Tracy Chapman Earns Rapturous Standing Ovation After Rare Live Performance of ‘Fast Car’ With Luke Combs

Tracy Chapman always knew she “could be someone.” But could the folk singer have predicted in 1988, the year she released “Fast Car,” that she would perform her now-iconic song alongside country artist Luke Combs at the 66th Grammy Awards?

The two singers, though hailing from different generations and musical genres, took the stage together on Feb. 4 for a duet rendition of the song that has generated massive success for both of them. Decades after its initial release, “Fast Car” re-entered the charts when Combs’ cover of the track, infused with a country sensibility, became immensely popular in 2023.

Dressed all in black, Chapman kicked off her performance at the Grammys playing the iconic first few bars on her guitar, sparking voracious cheers from the star-studded audience which included Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson. Chapman and Combs bounced back and forth sharing the spotlight and but sang together in beautiful harmony for the chorus. After they finished, the crowd leapt to their feet in a thunderous applause. Oprah raised her hands cheering and host Trevor Noah raced to the stage to again pay tribute to Chapman. “The legendary Tracy Chapman, everybody,” Noah said, “Thank you so much for that! Thank you so much for that.”

Before the performance, Combs spoke about Chapman’s legacy in a video centered around the song. “Tracy Chapman is such an icon, and one of the greatest artists that I think any of us will be along to see,” the country singer said. “It’s a full circle moment for me. Just to be associated with her and any way is super humbling for me.”

The beloved tune is known for its delicate acoustic guitar melody and substantive lyrics meditating on familial strife, poverty and dreams of creating a better life alongside a loved one.

Combs’ cover reached number one on Billboard Hot Country Songs and won the CMA Award for song of the year — marking the first time a Black woman received that honor. Per Variety’s Hitmakers list, “Fast Car” was the fifth biggest song in the U.S. in 2023. Former president Barack Obama included Combs’ rendition on his summer 2023 playlist.

It was previously announced by the Recording Academy that Combs would take the stage at the Grammys, but Variety later broke the news that Chapman would join him.

Chapman hasn’t performed publicly in several years, making this a landmark appearance for the singer-songwriter. “Fast Car,” however, is no stranger to the prestigious awards ceremony. Chapman won the Grammy for best female pop vocal performance in 1989 for her hit, in addition to being nominated for record of the year and song of the year.

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