Tracy Chapman wasn’t present at the 57th annual Country Music Association Awards Nov. 9. Yet that didn't prevent the reclusive singer-songwriter from making her crossover impact, as the 35-year-old song "Fast Car" won Single of the Year and Song of the Year with its rendition by Luke Combs.
"I want to thank Tracy Chapman for writing one of the greatest songs of all time," he exclaimed. "I just recorded it because I love this song so much. It's meant so much to me throughout my entire life. It's the first favorite song that I ever had, since I was 4 years old."
The song (from Chapman's self-titled 1988 debut) also won for Song of the Year. Presenters Bill Anderson and Sara Evans announced the winner and Evans read Chapman's thank you. "I'm sorry I couldn't join you all tonight. It's truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut. Wow. Thank you to the CMAs, and a special thanks to Luke and to all of the fans of 'Fast Car.'"
Combs' "Fast Car" remake was a huge crossover hit in 2023, receiving airplay not just on country radio but on Top 40 and AC stations — thus introducing Chapman, who has not released any new music herself since 2008, to a whole new audience. When Combs' version topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, Chapman became the first Black woman to ever score a country No. 1 hit with a solo composition. With her CMA victory, she made history again as the first Black songwriter, of any gender, to win Song of the Year since the CMA Awards debuted 56 years ago.