Roberta Flack

  • Jazz, soul and R&B singer born in 1939 in Black Mountain North Carolina.
  • She became interested in music singing as a child in her church . At 9, she started playing the piano, and she became so good, Howard University gave her a full scholarship. She enrolled there at the age of 15. She graduated at 19, and started graduate studies in music, but the death of her father forced her to take a teaching job back in North Carolina.
  • She began singing in clubs in Washington D.C., and eventually was hired to play regularly at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant on Capitol Hill when she was 29. Here, her singing talent was showcased in front of many D.C. dignitaries and other performers. Soon, she auditioned for a record label, where she played 42 songs in 3 hours for the executives. She was signed to the label, and her debut album, First Take, was released in 1969. She recorded the album in only 10 hours.
  • The jazz/R&B album initially did not sell well – but in 1972, the song The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was used in Clint Eastwood’s film Play Misty For Me. After that, both the song and the album hit #1 on the Billboard charts.  The song won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1973.
  • Her next two albums – Chapter Two and Quiet Fire in 1970 and 1971 – sold somewhat well, but the singles did not chart very high. Her fourth album was her first where she collaborated with Donny Hathaway. They recorded two albums together and they had two huge hits – Where Is the Love in 1972 and The Closer I Get to You in 1978. Both hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, and Where Is the Love won a Grammy award.
  • Her biggest album was 1973’s Killing Me Softly. The album sold over 2 million copies, and the song Killing Me Softly with His Song won a Grammy for Record of the Year. Flack is the only solo artist ever to win the Record of the Year Grammy in 2 consecutive years.
  • Her next album Feel Like Makin’ Love also was very successful, and the single of the same name was her last to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  • She has released 20 studio albums, 2 live albums, and 47 singles. She released an album in 2012 that was a cover of Beatles songs. She knew John Lennon well, as they lived across the hall from one another at the Dakota apartment in New York City.
  • Flack received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2020.
  • When I first started listening to music, Flack was in the prime of her career. Her mellow jazzy R&B songs were all over the radio. Here’s her performance of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – beautiful!

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