music Association Awards, Combs won single of the year for “Fast Car” and gave credit to Chapman as he accepted the award.

“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.”