Tracy Chapman does Fast Car at the Grammys

This performance was mesmerizing — more than 35 years after its debut in 1988, Fast Car is just as great as it was when I heard it for the first time. Tracy Chapman, who hasn’t performed in public in almost a decade, did it with Luke Combs at the Grammy Awards and got a standing ovation. Combs’ version of the song won a Country Music Association award for Song of the Year, and hit #1 on the country charts, making her the first Black woman to have a solo songwriting credit on a country music #1 hit.

And here’s one of the first public performances of that song, at a concert at Wembley Stadium in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday. Chapman wasn’t even supposed to perform it — Stevie Wonder had flown in from the US and was supposed to play a surprise set, but the hard drive containing all of his synthesizer backing tracks did not make it to England and so he refused to go on. Scrambling to fill the void, the concert organizers asked Tracy Chapman if she would agree to perform — she came out in front of 70,000 ornery concertgoers, played Fast Car with just her voice and an acoustic guitar and the stadium went crazy. She sold about two million records in the next two weeks.

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