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Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter. A multi-platinum and four-time
Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy, the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in the music industry" of the United State ...
–winning artist, Chapman is best known for her hit singles "
Fast Car "Fast Car" is a song written and recorded by American singer Tracy Chapman. It was released on April 6, 1988, as the lead single from her 1988 Tracy Chapman (album), self-titled debut studio album. Her appearance on the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthd ...
", "
Talkin' 'bout a Revolution "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution" is the second single from singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman's Tracy Chapman (album), self-titled debut album. The politically aware song peaked at No. 75 in the United States as opposed to its predecessor, "Fast Car" whic ...
", "
Baby Can I Hold You "Baby Can I Hold You" is the third single released by the American contemporary folk Contemporary folk music refers to a wide variety of genres that emerged in the mid 20th century and afterwards which were associated with traditional folk music. ...
", " Crossroads", and " Give Me One Reason". Chapman was signed to
Elektra Records Elektra Records, LLC (formerly Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.) is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good o ...
by
Bob Krasnow Robert Alan Krasnow (July 20, 1934 – December 11, 2016) was an American record label executive and entrepreneur who had a long and successful career in the music industry The music industry consists of the companies and independent artists ...
in 1987. The following year she released her debut album, ''
Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter, known for her hits "Fast Car" and "Give Me One Reason", along with other singles "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", and "Crossroads (Tracy Chapman song), Cro ...
'', which became a worldwide success, and was certified 6×
Platinum Platinum is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical el ...
by the
RIAA The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and funded by busi ...
. The album earned Chapman six
Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy, the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in the music industry" of the United State ...
nominations, including Album of the Year, three of which she won;
Best New Artist The Grammy Award for Best New Artist has been awarded since 1959. Years reflect the year in which the Grammy Awards were handed out, for records released in the previous year. The award was not presented in 1967. The official guidelines are as fo ...
,
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance The Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance was a Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy to recognize achievement in t ...
for her single "Fast Car", and Best Contemporary Folk Album. In 1989, Chapman released her second album, '' Crossroads'', which earned her an additional Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Her third album, '' Matters of the Heart'', followed in 1992. Chapman's fourth album, '' New Beginning'', was released in 1995 and became another worldwide success. It was certified 5× Platinum, and yielded the hit single "Give Me One Reason", which earned her the
Grammy Award for Best Rock Song The Grammy Award for Best Rock Song is an honor presented at the Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy to recognize achievement ...
. Five years would pass before the release of her fifth album, ''
Telling Stories ''Telling Stories'' is the fifth album by American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, released in 2000 (see 2000 in music). It was her first album in over four years, and her first since ''Crossroads (Tracy Chapman album), Crossroads'' to be produ ...
'' (2000), which later went
Gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...
. '' Let It Rain'' and '' Where You Live'' followed in 2002 and 2005, respectively. Chapman's most recent studio album is '' Our Bright Future'', released in 2008. The remastered compilation album ''
Greatest Hits A greatest hits album or best-of album is a type of compilation album that collects popular and commercially successful songs by a particular artist or band. While greatest hits albums are typically supported by the artist, they can also be create ...
'', which was curated by Chapman herself, was released in 2015.


Early life

Chapman was born in
Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a city in the U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North ...

Cleveland
,
Ohio Ohio () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

Ohio
. Her parents divorced when she was four. Chapman was raised by her mother, who bought her a
ukulele The ukulele ( ; from haw, ukulele , approximately ) is a member of the lute family of instruments of Portuguese origin and popularized in Hawaii. It generally employs four nylon strings. The Tone (musical instrument), tone and volume of the ...

ukulele
at age three. Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs at age eight. She says that she may have been first inspired to play the guitar by the television show ''
Hee Haw ''Hee Haw'' is an American television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single ...
''. In her native Cleveland, Chapman experienced frequent bullying and racially motivated assaults as a child. Raised a
Baptist Baptists form a major branch of Protestantism, Protestant Christianity distinguished by baptizing professing Christianity, Christian believers only (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and doing so by complete Immersion baptism, ...

Baptist
, Chapman attended an Episcopal high school and was accepted into the program
A Better Chance A Better Chance (ABC) is a non-profit organization with the goal of helping more talented young people of color to become well-educated by attending high-achieving boarding school, boarding, day school, day, and Education in the United States, pub ...
, which sponsors students at college preparatory high schools away from their home communities. She graduated from
Wooster School Wooster School is a private, co-educational, college-preparatory school (grades 4 through 12) in Danbury, Connecticut. The school was founded in 1926 by Episcopal priest Aaron Coburn. It is named for General David Wooster, who fought at the Battle ...
in
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
then attended
Tufts University Tufts University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two de ...
, graduating with a B.A. degree in
Anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
and
African studies African studies is the study of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of ...
.


Career

Chapman made her major-stage debut as an opening act for
women's music Women's music is music by women, for women, and about women. The genre emerged as a musical expression of the second-wave feminist movement as well as the labor, civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect indi ...
pioneer
Linda Tillery Linda "Tui" Tillery (born September 2, 1948) is an American singer, percussionist, producer, songwriter, and music arranger. She began her professional singing career at age 19 with the Bay Area rock band The Loading Zone. She is recognized as a ...
at Boston's Strand Theater on May 3, 1985. Another Tufts student,
Brian Koppelman Brian William Koppelman (born April 27, 1966) is an American showrunner. Koppelman is the co-writer of ''Ocean's Thirteen'' and ''Rounders (1998 film), Rounders'', the producer for films including ''The Illusionist (2006 film), The Illusionist'' a ...
, heard Chapman playing and brought her to the attention of his father,
Charles Koppelman Charles Koppelman (born March 30, 1940) is a musician, music producer, and businessman. He has held executive positions at EMI EMI Group Limited (originally an initialism for Electric and Musical Industries, also referred to as EMI Records Lt ...
. Koppelman, who ran SBK Publishing, signed Chapman in 1986. After Chapman graduated from Tufts in 1987, he helped her to sign a contract with
Elektra Records Elektra Records, LLC (formerly Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.) is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good o ...
. At Elektra, she released ''
Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter, known for her hits "Fast Car" and "Give Me One Reason", along with other singles "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", and "Crossroads (Tracy Chapman song), Cro ...
'' (1988). The album was critically acclaimed, and she began touring and building a fanbase. "
Fast Car "Fast Car" is a song written and recorded by American singer Tracy Chapman. It was released on April 6, 1988, as the lead single from her 1988 Tracy Chapman (album), self-titled debut studio album. Her appearance on the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthd ...
" began its rise on the U.S. charts soon after she performed it at the televised
Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute The Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute was a popular-music concert staged on 11 June 1988 at Wembley Stadium Wembley Stadium (branded as Wembley Stadium connected by EE for sponsorship reasons) is a football stadium in Wembley, London. I ...
concert in June 1988; it became a No. 6 pop hit on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100 for the week ending August 27, 1988. ''
Rolling Stone ''Rolling Stone'' is an American monthly magazine that focuses on music, politics, and popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish ...
'' ranked the song No. 167 on their 2010 list of "
The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" is a recurring opinion survey and music ranking of the finest song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or ...
". It is the highest-ranking song on the ''Rolling Stone'' list that was both performed and solely written by a female artist. "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", the follow-up to ''Fast Car'', charted at No. 75 and was followed by "Baby Can I Hold You", which peaked at No. 48. The album sold well, going
multi-platinum Music recording certification is a system of certifying that a music recording A record, recording or records may refer to: An item or collection of data Computing * Record (computer science), a data structure ** Record, or row (database), a s ...
and winning three
Grammy Awards The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy, the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in the music industry" of the United State ...
, including an honor for Chapman as Best New Artist. Later in 1988, Chapman was a featured performer on the worldwide
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is a non-governmental organization A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use ...

Amnesty International
Human Rights Now! Tour. Chapman's follow-up album, '' Crossroads'' (1989), was less commercially successful than her debut had been, but it still achieved platinum status in the U.S. By 1992's '' Matters of the Heart'', Chapman was playing to a small but devoted audience. Her fourth album, '' New Beginning'' (1995), proved successful, selling over five million copies in the U.S. alone. The album included the hit single " Give Me One Reason", which won the 1997 Grammy for
Best Rock Song The Grammy Award for Best Rock Song is an honor presented at the Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy to recognize achievement ...
and became Chapman's most successful single to date, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and going Platinum. Following a four-year hiatus, her fifth album, ''
Telling Stories ''Telling Stories'' is the fifth album by American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, released in 2000 (see 2000 in music). It was her first album in over four years, and her first since ''Crossroads (Tracy Chapman album), Crossroads'' to be produ ...
'', was released in 2000, and later went Gold. Its lead single, "Telling Stories", received heavy airplay on European radio stations and on
Adult Alternative Biology, Biologically, an adult is an organism that has reached sexual maturity. In human context, the term ''adult'' has meanings associated with social and Law, legal concepts. In contrast to a "Minor (law), minor", a legal adult is a person ...
and
Hot AC In North American music, adult contemporary music (AC) is a form of radio-played popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can b ...
stations in the United States. Chapman toured Europe and the United States in 2003 in support of her sixth album, '' Let It Rain'' (2002). To support her seventh studio album, '' Where You Live'' (2005), Chapman toured major U.S. cities in October and toured Europe over the remainder of the year. The "Where You Live" tour was extended into 2006; the 28-date European tour featured summer concerts in Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the UK, Russia, and more. On June 5, 2006, she performed at the 5th Gala of Jazz in Lincoln Center, New York, and in a session at the 2007 TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference in
Monterey, California Monterey ( es, Monterrey; Ohlone The Ohlone, formerly known as Costanoans (from Spanish ''costeño'' meaning "coast dweller"), are a Native American people of the Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a ...
. Chapman was commissioned by the
American Conservatory Theater The American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is a major nonprofit theater company in San Francisco, California, that offers the public both classical and contemporary theater productions. It also has an attached drama school, acting school. Hi ...
to compose music for its production of
Athol Fugard Athol Fugard (born 11 June 1932) is a South African playwright, novelist, actor, and director widely regarded as South Africa’s greatest playwright. He is best known for his political plays opposing the system of apartheid Apar ...
's ''
Blood Knot A blood knot (barrel knot) is a bend knotThis is a list of bends. A bend is a knot used to join two lengths of rope. The sheet bend is the classic bend. A study of 8 different bends using climbing rope found that the butterfly bend was stronges ...
'', a play on
apartheid Apartheid (South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * B ...

apartheid
in South Africa, staged in early 2008. Elektra Records released Chapman's eighth studio album, '' Our Bright Future'' (2008). The album earned Chapman a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album the following year. Chapman made a 26-date solo tour of Europe. She returned to tour Europe and selected North American cities during the summer of 2009. She was backed by Joe Gore on guitars, Patrick Warren on keyboards, and
Dawn Richardson Dawn Richardson (born April 19, 1964) is an American rock drummer thumbnail, Turkmenistan Independence Day, 2011 A drummer is a percussionist who creates music using drum The drum is a member of the percussion instrument, percussio ...
on percussion. Chapman was appointed a member of the 2014
Sundance Film Festival The Sundance Film Festival (formerly Utah/US Film Festival, then US Film and Video Festival) is an annual film festival A film festival is an organized, extended presentation of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or m ...

Sundance Film Festival
U.S. Documentary jury. Chapman performed
Ben E. King Benjamin Earl King ( né Nelson, September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015) was an American soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, s ...

Ben E. King
's " Stand By Me" on one of the final episodes of the ''
Late Show with David Letterman #REDIRECT Late Show with David Letterman#REDIRECT Late Show with David Letterman The ''Late Show with David Letterman'' is an American late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an America ...
'' in April 2015. The performance became a viral hit and was the focus of various news articles including some by ''Billboard'' and ''The Huffington Post''. On November 20, 2015, Chapman released ''
Greatest Hits A greatest hits album or best-of album is a type of compilation album that collects popular and commercially successful songs by a particular artist or band. While greatest hits albums are typically supported by the artist, they can also be create ...
'', consisting of 18 tracks including the live version of "Stand by Me", the album is Chapman's first global compilation release. In October 2018, Chapman sued the rapper
Nicki Minaj Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty (born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Nicki Minaj (), is a Trinidadian-born rapper, singer, and songwriter. She is known for her animated flow Flow may refer to: Science and technology * ...

Nicki Minaj
over copyright infringement, alleging that Minaj had
sampled Sample or samples may refer to: Base meaning * Sample (statistics) In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a sci ...
her song "
Baby Can I Hold You "Baby Can I Hold You" is the third single released by the American contemporary folk Contemporary folk music refers to a wide variety of genres that emerged in the mid 20th century and afterwards which were associated with traditional folk music. ...
" without permission. Chapman's lawsuit alleged two counts of copyright infringement ((1) for creating the song; and (2) for distributing the song), requested an injunction to prevent Minaj releasing the song "Sorry", and stated that she had "repeatedly denied" permission for "Baby Can I Hold You" to be sampled. Chapman has a policy of declining all such requests, according to the lawsuit. In September 2020, District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled on Summary Judgment in favor of Minaj on the first count, stating that Minaj's experimentation with Chapman's song constitutes fair use rather than copyright infringement. However, the Judge ruled that the second count should go to trial. In January 2021, the dispute was completely settled when Minaj paid Chapman $450,000 to avoid the pending trial over how the track had been leaked to radio host
Funkmaster Flex Aston George Taylor Jr. (born August 5, 1968), professionally known as Funkmaster Flex, is an American disc jockey, rapper, record producer, actor, and host on New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of ...
, who had played it on his radio show.


Social activism

Chapman is politically and socially active. In a 2009 interview with
National Public Radio National Public Radio (NPR) is an American privately and publicly funded non-profit media organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washin ...
, she said, "I'm approached by lots of organizations and lots of people who want me to support their various charitable efforts in some way. And I look at those requests and I basically try to do what I can. And I have certain interests of my own, generally an interest in human rights." In 1988, she performed in London as part of a worldwide concert tour to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six p ...
with
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is a non-governmental organization A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use ...

Amnesty International
. That same year, Chapman performed at a tribute concert in honor of South African activist and leader Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday, an event which raised money for South Africa's Anti-Apartheid Movement and several children's charities. In 2004, Chapman performed and rode in the AIDS/LifeCycle event. Chapman has been involved with Cleveland's elementary schools, producing an educational music video highlighting achievements in African-American history. Chapman sponsored "Crossroads in Black History", an essay contest for high school students in Cleveland and other cities. Chapman received an honorary doctorate from Saint Xavier University in Chicago in 1997. In 2004, Chapman was given an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts by her alma mater, Tufts University, recognizing her commitment to social activism. Chapman often performs at charity events such as
Make Poverty History Make Poverty History are organizations in a number of countries, which focus on issues relating to 8th Millennium Development Goal such as aid, trade and justice. They generally form a coalition of aid and development agencies which work together ...
,
amfAR amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, known until 2005 as the American Foundation for AIDS Research, is an international nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, ...
, and AIDS/LifeCycle. She identifies as a
feminist Feminism is a range of social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a or one. This may be to carry out, resist or undo a . It is a type of and may ...

feminist
.


Personal life

Although Chapman has never publicly disclosed her
sexual orientation Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of that era ** Romantic ...
, writer
Alice Walker Alice Malsenior Tallulah-Kate Walker (born February 9, 1944) is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist. In 1982, she published the novel ''The Color Purple ''The Color Purple'' is a 1982 epistolary novel by Am ...

Alice Walker
has stated that she and Chapman were in a romantic relationship during the mid-1990s. Chapman maintains a strong separation between her personal and professional life."2002 – Tracy Chapman still introspective?"
, About Tracy Chapman, October 15, 2002.
"I have a public life that's my work life and I have my personal life", she said. "In some ways, the decision to keep the two things separate relates to the work I do."


Discography

;Studio albums *''
Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter, known for her hits "Fast Car" and "Give Me One Reason", along with other singles "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", and "Crossroads (Tracy Chapman song), Cro ...
'' (1988) *'' Crossroads'' (1989) *'' Matters of the Heart'' (1992) *'' New Beginning'' (1995) *''
Telling Stories ''Telling Stories'' is the fifth album by American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, released in 2000 (see 2000 in music). It was her first album in over four years, and her first since ''Crossroads (Tracy Chapman album), Crossroads'' to be produ ...
'' (2000) *'' Let It Rain'' (2002) *'' Where You Live'' (2005) *'' Our Bright Future'' (2008)


Awards and nominations


Grammy Awards


Other awards and nominations


References


External links

* * * *
Atlantic Records page
{{DEFAULTSORT:Chapman, Tracy 1964 births 20th-century African-American women 20th-century African-American people 21st-century African-American women 21st-century African-American people 20th-century American women guitarists 20th-century American guitarists 21st-century American women guitarists 21st-century American guitarists 20th-century American women singers 21st-century American women singers African-American women singer-songwriters African-American feminists African-American guitarists American street performers American acoustic guitarists American contraltos American folk guitarists American folk rock musicians American folk singers Atlantic Records artists Blues rock musicians Brit Award winners Elektra Records artists Fast Folk artists Feminist musicians Grammy Award winners Guitarists from Ohio
Living people Related categories * :Year of birth missing (living people) / :Year of birth unknown * :Date of birth missing (living people) / :Date of birth unknown * :Place of birth missing (living people) / :Place of birth unknown * :Year of death mi ...
Musicians from Cleveland Singer-songwriters from Ohio Tufts University alumni
20th-century American singers {{CatAutoTOC 20th-century American musicians, Singers 20th-century singers, American American singers by century ...
21st-century American singers