How Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs ‘Shut Up’ the Critics with Their Heartwarming Grammys Duet

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Nearly 17 million people watched the 2024 Grammy Awards on Sunday, which was up some 34 percent from the previous year. Many tuned in to see performances from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, and Stevie Wonder, but it was Tracy Chapman’s surprise appearance that had everyone talking.

Chapman appeared alongside Luke Combs for a duet of her hit song “Fast Car” that went to the top of the country music charts last year after he famously covered it.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Sage Steele to discuss the importance of the headline-making performance and why it puts an end to all the controversy surrounding Combs’ rendition.

‘Fast Car’ Controversy

Chapman and Combs delivered a soulful performance of “Fast Car” at the Grammys that Megyn called the “best moment of the night.” In many ways, it marked a full-circle moment for the unlikely pair.

Last March, Combs became the latest artist to formally cover Chapman’s 1988 classic “Fast Car” when he included a rendition on his Gettin’ Old album. He’s shared in various interviews that the song has always had a special significance to him because it reminds him of time spent with his father.

Combs’ version hit number one on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and number two on Billboard’s Hot 100 in July. It also took home two CMA Awards – single of the year and song of the year – in November. At the time, Chapman said that it was “truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after its debut.” She had previously told Billboard that she “never expected” to find herself on the country charts but was “honored to be there.”

While Combs introduced the song to a younger generation, “Fast Car” was already a hit. It reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1988 and earned Chapman one of the three Grammys she took home that year.

The past success, however, didn’t stop the onslaught of think pieces that painted Combs’ cover in a negative light. The Washington Post, for example, claimed the song’s newfound success was “complicated” because of the “diversity” questions it raised.

“Although many are thrilled to see ‘Fast Car’ back in the spotlight and a new generation discovering Chapman’s work, it’s clouded by the fact that, as a Black queer woman, Chapman, 59, would have almost zero chance of that achievement herself in country music,” Emily Yahr wrote.

Silencing the Critics

Megyn, for one, failed to understand the controversy. “This was somehow used by these crazy lunatics on the left to say ‘it’s a white privilege thing’ and ‘it could never be done by a black woman,’” she explained. “What are you saying? It was one of those popular songs in the country when Chapman was the one singing it, and I really love this moment for many reasons, including that this was kind of a middle finger to those people.”

Steele said the performance gave her “chills” and proved that music has the ability to bring people together. “When you see those two people on stage… from very different eras, that is diverse, that is America,” she shared. “You also had all the different artists – like country, pop, rappers, everybody – standing up singing and cheering them on. It was beautiful.”

Ultimately, Steele said the duet should put an end to any rumblings of controversy. “I think that the left has been a little bit silenced with this one because of the positive reaction afterwards,” she concluded. “These people are just bored. They just have no life and like to stir the pot, but Tracy and Luke shut them up.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Steele by tuning in to episode 718 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.