Tracy Chapman has reached the Greatest Hits stage, but she’s still the shy soul who stunned the world with Fast Car
By Hermione Hoby, The Sunday Times, Published: 15 November 2015
With her friends, the phrase “keeping it real” is a sort of in-joke for Tracy Chapman. “They’re like, ‘You’re going to drive yourself?’” she says, then, shoulders shaking lightly with laughter, she mimics herself — soft-spoken, shrugging. “‘Yeah, I’m keeping it real.’”
We’re at Chateau Marmont, the Los Angeles celebrity hotel, where the air reeks of truffle fries. Things, in other words, are not at their realest here. For Chapman, 51, a multi-platinum four-time Grammy winner who has been a global star since her eponymous 1988 debut album, staying true is both a joke and not. Her songs — so sincere — and her voice, that mellow contralto that often sounds like a contained sob, are steeped in humility. I think she could sing her grocery list and it would stir something tender in your heart. Most “real” of all, though, is her commitment to disregarding fame, or at least its delusions.