Luke Combs’ cover of the song “Fast Car” came out on Wednesday won song of the year at the Country Music Association awards – but singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, who first released the song in 1988, took home the award. With the win — a full 35 years after the song was released — Chapman became the first black songwriter to win song of the year at the CMAs.
Chapman, who did not attend the ceremony, said it was “truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized 35 years after its debut,” in a pre-written statement read by presenter Sara Evans.
Combs also won single of the year for his “Fast Car” cover, and when he went up to accept it, he thanked Chapman “for writing one of the greatest songs of all time.”
The song was also met with great success more than three decades ago. Chapman earned a total of six Grammy nominations in 1989 – and the song itself earned three of those nominations. Chapman won three Grammys that year—for Best New Artist and Best Contemporary Folk Recording and Best Pop Vocal Performance for “Fast Car.”
The song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1988 and Rolling Stone listed “Fast Car” at No. 165 on its list of 500 best songs of all time list in 2004.
“Fast Car” has been covered by multiple artists – in 2015 alone. two house covers of the song were released by Tobtok and Jonas Blue, with the latter hitting No. 1 on top 40 dance single chart in the US and No. 98 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Champan’s version also saw another surge in popularity in the UK when, in 2011, Michael Collings, a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent, performed it on the competition show. The song entered the UK singles chart at No. 4, according to BBC News.
Combs’ cover appears on his album “Gettin’ Old,” which was released in March. He released a live version of the song as a single in August, which reached number 1 Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chartwhere it currently sits at No. 2.
This means that Chapman, the only person credited with writing the song, appeared on the Billboard charts for the first time since 1996.
Combs, 33, said he recorded the cover simply because he loves the song. “I never intended to, I just recorded it because I love this song so much, it’s meant so much to me throughout my life,” Combs said during her CMA acceptance speech. “It’s the first favorite song I’ve had since I was 4 years old.”
Chapman has not released new music since her 2008 album Our Bright Future. according to Billboard. She seems to keep a low profile and does not have public social media accounts. However, she did appear in a video on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” ahead of the 2020 presidential election, singing her 1988 hit “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution.”
CBS News has reached out to Elektra Records, which released Champan’s 1988 version of “Fast Car.”