Singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman released her debut album in April of 1988. "Fast Car," the album's first single, gained immediate attention and garnered strong sales. It is hard to believe that the songs on said LP were the work of such a young artist, not to mention from a debut album. Chapman's strong convictions, which are relayed in the lyrics to every song on the album, paint a vivid picture of the struggles that young people, particularly those of color, were experiencing in the late 1980s. Her message resonated so strongly that the album would soon go multi-platinum and garner no less than four Grammy Awards.
Chapman's songs vividly communicate deep feelings in a manner that belied her young age. Her ability to explore important social and political issues without becoming preachy made her stand out immediately. This unique ability was no doubt largely responsible for the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel becoming so enamored of Chapman and inviting her to co-headline 1998's Concerts For Human Rights Foundation World Tour. Of the tour, Chapman is quoted as saying, "It was the chance of a lifetime to have performed in the places we performed in, and, on top of that, to have it all mean something too."
Chapman's stunningly captivating voice is front and center of the wealth of material she released during her fruitful, 20-plus year career. Chapman's socially conscious songwriting would have a significant impact on countless songwriters in the forthcoming decade, including Sarah McLachlan, Paula Cole and Jewel. This determination to shine a light on important issues would continue to fuel Chapman's work to the present day and justify her as one of the most resonating songwriters of her generation.
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