I grew up with Roberta Flack. Well I didn’t actually grow up with her but I definitely grew up with her music. Pretty sure my life’s trajectory would have been quite different if I actually did grow up with a gifted musician the likes of Ms. Flack or say someone like Michael Jackson. (I did almost run over MJ which absolutely would have changed my life (and his) if I actually did run him over. But I digress…)
Recently I’ve been playing Killing Me Softly and especially The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face on repeat for reasons I’m not sure and decided to Google Roberta Flack just to see what she’s been up to. Well, that was a mistake. And a blessing. My mood went from tears listening to “First Time”, a VERY difficult song to sing, by the way, due to the breath control required, to tears reading about her and finding out that she has ALS! When did THAT happen!!?? I also found out that there is an American Masters documentary on her life airing on PBS the very same day I am typing this. “Master”. How appropriate. I’d definitely categorize her as a master. “Legend” would be another label I’d use when describing Roberta Flack.
I remember not long after I started teaching myself to play the guitar, trying to play and sing “First Time”. I could never really sing it because, as I said, it’s just too difficult. Roberta Flack perfected this masterpiece of a song. Even now, decades later and after hundreds of attempts to sing it, I cannot. So I listen. With earphones. Just Roberta and me and breath.
Since I will likely know a lot more about Roberta Flack after I watch the documentary, I recommend you watch it too. But I also recommend you throw on your earphones and listen. Especially to The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
I chose a photo from the 70s as the feature photo here. Here’s a more recent photo of beautiful Roberta. I hope she’s not suffering too much… ALS suuuuuuuucks!!!