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The success of Luke Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” bothers The Washington Post.
The outlet warns not to celebrate Combs’ cover too aggressively because he’s doing so as a white man and Chapman is black, queer, and a woman.
“Although many are thrilled to see ‘Fast Car’ back in the spotlight and a new generation discovering Chapman’s work, it’s clouded by the fact that, as a Black queer woman, Chapman, 59, would have almost zero chance of that achievement herself in country music,” reads the piece.
The author also cites members of the Black Opry, an organization for black country music singers and fans, calling Chapman a “middleman” for a white man’s success:
“On one hand, Luke Combs is an amazing artist, and it’s great to see that someone in country music is influenced by a Black queer woman — that’s really exciting,” Black Opry founder Holly G said.
“But at the same time, it’s hard to really lean into that excitement knowing that Tracy Chapman would not be celebrated in the industry without that kind of middleman being a white man.”
In short, the Washington Post argues that Combs’ version of the song is more successful because he’s a white man — that fans didn’t appreciate the original version because it was performed by a black queer.
Of course, the premise is without merit. Most racially-motivated theses are.
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman was a success, both critically and commercially. She was nominated for three Grammy Awards for the track, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. And won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist.
As noted by Byron York, the Washington Post didn’t cite Chapman’s huge record sales, including a debut album of 13 million copies and a career total of 30 million.
Not bad for a black queer. Or any artist ever.
Combs’ cover peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Chapman did not. But is it because she’s black? A woman? A queer?
Or is it because she, get this, is not a country singer?
When a race-bait goes wrong.