LGBT History Month 2013:Tracy Chapman, Singer/Songwriter

LGBT History Month By Equality Forum Part 13 Photo Credit by Associated Press

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay,bisexual or transgender Icons. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.

In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.

October 13:  Tracy Chapman, Singer/Songwriter

Tracy Chapman is a multi-platinum, four-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. Two of her songs have reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and her first No. 1 hit, “Fast Car,” was named one of the best songs of all time by Rolling Stone.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Chapman was raised by her single mother and older sister. During Chapman’s childhood, Cleveland began integrating its school systems. Though racial tension was high, Chapman found sanctuary in academics and excelled as a student. At 16, she was awarded a scholarship to a private boarding school in Connecticut.

The scholarship provided Chapman with a unique perspective from both sides of the poverty line. She credits the opportunity as the inspiration for the political awareness in her music. Based on her academic success, Chapman earned a full scholarship to Tufts University.

While in college, Chapman began writing and performing her music. At 22, she signed a recording contract with Elektra Records. Her self-titled first album was released in 1988 and launched her to international stardom. The album earned her Grammy Awards for Best Album and Best New Artist. In 1997, Chapman won her third Grammy Award for the hit single “Give Me One Reason.” She has released eight albums and toured the world many times.

Despite her public success, Chapman maintains a private life. During the mid-1990s, she had a romantic relationship with author Alice Walker, which was kept secret until after it ended.

Chapman is an outspoken advocate for LGBT, gender and racial equality. She supports numerous AIDS foundations and performs at charity events.

Chapman resides in San Francisco. She continues to write and perform music.