I’m fairly sure Roberta Flack’s turning 75; while some sources have her listed as being born in 1939, her Facebook page and Wikipedia have her born in 1937. It’s likely it was my sister Leslie who turned me on to Roberta’s music. She owned the second album, Chapter Two, which she played rather constantly. I almost felt bad that Roberta achieved a modicum of commercial success; we thought Roberta was our little secret, known by the cognoscenti.
I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at First Night in Albany about a dozen years ago. She has been living in the Dakota building in NYC for a number of years, a neighbor of Yoko Ono.
Here’s a bunch of her songs that I like. Unfortunately, I didn’t always find them on YouTube or elsewhere, so you might only hear a snippet; it will be labeled as such:
11. Why Don’t You Move In With Me – my favorite part, the introductory piano, you don’t hear in this SNIPPET from the first song on the Blue Lights in the Basement album.
10. You’ve Got a Friend – featuring the great, lamented Donny Hathaway. Her first pop hit (#29 in 1971).
9. Compared to What – from the jazzy first album, First Take.
8. Killing Me Softly with His Song – hit single (#1 for 5 weeks in 1973).
7. Where Is the Love – another hit (#5 in 1972) with Donny Hathaway
6. Business Goes On As Usual – a great song from Chapter Two about war and money; a SNIPPET.
5. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – though released on First Take back in 1969, popularized because of its inclusion in the movie Play Misty for Me. #1 for 6 weeks in 1972.
4. Go Up Moses – a great variation on the old spiritual Go Down Moses from her third album, Quiet Fire. A SNIPPET.
3. To Love Somebody – a soulful cover of the Bee Gees’ song, from Quiet Fire. A SNIPPET; a favorite song of my late friend Donna.
1. Gone Away – more than almost any other song, this reminds me of love lost, and it still has the capacity of making me quite sad.