Tracy Chapman becomes 1st Black woman to win CMA Award

Tracy Chapman becomes 1st Black woman to win CMA Award

Thirty-five years ago, Tracy Chapman released her self-titled debut album. The album went on to earn six Grammy nominations. The Cleveland native walked away with three Grammys that night in 1989, including a Grammy for best female pop vocal performance for her single “Fast Car.”

And in a surprising turn of events, at the 57th Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night, that same single went on to win an award for song of the year.

It is the first time in history that a Black woman has won a CMA Award.

The song Chapman wrote enjoyed a country revival this year thanks to country music artist Luke Combs. The North Carolina singer covered “Fast Car” on his 2023 album “Getting Old.” Combs’ version reached the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

“I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” said the 59-year-old singer and songwriter in a July interview with Billboard. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

Combs’ “Fast Car” also won a CMA Award for single of the year.

In his acceptance speech, Combs thanked Chapman for writing “one of the best songs of all time.” He also said he only recorded the song because it had been one of his favorite songs since he was 4 years old, and he never expected his version to take off as it has.

Luke Combs poses with award for song of the year 'Fast Car' at 2023 CMAsEvan Agostini/Invision/AP

In an interview with BBC Radio in 2010, Chapman said her inspiration for the song came from her experiences growing up in Ohio.

“It very generally represents the world that I saw when I was growing up, and Cleveland, Ohio, coming from a working-class background, being raised by a single mom and being in a community of people who were struggling,” she said. “Everyone was working hard and hoping that things would get better.”

Chapman also revealed that the first lyric of the song she penned was “You’ve got a fast car,” and that she was writing it late at night with her mini dachshund beside her. When the dog’s ears perked up when she sang that first lyric, she knew the song was going to be a winner.

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