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Marshall Chapman

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Marshall Chapman grew up a member of one of the most well-known families in Spartanburg County, SC (the Chapmans owned the local cotton mill) and loved both athletics and music. In 1957, the young Chapman was taken to the Carolina Theatre in downtown Spartanburg to see Elvis Presley perform, and it changed her life forever. A natural athlete, she placed second in the South Carolina Junior Girls' golf tournament, and once outscored the entire opposing team while engaging in a spirited prep basketball game. When she arrived at Nashville's prestigious Vanderbilt University in 1967, where she would major in French, it was the music, not athletics, that captured her soul. Outlaw country music was beginning to sweep Music City, and Marshall found herself performing at the Exit/In with the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Billy Joe Shaver. Her education by book was overshadowed only by her honky tonk education. She graduated from Vanderbilt in the spring of 1971. Me, I'm Feelin' Free, with its hit single "Somewhere South of Macon," was released on Epic Records in 1976, about the same time the Marshall Tucker Band were forging a name for themselves on a world scale. In 1982, she released a new album on Rounder Records. Her tunes were being picked up and recorded by folks like Conway Twitty, Joe Cocker, and Emmylou Harris. Then in 1985 she took off with a boyfriend for Key West, where she ran into Jimmy Buffett, to whom she had been introduced ten years earlier in Texas. The two writers hit it off, and began co-writing songs that ended up on Buffett's Last Mango in Paris LP. Returning home to Nashville, Marshall was fueled with a sense of purpose and a fire she had not felt in many years. She started her own record label, Tall Girl (Chapman stands 6'1"), and released two albums, Dirty Linen in 1987 and Inside Job in 1991. In 1987, she toured as a backup vocalist and guitar player with Buffett's Coral Reefer Band. By then, her songs were being recorded by John Hiatt, Tanya Tucker, and others. Sawyer Brown scored a number one record with her song "Betty's Bein' Bad." In 1995, Jimmy Buffett's label, Margaritaville, put out Chapman's first-ever live album as the label's debut release. It's About Time was recorded a couple of nights before Halloween, 1993, at the Tennessee State Prison for Women. She followed it up with Love Slave in 1996, and it would be a full decade until her next release, Mellowicious!, appeared in April of 2006. ~ Michael B. Smith

Top Songs


January 7, 1949 in Spartanburg, SC

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s