By John Arnold, ABQJournal.com, Sept 24, 2004
Singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman has for years encouraged her fans to vote. But in the wake of Florida’s bitterly contested vote tally that eventually led to President Bush’s victory in the 2000 presidential race, Chapman is stepping up her efforts to get out the vote.
“I was just so horrified in 2000 with what happened in Florida and with the way in which I feel our democracy didn’t actually work the way it should,” Chapman said recently by phone from San Francisco, where she was rehearsing for a five-stop tour aimed at getting Democrats to the polls in November.
The tour, dubbed “Western Swing: An Evening With Tracy Chapman,” kicks off today in Portland, Ore., and comes to the Land of Enchantment next week. Two of Chapman’s five performances will happen in New Mexico— one at the Paramount on Tuesday and another at KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque the following evening. The four-time Grammy Award winner will also make stops in Seattle, Wash., and Phoenix, Ariz.
Chapman’s tour is part of a voter registration drive engineered by Driving Votes, a Seattle-based political action committee that is working to register Democrats in swing states.
“I think they’re trying to reach a lot of people who have felt disenfranchised and alienated from the voting process,” Chapman said of the grass-roots group.
Chapman’s involvement in the upcoming election is not unique among pop musicians. Some of the biggest names in the business are hitting the road this fall in an effort to get their fans politically motivated.
Beginning next week, MoveOn PAC— a group opposed to Bush’s re-election— is presenting a series of rock concerts dubbed the “Vote for Change” tour. Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M. and a number of other well-known musicians will perform at 34 shows in 12 Midwestern and Eastern states. Chapman plans on performing at one of those concerts.
“I just feel strongly about this because I have a stake in this country as a citizen,” she said about her own tour. “From my position, knowing that African Americans weren’t fully enfranchised with the right to vote until the ’60s because of discrimination and women weren’t enfranchised until the 1920s … I just have a real personal stake in this.”
Jason Gruber, Driving Votes’ director of strategy, thinks that Chapman’s message and that of other politically involved entertainers will be especially appealing to young voters, ages 18 to 24.
“These artists are incredibly credible with that age group,” Gruber said.
Chapman’s self-titled debut album, which included the hit single “Fast Car,” ushered in a new era of folk music in 1988. Chapman earned three Grammy Awards the following year, including one for Best New Artist. She earned another Grammy in 1996 for her single “Give Me One Reason.” Chapman has released six studio albums, the most recent of which was “Let it Rain,” released in 2002. Chapman, who lives in San Francisco, said she will be in the studio next year working on a new album.
If You Go:
WHEN and WHERE: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, The Paramount, 331 Sandoval, Santa Fe; 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, KiMo Theatre, Albuquerque
HOW MUCH: KiMo, $25, through Ticketmaster at 883-7800 or www.ticketmaster.com. The Paramount, $25, available at the Lensic box office, (505) 988-1234