Tracy Chapman becomes first Black songwriter to win Song of the Year at Country Music Awards

Stephen Nartey November 10, 2023
Tracy Chapman/Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

In what appeared to be a crowning moment for the music legend at the Country Music Awards, Tracy Chapman’s timeless 1988 folk ballad “Fast Car” claimed victory after nearly four decades.

The song, brought back to the spotlight by Luke Combs’ popular cover, earned Chapman the prestigious Song of the Year award, while Combs secured Single of the Year honors.

The night celebrated the enduring power of music to bridge generations and genres, showcasing the magic of a classic resonating with a new audience.

Chapman’s win at the Country Music Awards makes her the first black songwriter to clinch the prestigious Song of the Year award, as reported by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Despite her absence from the ceremony at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, the 59-year-old expressed gratitude to country music fans and Combs in a statement read on stage by presenter Sara Evans.

“It’s truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut,” Chapman’s statement said. “Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke and all of the fans of ‘Fast Car,” the statement added.

During his acceptance speech for Single of the Year, Combs expressed gratitude to Chapman for writing one of the greatest songs of all time. The 33-year-old singer from North Carolina shared his deep connection to the song and recounted that it has been significant in his life since he was four years old.

He explained that it has been one of his favorite songs since he was a child and was looking for an opportunity to revive the timeless song, according to NBC DFW.

Combs’ rendition of “Fast Car” surged to success, climbing both the country and Top 40 Billboard charts after its release earlier in the summer. This propelled Chapman to make history as the first Black female songwriter to achieve a No. 1 country song.

In reaction to this feat, Chapman expressed gratitude to new fans for embracing “Fast Car” and conveyed happiness for Combs and the song’s continued success in an interview with Billboard.

Combs’ cover of Chapman’s “Fast Car” sparked both celebration and controversy. While many hailed the revival of Chapman’s work, some critics contended that a Black, queer woman might not have enjoyed the same success in country music with the song as Combs did.

The discussion surrounding the cover brought attention to the complexities and challenges faced by artists of different backgrounds in the music landscape.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 10, 2023


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