Women Music March 2023 – Day 22 Tracy Chapman

https://static.billboard.com/files/media/tracy-chapman-live-performance-billboard-1548-compressed.jpgTracy Chapman


I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives. - Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter.

Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine says of Tracy:

A gifted storyteller with enduring appeal, Tracy Chapman’s unexpected ascent from the Boston folk scene to mainstream popularity in the late 1980s proved pivotal in helping restore singer/songwriters to the spotlight. Delivered with an earthy grace, her simple melodies and affecting, often socially conscious lyrics resonated with fans around the globe, who helped turn her eponymous 1988 debut into a Grammy-winning multi-platinum success. Seemingly averse to commercial whims, Chapman has managed to avoid the pitfalls of trendiness, building on early hits like “Fast Car” and 1996’s bluesy “Give Me One Reason” with a durable catalog that plays to the strength of her craft and convictions. Throughout the 2000s, her fan base remained strong on both sides of the Atlantic with albums like Let It Rain and Where You Live as well as a foray into composing for theater. While her studio output has remained scant since 2008’s Grammy-nominated Our Bright Future, Chapman has continued to perform, and in 2015 sang an evocative rendition of Ben E. King’s classic “Stand by Me” on one of the final episodes of Late Night with David Letterman that became a viral hit. A Greatest Hits compilation was released that same year.

Early Life:
Chapman was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents divorced when she was four years old; she was raised by her mother. She experienced frequent bullying and racially motivated assaults as a child.

Raised a Baptist, Chapman attended an Episcopal high school and was accepted into the program A Better Chance, which sponsors students at college preparatory high schools away from their home communities. She graduated from Wooster School in Connecticut then attended Tufts University, graduating with a B.A. degree in Anthropology and African studies.

Musical Beginnings:
Tracy’s mother bought her a ukulele at age three. She 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.

While a student at Tufts, she busked in nearby spots, including Harvard Square and on MBTA Red Line platforms. Chapman made her major-stage debut as an opening act for women’s music pioneer Linda Tillery at Boston’s Strand Theatre on May 3, 1985. Another Tufts student, Brian Koppelman, heard Chapman playing and brought her to the attention of his father, Charles Koppelman. 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.


Studio albums


Compilation albums




Some things to share: Although Chapman has never publicly disclosed her sexual orientation, writer Alice Walker has stated that she and Chapman were in a romantic relationship during the mid-1990s.

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.

Her response:

I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to do my work and be involved in certain organizations, certain endeavors, and offered some assistance in some way. Whether that is about raising money or helping to raise awareness, just being another body to show some force and conviction for a particular idea. Finding out where the need is – and if someone thinks you’re going to be helpful, then helping.

Official website: here



9 Comments Add yours

  1. randydafoe says:

    Such a rare talent, her voice still resonates today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Totally agree with you, Randy. I listen to her sing and the tears arrive. Just finished re-watching the interview I included. Such a genuineness and gentleness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. memadtwo says:

    I was wondering what she was doing now. Glad she’s still performing, but wish she would put out another album. Linda Tillery! That’s a name I haven’t heard in a very long time. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Badfinger (Max) says:

    As you know I was not a fan of the 1980s very much BUT…when I heard Chapman…I thought…this is more like it! Fast Car…no dominating synths or pop beats…just a well writtten song…more than well written…a truly great song. It gave me hope things were changing and they did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You’ve had your finger on the pulse of music for a long time and pick up on those changes. I appreciate the insights you’ve gleaned from it. Thanks for the comment that place Tracy in a musical context.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max) says:

        It was one of my favorite songs of the 80s…she is an incredible artist…to even make it at that time with her style…was amazing in itself.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Tracy Chapman. When I first heard “Talking ’bout a Revolution’, I was hooked immediately. Her vocals are really powerful and her lyrics are great. I also love, love “Fast Car.” In fact, her entire debut album is a rue gem – too bad she’s essentially retired from music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You never know she could come out of retirement. Let’s cross our fingers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At 58 she’s still pretty young, so I guess it’s possible. On the other hand, music is such a tough business. At the same time, it’s a great vehicle to support social causes, which is something that seems to be near and dear to Chapman’s heart.

        Liked by 1 person

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