Tracy Chapman, who has not performed in public in years, will return into the spotlight to perform a duet of “Fast Car” with Luke Combs at the Grammys on Sunday night, sources tell Variety.
Combs, who had a massive hit with his cover version of “Fast Car” last year, was already announced as a performer on the show. Chapman’s appearance comes as a significant surprise, as she has only performed for the cameras three times since wrapping up her last tour in 2009, and the singer had thus far resisted the popular demand to take advantage of the resurgence of “Fast Car” as an international phenomenon.
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Representatives for the Recording Academy could not be reached for comment.
Combs’ version of “Fast Car” was ranked as the fifth biggest song of the year in the U.S. for 2023 when Variety published its annual Hitmakers list in late November, coming in ahead of smashes like Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero.” It was a multi-format crossover hit for the country superstar, topping Billboard’s Radio Songs chart for four weeks, making it to No. 1 on the adult pop and country formats for two weeks each, and topping out at an impressive No. 6 at Top 40 radio and No. 2 on the Hot 100.
Chapman’s original version came out in 1988 and peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100, not really a reflection of how massive it was across demographics at the time. It reached the top 5 in the U.K. twice, once in 1988 and then again 23 years later in 2011.
Chapman issued a statement of support for Combs’ version but otherwise has stayed out of the public eye since her song became dominant again last year. The country star’s camp got permission from Chapman’s to release the tune as a single, even though legally they could have put it out without her blessing. Combs, for his part, said last year that he had not had any conversations with Chapman about the tune, but added that getting her approval was enough. Along with royalties, Chapman has subsequently received accolades like a song of the year award from the Country Music Association.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t join you all tonight,” Chapman said in a statement read from the stage when she won song of the year from the CMAs. “It’s truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut. Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke and all of the fans of ‘Fast Car.’”
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