But she can still be seen around town. The owner of a bookstore where she sometimes shops posted on X after her Grammys performance that she was “so down to earth in real life” when spotted buying food for her dog at a local pet store. (The post was later deleted.) Others have observed her standing in line at a popular bakery. Before the pandemic, she served as a judge for a high school scholarship program run by the founders of Beach Blanket Babylon, a now-defunct cabaret.
Lee Housekeeper, a public relations executive and music promoter in San Francisco, said he had met Chapman a few times at her studio and rehearsal space. He said she was very nice and that they had chatted about performing artists they both know.
A state assemblyman, Matt Haney, said he’s only seen her once, at a school board meeting in 2018 when he served on that board. She was there to support the school district naming a theater on its property after her friend Sydney Goldstein. It now houses San Francisco’s popular City Arts & Lectures program.
“She didn’t make a big deal of being there,” Haney recalled in an interview. “I don’t think she even came to the mic.”
Could she return?
The Grammys performance instantly became a career highlight for Chapman, and it could well stoke demand for her return to recording and touring. This year she is also nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame. If she is inducted — a good bet — that could provide another opportunity for a public appearance.
“There’s always been demand for Tracy Chapman to return to performing,” Rich McLaughlin, the program director at WFUV, a radio station in New York that celebrates songwriters, said in an email. “Whether or not it will increase the chances of her doing so, however, is difficult to predict.”
Chapman’s longtime fans may have their fingers crossed, but they have also learned patience.
“Tracy Chapman is an artist who follows her muse, not market demand,” McLaughlin added. “If she based her decision solely on demand, she’d have returned to touring years ago.”