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A moment of joy as a song and its star reunite


Chapman is a humanist. She sees in people both sunlight and darkness, salvation, redemption and hope. Above all, hope. As she has sung, she sees nothing of worth in the material world if the soul is traded for that currency. The meeting of the waters, the delta of her faiths, is perhaps best revealed in the title song from her last album, Our Bright Future.

Tracy Chapman in 1988.

Tracy Chapman in 1988.Credit: AP Laserphoto

She sings: “To my father what have you done?/To the children/Born innocent/But come to harm/For dreams of glory/And just a line in history. Led on, led on/To take the path/Where our bright future/Is in our past.”

At song’s end, she has turned it around in the finding of peace in humanity’s nature whereby, “Lead on, Lead on/Oh clear the path/So our bright future/May come to pass.”

In an interview a few years back, she said: “I was raised in a Baptist tradition, but then I went to an Episcopalian high school and they were very accepting of people of all faiths. And I think I was very influenced by that and notions of intolerance that some people have about other religious traditions just, I think in some ways because of, you know, my own background, it doesn’t make any sense to me. And I just started thinking about how we sometimes need to be saved from the people who think they need to save us.”

Perhaps, sometime down the years, a new Chapman album will rise to the surface of the unhurried river. But if it doesn’t, we still have the gift of her music. And give thanks.

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