Early Life and Inspiration

Tracy Chapman was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1964. Tracy’s mother discovered her daughter’s love for music and bought her a ukulele at the age of three. By the age of 8 Tracy discovered how much she truly enjoyed music and what it meant to her.

One can assume from the harsh realities talked about within her music that Tracy herself lived a hard life, and she did. At the age of four Chapman’s father abandoned their family and their mother was forced to raise her two girls on her own. Along with this Tracy herself did not grow up in the most affluent and crime-free neighborhood and was witness to a lot at a young age. In addition, she was also homeless for a point in her life and faced poverty. Despite all these hard times she turned her experience into something people could stomach, understand using her music, which often talked about her point of view. Songs such as “Talking About A Revolution” and “Fast Car” are just some examples of how she got her story across.

Live Performance of “Talking About A Revolution”

Career And Music Style

Unlike most female artist, Tracy’s persona was not based on how sexually appealing or beautiful she was to the masses but rather her message and how adamant she was on having the world see through her eyes. She made her first big debut in 1988 after she was discovered in 1986 with the help of her close friend. Her music focused on the problems of the working poor/middle class Americans who resonated with her music on a personal level. She spoke of coming together and demanding a change for what was right and made reference to how hard the “American Dream” was to achieve. Her music questioned the systems in place, which was different coming from a female artist in her time.

Chapman, inspired by Country Music, had a very folk-like sound and unique image. She did not focus on stardom or selling records, but rather being her authentic self and making sure she was heard. Her folk-like sound encompassed heavy usage of the guitar and her voice could be described as soulful and deep. These unique qualities allowed for her to win multiple awards and become a very successful musician whose music is played even today.

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