Today’s artist is still with us but sadly is no longer able to sing because she’s suffering from motor-neurone disease.
Internationally hailed as one of the greatest songstresses of our time, Grammy Award winning Roberta Flack (1937 – ) remains unparalleled in her ability to tell a story through her music. Her songs bring insight into our lives, loves, culture and politics, while effortlessly traversing a broad musical landscape from pop to soul to folk to jazz. She is the only solo artist to win the Grammy Award Record of the Year for two consecutive years: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (1973) and Killing Me Softly with His Song (1974).
Classically trained on the piano from an early age, Flack received a music scholarship at age 15 to attend Howard University. Discovered while singing at the Washington, DC nightclub Mr. Henry’s by jazz musician Les McCann, she was immediately signed to Atlantic Records. With a string of hits, including the two mentioned above, plus Where Is the Love (a duet with former Howard University classmate Donny Hathaway), Feel Like Makin’ Love, The Closer I Get to You, Tonight I Celebrate My Love, and Set the Night to Music, Roberta Flack has inspired countless artists with her music.
Described by Reverend Jesse Jackson as “socially relevant and politically unafraid”, Flack is very active as a humanitarian and mentor. She founded the Roberta Flack School of Music at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx, providing an innovative and inspiring music education programme to underprivileged students free of charge.
In 2010, Flack founded The Roberta Flack Foundation whose mission statement is to support animal welfare and music education. In 2019, she awarded grants to Anasa Troutman’s Shelectricity and filmmaker Carol Swainson.
In 2018, Flack retired from touring though continues to make special appearances.
In 2020, Flack received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, she raised awareness and funds for Feed The Children.org during the COVID-19 pandemic.