Tracy Chapman has become the first black woman to have a sole writing credit on a number one country song thanks to Luke Combs’ cover of Fast Car topping Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart.
Rolling Stone reports that Chapman is only the fourth Black woman to have a writing credit of any kind on a top country song, while Billboard notes Chapman is only the second Black songwriter to have a sole writing credit on a number on Country Airplay since it was launched in 1990.
Chapman released the song in April 1988 as the lead single from her self-titled debut album. Her appearance on the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at London’s Wembley Stadium helped the song become a top ten hit in the United States, reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In Australia, Chapman's Fast Car peaked at #4 on the ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart. Additionally, it received three Grammy Award nominations: ‘Record of the Year’, ‘Song of the Year’, and ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’, the latter of which it won.
Meanwhile, Combs version was sent to both Top 40 and Hot Adult Contemporary radio, marking the first time that he has had a song sent to contemporary hit radio. The song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, higher than Chapman’s original version. It also impacted Australian mainstream radio, having peaked at #3 on the ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart so far.
“[It’s] my first favourite song probably ever. I remember listening to that song with my dad in his truck when I was probably four years old,” Combs said in a press release. “He had a cassette, a tape of it, and we had this old brown camper top F-150.”
“We rode around that thing, and he had a tape cassette player in there, and I have the original cassette – my dad brought it to me a couple of years ago… I have the one, and I have it in my shop,” he continued. “The only music I have in my shop is a cassette player. I love to go to antique stores, and just you can get a bunch of cassette tapes for 50 cents, and some of the best records of all time are on cassette.”
Combs added, “I love [Fast Car] so much, and I think it’s such a great song that it deserves to be heard by a whole generation of people that haven’t heard it before, and so to be able to, like, have an opportunity to do that, especially with a song that’s meant so much to me and my love of music from as far back as I can remember is super unique.”
During a recent interview with Grady Smith, Combs revealed Chapman hasn’t been in contact.
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