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Luke Combs’ “Fast Car” Grammy Performance With Tracy Chapman Was Iconic, And He Just Made It Even Better

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Luke Combs’ “Fast Car” is an undeniable hit, but it’s his ultimate respect for the song that truly makes me want to cry.

While “Fast Car” earned Luke a No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and Single of the Year and Song of the Year at the 2023 Country Music Association Awards, it’s not his song.

Luke’s award-winning tune covers a 1988 song by the legendary singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman. Tracy’s original song and its album earned her several Grammys, including Best New Artist and Female Pop Vocal Performance. Now, 35 years later, she had the chance to perform the song at the Grammys again — thanks to Luke.

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The story is Luke’s love for Tracy’s song goes way back. According to Billboard, Luke credited Tracy’s song for “sparking” his passion for music during a Charlotte, North Carolina show.

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“I remember riding around in a 1989 Ford F-150 with a campertop on it. It was brown and the campertop was tan,” Luke said. “My dad had a cassette tape of this album by this lady named Tracy Chapman. Listening to that album with my dad meant a lot to me and kind of sparked my love for music and kind of landed me where I am today.” The country star then brought his dad on stage for a hug before launching into the hit. “This is for you, Pop.”

But he didn’t just cover the song — Luke kept every single lyric precisely the same as Tracy’s original (which is incredible considering it’s from a woman’s perspective). This meant a bulk of the money generated in global publishing royalties goes to Tracy, who owns both the writer’s and publisher’s share of the song.

Additionally, the success of Luke’s version boosted the consumption of Tracy’s version since it was released. Tracy also became the first Black woman to win the CMA Award for Song of the Year alongside Luke.

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In 2023, Tracy, known to remain out of the spotlight, told Billboard, “I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there. I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

Then, at the 2024 Grammys, Luke and Tracy surprised everyone when they took the stage to perform the song together.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Rolling Stone reported that it took months of discussion about a potential collaboration before they moved forward. Tracy hadn’t performed a concert in 15 years; her last TV performance was in 2015.

Tracy was given complete creative control of the performance, bringing in musicians from the original recording and her longtime band members.

“The first day of rehearsals last week was itself a significant and emotional moment. It was the first time Tracy and Luke had met in person, and the first time in many years Tracy had seen some of these players,” Matthew Rankin, label executive, and Tracy’s longtime friend said. “The musicians were supported by key people behind the scenes — including David Kershenbaum, who produced Tracy’s debut album — and, together, the collective experience and talent present in that room created a unique and beautiful new version of this beloved song.”

The reactions from the beautiful performance received an outpouring of positive responses from fans, including a standing ovation from the Grammys audience.

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And, if Luke hadn’t honored Tracy’s incredible legacy enough, he recently posted a tribute on his Instagram to share a few more words on his great respect for her artistry and gifting him with an incredible song that changed his career.

“What an unreal Grammy week, to say the least. There were so many laughs, tears, hugs, and cheers that it almost doesn’t seem real,” Luke wrote.

“When it comes to the performance it’s still hard to process how amazing it really was to be up there on that stage. No doubt a defining moment of my career.”

“Tracy, I want to send my sincerest thanks to you for allowing me to be a part of your moment. Thank you for the impact you have had on my musical journey, and the musical journeys of countless other singers, songwriters, musicians, and fans alike,” the post continued. “I hope you felt how much you mean to the world that night. We were all in awe of you up there and I was just the guy lucky enough to have the best seat in the house.”

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It’s official! Tracy is a legend, and Luke is a class act.

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