Because of Luke Combs, a new generation of music fans knows about singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman.

Combs recorded Chapman's 1988 breakout hit "Fast Car" in 2023. The song became a crossover hit for the country artist, who invited Chapman to perform it with him on the 2024 Grammy Awards broadcast on national television.

The moment was like few others on television in that it afforded Chapman the respect she deserved as a performer and songwriter. It was long overdue.

Since that performance, fans old and new have scrambled for more from Tracy Chapman. Her recording of "Fast Car" sped to the top of the charts overnight, and folks sought to learn more about this overlooked talent.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 30, 1964, Chapman was raised by her mother after her parents divorced when she was 3.

According to her official website, Tracy Chapman Online, "Chapman worked hard to earn A Better Chance (ABC) minority placement scholarship to the Wooster School, a small, progressive, private high school in Danbury, Connecticut."

The Connecticut Chaplain That Bought Tracy Chapman A New Guitar
Getty Images for The Recording A

Chapman was "thoroughly immersed in an atmosphere of social and political discussion," according to the site, which says, "At times she had difficulties with her sheltered classmates."

The website says Wooster was a "haven for musicians." She "met other guitar players who introduced her to a variety of popular music, including the early protest works of Bob Dylan."

After Wooster, Chapman attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, earning a degree in anthropology. While at Tufts, Chapman performed at Harvard Square and on subway platforms.

While enrolled at Wooster, Chapman met Rev. Robert L. Tate, at the time a school chaplain. In a 2018 interview, Tate credits Chapman, his student chapel proctor, whom he'd gotten to know "through the coffee house," with helping to persuade him to get ordained.

Tracy Chapman Online says, "Chapman's teachers recognized her talent and gave her ample opportunities to perform.

"In a gesture of support, the school chaplain took up a collection among the faculty and students and bought the young singer a new guitar to replace her battered one."

That chaplain was Rev. Tate.

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