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Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman helped restore singer/songwriters to the spotlight in the '80s. The multi-platinum success of Chapman's eponymous 1988 debut was unexpected, and it had lasting impact. Although Chapman was working from the same confessional singer/songwriter foundation that had been popularized in the '70s, her songs were fresh and powerful, driven by simple melodies and affecting lyrics. At the time of her first album, there were only a handful of artists performing such a style successfully, and her success ushered in a new era of singer/songwriters that lasted well into the '90s. Furthermore, her album helped usher in the era of political correctness -- along with 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M., Chapman's liberal politics proved enormously influential on American college campuses in the late '80s. Of course, such implications meant that Chapman's subsequent recordings were greeted with mixed reactions, but after several years out of the spotlight, she managed to make a very successful comeback in 1996 with her fourth album, New Beginning, thanks to the Top Ten single "Give Me One Reason."

Raised in a working class neighborhood in Cleveland, OH, Chapman learned how to play guitar as a child, and began to write her own songs shortly afterward. Following high school, she won a minority placement scholarship and decided to attend Tufts University, where she studied anthropology and African studies. While at Tufts, she became fascinated with folk-rock and singer/songwriters, and began performing her own songs at coffeehouses. Eventually, she recorded a set of demos at the college radio station. One of her fellow students, Brian Koppelman, heard Chapman play and recommended her to his father, Charles Koppelman, who ran SBK Publishing. In 1986, she signed with SBK and Koppelman secured a management contract with Elliot Roberts, who had worked with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Roberts and Koppelman helped Chapman sign to Elektra in 1987.

Chapman recorded her debut album with David Kershenbaum, and the resulting eponymous record was released in the spring of 1988. Tracy Chapman was greeted with enthusiastic reviews, and she set out on the road supporting 10,000 Maniacs. Within a few months, she played at the internationally televised concert for Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday party, where her performance was greeted with thunderous applause. Soon, the single "Fast Car" began climbing the charts, eventually peaking at number six. The album's sales soared along with the single, and by the end of the year, the record had gone multi-platinum. Early the following year, the record won four Grammys, including Best New Artist.

It was an auspicious beginning to Chapman's career, and it was perhaps inevitable that her second album, 1989's darker, more political Crossroads, wasn't as successful. Although it was well-reviewed, the album wasn't as commercially successful, peaking at number nine and quickly falling down the charts. Following Crossroads, Chapman spent a few years in seclusion, returning in 1992 with Matters of the Heart. The album was greeted with mixed reviews and weak sales, and Chapman had fallen into cult status. Three years later, she returned with New Beginning, which received stronger reviews than its predecessor. The bluesy "Give Me One Reason" was pulled as the first single, and it slowly became a hit, sending the album into the U.S. Top Ten in early 1996. It was a quiet, successful comeback from an artist most observers had already consigned to forever languish in cult status. Telling Stories followed in early 2000. Let It Rain followed two years later. For 2005's Where You Live, Chapman co-produced the album with Tchad Blake. Our Bright Future, co-produced by Chapman and Larry Klein, appeared in 2008. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Fast Car is one of the most powerful songs I've ever heard. It's simplicity is part of what makes it so beautiful. That and it's a dang good tune.
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tonya5806
��������
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Favorite
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Her voice is strong and assured, Helps me be more positive...
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I absolutely love this woman for her beautiful music and lyrics. When my life seems shattered, I will play one of her cd's especially her 1st cd with fast car and New Beginnings. I play the others as well. I would give anything to meet this woman in person because she has truly been a life saver for me. Tammy Delano
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I love her she got me throw some bad times
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aimeelpattis o n
Sweet and heat felt
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Shes at the top of my list
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Hey there Sweetheart.. . . . . G i v e Me One Reason to stay here and I'll turn right back around and might move to Washington State
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jtbarket247


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im trying to find the song be and don't be afraid anyone know what disc its on?
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'Crossroads' - my favorite by her. :-)
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i remember squirting for the first time and she was playing in the background.. o h h the 90's
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Love her
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The truth
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aidanmurphe7
Cant stand this crap
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rolfeyb
ok
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The Promise,, best song.. love..love ..love.. love it
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Luv Tracy "Give Me One Reason"
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My fave is New Beginnings
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You can buy the CD on Amazon
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cperzanowski 6 4
Fast Cars is the best I cannot find her CD anywhere
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My favorite ever
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The editorial addition of "political correctness" to ms chapman's bio seems a bit misplaced if not flat out myopic
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love her songs
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tracy tells it like it is.
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An old friend once made me listen to this song. I genuinely hope she is doing well. Good vibes. Always..
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Tracy Chapman's "baby, can I hold you" is the 1 song that brings me to instantaneou s tears. >>>sigh<<<
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This is true Love on my part. I love all of you don't care about your past. I just want with me I will fade and die without u..
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Mostly no one knows the words!
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This is only song I actually play!
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I have one CD and I play it all the time when I'm on the road and t home. I have played it so much when we were in Florida you me the mother/tdaug h t e r / t r i p . My niece chose to get up and sing one of her songs and dedicate it to me LOL. Sending me maessage by singing " Give me one reason to stay here"
I wish I had all of her CO'S . I absolutely unequivocall y adore her music. I THINK I can listen to it all day and night, matter of a fact I matter of a fact I have.
Let also recognize my o
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sbynum53
Love her too!
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Love her
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political correctness is a poor choice of words. Political activism would be more accurate and less derogatory.
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Love her
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There is a difference between being respectful and minding your language, and insisting that we do not offend anyone. The truth hurts, and some people need to be offended.
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A place for me in your heart..
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bradfordarti s t s 5
It may have seemed like a PC Movement but to me it seemed like people finally standing up and saying words matter, they hurt, they inspire, they move people to actions - good and bad. Thank you, Tracy, for making us more conscienctio u s about how we use words!
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Love her tAKes Me back to the good old days. Janis Joplin
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Lord I just loved this woman from the first time I heard give me one reason to stay here Tracy much love
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Amen..:)
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jmrosemarie
Mr Erlewine's comment re:political correctness in the bio is absurd.
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wc85bu97
First saw her at the subway station in Harvard Square ca 1985. Saw her open for Odetta ca 1987. My younger cousins were so impressed when I gave them signed copies of her first album - on tape!! Love that she has held on to her integrity and keeps making music she loves, no matter what the critics and sales figures say!!
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Tracey is a classic folk singer in the truest sense who is reminiscent of the old school singer songwriter era of the early 70s. But I don't see how an artist's rep as a supporter of social justice corresponds with a label of political correctness.
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Where is she now? Come back!!
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I don't like can't skip o g I have to Listen to this p.s DONT HATE ON ME FANS this is my opine
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beautiful... : )
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dogman4425
Paloma Johnson, nothing gets you through a broken heart but time and distance. And even after
years they bring tears to your eyes when you wake up in the morning thinking of them. They visit
us in dreams.
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Reminds of the Memphis Blues.
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