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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, OH, 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, wasn't as successful. 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 Chapman had fallen into cult status. Three years later, she returned with New Beginning, which received stronger reviews than its predecessor. The bluesy "Give Me One Reason" was pulled as the first single, and it slowly became a hit, sending the album into the U.S. Top Ten in early 1996. It was a quiet, successful comeback from an artist most observers had already consigned to forever languish in cult status. Telling Stories followed in early 2000. Let It Rain followed two years later. For 2005's Where You Live, Chapman co-produced the album with Tchad Blake. Our Bright Future, co-produced by Chapman and Larry Klein, appeared in 2008. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

political correctness is a poor choice of words. Political activism would be more accurate and less derogatory.
eltridamexic o
Love her
There is a difference between being respectful and minding your language, and insisting that we do not offend anyone. The truth hurts, and some people need to be offended.
A place for me in your heart..
bradfordarti s t s 5
It may have seemed like a PC Movement but to me it seemed like people finally standing up and saying words matter, they hurt, they inspire, they move people to actions - good and bad. Thank you, Tracy, for making us more conscienctio u s about how we use words!
Love her tAKes Me back to the good old days. Janis Joplin
Lord I just loved this woman from the first time I heard give me one reason to stay here Tracy much love
Amen..:)
jmrosemarie
Mr Erlewine's comment re:political correctness in the bio is absurd.
wc85bu97
First saw her at the subway station in Harvard Square ca 1985. Saw her open for Odetta ca 1987. My younger cousins were so impressed when I gave them signed copies of her first album - on tape!! Love that she has held on to her integrity and keeps making music she loves, no matter what the critics and sales figures say!!
Tracey is a classic folk singer in the truest sense who is reminiscent of the old school singer songwriter era of the early 70s. But I don't see how an artist's rep as a supporter of social justice corresponds with a label of political correctness.
Where is she now? Come back!!
I don't like can't skip o g I have to Listen to this p.s DONT HATE ON ME FANS this is my opine
beautiful... : )
dogman4425
Paloma Johnson, nothing gets you through a broken heart but time and distance. And even after
years they bring tears to your eyes when you wake up in the morning thinking of them. They visit
us in dreams.
Reminds of the Memphis Blues.
Tracy Chapman is one of my favorite artist
Her's is the music that gets u thru a broken heart.
Girl tells it like it is...Give me one reason to stay here...no bullshit!
SING IT BABY WOW LOTTA CLASS
Great voice. Her voice reminds me of the soulful sounds of Etta James.
Love Tracy but the PC monster she helped enable is killing America!
kelley139
I love this song!! It is so moving, thank you
Give me one reason to stay here.....
Tracy keep on doing u girl rip to Maya a so inspirationa l .
So soothing. Keep up writing and singing. I never tire of you. You empower women to strength and beautiful spirit. Would love to have you as my neighbor. Tracy, your heart is golden and I suspect that you have the functional version of Midas touch. Always and forever your fan.
My Sai
Live Miss Chapman's unique vocals got hooked immediately in 80s.
marciadelyne
Also-love, All that you have is your soul
marciadelyne
baby can I hold you tonight- wow!!
Love her Music!
all my friends think I'm weird that I'm 16 years old & listening to her well they are all missing out on GREAT music!!
Tracy is the bomb, she has rock my soul for years!
marlon1k9
heard it once or twice before. never realized the depth of it. cool
I heard this song when i was younger and never knew the name, artist or cared enough to search for it. now i can appreciate this song and Tracy Chapman. Didn't even know it was this old too
You gotta fast car? I wanna ticket to anywhere...
-Fast Car
Meaningful song I love her :-)
Fast car love this song
The Promise..... . . . . . . . i s just. so. touching.
lbjdirect4
Tracy has such a great message and voice...I'm going to buy some tracks and hope to hear more from her soon!
Omigosh fast car is soo good
All 13 years of my life I've been listening to her ❤
She won me at the Nelson Mandela concert in 1988. Her song talkin about a revolution at that show was a pivot point for myself and others. My hair stands up remembering the moment. Myself and others felt the power of music to create and sustain political change.
yllanto
Her music is real and refreshing in today's get rich quick society. Never once has she compromised her being to gain attention. Her music will forever find its place in each generation because it provides an outlet for those who search for an understandin g of the everyday world experiences.
blue light music....
You are now entering a No Bull Zone. It is uncommon to see someone who cares enough about things that really matter to put them into songs. She writes so masterfully about the experiences of the everyday world.
My heart hurts...."Th e Promise" really got me! I love Tracy's music!!
fast car is super cool… 90's in da house b**ches!
Fast car= my favorite song in the world.
Tracy,soooo cooool!!
Raw beauty. Her sound is unique @ so glad she doesn't sound like a canned version of anyone else
Tracy's music is so heart felt.
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