Singer and pianist Roberta Cleopatra Flack are American. She was a highly sought-after performer in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to her number-one hits, “The First Time Ever I Seen Your Face,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” and “Where Is the Love.” She is the first and only solo performer to have won the Grammy for Record of the Year twice. She had a number of successes between the 1970s and the 1990s. Although her debut album “First Take” was well received, it wasn’t until one of its songs, “The First Time Ever I Seen Your Face,” was featured in a movie and played on the radio frequencies that it became a blockbuster hit and launched her into a widespread sensation. She also has a number of duets with Donny Hathaway that have achieved chart-topping success, including “Where Is the Love,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” After Anne Hathaway killed herself in 1979, she discovered Peabo Bryson as a new professional partner, and the two collaborated on the smash song “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love.” Her contributions to the music industry have been recognized with several awards and distinctions.
Early Childhood & Life
Laron LeRoy Flack and church organist Irene Council Flack welcomed Roberta Flack into the world on February 10, 1937, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. When she was nine years old, she first picked up the piano. As a young adolescent who excelled at classical piano, Howard University granted her a music scholarship.
She entered the institution as one of the youngest students ever at the age of 15. Afterward, she switched her major from piano to voice. She worked as an assistant conductor as well, and the professors at Howard University gave her a standing ovation for her direction of “Aida.”
Roberta Flack’s Career
At the age of 19, Roberta Flack received her degree from Howard University. She enrolled in more coursework but had to leave after her father passed away suddenly in order to accept a teaching position in North Carolina. Subsequently, she relocated to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a teacher at Rabaut and Browne junior high schools.
She also began performing at nightclubs in Washington, D.C., around this period. Frederick “Wilkie” Wilkerson, her voice instructor, suggested she pursue a career in pop music rather than classical. She started attracting attention once she acted on her teacher’s advice.
She was given the job of singing at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant in Washington, DC, in 1968. People from other towns came to hear her perform, and the locals enjoyed her singing. She was quickly identified by jazz musician Les McCann, who set up an Atlantic Records audition for her. She sang 42 songs in three hours at the audition and was signed right away.
She spent 10 hours recording her debut album, “First Take,” for Atlantic Records in February 1969. The song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” from the album became a hit when director Clint Eastwood included it in his 1971 movie “Play Misty for Me.” He made a $2,000 payment to use the music.
She started performing duets with friend and performer Donny Hathaway in 1972. The duets “Where Is the Love” from their 1972 album “Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway” and “The Closer I Get to You” from her 1978 album “Blue Lights in the Basement” each sold over a million copies and were given gold certification.
She provided the main vocals for the movie “Huckleberry Finntitle “‘s song in 1974. After Hathaway passed away unexpectedly in 1979, she began hunting for a new partner. In 1980, she finally joined forces with R&B and soul performer Peabo Bryson.
The title tune of the 1982 film with the same name featured her solo smash song “Making Love.” The 1983 song “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” was her debut collaboration with Peabo Bryson. However, the song was not very successful, peaking at only number 5 on the R&B chart. I Just Came Here To Dance and You’re Looking Like Love To Me, the following two duets with Bryson, performed better on AC radio than on pop radio.
She produced the soundtrack for Dirty Harry’s movie “Sudden Impact” in 1983. She performed “Together Through the Years” for the NBC series “Valerie” in 1986. For all six seasons of the show, the theme tune was featured.
The title single from her 1988 album “Oasis” debuted at the top of the R&B chart despite the album’s lack of financial success. Her 1991 single “Put the Night to Music,” a collaboration with English singer Maxi Priest, was a huge success.
She experienced a ten-year slowdown in her career. She published the albums “Roberta” and “The Holiday Album” in 1994 and 1997, respectively. Both albums fell short of making a meaningful impact. Her 1997 Christmas record was simply reissued on the 2003 album “Holiday.” The Beatles’ covers were included on the album “Let it Be Roberta,” which was released in 2012.
Flack’s Bigger Works
The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1972 and remained there for six weeks. In the UK singles chart, it peaked at number fourteen. The album’s predecessor, “First Take,” which was released by Atlantic Records, also reached the top spot on the American albums list.
She experienced significant career success with the single “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” It quickly rose to the top of the charts in a number of nations, including the US, Denmark, Finland, France, and Germany. Its parent album received a double platinum certification.
A few months before the parent album of the same name came out in 1974, she released the song “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Her final song was the first single to reach the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles list. For a week, it maintained the top spot. She became the first female vocalist to top the charts for three straight years because to the success of this song.
Roberta’s Individual Life
In 1966, Roberta Flack wed Steve Novosel; they were divorced in 1972. Bernard Wright, her only child, is a rhythm and blues musician. She is a supporter of the Artist Empowerment Coalition, which advocates for artists’ autonomy over their intellectual property. She serves as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ spokesperson.
She established The Roberta Flack School of Music, which offers free music instruction to youngsters from low-income families. She was granted an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma by Howard University for her excellent work in advancing music education.
Estimated Net Worth
American singer-songwriter Roberta Flack has a $20 million net worth. Roberta Flack, who was born in February 1937, is best known for her contributions to American music, particularly jazz, R&B, and folk.