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Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman helped restore singer/songwriters to the spotlight in the '80s. The multi-platinum success of Chapman's eponymous 1988 debut was unexpected, and it had lasting impact. Although Chapman was working from the same confessional singer/songwriter foundation that had been popularized in the '70s, her songs were fresh and powerful, driven by simple melodies and affecting lyrics. At the time of her first album, there were only a handful of artists performing such a style successfully, and her success ushered in a new era of singer/songwriters that lasted well into the '90s. Furthermore, her album helped usher in the era of political correctness -- along with 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M., Chapman's liberal politics proved enormously influential on American college campuses in the late '80s. Of course, such implications meant that Chapman's subsequent recordings were greeted with mixed reactions, but after several years out of the spotlight, she managed to make a very successful comeback in 1996 with her fourth album, New Beginning, thanks to the Top Ten single "Give Me One Reason."

Raised in a working class neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, Chapman learned how to play guitar as a child, and began to write her own songs shortly afterward. Following high school, she won a minority placement scholarship and decided to attend Tufts University, where she studied anthropology and African studies. While at Tufts, she became fascinated with folk-rock and singer/songwriters, and began performing her own songs at coffeehouses. Eventually, she recorded a set of demos at the college radio station. One of her fellow students, Brian Koppelman, heard Chapman play and recommended her to his father, Charles Koppelman, who ran SBK Publishing. In 1986, she signed with SBK and Koppelman secured a management contract with Elliot Roberts, who had worked with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Roberts and Koppelman helped Chapman sign to Elektra in 1987.

Chapman recorded her debut album with David Kershenbaum, and the resulting eponymous record was released in the spring of 1988. Tracy Chapman was greeted with enthusiastic reviews, and she set out on the road supporting 10,000 Maniacs. Within a few months, she played at the internationally televised concert for Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday party, where her performance was greeted with thunderous applause. Soon, the single "Fast Car" began climbing the charts, eventually peaking at number six. The album's sales soared along with the single, and by the end of the year, the record had gone multi-platinum. Early the following year, the record won four Grammys, including Best New Artist.

It was an auspicious beginning to Chapman's career, and it was perhaps inevitable that her second album, 1989's darker, more political Crossroads, didn't fare quite as well. Although it was well-reviewed, the album wasn't as commercially successful, peaking at number nine and quickly falling down the charts. Following Crossroads, Chapman spent a few years in seclusion, returning in 1992 with Matters of the Heart. The album was greeted with mixed reviews and weak sales, and for a time, it seemed Chapman had begun to fall into obscurity. Three years later, she rebounded with New Beginning, which featured the bluesy single "Give Me One Reason." Released in 1995, the song slowly climbed the charts, eventually peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning Chapman another Grammy for Best Rock Song in 1997. It was a quiet, successful comeback from an artist most observers had already consigned to languish in cult status. After a four-year break, she delivered her fifth album, Telling Stories, in 2000. The album and its single, "Telling Stories," fared well both in the U.S and in Europe, where Chapman's presence was increasingly in demand. Throughout the next decade, she would continue to fare well overseas, releasing 2002's Let It Rain and 2005's Where You Live and touring frequently both Stateside and in Europe. Still a socially conscious artist, Chapman was commissioned by the American Conservatory Theater in 2008 to compose the music for their production of Athol Fugard's apartheid-themed play Blood Knot. That same year, she released her eighth album, Our Bright Future, and received another Grammy nomination, this time for Best Contemporary Folk Album. For a number of years following its release, little was heard from Chapman until a 2015 live appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Performed during the final week of Letterman's tenure on the show, Chapman's haunting rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" became a viral hit and was eventually included on her first Greatest Hits compilation, released in November of that year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Timothy Monger
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Our Bright Future

1. Sing For You

2. I Did It All

3. Save Us All

4. Our Bright Future

5. For A Dream

6. Thinking Of You

7. A Theory

8. Conditional

9. Something To See (No War)

10. The First Person On Earth

11. Spring

x

Track List: Where You Live

1. Change

2. Talk To You

3. 3,000 Miles

4. Going Back

5. Don't Dwell

6. Never Yours

7. America

8. Love's Proof

9. Before Easter

10. Taken

11. Be And Be Not Afraid

x

Track List: Let It Rain

1. Let It Rain

2. Another Sun

3. You're The One

4. In The Dark

5. Almost

6. Hard Wired

7. Say Hallelujah

8. Broken

9. Happy

10. Goodbye

11. Over In Love (Instrumental)

12. I Am Yours

x

Track List: Matters Of The Heart

1. Bang Bang Bang

2. So

3. I Used To Be A Sailor

4. The Love That You Had

5. Woman's Work

6. If These Are The Things

7. Short Supply

8. Dreaming On A World

9. Open Arms

10. Matters Of The Heart

x

Track List: Crossroads

1. Crossroads

2. Bridges

3. Freedom Now

4. Material World

5. Be Careful of My Heart

6. Subcity

7. Born To Fight

8. A Hundred Years

9. This Time

10. All That You Have Is Your Soul

x

Track List: Tracy Chapman

1. Talkin' Bout A Revolution

2. Fast Car

3. Across the Lines

4. Behind The Wall

5. Baby Can I Hold You

6. Mountains of Things

7. She's Got Her Ticket

8. Why?

9. For My Lover

10. If Not Now...

11. For You

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Telling Stories

2. Baby Can I Hold You

3. Change

4. The Promise

5. Open Arms

6. Subcity

7. Fast Car

8. Bang Bang Bang

9. Crossroads

10. Speak The Word

11. Smoke And Ashes

12. Sing For You (Single Version)

13. You're The One

14. Save Us All

15. All That You Have Is Your Soul

16. Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution

17. Give Me One Reason

18. Stand By Me (Live From The Late Show With David Letterman)

x

Track List: New Beginning

1. Heaven's Here On Earth

2. New Beginning

3. Smoke And Ashes

4. Cold Feet

5. At This Point In My Life

6. Promise, The

7. The Rape Of The World

8. Tell It Like It Is

9. Give Me One Reason

10. Remember The Tinman

11. I'm Ready

x

Track List: Telling Stories

1. Telling Stories

2. Less Than Strangers

3. Speak The Word

4. It's OK

5. Wedding Song

7. Nothing Yet

8. Paper And Ink

9. Devotion

10. The Only One

11. First Try

Comments

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alma33town
Love, love, all your songs and style. Awesome talent!!!
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Sing it woman !@!
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Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. Don't stop this is freaky! But if you read this and ignore it you will get bad luck. Put this on 15 songs in 143 minutes. When you are done press the space bar and your crushes name will appear in big letters on the screen. This is so creepy because it actually works
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love fast cars
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Ms. Chapman is in a league of her own... Such poetic lyrics and soulful music. Love her
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Ed Sheeran reminds me of Tracy Chapman I miss her. I think that's why I love him so much. It's like listening to the male version of her.
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She needs to tour more....her sound in concert is so CLEAN, right up there with Pink Floyd for sound quality...an d I have been to a Lot of concerts in my days....Ever y w h e r e I have seen her, she has crushed it, as far as sound quality in a concert hall goes.
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mary7661
She is amazing.
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Tracy and Joni Mitchell were cut from the same poetic cloth
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megbiggs
Awesome artist. Love her voice.
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beautiful music
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maggiekksb
For you!!!❤️
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airoger
Give us your next album please
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I absolutely love Tracy Chapman. I've been listening to her since I was 8 years old!!!!
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Fast Car, Very sad situation, never drop out of high school. Remain golden, because it may not be better elsewhere. Appreciate what you've got.
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lorihf
i will find my way back to you.....hold a place for me in your heart....lov e love love
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love Bridges. could listen to that song all day. and probably have.
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:)
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Hauntingly beautiful song! I can't listen to it without tears streaming down my face
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ellen.orlean s
What do you mean by political correctness? That Tracy Chapman included voices and perspectives not widely heard ? I guess that is political, but the word correct is subjective. Consider a rewrite, please.
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The Promise...on e of my favorites. Love you Tracy!
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mmetschel
Wedding Song would be perfect acoustically done for a wedding ceremony!
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when ms. chapman make another album? she is my favorite singer and songwriter.
dmcadoo inNorth Carollina
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I just love to relax to Tracy!
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i really love this artist
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abigailkitka t
Comeback
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Love love love her!!! So much. Wish there were more artists like her, singer songwriters. . .
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Pure delight to listen to
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SHE IS AMAZING I LOVED HER SINCE I WAS GROWING UP AND STILL LISTEN TO HER IS MAKES MY DAY
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I have all of Tracy CDs
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Amazing artist!
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What happened to this person
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Pandora turned me on to a song I've never heard by ms chapman. I remember her filling in at the Mandela concert in 88 I think. I was right back there. Gritty politics wrapped in a gorgeous wrapper. Making you think. I love Tracy chapman... Since way back when I was young she always hits the right notes.
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Love this song❤️
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You can hear BB King all over this song. LOVE IT
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A classic song....
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Fast Car is one of the most powerful songs I've ever heard. It's simplicity is part of what makes it so beautiful. That and it's a dang good tune.
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tonya5806
��������
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Favorite
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Her voice is strong and assured, Helps me be more positive...
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I absolutely love this woman for her beautiful music and lyrics. When my life seems shattered, I will play one of her cd's especially her 1st cd with fast car and New Beginnings. I play the others as well. I would give anything to meet this woman in person because she has truly been a life saver for me. Tammy Delano
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I love her she got me throw some bad times
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aimeelpattis o n
Sweet and heat felt
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Shes at the top of my list
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Hey there Sweetheart.. . . . . G i v e Me One Reason to stay here and I'll turn right back around and might move to Washington State
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jtbarket247


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im trying to find the song be and don't be afraid anyone know what disc its on?
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'Crossroads' - my favorite by her. :-)
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Love her
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The truth
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