There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Tracy Chapman performed her hit song, Fast Car, at the 2024 Grammy Awards.
The music legend took to the stage with country music star Luke Combs, who did a cover of the classic 1988 song last year that shot straight to number one on the country charts and put the reclusive Chapman back on the map.
This was the 59-year-old’s triumphant return to the big stage, 15 years after she quit touring in 2009. Since then, she has only performed in public a handful of times and only made three televised performances in the last 10 years.
She was joined by country music star Luke Combs to perform her 1988 hit song Fast Car. Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
This was Chapman’s first major performance since quitting touring in 2009. Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Combs performed a cover of Fast Car last year and the song earned Chapman a Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year. Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
But she looked right at home at the Grammys, held at the Crypto.com Arena in LA, as she strummed her acoustic guitar, delighting the star-studded audience which included Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey, Lionel Richie and more.
Audiences at home also welcomed Chapman’s return, with X flooded with messages praising the singer-songwriter.
Prior to that, she appeared on Late Show with David Letterman in 2015, delivering a breathtaking rendition of the Ben E. King classic Stand By Me while promoting her Greatest Hits compilation album.
That same year while on the promo trail for that album, Chapman explained why she never got used to living her life in the spotlight.
“Being in the public eye and under the glare of the spotlight was, and it still is, to some extent, uncomfortable for me, but there are some ways by which everything that has happened in my life has prepared me for this career. But I am a bit shy,” she told the Irish Times.
“I have this personality that is a bit on the reserved side, and which had never really sought out the limelight. That has made me perhaps not the ideal person for this job.”
Performing in 2001, eight years before she hung up the guitar for good. Picture: Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect
Chapman’s ultra-rare appearance at the Grammys comes off the back of her making history last year as the first black woman to win Country Music Association Award (CMAs) for Song of the Year.
When Combs re-released Fast Car last year, it went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. No wonder it was also named Single of the Year at the CMAs.
Chapman during a rare outing in Bevery Hills in 2014. Picture: Jerod Harris/Getty Images
No surprises Chapman did not attend the Billboards ceremony, but presenter Sara Evans read out a statement on her behalf.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t join you all tonight. It’s truly an honour for my song to be newly recognised after 35 years of its debut,” Chapman wrote, thanking Combs and “all of the fans of Fast Car”.
In his speech, Combs thanked the Give Me One Reason singer “for writing one of the best songs of all time”.
“I just recorded it because I loved the song. It’s the first favourite song that I ever had, at four years old,” he told the audience.
Another legendary singer who surprised and delighted the Grammys crowd – both in the arena and at home – was Joni Mitchell.
Joni Mitchell performs onstage during the 2024 Grammy Awards. Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Mitchell, 80, rocked her signature braids for the performance while remaining seated throughout.
Mitchell has won 10 Grammys in total, and at this year’s awards she also won the Best Folk Album category for her 2023 release Joni Mitchell At Newport.
Mitchell and Chapman were among those that performed at this year’s Grammys, among the likes of Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Dua Lipa and U2.