Listen To "Change"
Release September 13, 2005
Lauren Lee and Mark
African American singer-songwriter Tracy
Chapman was born on March 30, 1964. Chapman came from humble beginnings,
raised in a working class neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. At an early
age, Chapman had already found her calling as a musician. She began
by writing poetry, and then at the age of eight she received her first
guitar as a gift from her mother. Chapman quickly progressed with
the guitar and also learned to play the ukulele and the piano. Her
initial interest in poetry developed into a talent for writing her
own music. This driven young lady also excelled academically, winning
an academic scholarship to attend a private high school in Connecticut
followed by a minority placement scholarship which she decided to
put towards attending Tufts University in Massachusetts. At Tufts,
Chapman studied anthropology and African studies.
was during her time at college that Tracy Chapman's interest in folk
rock and singer-songwriters
was forged. Chapman became a regular performer at local Boston coffeehouses,
and it wasn't long before her talents were discovered. After hearing
a set of demo tapes Chapman had recorded at the local college radio
station, an impressed classmate, Brian Koppelman, recommended her
to his father Charles, Koppelman, who was head of SBK Publishing.
Chapman signed with SBK in 1986 and through them secured a management
contract with Elliot Roberts, who was well-known for his work with
and Joni Mitchell.
With the help of both Roberts and Koppelman, Chapman signed with Elektra
Records in 1987.
Chapman released her self-titled debut album to shocking commercial
and critical success. The album created an instant fan base for the
emerging star and is also considered to have had a lasting effect
on the music industry. Chapman was one of the only artists at the
time to work from the confessional singer/songwriter style. She combined
the '70's folk foundation with simple melodies and meaningful lyrics,
and her immediate success with the style ushered in an entirely new
era of singer/songwriters that continued well into the '90s. Furthermore,
Chapman's album became a part of the budding movement towards political
correctness, joining 10,000
Maniacs and R.E.M.
in spreading liberal politics. The liberal views expressed in her
album were tremendously influential across college campuses in the
later '80s. She became known as a supported of civil liberties and
minority rights, as well as gender equality and sexual freedom.
Chapman begin touring and gaining an even larger following. Within
just a few months of the release of her debut album, Chapman performed
in the internationally televised concert for Nelson
Mandela's 70th birthday. The concert, called Freedomfest, was
created by Amnesty
International, an organization Chapman continued to support throughout
her career. Her performance was enthusiastically greeted with thunderous
applause. Her landmark single "Fast
Car" begin to climb the charts, peaking at number six, and
introducing her to a throng of fans in the pop world. Sales of the
album soared along with the single, and by the end of the year over
ten million copies sold, making it multi-platinum. The following year,
Chapman's record won three
Grammy's, including the coveted Best New Artist.
her follow-up album, Tracy Chapman released Crossroads
(1989). The album, which was far more political than her debut and
contained darker lyrics, did not reach the level of success as her
first. It did, however, garner praise from critics and still went
multi-platinum, peaking at number nine on the charts.
Full Biography and Discography