Tracy Chapman Makes History As First Black Woman To Win A CMA Award

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For the first time in the 57 years of the CMA Awards, a black woman took home a trophy.

Singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman was not in attendance Wednesday night (Nov 8), but she did make history!

Luke Combs releases Tracy’s song “Fast Car” after years of performing it live.

Combs’s cover of Chapman’s 1988 song was included on the country singer’s March 2023 album Gettin’ Old. It hit number one on the country charts and stayed there for several weeks. It peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and back in 1988 it peaked at number six on the same chart.

Combs’ version, and its success, caught the attention of Chapman, who wrote the song all by herself. She became the first black woman to earn a number one Country Airplay hit as a solo songwriter. She reacted to Combs’ rendition in a statement provided to Billboard.

I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” she said. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

As a longtime fan of Chapman’s, Combs was touched by her words of support. He reacted to her statement in his own interview with Billboard.

“Oh man, ‘Fast Car’ has surprised me more than you can imagine. Tracy Chapman wrote this perfect song that that I first heard with my dad and it has stayed with me since. I have played it in my live show now for six-plus years and everyone — I mean everyone — across all these stadiums relates to this song and sings along. That’s the gift of a supernatural song writer. The success of my cover is unreal and I think it’s so cool that Tracy is getting recognized and has reached new milestones. I love that she is out there feeling all the love and that she gave me a shout-out! Thank you, Tracy!”

“Fast Car” earned two nominations at the 57th Annual CMA Awards.

When the CMA Award nominations were announced on September 7th, fans learned that “Fast Car” was up for Single of the Year AND Song of the Year. Song of the Year goes to its songwriter, so everyone knew there was a possibility of Chapman taking an award home herself.

RELATED: 2023 CMA Awards Nominees Announced

Tracy Chapman makes history at CMA Awards, becoming the first black woman to take home a trophy.

Combs had already won an award for “Fast Car” for Single of the Year when Song of the Year’s category was up. The legendary Bill Anderson and the newest Grand Ole Opry member Sara Evans presented the award. When Chapman’s name was read off the envelope, the crowd jumped to their feet to celebrate her, and even looked around to see where she was.


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Evans told the audience that Chapman wasn’t able to be there tonight, but did sent a statement.

Chapman said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t join you all tonight, but it is truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years since it’s debut. Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke and all of the fans of ‘Fast Car.’”

A round of applause filled Bridgestone Arena! This was a well-deserved win for Chapman, took home a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 1989 Grammy Awards. She was also up for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Chapman not only became the first black woman to take home the trophy for Song of the Year at the CMA Awards, she also became the first black woman EVER to win a CMA Award.

Congratulations to Tracy Chapman on this historic win!