By Aidin Vaziri, San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, February 9, 2006
For Black History Month, The Chronicle has interviewed 20 Bay Area African American artists about their creative processes, influences and goals. The profiles will run Monday through Friday this month.
Tracy Chapman, 41, is a Grammy-winning musician and singer-songwriter who lives in San Francisco. She moved to the Bay Area 17 years ago, shortly after the release of her politically charged self-titled debut album, which includes the enduring radio hits “Fast Car” and “Talking About a Revolution.” Her seventh and latest studio recording, the critically praised “Where You Live,” was recently released, and she will soon set off on tour.
Question: Who are your heroes, icons and influences — and what have you learned from them?
Answer: There are many people I admire and respect, but I have no heroes; I don’t believe in the concept. I’ve never been comfortable with the notion of role models, icons, heroes, with relying on someone else to spur the imagination. Sometimes you have to have the ability to imagine the life and the world you want without seeing it represented.
Question: What do you hope to accomplish through your work — how do you want to change people’s lives and what will be your legacy?
Answer: I’m just trying to do good work; there is no other goal. I’m not trying to change people’s lives with the music. I think we’re all responsible for doing what we can to create the world we want to see, and on a personal level I’ve tried to do that. As for legacy, I can’t say what that will be — no one gets to decide how her work will be regarded in the future.