Tracy Chapman Stepped Away From Singing to Avoid Being in the Spotlight


Feb. 5 2024, Published 11:06 a.m. ET

Tracy Chapman at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Source: Getty Images

One of the highlights of the 2024 Grammys, in addition to Taylor Swift's announcement of yet another new album, was the return of Tracy Chapman. Tracy, whose song "Fast Car" has reemerged as a massive hit thanks in part to a Luke Combs cover, has not performed in public much at all in recent years.

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Following Tracy's return to the Grammys, many wanted to better understand why she stepped away from public performance. Here's what we know about where Tracy has been, and why her return to the public eye for the 2024 Grammys felt like such a special moment.

Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs performing at the 2024 Grammy Awards.
Source: Getty Images
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Why did Tracy Chapman quit singing?

Tracy Chapman quit singing after a successful career that included not just "Fast Car," but also a number of other hit songs including "Give Me One Reason," and "Talkin' About a Revolution." While she is not performing regularly, it would be a little bit misleading to suggest that she has disappeared altogether. In 2020, she performed on Late Night With Seth Meyers to encourage people to vote in the 2020 election.

It is true, though, that she is seen much less often than she was at the height of her fame in the late 1980s and 1990s. A 2015 interview she gave with The Irish Times, which was pegged to the release of her greatest hits compilation, offers some insight into why she has stepped back from the spotlight.

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“Being in the public eye and under the glare of the spotlight was, and it still is, to some extent, uncomfortable for me, but there are some ways by which everything that has happened in my life has prepared me for this career. But I am a bit shy," she explained.

She continued by saying that she loved to read, and seems to be a pretty classic introvert, which may explain why she wasn't always hungry for the limelight.

Source: Twitter/@Phil_Lewis_
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“I love books, I love reading, and I basically grew up in a public library. I’ve always loved poetry, music was always in the house, and there was such a range of different music around. My mother sang, my sister could sing, music was so much in the fabric of my life and upbringing," she explained.

"At the same time, I have this personality that is a bit on the reserved side, and which had never really sought out the limelight. That has made me perhaps not the ideal person for this job.”

Clearly, then, Tracy was never someone who got into music as a career because it would guarantee her fame. In fact, it seems like almost the opposite is true. Even so, it's also clear that Tracy is not opposed to returning to the public eye under the right circumstances.

In the case of the Grammys, it seems like Tracy knew that her performance with Luke Combs would go over well. She was right. In a night filled with legendary performers, she stood out as maybe the most beloved person in the room.

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