Smack dab in the middle of the decline of hard rock and the rise of grunge (and in the rising tide of hip hop), Tracy Chapman threw a folk music haymaker on mainstream music beginning in 1988. And boy did she land the punch. Chapman burst on the scene with her huge hit single, “Fast Car,” which painted a picture of desperation, of longing for more from a world of loss, darkness and despair. (Spoiler alert: We never really find out if the protagonist gets to experience anything more in life.) With really just a guitar and a voice that spoke for millions, Chapman’s debut album, “Tracy Chapman,” enjoys the ethos of 1960s folks rock with the burdens of 1980s America factored in. But this isn’t just “Blowin’ in the Wind”; Chapman pulls no punches, which is impressive for a relative newcomer — particularly a female African-American folks singer in the mid-80s. Think about “Talkin’ About A Revolution,” the title track from the album: “Poor people gonna rise up / And get their share \ Poor people gonna rise up \ And take what’s theirs.” She then warms those in power: “You better run.”
You can listen to Tracy Chapman on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon.