Tracy Chapman

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About Tracy Chapman

When Tracy Chapman came into view in the late '80s, her star surged seemingly overnight with a refreshing disregard for the borders of gender, race, and style that were still lamentably strong. She blended folk, rock, pop, and soul influences into something smolderingly powerful and socially conscious but still hooky as could be. Chapman was born in Cleveland in 1964, and her early life was full of financial and social struggles that would eventually fuel her songwriting. While attending school in Massachusetts, she started performing as a folk singer in local coffeehouses and busking in Harvard Square. She caught the ear of Elektra Records, which released her self-titled debut album in 1988. Singing about poverty, racism, and political unrest, she brought sociopolitical issues to the American pop and rock mainstream with a passion that recalled the protest anthems of the Vietnam era. Propelled by her Top 10 single "Fast Car" and the stung but hopeful "Talkin' Bout a Revolution," the album became an international multi-Platinum phenomenon. Chapman took her place later that year in Amnesty International's high-profile Human Rights Now! tour, playing around the world alongside Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Youssou N'Dour. But Chapman didn't move forward by continuing to strike the same note. In 1995 she won hearts again with her biggest single yet, the Grammy-winning "One Good Reason." A far cry from folk-inflected protest, it was a hard-grooving blues grinder about a worn and weary heart that showed it was unwise to count Chapman out or pigeonhole her. In the years to follow, more records full of soulfully rendered tunes and reflective lyrics ensured that she never would be.

Cleveland, OH, United States
March 30, 1964

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