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Tracy Chapman: Boston’s best music acts of all-time

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Although she was born in Cleveland, Boston can still claim Tracy Chapman as one of its own. Chapman began her music career while studying at Tufts University, busking in Harvard Square and playing guitar at Club Passim and other coffeehouses in Cambridge. Her self-titled album released in 1988—just a year after graduating with a degree in anthropology—won three Grammys and helped establish the young singer/songwriter as one of the pioneers of a developing era of political correctness. Chapman’s cogent, liberal lyrics proved to be intimately relevant to her generation and launched her into the same league as 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M. Themes like generational poverty—check out her hit “Fast Car”—established Chapman as a leading influential figure on college campuses during the late ‘80s.

The renown of Tracy Chapman extends well beyond college campuses, though. “Fast Car” clocks in at No. 167 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is the highest ranked song both written and performed by a female; let that sink in for a minute…

Chapman has gone on to record several other platinum albums while garnering numerous Grammy nominations and riding her hit “Give Me On Reason” to the 1997 Grammy for Best Rock Song. Her personal life is largely private, but she is recognized as being a prolific social activist that has advocated for human rights at countless social awareness events. She continues to tour the world sharing her topical messages and that unmistakable, gorgeously rich baritone.


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