Tracy Chapman Speaks Out As Luke Combs’ ‘Fast Car’ Hits No. 1

Tracy Chapman just made history in country music. The 59-year-old became the first Black woman to have a No. 1 hit on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart as a sole writer, with Luke Combs‘ “Fast Car.”

“I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” Chapman tells Billboard. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

“Fast Car” is one of three songs that Combs did not write, for his latest  Gettin’ Old album, which is the first record that did not feature Combs as a writer on all of the songs. But for Combs, the reason for including “Fast Car,” Chapman’s multi-platinum debut single released in 1988, was because it reminded him of his own childhood.

“I’ve had a million favorite songs, from the time I was born until now, at any given time,” Combs tells Sony Music Nashville. “But that was one of the first, ‘Oh, that’s like my favorite song right now.’ My dad had this old pickup truck that had a cassette player in it, and I have the actual cassette that me and my dad used to listen to, the exact one of that album. That song just always stuck out to me. That was probably one of my first experiences, subconsciously, even knowing what a hit song was, because  I didn’t know at the time that that was a hit song.”

“Fast Car” was from Chapman’s eponymous freshman album, an entire project that became an unlikely soundtrack to Combs’ own life.

“When I first heard that, I was probably three … But I remember hearing it and being like, ‘Man, I like this song,’” the 33-year-old says. “I liked every song on that album. But that song, for whatever reason, really just stuck out to me, and I didn’t really know why. So I listened to it my whole life.  I always come back to it. And then when I started teaching myself to play, it was the first song that wasn’t just this thing that I taught myself to play. It took me a long time to learn how to play that song.”


The reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year might have written all of the songs on his albums, up until Gettin’ Old, but it wasn’t because he was opposed to doing outside songs, at all.

“You hear Chris Stapleton do Tennessee Whiskey,’ and how many people’s only impression of that song is Chris Stapleton?” Combs says. “Not to mention that George Jones has cut it, and David Allen Coe’s cut it. All these people have cut this song. It’s been around for generations of country music fans, and has even been a single for other people too. And then when Chris did it, it got this whole new life. I love that song so much. And I think it’s such a great song that it deserves to be heard by a whole generation of people that haven’t heard it before.

“And so, to be able to have an opportunity to do that, especially with a song that’s meant so much to me and my love of music from as far back as I can remember is super unique,” he adds.

Combs is currently on his World Tour, with Riley GreenLainey Wilson, Flatland Cavalry, Brent Cobb, Cody Johnson and Lane Pittman serving as opening acts on select dates. Find music and tour dates at

Read ‘Luke Combs: 11 Things To Know About the Singer’s Life and Career’ here.