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- A new, mature Tracy Chapman – By Greg Archer, San Francisco Examiner, August 20, 2009
Looking forward: Four-time Grammy winner Tracy Chapman, on tour supporting her most recent album, “Our Bright Future,” plays at The Fillmore this weekend.
SAN FRANCISCO — Back in the 1990s, Tracy Chapman was part of the music motherlode.
Along with Tori Amos and Sarah MacLachlan, she helped give birth to an estrogen-laced singer-songwriter brigade that encouraged the masses to look within, embrace emotions, accept what was so and, at times, just look up and cry, “Now what?”
More than 20 years after her breakout hit “Fast Car,” the four-time Grammy winner, a longtime Bay Area devotee, may still be accepting what is so, the only difference now is that she seems to be doing it with more confidence.
Longevity will do that to you.
Bottom line: (Not that she needed a push but …) Chapman has come into her own — as an artist and a woman dedicated to learning more about herself.
“For me, it’s always been about the music first and foremost,” Chapman says about her career. “I started playing guitar when I was 8 and I love singing. It’s so much a part of the fabric of my life that I cannot imagine a time when I wouldn’t do it.”
Chapman has been back in the spotlight in the last year after the release of a new LP, “Our Bright Future,” last November. She and her band, San Francisco natives, hit the Fillmore on Friday and Saturday.
She says that the secret to her success has much to do with her loyal fans, many of whom supported her work even when some of her albums weren’t that commercially lucrative. Those would be the albums between 1988’s “Fast Car,” which sped up the charts, and 1995’s “New Beginnings,” which offered up the single “Give Me One Reason,” another Grammy-winning outing.
“Our Bright Future” is her first album in four years. On it, Chapman evokes a sense of grounded maturity.
“I get really excited about the creative process,” she says. “When I am writing songs, at times it feels as if you get to make something from nothing. I don’t have a schedule for topics I can write about. I write and then I find moments to play what I am inspired by.
“I am not always sure where the song comes from,” she adds. “For me, it’s always a bit of a mysterious process.”
One thing that remains clear is Chapman continues to evolve, both professionally and personally.
“There’s so much to learn in life,” she says. “I feel I’ve learned a lot of things but I am always excited about finding out new things about myself. That, for me, is the best.”
IF YOU GO
* Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
* When: 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
* Tickets: $50
* Contact: (415) 346-6000; www.livenation.com