10/02/2018

Roberta Cleopatra Flack

Happy birthday Roberta Cleopatra Flack (born February 10, 1939 an American singer and musician. She is best known for her classic #1 singles "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Killing Me Softly with His Song" and "Feel Like Makin' Love", and for "Where Is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You", two of her many duets with Donny Hathaway.
Flack lived with a musical family, born in Black Mountain, North Carolina to parents Laron LeRoy (October 11, 1911 – July 12, 1959) and Irene Flack (September 28, 1911 – January 17, 1981) a church organist, on February 10 of either 1937 or 1939 (sources differ) and raised in Arlington, Virginia. She first discovered the work of African American musical artists when she heard Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke sing in a predominantly African-American Baptist church.
When Flack was 9, she started taking an interest in playing the piano, and during her early teens, Flack so excelled at classical piano that Howard University awarded her a full music scholarship. By age 15, she entered Howard University, making her one of the youngest students ever to enroll there. She eventually changed her major from piano to voice, and became an assistant conductor of the university choir. Her direction of a production of Aida received a standing ovation from the Howard University faculty. Flack is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and was made an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma by the Eta Delta Chapter at Howard University for her outstanding work in promoting music education.
Roberta Flack became a student teacher at a school near Chevy Chase, Maryland. She graduated from Howard University at 19 and began graduate studies in music, but the sudden death of her father forced her to take a job teaching music and English for $2800 a year in Farmville, North Carolina.
Before becoming a professional singer-songwriter, Flack returned to Washington, D.C. and taught at Browne Junior High and Rabaut Junior High. She also taught private piano lessons out of her home on Euclid St. NW. During this period, her music career began to take shape on evenings and weekends in Washington, D.C. area night spots. At the Tivoli Club, she accompanied opera singers at the piano. During intermissions, she would sing blues, folk, and pop standards in a back room, accompanying herself on the piano. Later, she performed several nights a week at the 1520 Club, again providing her own piano accompaniment. Around this time, her voice teacher, Frederick "Wilkie" Wilkerson, told her that he saw a brighter future for her in pop music than in the classics. She modified her repertoire accordingly and her reputation spread.
In 1999, a star with Flack's name was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, she gave a concert tour in South Africa; the final performance was attended by President Nelson Mandela. In 2010, she appeared on the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, singing a duet of "Where Is The Love" with Maxwell.
Flack was the first to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year two consecutive times. "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. She remains the only solo artist to have accomplished this feat, and only U2, who did it in 2001 with "Beautiful Day" and in 2002 with "Walk On", has done it since.

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