WUMB's live performances in the early years were in our program "Circles In The Stream". . . a place in our busy lives where we could all meet and share a few calm moments of inspiration and celebration away from the hectic flow of our busy lives. Many up-and-coming writers and musicians shared their musical visions with us, and we all watched with joy as many of these artists went on to become important creative forces over the subsequent years. Richard Reinhert was the host in those days, and Richard had a way of making the microphones seem to disappear, allowing the artists to be in a quiet place from which they felt comfortable to share some of their innermost thoughts and motivations.
When Tracy Chapman walked through our doors on Friday afternoon, November 15, 1985, and Richard began the interview, it became clear that something very special was happening on the other side of the studio glass. Tracy had never recorded an album, or done a radio interview before, but was still composed, confident and comfortable.
WUMB used lots of reel-to-reel recording tape in those days to capture moments such as these for posterity. We couldn't afford to buy new tape, so these recordings were made on second-hand tape, donated by such organizations as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and local commercial broadcasters. Now, more than 25 years later, the less-than-perfect recording quality gives these performances a filtered-through-stained-glass effect. You can imagine that, before being erased to record Tracy's visit, this tape may have contained whale song or dolphin speech!
In the entire three-part series, the segment you're currently listening to being Part One, Tracy reminisces about her childhood, her early days developing her unique guitar styles and writing songs, life at Tufts University, and her experiences busking in the underground "T" stations and on the streets of Cambridge. Tracy shares here concerns about apartheid in South Africa and describes her involvements with other young people doing what they could to promote change, and brings it all to life in performances of her wide-ranging, insightful lyrics.
Our very deepest gratitude to several folks at NPR for their assistance in helping to obtain permission to allow access to this incredible piece of history, especially Rishi Hingoraney and Jessica Schreibstein. Also to WUMB staff members Pat Monteith, Grady Moates and Rob Landry. We especially thank Lee Phillips and most especially...Tracy Chapman for allowing us to share this precious recording with you.
This interview is for personal entertainment and education only and is not to be transferred or shared. The rights to all material included in this interview are held by Tracy Chapman and/or WUMB Radio/UMass Boston.
You may jump directly to Part Two here.