Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car' Makes CMA History

She becomes first Black woman to win award as 35-year-old tune snags song of the year
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2023 8:31 AM CST
Tracy Chapman Makes CMA History With Song From 1988
Singer Tracy Chapman arrives at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Performance and Gala Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at the State Department in Washington.   (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Tracy Chapman just became the first Black woman to win a Country Music Association award—for a song she penned 35 years ago. "Fast Car," which was first released in 1988 but found new popularity this year through a cover by country star Luke Combs, won the first two awards of the night Wednesday in Nashville. Chapman won song of the year, an award that recognizes songwriters, while Combs won single of the year for his version, which topped Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in September. According to USA Today, Chapman is now the first Black woman to ever win a CMA award.

"It's truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut," Chapman, who did not attend the award ceremony, said in a statement read onstage. "Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke and all of the fans of 'Fast Car.'" In accepting his award, Combs thanked Chapman for writing "one of the best songs of all time," per the New York Times. "I just recorded it because I love this song so much," he said. "It's meant so much to me throughout my entire life." Chapman's folk-rock rendition tells of a young woman eager to escape poverty who, as the years go by, finds herself trapped in its vicious cycle.

"Everyone, I mean everyone, across all these stadiums relates to this song and sings along," Combs told Billboard in July. "That's the gift of a supernatural songwriter." "The success of my cover is unreal and I think it's so cool that Tracy is getting recognized and has reached new milestones," he added. There is much speculation that Chapman's "Fast Car" will also be honored with a Grammy nomination. The list will be out Friday. "Fast Car" previously won Chapman a Grammy for best pop vocal performance by a female in 1989. It had been nominated that year for song and record of the year. See more CMA winners here. (More Tracy Chapman stories.)

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