Tracy Chapman wins accolades at the 2023 Country Music Awards for ‘Fast Car,’ 35 years after the folk song’s initial release, thanks to the phenomenal success of Luke Combs’ country cover.
Folk singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman is now a Country Music Award winner, thanks to Luke Combs’ smash hit cover of her 1988 track “Fast Car.” The sole writer of the song, she won the 2023 CMA for Song of the Year, which is given to the song’s writer, just after Combs won Single of the Year for his cover of “Fast Car.”
“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,” writes the 59-year-old Chapman in her acceptance speech, read by presenter Sara Evans, announcing the win alongside country music legend Bill Anderson. “Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke and all of the fans of ‘Fast Car.’”
“I want to thank Tracy Chapman for writing the best song of all time,” said Combs in his acceptance speech, prior to Chapman’s win. “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 four years old.”
The 33-year-old Combs’ cover of “Fast Car” has enjoyed phenomenal success and has earned Chapman around $500,000 in publishing royalties within just a few months of its release. Chapman’s win makes her the first Black artist to take home the prize for Song of the Year at the CMAs.
The 1988 release from Chapman peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, while Combs’ 2023 cover has reached No. 2; it has topped the Hot Country Songs chart for four weeks. The cover has also helped drive a legion of new fans to discover Tracy Chapman’s music, as Combs’ fans tend to explore other genres more than other country singers’ fans.