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Tracy Chapman Was The Most Beautiful Person At The Grammy Awards

Photo: CBS / Grammys 
tracy chapman grammys

Music fans were left speechless watching Tracy Chapman perform live for the first time in 15 years at the 2024 Grammy Awards.

Even more poignant than hearing Chapman perform her 1988 hit, "Fast Car," was how she presented herself to the live audience. 

Chapman wore casual clothing during the performance, which set the mood for the audience.

In contrast to high-energy performances like Dua Lipa’s dance number, Chapman let her haunting lyrics accompanied by acoustic guitar take center stage. 

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Putting Chapman's sheer talent and lyricism at the forefront of the performance instead of flashy choreography and costumes was not lost on fans.

"Normal as can be. Yet beyond radiant, glowing, and stunning,” wrote author and fan Jeff Pearlman on X.

Chapman radiated beauty in simplicity and also sent an important message about our current economic climate.

If how you dress conveys a message, Chapman's outfit spoke volumes. Her choice of clothing, a black button-down and jeans, reflected the lyrics of a song that resonates as much now as it did decades ago. Chapman proved that her artistry shined brighter than sequins and sashays.

Singing, "You and I can both get jobs; Finally see what it means to be living," Chapman weaved a tale of struggle and hope in the midst of economic disparity and financial crisis.

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In a tale as old as time, Chapman crooned in her signature sound harkening to greats like Nina Simone, "I got a plan to get us outta here; I been working at the convenience store; Managed to save just a little bit of money."

36 years after its debut, the harsh reality of life for many remains the same.

'Fast Car' has a deeper meaning than you think, as Chapman’s life mimics that. of the girl in her song.

The meaning of "Fast Car" isn't difficult to decipher, but like with many icons of folk, the genius is in the storytelling. Growing up in poverty and dreaming of a better life — if only you could chase it down. For Chapman, it was a lived experience.

In A 1996 interview with Canadian radio station CIDR, Chapman explained, “I believe that I wrote the song 'Fast Car' in 1986. At the time that I wrote the song, I actually didn’t really know who I was writing about. Looking back at it, and this happens with other songs as well, that I feel like I understand it only later… I think that it was a song about my parents… And about how when they met each other they were very young and they wanted to start a new life together and my mother was anxious to leave home. My parents got married and went out into the world to try to make a place for themselves and it was very difficult going."

As much as it reflected her parents' life, "Fast Car" also reflected pieces of her own life. Chapman lived in poverty, but thanks to her mother, used education as her own "Fast Car" and a tool to explore her innate musical talents.

"The city had been forced to integrate the schools, so they were bussing black children into white neighborhoods and white children into black neighborhoods, and people were upset about it, so there were race riots," says Chapman to the Guardian in a 2008 interview. With a scholarship, Chapman was lucky enough to attend a prestigious boarding school where a classmate introduced her to a music producer which enabled her to sign with Elektra Records.

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Tracy Chapman's resurgence into the mainstream is a reminder that great music always stands the test of time.

Songs that trend and one-hit wonders always have their place when it comes to musical enjoyment. There's something special that happens when you're sitting in your car and your jam comes on. Bopping along, windows down, and spirits lifted, nothing compares to those moments.

When a song like "Fast Car" comes on, however, something stirs in your soul. It's a resonating feeling. The familiar plucking of the guitar strings makes the hairs on your arms stand up. 

This is music that stands the test of time. This is music that Taylor Swift can sing along to even though she wasn't born when Chapman wrote it. 

"Fast Car" is music that doesn't require anything but the natural beauty and presence of the artist performing it to make it shine and that's why Tracy Chapman was undoubtedly the most beautiful person at the Grammy Awards.

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Lauren Reams is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news.