Last year, country music superstar Luke Combs made waves when he released a cover of Tracy Chapman’s 1988 single “Fast Car.” The song propelled him to the top of the country music charts and even got him to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 — 35 years after the song’s original debut.
His achievement brought new attention to Chapman’s music, even winning the 59-year-old singer-songwriter Song of the Year honors at the 57th Country Music Awards ceremony in 2023. She’s the first Black woman to win the award.
Here’s the Country Music Association announcing the honor:
— CMA Country Music (@CountryMusic) November 9, 2023
And last night, Chapman performed “Fast Car” with Combs at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards. The reclusive musician has only been on camera three times since the end of her 2009 tour. She didn’t even pick up her CMA award in person.
Chapman and Combs shared the spotlight while performing the song; Chapman ushering it in with those first few familiar notes before the duo traded off singing the verses and ultimately sang together in harmony. The moving performance brought Grammys attendees to their feet in a well-deserved standing ovation. Watch their gorgeous performance below:
— Craig R. Brittain (@RealBrittain) February 5, 2024
Combs has been vocal about how much “Fast Car” meant to him.
At the CMAs, Combs won for Single of the Year, and in his short acceptance speech he thanked Chapman “for writing one of the best songs of all time.”
When asked about his reaction to Chapman’s win, Combs explained how much the song meant to him.
“This song has been a constant throughout my entire life, reminding me of moments with my dad. It’s the song I’ll play for my son, and it will undoubtedly be part of my own history,” he told ET. “To think that it will now be synonymous with me is just insane, considering how much it has meant to me. So, I just want to say thank you and congratulations to her.”
Combs has also spoken about his connection to the song in other arenas. He posted this explanation on social media in May.
“Fast Car” has always meant a lot to me. This is why I wanted to record it. pic.twitter.com/RRxKXaKjef
— Luke Combs (@lukecombs) May 8, 2023
Before the duo took the Grammys stage, a short video played showing Combs explaining his connection to the song, calling the experience humbling.
“Tracy Chapman is such an icon, and one of the greatest artists that I think any of us will be along to see,” Combs said in the video. “It’s a full circle moment for me. Just to be associated with her and any way is super humbling for me.”
As for Chapman, who won three Grammys in 1989 (best contemporary folk album for her self-titled debut, best female pop vocal performance for “Fast Car” and best new artist), she’s been nothing but gracious about Combs’ success.
“I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” she told Billboard. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”