Roberta Cleopatra Flack (born February 10, 1937) is an American singer. She is known for her No. 1 singles “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, “Killing Me Softly with His Song”, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”; and “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You”, two of her many duets with Donny Hathaway.Flack is the only solo artist to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in two consecutive years: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won at the 1973 Grammys and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” won at the 1974 Grammys.
In 1971, Flack participated in the legendary Soul to Soul concert film by Denis Sanders, which was headlined by Wilson Pickett, along with Ike & Tina Turner, Santana, The Staple Singers, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, The Voices of Harlem, and others. The U.S. delegation of musical artists was invited to perform for 14th anniversary of African independence in Ghana. The film was digitally reissued on DVD and CD in 2004 but Flack declined permission for her image and recording to be included for unknown reasons. Her a cappella performance of the traditional spiritual “Oh Freedom” retitled “Freedom Song” on the original Soul to Soul LP soundtrack is only available in the VHS version of the film.
Flack’s cover version of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” hit number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. Her Atlantic recordings did not sell particularly well, until actor/director Clint Eastwood chose a song from First Take, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” written by Ewan MacColl, for the sound track of his directorial debut Play Misty for Me; it became the biggest hit of the year for 1972, spending six consecutive weeks at #1 and earning Flack a million-selling Gold disc. It finished the year as Billboard‘s top song of 1972. The First Take album also went to #1 and eventually sold 1.9 million copies in the United States. Eastwood, who paid $2,000 for the use of the song in the film, has remained an admirer and friend of Flack’s ever since. It was awarded the Grammy Awardfor Record of the Year in 1973. In 1983, she recorded the end music to the Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact at Eastwood’s request.
In 1972, Flack began recording regularly with Donny Hathaway, scoring hits such as the Grammy-winning “Where Is the Love” (1972) and later “The Closer I Get to You” (1978), both million-selling gold singles. Flack and Hathaway recorded several duets together, including two LPs, until Hathaway’s 1979 death.
On her own, Flack scored her second #1 hit in 1973, “Killing Me Softly with His Song” written by Charles Fox, Norman Gimbel and Lori Lieberman. It was awarded both Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female at the 1974 Grammy Awards. Its parent album was Flack’s biggest-selling disc, eventually earning double platinum certification. In 1974, Flack released “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” which became her third and final #1 hit to date on the Hot 100. That same year, Flack sang the lead on a Sherman Brothers song called “Freedom”, which featured prominently at the opening and closing of the movie Huckleberry Finn. Also in that same year, she performed “When We Grow Up” with a teenage Michael Jackson on the 1974 television special, Free to Be… You and Me. Then, in her only film role, she served as the narrator for The Legend of John Henry.
- “Killing Me Softly with His Song” (Charles Fox, Norman Gimbel) – 4:49
- “Jesse” (Janis Ian) – 4:03
- “No Tears (In the End)” (Ralph MacDonald, William Salter) – 4:56
- “I’m the Girl” (James Alan Shelton) – 4:55
- “River” (Gene McDaniels) – 5:03
- “Conversation Love” (Terry Plumeri, Bill Seighman) – 3:43
- “When You Smile” (Ralph MacDonald, William Salter) – 3:44
- “Suzanne” (Leonard Cohen) – 9:44
- Joel Dorn – producer
- Jack Shaw – associate producer
- Gene Paul – engineer and remix (1)
- Bob Liftin – engineer and remix (2-8)
- Barry Diament – mastering
- Shorewood Graphics – design concept
- Rod Dyer – design
- Burt Goldblatt – backliner photography
- David Redfern – inside photography
Video: Roberta Flack-First Time Ever I Saw Your Face 1972