Roberta Flack is a retired American Singer, Songwriter and Musician who toppped the Billboard with her famous songs like “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” “Where is the Love,” and “The Closer I Get to You.” She was born on February 10, 1937 in Black Mountain (a small town located about 10 miles from the city of Asheville), North Carolina, United States of America. She rose to prominence in the early 1970s and her influence on the subgenre of contemporary R&B is a lot.
Flack was the first artist to win the Grammy Award for “Record of the Year” in two consecutive years. Only U2 and Billie Eilish have repeated this feat. In 1973, she won a grammy for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and in 1974 for “Killing Me Softly with His Song“. Roberta Flack started her professional career as a backing singer for Mahalia Jackson and got her break through in 1969 when she released her debut album, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face“.
|Also Known As
|Rubina Flake, Roberta Cleopatra Flack (Birth Name)
|Singer, Songwriter and Musician
|Date of Birth
|10 February 1937
|Age (as in 2022)
|Place of Birth
|Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA
|New York, USA
|BA in Music
|Boston Conservatory at Berklee
|Physical Stats & More
|in feet inches - 5 '4"
in centimeters - 163 cm
in meters - 1.63 m
|in kilograms - 58 kg
in pounds - 128 lbs
|Family, Relationship & More
|Father - Laron LeRoy
Mother - Irene Flack
|Husband / Spouse
|Steve Novosel (m. 1966-1972)
doctoral work at University of Massachusetts
|Net Worth (approx)
|$ 20 Million
Flack was raised in a music family in Arlington, Virginia with her parents Laron LeRoy (Father) and Irene Flack (Mother). Her father was a church organist and her mother was a church pianist. She has three siblings: one brother and two sisters. Roberta’s love from piano came from her mother and her first piano was salvaged from the local dump. We can say that she discovered her earliest musical influences from the church.
Her father repaired an old upright piano, and she started to pick out tunes while sitting on her mother’s lap. When she was 15 of years of age, she graduated from school and was accepted into ‘Howard University’ with the full scholarship. She was a piano major but later changed to Music Education.
Roberta Flack became the first black woman to have a position as a student teacher in an all-white ‘Alice Deal Junior High School’ in Washington D. C. She also worked as a student teacher in the Chevy Chase. She used to organize choral groups and worked at ‘Freeman’s Hospital’ directing a choral of nursing students. Flack was the first student in Howard to give a public recital in vocal music.
Roberta Flack graduated top of her class in ‘Bachelor of Arts’ in Music at the age of nineteen. After her father passed away, she had to teach music to support herself and her family. In 1968, Roberta was hired to perform in Mr. Henry’s Restaurant, on Capitol Hill. She was discovered by pianist Les McCann while singing in Mr. Henry’s, who offered to arrange a meeting with Atlantic Records.
Although her debut album ‘First Take’ was appreciated, it was only when one of its tracks ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ was used in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut ‘Play Misty for Me’ and was aired repeatedly on the radio that it became a roaring hit, making her a national craze. She had many famous duets with Donny Hathaway including ‘Where Is the Love,’ ‘Killing Me Softly with His Song’ and ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love.’ But sadly, Hathaway committed suicide in 1979.
Later, she found a new professional partner in Peabo Bryson and the two has succeeded to score a hit with ‘Tonight, I Celebrate My Love.’ She married Steve Novosel (a jazz bassist) in 1965, but the marriage was opposed by both families. However, the couple later split in 1972 after being together for more than half a decade.
Some Interesting Facts About Roberta Flack
- Roberta Flack is the mother of Bernard Wright (rhythm and blues musician). She is also aunt of Rory Flack Burghart, the first African American ice-skater to win the US Open Professional Figure Skating Championships.
- She was a much sought-after singer in the 1970s and 1980s and she is the first and the only solo singer to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year on two consecutive years.
- She has released more than 20 albums over the course of her career, and has won numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards.
- Flack is a daring musician and she used to say “I am going to be who and what I am, not what agents, promoters, record companies, producers, or the public would have me be…When my songs come out, I have to be able to listen to them with out having to duck under the car seat.”
- She founded ‘Roberta Flack School of Music‘ at the Hyde Leadership Charter School – a music education program to underprivileged students for free.
- She is also a member of the ‘Artist Empowerment Coalition’, which tries to protect the rights of artists and control their creative properties.