Tracy Chapman Becomes First-ever Black Woman to Have Sole Songwriting Credit on a Country Chart-topper

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According to Taste of Country, Luke Comb’s cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” has earned the singer her first No. 1 on the Billboard Country Songwriters list as the sole credited writer. The song also topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, which is a first for her, according to the platform.

Chapman has became the first Black woman to have a number-one country single as the only writer. Tayla Parx, who co-wrote Dan + Shay’s “Glad You Exist” in 2021; Alice Randall, who co-wrote Trisha Yearwood’s 1994 single “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl);” and Ester Dean, who wrote Lady A’s 2020 smash “Champagne Night.” Chapman, on the other hand, stands out because she wrote “Fast Car” entirely by herself.

In 1988, her debut single “Fast Car” garnered her a Grammy Award for best pop vocal performance. Combs, whose cover of the song has gone viral, stated that he has yet to hear from Chapman about the cover. Even though Combs stated that he does not want permission before recording a cover, he did state that royalties must be paid to the song’s writer. There are also some steps he cannot do when wearing a cover.

“There are licenses for a lot of things. I can’t make any videos — I can’t do a music video,” he said in an interview with Grady Smith. “I can’t license it to a TV show, because I don’t own the publishing on it,” he further indicated.

Combs may thus be unable to play the song at any award events unless Chapman gives him permission. Nicki Minaj recently agreed to pay Chapman $450,000 to resolve a copyright case the latter filed against her for allegedly sampling her song without her permission.

The award-winning rapper and her agents contacted Chapman to beg permission to sample her 1988 record “Baby Can I Hold You” for her Nas-assisted ballad, “Sorry,” according to The Guardian. Chapman, a seasoned singer and songwriter, however, flatly refused their request. Though the song, which was supposed to appear on Minaj’s 2018 album Queen, was never officially released, it was leaked on New York-based radio station Hot 97. According to court filings, the Super Bass rapper agreed to an out-of-court settlement rather than going to trial.

“I am glad to have this matter resolved and grateful for this legal outcome which affirms that artists’ rights are protected by law and should be respected by other artists,” Chapman said in a statement after the settlement. “I was asked in this situation numerous times for permission to use my song; in each instance, politely and in a timely manner, I unequivocally said no. Apparently Ms Minaj chose not to hear and used my composition despite my clear and express intentions.”

Chapman is reportedly on a “do not sample” list which means she does not allow other artistes to use any of her works.

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