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Roberta Flack Biography

Home > Music > F > Flack, Roberta > Biography

Born: 1937/02/10
Birth Place: Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States
Years Active: 1969–present
Genres: Jazz, Soul, Folk, R&B

Roberta Flack was born February 10, 1937 in Black Mountain, North Carolina and is an RB singer and songwriter notable for jazz, soul, R&B and folk music. Raised on the music of her local church community, Flack was introduced to the artists Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke when she heard them sing at a Baptist church. This experience became the inspiration that lead Flack to pursuing a career in music.

Flack began playing the piano at the age of 9 and by the time Flack was 15 she had mastered classical piano, and entered Howard University on a music scholarship. It was here that Flack began to study voice. Upon graduation, Flack began to teach music composition at Browne Junior High School and Rabaut Junior High School in Washington D.C. She also taught private piano lessons before pursuing a professional music career.

Flack got her start singing at local clubs in Washington D.C. and was discovered in 1968. She signed with Atlantic Records and released her debut album, “First Take” in 1969. After a track from the album, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was included by Clint Eastwood in his 1971 film “Play Misty for Me” which became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, the album also went to #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

As the 1970s emerged, Flack developed a consistent recording relationship with Donny Hathaway, producing such hits as the Grammy-winning “Where Is the Love” in 1972 and “The Closer I Get to You” in 1978. The duo recorded two albums together and several duets before Hathaway's death in 1979.

On her own, Flack scored her second #1 hit in 1973, "Killing Me Softly with His Song," written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, and originally performed by Lori Lieberman. It was awarded both Record Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female at the 1974Grammy Awards. Its parent album, “Killing Me Softly,” was Flack's biggest-selling disc, eventually earning double platinum certification.

Flack landed another hit in 1982 with “Making Love,” and with the 1983 duet with Peabo Bryson, “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love.” 1986 saw Flack singing the theme song, “Together Through the Years,” for the NBC television series, “The Hogan Family.”

Flack continued to have moderate success throughout the 1980s. 1991 marked a duet with Maxi Priest, “Set the Night to Music,” which peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. 2010 saw Flack perform at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, singing a duet of “Where Is The Love” with Maxwell. Two years later, Flack, released “Let it Be Roberta,” an album of Beatles covers including “Hey Jude” and “Let it Be.”