Tracy Chapman makes country music history with ‘Fast Car’

Chapman's Grammy Award-winning song is currently enjoying a renaissance on the country music charts due to Luke Combs' popular cover.

Tracy Chapman is making country music history.

This week, the guitar-playing singer-songwriter is making her mark as the first Black woman with the sole writing credit on a No. 1 country song.

Chapman’s 1988 hit, “Fast Car,” is currently enjoying new life, thanks to Luke Combs’ version, which is surging on the country music charts. Rolling Stone reported that the popular cover was set to top Billboard’s Country Airplay chart this week. In fact, Billboard announced Monday that Combs’ song reached the No. 1 spot on the chart dated July 8.

Tracy Chapman performs in 2007 at the AmFAR Gala in New York City. She became the first Black woman with a sole writing credit on a No. 1 country song as Luke Combs’ cover of her 1988 pop hit, “Fast Car,” claimed the country charts. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

With this achievement, Chapman joins three other Black women with official writing credits on No. 1 country songs: Alice Randall, who co-wrote Trisha Yearwood’s 1994 “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl);” Ester Dean, a writer of Lady A’s 2020 hit, “Champagne Night;” and Tayla Parx, who co-wrote “Glad You Exist” in 2021 by Dan + Shay. Chapman, however, is the sole songwriter on “Fast Car,” which makes her accomplishment different.

Chapman’s song, which was her debut single back in 1988, made quite a splash in the music industry. The singer landed three Grammy Awards for her self-titled first album, including one for best pop vocal performance for “Fast Car.”

Parx, who is known for her writing on hit songs such as Ariana Grande’s “Thank U Next” and Khalid’s “Love Lies,” spoke to Rolling Stone about Chapman’s upcoming achievement and the enduring nature of the song.

“With a great song, you can take it and make it sound like seven different genres, so that says a lot about what type of song ‘Fast Car’ is,” she said. “It can be a pop song, a country song; it can be whatever because it’s just a great song.”

Just this month, theGrio’s Touré did a deep dive on Chapman’s 1988 hit for his podcast, “Being Black: The ’80s,” breaking down the song’s success and place in American culture.

Check out the episode below:

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