Tracy Chapman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, where she was raised by her mother. Despite not having much money, her mother recognized Tracy's love of music and bought her a ukulele when Tracy was just three. Tracy Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of eight. She says that she may have been first inspired to play the guitar by the television show Hee Haw.
Chapman was raised Baptist and went to an Episcopal high school. She was accepted into the program "A Better Chance", which helps minority students attend private schools. She graduated from Wooster School in Connecticut and subsequently attended Tufts University. She graduated with a B.A. degree in anthropology and African studies.
In the mid-1990s Chapman dated author Alice Walker. Chapman maintains a strong separation between her personal and professional lives. “I have a public life that’s my work life and I have my personal life,” she said. “In some ways, the decision to keep the two things separate relates to the work I do."
Chapman often performs at and attends charity events such as Make Poverty History, amfAR and AIDS/LifeCycle, to support social causes. She currently lives in San Francisco. She says she enjoys going to the beach, going to the woods, a really good meal with friends, and fresh organic food.
During college, Chapman began busking in Harvard Square and playing guitar in Club Passim and within other coffeehouses in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Another Tufts student, Brian Koppelman, heard Chapman playing and brought her to the attention of his father, Charles Koppelman. Koppelman, who ran SBK Publishing, signed Chapman in 1986. After Chapman graduated from Tufts in 1987, he helped her to sign a contract with Elektra Records.
At Elektra, she released Tracy Chapman (1988). The album was critically acclaimed, and she began touring and building a fanbase. Soon after she performed it at the televised Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in June 1988, Chapman's "Fast Car" began its rise on the US charts; it became a Number 6 pop hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending August 27, 1988. "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", the follow-up, charted at Number 75 and was followed by "Baby Can I Hold You", which peaked at Number 48. The album sold well, going multi-platinum and winning three Grammy Awards, including an honor for Chapman as Best New Artist. Later in 1988, Chapman was a featured performer on the worldwide Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour. According to the VH1 website, "her album helped usher in the era of political correctness — along with 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M., Chapman's liberal politics proved enormously influential on American college campuses in the late '80s".
Her follow-up album Crossroads (1989) was less commercially successful, but still achieved platinum status. By 1992's Matters of the Heart, Chapman was playing to a small and devoted audience. Her fourth album, New Beginning (1995) proved successful, selling over three million copies in the U.S. The album included the hit single "Give Me One Reason", which won the 1997 Grammy for Best Rock Song and became Chapman's most successful single to date, peaking at Number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her Telling Stories (2000) featured more of a rock sound than folk. Its hit single, "Telling Stories", received heavy airplay on European radio stations and on Adult Alternative and Hot AC stations in the United States. Chapman toured Europe and the US in 2003 in support of her sixth album, Let It Rain (2002).
To support her seventh studio album, Where You Live (2005), Chapman toured major US cities in October and throughout Europe over the remainder of the year. The "Where You Live" tour was extended into 2006; the 28-date European tour featured summer concerts in Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the UK, Russia and more. On June 5, 2006, she performed at the 5th Gala of Jazz in Lincoln Center, New York, and in a session at the 2007 TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference in Monterey, California.
Chapman was commissioned by the American Conservatory Theater to compose music for its production of Athol Fugard's Blood Knot, a play on apartheid in South Africa, staged in early 2008.
Atlantic Records released Chapman's eighth studio album, Our Bright Future (2008). Chapman made a 26-date solo tour of Europe. She returned to tour Europe and selected North American cities during the summer of 2009. She was backed by Joe Gore on guitars, Patrick Warren on keyboards, and Dawn Richardson on percussion.
Tracy Chapman (n. Cleveland, Ohio, 30 de marzo de 1964) es una cantante estadounidense ganadora de varios premios Grammy y conocida por el éxito de canciones como "Fast Car", "Talkin' Bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You" y "Give Me One Reason".
Nacida en Cleveland, Tracy Chapman comenzó a tocar la guitarra y a escribir canciones con tan sólo 11 años. Fue aceptada en la organización orientada a reclutar niños afrodescendientes con aptitudes para destacar en diferentes campos, por lo que entró a estudiar en la Wooster School y posteriormente en la Tufts University de Medford, Massachusetts.
Durante sus estudios universitarios, Chapman comenzó a tocar en la calle y en cafés de la ciudad de Cambridge en Massachusetts. Tras su graduación fichó por la compañía Elektra Records, lanzando el disco Tracy Chapman en 1988. El álbum fue muy bien acogido por la crítica, y ella comenzó una gira donde fue captando a un gran número de fans.
Tras su actuación en el concierto homenaje a los 70 años de Nelson Mandela, la canción Fast Car comenzó a subir en las listas americanas hasta alcanzar el Top 10. El álbum alcanzaría ventas elevadas llegando al disco de platino y Tracy lograría tres grammys en la edición de ese año.
Su siguiente álbum Crossroads lanzado en 1989 tuvo menos éxito comercial que su predecesor y para el siguiente Matters of the Heart Chapman preparó una gira en recintos de poca capacidad para recalcar el aire intimista del disco. Para sorpresa de la industria musical su cuarto álbum New Beginning, fue todo un éxito comercial que llegó a vender 3 millones de copias tan sólo en Estados Unidos. Este álbum incluía el hit Give Me One Reason que ganó el Grammy a la mejor canción de Rock del año y se convirtió en el single de mayor éxito de Chapman hasta la fecha.
El siguiente álbum fue Telling Stories editado en el año 2000, y que supuso un giro hacia el rock frente al sonido folk dominante en los discos precedentes. Del disco el single Telling Stories fue muy difundido en las radiodifusoras europeas. Su sexto disco fue Let It Rain lanzado en 2002. En septiembre de 2005 lanzó el disco Where You Live y en noviembre de 2008, Our Bright Future.