WUMB’s Tracy Chapman Interview + Live Performance
The first ever radio interview that Tracy gave has just been published online by NPR and this is a piece of history for any Tracy Chapman music fan! Listen here: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
WUMB’s Live Performances
WUMB’s live performances in the early years were in our program “Circles In The Stream”. . . a place in our busy lives where we could all meet and share a few calm moments of inspiration and celebration away from the hectic flow of our busy lives. Many up-and-coming writers and musicians shared their musical visions with us, and we all watched with joy as many of these artists went on to become important creative forces over the subsequent years. Richard Reinhert was the host in those days, and Richard had a way of making the microphones seem to disappear, allowing the artists to be in a quiet place from which they felt comfortable to share some of their innermost thoughts and motivations.
WUMB’s Tracy Chapman Interview Part 1 – Listen here
When Tracy Chapman walked through our doors on Friday afternoon, November 15, 1985, and Richard began the interview, it became clear that something very special was happening on the other side of the studio glass. Tracy had never recorded an album, or done a radio interview before, but was still composed, confident and comfortable.
WUMB used lots of reel-to-reel recording tape in those days to capture moments such as these for posterity. We couldn’t afford to buy new tape, so these recordings were made on second-hand tape, donated by such organizations as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and local commercial broadcasters. Now, more than 25 years later, the less-than-perfect recording quality gives these performances a filtered-through-stained-glass effect. You can imagine that, before being erased to record Tracy’s visit, this tape may have contained whale song or dolphin speech!
In the entire three-part series, the segment you’re currently listening to being Part One, Tracy reminisces about her childhood, her early days developing her unique guitar styles and writing songs, life at Tufts University, and her experiences busking in the underground “T” stations and on the streets of Cambridge. Tracy shares here concerns about apartheid in South Africa and describes her involvements with other young people doing what they could to promote change, and brings it all to life in performances of her wide-ranging, insightful lyrics.
WUMB’s Tracy Chapman Interview Part 2 – Listen here
In this second segment of WUMB’s Tracy Chapman interview, Tracy talks about her earliest fascination with music, first influenced by her mother, and then in high school. She relates how she found her way to Boston, and her earliest writings.
We get to hear one of her signature songs that reveals her early determination and the approach to life that has taken her where she is today, and she gives us in vibrant detail her experiences playing in New England, from street performing to busking in the underground, in coffeehouses and in talent shows at Tufts University. It’s a wide-ranging discussion that will captivate your attention.
WUMB’s Tracy Chapman Interview Part 3 – Listen here
In this closing segment of WUMB’s Tracy Chapman interview, Tracy describes how her career and reputation were growing at the time, and a Boston Globe Arts section article about her that had recently appeared. The conversation turns to segregation and discrimination in America, and how it has informed some of her writing, which leads into a hearfelt discussion about apartheid in South Africa and her involvement in social activities promoting change. She even describes her approach to songwriting, and showcases her strong, confident voice in a powerful a capella performance.