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(Editor's note: October is LGBT History Month, celebrated annually to recognize the notable achievements of LGBT people throughout time. Each day this month, Equality Forum will feature one LGBT icon who has made notable contributions to society and SDGLN will publish the story here in the Causes section. View previous LGBT History Month icons HERE.)
Tracy Chapman is a multi-platinum, four-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. Two of her songs have reached the Top 10 on the BillboardHot 100 chart, and her first No. 1 hit, “Fast Car,” was named one of the best songs of all time by Rolling Stone.
Born March 30, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio, Chapman was raised by her single mother and older sister. During Chapman’s childhood, Cleveland began integrating its school systems. Though racial tension was high, Chapman found sanctuary in academics and excelled as a student. At 16, she was awarded a scholarship to a private boarding school in Connecticut.
The scholarship provided Chapman with a unique perspective from both sides of the poverty line. She credits the opportunity as the inspiration for the political awareness in her music. Based on her academic success, Chapman earned a full scholarship to Tufts University.
While in college, Chapman began writing and performing her music. At 22, she signed a recording contract with Elektra Records. Her self-titled first album was released in 1988 and launched her to international stardom. The album earned her Grammy Awards for Best Album and Best New Artist. In 1997, Chapman won her third Grammy Award for the hit single “Give Me One Reason.” She has released eight albums and toured the world many times.
Despite her public success, Chapman maintains a private life. During the mid-1990s, she had a romantic relationship with author Alice Walker, which was kept secret until after it ended. Chapman is an outspoken advocate for LGBT, gender and racial equality. She supports numerous AIDS foundations and performs at charity events.
Chapman resides in San Francisco. She continues to write and perform music.
“I’d like to live as if only love mattered.”
Tim Cook is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Apple, one of the world’s most valuable companies. In 2011, Steve Jobs handpicked Cook as his successor.
Cook was born Nov. 1, 1960 in Robertsdale, Alabama. He graduated high school second in his class and matriculated to Auburn University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, graduating in the top 10 percent of his class.
Before joining Apple, Cook managed manufacturing and distribution as director of North American fulfillment for IBM. He also served as chief operating officer at Intelligent Electronics and as vice president of corporate materials at the Compaq Computer Corporation.
In 1997, Apple reported a loss of a billion dollars and was expected to declare bankruptcy. In 1998, Steve Jobs convinced Cook to accept the position of chief operating officer, despite Cook’s reservations. Within a year, Apple reported a profit.
In 2011, Cook became Apple’s CEO and a member of the board of directors. He is one of the highest-paid CEOs. He ranked No. 1 on Out magazine’s “Power 50” list of the most influential LGBT people in the United States. Forbes Magazine named him one of the “World’s Most Powerful People.”
Cook has kept his personal life private.
“You can focus on things that are barriers or you can focus on scaling the wall.”
Top photo: Tracy Chapman
Bottom photo: Tim Cook