Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer?songwriter, best known for her singles "Fast Car", "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", "Give Me One Reason", "The Promise" and "Telling Stories". She is a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy Award-winning artist.
Chapman was born in Cleveland, Ohio where she was raised by her mother. Despite not having much money, her mother recognized Tracy's love of music and bought her a ukulele at the age of three Tracy Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of eight. She says she may have been first inspired to play the guitar by the TV Show Hee Haw.
Chapman was raised Baptist and went to an Episcopalian high school. She was quickly accepted into the program A Better Chance, which enabled her to attend Wooster School in Connecticut; she subsequently attended Tufts University. At Tufts she studied anthropology and African studies.
In the mid-90s Chapman dated author Alice Walker.
In May 2004, Tufts honored her with an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, for her strongly committed contributions as a socially conscious and artistically accomplished musician.
Chapman often performs at and attends charity events such as Make Poverty History, amfAR and AIDS/LifeCycle. She currently lives in San Francisco and says she enjoys going to the beach, going to the woods, a really good meal with friends, and fresh organic food. Chapman maintains a strong separation between her personal and professional lives. ?I have a public life that?s my work life and I have my personal life,? she said. ?In some ways, the decision to keep the two things separate relates to the work I do."
During college, Chapman began street-performing and playing guitar in coffeehouses in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Another Tufts student, Brian Koppelman, heard Chapman playing and brought Chapman to the attention of his father, Charles Koppelman. Charles ran SBK Publishing and in 1986 signed Chapman. In 1987, after Chapman graduated from Tufts, he helped sign her to Elektra Records.
At Elektra, she released Tracy Chapman (1988). The album was critically acclaimed, and she began touring and building a fanbase. Soon after she performed it at the televised Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in June 1988, Chapman's "Fast Car" began its rise on the US charts, eventually becoming a #6 pop hit on the Billboard Hot 100. "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", the follow-up, charted at #75 and was followed by "Baby Can I Hold You", which peaked at #48. The album sold well, going multi-platinum and winning three Grammy Awards, including an honor for Chapman as Best New Artist. Later in 1988, Chapman was a featured performer on the worldwide Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour. According to the VH1 website, "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".
Her follow-up album Crossroads (1989) was less commercially successful, but still achieved platinum status. By 1992's Matters of the Heart, Chapman was playing to a small and devoted audience. However, her fourth album, 1995's New Beginning proved successful, selling over three million copies in the U.S. alone. The album included the hit single "Give Me One Reason", which won the 1997 Grammy for Best Rock Song and became Chapman's most successful single to date, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her next album was 2000's Telling Stories, which featured more of a rock sound than folk. Its hit single, "Telling Stories", received heavy airplay on European radio stations and on Adult Alternative and Hot AC stations in the United States. She toured Europe and the US in 2003 in support of her sixth album, Let It Rain (2002).
Where You Live, Chapman's seventh studio album, was released in September 2005; a brief supporting tour in major US cities followed in October and continued throughout Europe over the remainder of the year. The "Where You Live" tour was extended into 2006; the 28-date European tour featured summer concerts in Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the U.K, Russia and more. On , 2006, she performed at the 5th Gala of Jazz in Lincoln Center, New York, and in a session at the 2007 TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference in Monterey, California.
Chapman composed original music for the American Conservatory Theater production of Athol Fugard's Blood Knot, an acclaimed play on apartheid in South Africa staged in early 2008.
On November 11, 2008, Atlantic Records released Chapman's eighth studio album, Our Bright Future. Following the album's release, Chapman completed a 26-date solo tour of Europe. She toured Europe and selected North American cities on an encore tour during the summer of 2009. She was backed by Joe Gore on guitars, Patrick Warren on keyboards, and Dawn Richardson on percussion. Gore and Richardson also reside in San Francisco.