ROBERTA FLACK Biography - Musicians


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Name: Roberta Flack                                                                   
Also known as The Music Man                                                           
Born: 10 February 1937 Asheville, North Carolina, United States                       
Roberta Flack (born February 10, 1937 in Asheville, North Carolina) is an             
American singer, notable in the areas of jazz, soul, and folk. Flack is best         
known for singles such as "Killing Me Softly with His Song," "The First Time         
Ever I Saw Your Face," "Where Is the Love?" (one of her many duets with Donny         
Hathaway), and "Feel Like Making Love". "Killing Me Softly with His Song" won         
the 1974 Grammy for Record of the Year.                                               
Flack was 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 black Baptist church.                                         
In her early teens, Flack so excelled at classical piano that Howard University       
awarded her a full music scholarship. She matriculated at Howard University at       
the age of 15, 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 became the first black student teacher at an all-white 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.             
Flack then taught school for some years in Montgomery County, Maryland. 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 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.                                     
Subsequently, a Capitol Hill night club called Mr. Henry's built a performance       
area especially for her.                                                             
In 1999, a star with Flack's name was placed on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. That       
same year, she gave a concert tour in South Africa, whose final concert was           
attended by President Nelson Mandela.                                                 
Flack is a member of the Artist Empowerment Coalition, which advocates the right     
of artists to control their creative properties.