From the time that Clint Eastwood featured a song from a little known R&B artist named Roberta Flack in his 1971 film, Play Misty For Me, Flack enjoyed a very strong run atop the singles charts, mostly in the ‘70s.
The song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” launched a career that would take Roberta Flack to the Grammys, winning her the coveted award for three well-received songs. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won her first award followed by “Where Is The Love,” a duet with Donny Hathaway, and “Killing Me Softly With His Song” won in two categories, Record of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female Artist.
Roberta Flack’s background is nothing short of amazing. Awarded a scholarship to Howard University at the age of 15 on the strength of her immense skills on piano, she graduated from the University at the young age of 19. Performing in a benefit concert, she was discovered and eventually signed to Atlantic Records. The song that would lift her to stardom was in her debut release, First Take (1971). “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” spent six weeks at the number one spot.
Her singles are memorable, including “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” which also spent time on the number one singles chart.
Flack enjoyed a long tenure with Atlantic Records. Soon her recording career would slow, with years in between albums. But with her memorable songs, including her 1971 number one single, “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” she remains one of the more distinctive R&B voices ever to record a song. Her ability to transform a tune into an emotional powerhouse is still a remarkable one.
Sometime in February of 2012, Roberta Flack will release a new album which will feature her distinctive voice as she covers selected Beatles songs including “We Can Work It Out.” But Roberta Flack does more than cover a Beatles tune, she reinvents it. While the as yet untitled album won’t be out until very early next year, her new label (429 Records) has already released the lead-off single on September 27.
The single, “We Can Work It Out,” is a lovely interpretation of the Beatles classic that bodes well for the rest of the unheard tracks scheduled for inclusion on the new album. On this song, she keeps the vocals airy in a pop fashion staying as true to the original as possible. But a Beatles tune this isn’t. It’s pure Roberta Flack. At 74, she is in complete form and lacking nothing.