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Tracy Chapman Wins CMA Award For “Fast Car” 35 years After It Was Released With Luke Combs Cover


Luke Combs’ rendition of the song “Fast Car” won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday; however, Tracy Chapman, the song’s original artist, won the top honor. With the victory, which came a staggering 35 years after the song’s release, Chapman became the first Black songwriter to take home the CMA’s Song of the Year award.

“Truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut,” Chapman said in a prewritten statement read by presenter Sara Evans. Chapman was not present at the ceremony.

As Combs won his “Fast Car” Single of the Year award, he thanked Chapman “for writing one of the best songs of all time.” Combs also won the award for Single of the Year for the song.

In addition, the song experienced widespread success over thirty years ago. Three of the six Grammy nominations that Chapman received in 1989 came from the song itself. That year, Chapman took home three Grammys: Best New Artist, Best Contemporary Folk Recording, and Best Pop Vocal Performance for his performance in “Fast Car.”

“Fast Car” reached its highest position of No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1988. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song at No. 165 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Several artists have covered “Fast Car” just in 2015. Tobtok and Jonas Blue released two house versions of the song; the latter peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Top 40 dance singles chart and No. 98 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

When Michael Collings, a competitor on Britain’s Got Talent, sang Champan’s version on the competition show in 2011, it saw a second spike in popularity in the UK. According to BBC News, the song debuted at No. 4 on the U.K. chart.

The track “Gettin’ Old,” which was released in March, features Combs’ cover. In August, he recorded a live version of the song and released it as a single. It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and is currently at No. 2.

This indicates that Chapman, the sole writer of the song, made an appearance on the Billboard charts for the first time since 1996.

The 33-year-old Combs said he recorded the cover simply because he loves the song. “I never intended, I just recorded it because I love this song so much, it’s meant so much to me throughout my entire life,” Combs said during his CMA acceptance speech. “It’s the first favorite song I had from the time I was 4 years old.”

Since her 2008 album “Our Bright Future,” Chapman hasn’t put out any new music, according to Billboard. She doesn’t seem to have any public social media accounts and seems to lead a modest life. But she did make an appearance in a “Late Night with Seth Meyers” video before the 2020 election, performing her 1988 hit song “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution.”

CBS News has been in contact with Elektra Records, the label that issued Champan’s 1988 rendition of “Fast Car.”

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