Tracy Chapman becomes the first Black person to win Song of the Year at the CMAs

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 04: Tracy Chapman performs onstage during the 66th GRAMMY Awards on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording A

Tracy Chapman was honored with Song of the Year for her 1988 folk anthem “Fast Car” at the Country Music Awards on Wednesday, becoming the first Black songwriter to ever win the award.

“Fast Car” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart following its release more than 30 years ago. The song was nominated for three Grammys when it first came out, and Chapman won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

But it got a second wind in recent months after singer Luke Combs came out with a cover of the song in April. His version peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart and won Single of the Year at the CMAs in Nashville.

Chapman did not attend the ceremony, but she sent a written statement.

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

Combs called “Fast Car” his “first favorite song” in his acceptance speech for Single of the Year.

“First and foremost, I want to thank Tracy Chapman for writing one of the best songs of all time,” he said. “Never intended for that – I just recorded it because I love this song so much. It’s meant so much to me throughout my entire life. It’s the first favorite song I ever had from the time I was four years old.”

Chapman, a Cleveland native, is additionally behind such hits as “Give Me One Reason,” “Baby Can I Hold You” and “Crossroads.” She has been nominated for 13 Grammys and won four.

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