In the late 1980s, music was pretty much ruled by hair metal and the burgeoning popularity of hip-hop. But the folk and blues rock sound by Tracy Chapman would find its way into the musical consciousness, dazzling fans and critics alike.
After a period of performing in coffeehouses during college, Chapman would release her self-titled debut in 1988. The album would be universally praised for helping to revive the singer-songwriter tradition (which previously dominated the 1970s), as well as for its political and social lyrical content. It would topped the Billboard album charts, selling over twelve million copies worldwide, and ranked as one of the top 300 The album featured the narrative classic “Fast Car”, as well as “Talkin’ ‘bout a Revolution” and “Baby I Can Hold You”.
Chapman continued the contemporary folk and social lyrical content routes with two more albums, 1989’s Crossroads and 1992’s Matters of the Heart. But she came back strong in 1995 with the triple-platinum album New Beginnings, which included her biggest hit “Give Me One Reason”, which became a huge hit on alternative radio. Other albums include 2000’s Telling Stories, and 2008’s Our Bright Future.
Since her 1988 debut, Chapman has been regarded as an influential figure not only for women in music or in the 1980s, but for music in general, and songs including “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason” have seen numerous covers including one by R.E.M.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Tracy Chapman, eligible since 2013.