Killin' Them Softly: Celebrating 75 Years Of Roberta Flack

To strike someone with the "underrated greatness" term always carries a bit of weight behind it. You know, the quick snap question of "do they deserve it" comes to mind.

Sorry, in the class of underrated greatness, diva subsection, lives Roberta Flack who at the platinum age of 75 still takes risks musically and creatively.


Flack, known for her duets with tragic soul singer Donny Hathaway and her solo work such as "Killing Me Softly," "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face," "Feel Like Making Love" and more, is prepping an album of Beatles covers entitled Let It Be Roberta. It's not the first all-Beatles cover album that I've come across, but it may be one of themost traditionally rich ones vocally.

The first Roberta Flack record I can even recall is arguably her best-known crossover hit. Her voice sucked in everything inside my mom's old '91 Plymouth Acclaim while having to deal with traffic leaving the YMCA off of Chimney Rock. Loose guitar strums were the only instrument backing her. Wyclef, a radio staple at this time in 1997 was null and void on this day.

I knew Lauryn Hill sampled the song by then. I also knew her version earned a silver medal compared to Roberta's.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell