The name Roberta Flack conjures up thoughts of her numerous classic duets with friend and frequent partner Donny Hathaway (and later Peabo Bryson), but the biggest songs of her career were actually her solo hits "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" in 1972 and her remake of "Killing Me Softly with His Song" the following year. It's the latter track that became the number one song of 1973 and earned the classical trained pianist and Howard university grad Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female Performer Grammy Awards. The song was a little more pop than the R&B songs of the day (in fact, it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but only climbed to #2 on the R&B chart when it was released) and featured a slightly bossa nova beat, but it remains an iconic soul song. It's been redone by a variety of urban artists including Al B. Sure!, Luther Vandross and most famously by The Fugees in '96, who exposed the classic to a new generation of hip-hop heads thanks to Lauryn Hill's gospel-tinged vocals. However, it's Flack's rendition of this song about a performer who strummed her pain with his fingers that still resonates with many.
Roberta Flack: "Killing Me Softly With His Song"