Luke Combs Discusses Phone Call With Tracy Chapman Leading To Grammy Moment

By Kelly Fisher

March 25, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

Luke Combs reflected on the first phone call he shared with Tracy Chapman that led to “one of the most iconic Grammy moments of all time,” as noted on a recent episode of God’s Country. Combs joined hosts Dan and Reid Isbell to discuss Chapman’s rare performance with him at the 66th Grammy Awards earlier this year. The two delivered a highly-anticipated rendition of “Fast Car,” Chapman’s 1980s hit that Combs covered on his 2023 album.

Combs shared with the Isbell brothers that he didn’t record his version of “Fast Car” because he thought “it’s gonna be a hit or anything. I just wanna do it,” because of his appreciation for the song throughout his life. When the song released and people started to share Combs’ cover, “it went insane. …that was never the goal [to release ‘Fast Car’ as a single].”

“I wanted to treat that song and Tracy with as much reverence as the song and she deserved. I didn’t want it to look like ‘oh, I recorded this song so I could make money off of it,’” Combs said as the Isbell brothers assured him his rendition felt “pure.” “it was never about that. It was just about loving a song that meant a lot to me.”

Combs, who previously credited his dad with inspiring his appreciation for “Fast Car,” told the Isbell brothers about the phone call he shared with Chapman ahead of the Grammy Awards. 

“She calls me, and I’m sitting in my kitchen by myself. My wife’s in there (taking care of) the baby and stuff,” Combs said. “We talked for 40 minutes probably, and I think that was the — for her, it was the ‘am I gonna do this with this guy at all? Who’s this guy? What’s he really about?’ You know what I mean? At least, I think that’s maybe what it was. It was just really easy, man. We just talked. Just talked about music, talked about that song, I fangirled for sure. …You hardly ever get to have those conversations with people that you admire. So, that was really cool, man. And I feel like we just connected on that call.

“She really wanted to make sure it was right, make sure it felt authentic,” he said of the performance at the Grammy Awards.

Since Combs released his cover of “Fast Car,” the song won in the Song of the Year and Single of the Year at the CMA Awards in November 2023. The historic wins made Chapman the first Black woman to win a CMA Award, the Country Music Association confirmed at that time. Combs said backstage at that time that he hadn’t met Chapman yet, but was hoping to change that. He hailed her “a trendsetting, barrier-breaking artist.” After the phone call they shared, Chapman and Combs delivered a powerful collaborative performance of “Fast Car” at the Grammy Awards on February, hosted at Arena in Los Angeles, California.

Dan and Reid — who have written music for Combs, Miranda LambertScotty McCreeryJon PardiLainey Wilson and others — started their weekly podcast this year. Previous guests also include HARDY, Dustin Lynch, Colbie Caillat, Jordan Davis and more.

“One of our favorite things about country music has always been how intertwined it is with the outdoors,” Dan and Reid Isbell said in a statement when God’s Country launched. They hope to “bring the outdoor enthusiast or country music lover an up close and personal look into the minds of some of the best songwriters and artists of the genre — a place where they can be honest about struggles, relationships, their connection to the outdoors, the music business, family, whatever they feel comfortable talking about. We can’t wait to see where this partnership will lead and who this podcast will reach.”

The iHeartPodcasts/MeatEater show is available anywhere you listen to podcasts, including in the iHeartRadio app. Select country stations will broadcast the show between 7-11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday evenings. Find God's Country here.

Combs is one of many country artists nominated at the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards, along with Lainey WilsonMorgan WallenKane BrownJelly Roll and many others. Combs is nominated in country categories in addition to genre-spanning categories at the 12th annual awards show. See the list of country artists nominated at the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards here.

Fans across the country will be able to watch the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards live as the show will be airing live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Monday, April 1st from 8pm-10pm ET live/PT tape-delayed on FOX. The event will also be broadcast on iHeartRadio stations nationwide and on the free iHeartRadio app.

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