LGBT History Month profile: Singer, songwriter Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman, Singer/Songwriter
b. March 30, 1964

“I’d like to live as if only love mattered.”

Tracy Chapman is a multi-platinum, four-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. Two of her songs have reached the Top 10 on the BillboardHot 100 chart, and her first No. 1 hit, “Fast Car,” was named one of the best songs of all time by Rolling Stone.

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Chapman was raised by her single mother and older sister. During Chapman’s childhood, Cleveland began integrating its school systems. Though racial tension was high, Chapman found sanctuary in academics and excelled as a student. At 16, she was awarded a scholarship to a private boarding school in Connecticut.

The scholarship provided Chapman with a unique perspective from both sides of the poverty line. She credits the opportunity as the inspiration for the political awareness in her music. Based on her academic success, Chapman earned a full scholarship to Tufts University.

While in college, Chapman began writing and performing her music. At 22, she signed a recording contract with Elektra Records.

Her self-titled first album was released in 1988 and launched her to international stardom. The album earned her Grammy Awards for Best Album and Best New Artist. In 1997, Chapman won her third Grammy Award for the hit single “Give Me One Reason.” She has released eight albums and toured the world many times.

Despite her public success, Chapman maintains a private life. During the mid-1990s, she had a romantic relationship with author Alice Walker, which was kept secret until after it ended.

Chapman is an outspoken advocate for LGBT, gender and racial equality. She supports numerous AIDS foundations and performs at charity events.

Chapman resides in San Francisco. She continues to write and perform music.

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