Tracy Chapman urges Americans to vote in first TV appearance in 5 years

In a rare TV performance, on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers,' Chapman sang 'Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution.'

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In a rare television appearance, four-time Grammy Award winner Tracy Chapman appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to encourage viewers to vote. 

The appearance, broadcast just hours before doors opened for 2020’s official Election Day, featured Chapman singing her song, “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution,” as the word VOTE appeared behind her. 

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman appeared on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” to encourage viewers to vote in the 2020 election. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

The song was the first cut on Chapman’s 1988 self-titled debut. That album sold over 6 million copies, largely powered by her signature hit, “Fast Car.” 

“Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” came out just after eight years of the presidency of Republican Ronald Reagan and in an election year in which his vice president, George H.W. Bush, was elected to the White House. 

The lyrics of the song seem timely for 2020, as voters head to the polls clad in masks to cast ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Among them: “Don’t you know / They’re talkin’ about a revolution / It sounds like a whisper / While they’re standing in the welfare lines / Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation / Wasting time in the unemployment lines / Sitting around waiting for a promotion.” 

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Her original song’s hook says, “Talkin’ bout a revolution, oh no,” For this version on Late Night, Chapman replaced “oh no,” with “Go vote.” 

“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” she said in a statement, according to Pitchfork. “It is imperative that everyone vote to restore our democracy.”

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Host Seth Meyers thanked Chapman for appearing on his show, opining that “she’s living proof you can be a great artist while also speaking out for what you believe in.” 

Chapman has historically supported Democratic candidates. She joined Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. on a “Vote For Change” tour supporting the 2004 presidential run of John Kerry. Despite being notoriously protective of her music, she allowed “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” to be played before several campaign events for Sen. Bernie Sanders

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Earlier on NBC, OutKast rapper Big Boi appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with Sleepy Brown, Killer Mike and Big Rube, performing their provocative song, “We the Ones.” 

Its thoughtful lyrics also echoed this nation’s moment: “Stand up to oppression / Stand up to all aggression / Stand up, it’s time to choose.” 

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