When the lights warmed to reveal Tracy Chapman’s face on the Grammys stage last night, the room roared. She beamed as she launched into the first verse of her 1988 hit “Fast Car,” plucking its familiar riffs on her acoustic guitar and exchanging verses with Luke Combs, the 33-year-old country superstar whose cover of the song dominated the charts last summer and reintroduced Chapman to a new generation of listeners.
Chapman, 59, concluded her most recent tour in 2009, and she has only publicly performed a handful of times since. Thirty-six years ago, she won best new artist at the 1989 Grammys while “Fast Car” was nominated for both record and song of the year. That night, Chapman stood alone on the stage under a single spotlight and played her arresting ballad in a simple black turtleneck and dark blue jeans.
On Sunday evening, Chapman’s voice was as clear and warm as ever. She wore dark blue jeans and her gray dreads tied into a low ponytail. The glossy beads stitched onto the cuffs of her black, three-quarter-sleeved collared shirt danced in the light.
Styled by Candice Lambert, Chapman’s custom Prada shirt—an embroidered version of a men’s cotton dress shirt—appeared to be a festive nod to her 1989 Grammys ensemble, as well as an appropriately joyous gesture to the musician’s relaxed personal style. Her brushed leather Chelsea boots and silver-buckled belt were also from the Italian luxury brand.
“I had the honor of working with Tracy Chapman for this [year’s] Grammys,” Lambert wrote on Instagram. “It was such an honor. She is wonderful!”
Her Prada beads glittering, Chapman grinned throughout her and Combs’s duet. When the cameras zoomed out to show the Grammys crowd, the whole room was on their feet, howling along.
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