Tracy Chapman Becomes First Black Woman to Win CMA Award for Song of the Year

Tracy Chapman made history with her 1988 hit “Fast Car.” The song won Song of the Year at the 57th Annual CMA Awards on Wednesday (November 8), making Chapman the first Black woman to win the award in the history of the CMAs.

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“I’m sorry I couldn’t join you all tonight,” said Chapman, who was not present at the CMA ceremony, in a prepared statement read by presenter Sara Evans. “It’s truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut. Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke and all of the fans of ‘Fast Car.’”

In 2023, Luke Combs gave new life to the song with his rendition of Chapman’s ballad, which originally went to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned her three Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and the one she won for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Combs’ 2023 version took “Fast Car” to the top of the country charts for the first time making Chapman the first Black woman to have a songwriting credit on a No. 1 country hit. Along with Song of the Year, Combs also picked up a Single of the Year CMA for “Fast Car.”

[RELATED: The Non-Vehicular Meaning Behind Tracy Chapman’s 1988 Hit “Fast Car”]

“First and foremost, I want to thank Tracy Chapman for writing one of the best songs of all time,” said Combs during his Single of the Year acceptance speech. “I just recorded it because I loved the song. It’s the first favorite song that I ever had, at 4 years old.”

Featured on his fourth album, Gettin’ Old, “Fast Car” was more than another cover song for the country singer, who recently shared that he would listen to the Chapman hit, and her entire eponymous album, while driving around with his father in a beat-up 1988 Ford F-150.

“There was this one song that really stuck out to me,” said Combs during a recent concert. “It was called ‘Fast Car.’ That song meant a lot to me since then—for my whole life. I always think about my dad when it comes on to us spending time together.

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

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